School’s Out!

November 29, 2016

Last week I drove my Goddaughter and some of her friends to Schoolies Week on the Gold Coast. I was crapping myself. She’s so smart and beautiful (and like most of her friend’s) looks NOTHING like I did at her age – she’s so glamorous and cool. She had her makeup for her Formal done at Chanel! I think I owned some no-name lip-gloss and maybe mascara from the chemist when I was in Year 12. It’s a Brave New world I tells ya.

When I read that the police advised that there were twice as many arrests this year I felt my lack of sleep was justified. This has been put down largely to drug use and balcony hopping. It was rather different to my experience at the end of Year 12 back in 1837. My Mum came on Schoolies with me. True.

She also went with my sister to Schoolies. Back then, Schoolies was in its infancy and being country kids we didn’t even go to the Gold Coast – that was only really starting to take off. Instead, we went to the town where many of us holidayed and on their way to the Gold Coast, a lot of the private school girls and boys also spent a few days at Yamba.

It’s was Heaven for us girls – all those handsome boys we hadn’t grown up with paying us oodles of attention (Shout out to Will Matthews – I still think of you fondly). Needless to say the local boys weren’t happy – this is when I first, albeit unconsciously, understood the concept of the Alpha Male.  

Being incredibly fortunate, my family have a beach house and Mum didn’t want it trashed by a bunch of rowdy teenager school leavers. She advised that my options were 1) I could go and have her stay or 2) not go at all. There had been some unsavoury incidents the previous year, and as such the Boarders (attached to the Catholic school I went) weren’t allowed to go under threat of not being allowed to graduate. As my Mother had taught etiquette at said boarding school, and as she was a Pillar of the Local Community, she was considered the safest pair of hands and so they were allowed go under her supervision.  A few of us had turned 18, but some were still underage so off to Yamba with Ruth it was.

My Mum was only eight years older than I am now when she came to Schoolies with me and my friends. When I think about now I think it must have been hilarious for her. Being 18 and sooooooo grown up of course we thought she had never been anywhere or done anything fun as most teenagers assume of anyone over the age of 25. On the first afternoon when everyone arrived she sat us all down (eight of us girls) and laid down the law. It’s important to point out that Ruth Bernard was a real hard-arse and she had that reputation for a reason. “Ladies, I only have a few rules, but know this; anyone who doesn’t follow them is on the bus home the next morning. Curfew is 2am and everyone comes home each night*, (the pub back then shut at 11pm so that was alright, we could go to various parties for a few hours  afterwards) nobody gets so drunk they throw up – especially not in the house and neither of these rules apply to you Alex Bernard.”

Scoff, Dear Reader as I’m sure you are, but I have to say it was fine. In fact, it was more than fine, it was good! We woke up each day hung-over to a cooked breakfast with Mum making sure we were all well fed and rehydrated and calling potentially concerned parents before we spent our days lying on the beach. She was a one-woman Red Frogs support group. All of my friends who stayed with me had a ball and didn’t feel impeded in any way.

As I watched the footage of the all the Schoolies – desperately looking for my Goddaughter to pop up on screen I thought you know what they should do? Put Kitty Chiller in charge of Schoolies! They could have a Chef de Mission like they do for the Olympics.  She certainly has form dealing with people who don’t always exhibit exemplary behaviour (Nick Kyrgios and the men’s Rugby Sevens team). She’d be reading people the riot act all over place but allowing the spirit of the Games/Schoolies shine through. I’ll write to the Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate and suggest it.  

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Alexandria Bernard
With a successful 20+ year career in media and communications, Alex’s media portfolio includes contracts as a radio and television presenter (612 ABC, 4BC, Channel 9 and Network Ten) and as a feature writer for bmag and Brisbane Times.

Alex's voice and face may be familiar to you from her voiceover and television commercial work. She has been featured in national radio and TV advertising campaigns, corporate videos and has been a regular MC for major events.