Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Shell Necklace

Unlike some people I can take prizes or I can leave them. However the recent unseemly scrambling for votes for the Irish Blog Awards has got me reminiscing about the last important award I received. The year was 1968, the place was St Louis' Convent in the town of Ballymena. As I recall there was some kind of big push for total abstinence from the demon drink taking place. Sister Diabolical preached abstinence at assembly and it was a recurring theme in Religious Instruction. We were all given little booklets on the Pioneer Total Abstinence Society and were cajoled, nay urged, to join the Society. We would study the booklets and would sit a test on its contents and there would be a prize.

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.

2 comments:

Mr Bolan said...

Can I stop voting for you and your sister now? I must have done it a dozen times, not to mention the script which submitted a vote each half hour for an entire day.

I mean, even after being called a snobby oul fecker, I still voted for you.

Nelly said...

Oh just the wonst I beg you. We'll be disqualified for cheating. But thanks anyway. It's the thought that counts.

Sorry about the snobby oul fecker comment. I hereby amend it to snobby young fecker. That OK?