On the morning of the day in question Sister Diabolical visited every class in the Junior school and asked us all to sign up for the Pioneers. We were to take the pledge to stay off alcohol until we were 21. She went round each girl in turn.
Ye’ll join the Pioneers, Brigid?
Oh I will Sister.
Ye’ll take the Oath, Mary Teresa?
Och aye Sister.
Ye’ll be a Pioneer, Catherine?
‘Deed I will Sister.
Ye’ll take the pledge ‘til ye’re 21, Assumpta?
Surely Sister I will.
You Nelly? Ye’ll join the Pioneers?
I will not Sister.
I was the only one in the the whole Junior year to refuse. I’d thought it through y’see and I’d every intention of falling to the drink the minute I was 18 and I had no intention of waiting an extra three years until 21.
Well the pledge might have been voluntary but the competition was not. That afternoon we were all ushered into the Assembly Hall and asked to write an essay on ‘Why I Should Join The Pioneer Total Abstinence Society.’
A couple of days later it was announced in front of the entire school that Nelly Moser had won first prize in the Pioneer Society essay competition. My prize was a shell necklace. Four years later, as planned, I fell to the drink.
P.S. Of course I'm really chuffed that some of you are canvassing for me for the Blog Awards. Even if I'm not short-listed I'll still hold that in my heart as a prize - like a shell necklace.