Back to school for co-author of Finding Tipperary Mary

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A JOURNALIST and author who returned to her old school on Monday (15) was impressed with the present pupils – although the experience was very different to her time in the 1960s.

Bournville Grammar-Technical School was then a girls’ school, said Barbara Fisher, who has lived in London for the past 40 years, and has just published her first book, Tales from an Old Hack- Memoir of a Local Reporter.

In her day, the boys’ school shared the same campus (and produced Ian Lavender of Dad’s Army fame) but the genders were not encouraged to mix, even kept apart at lunchtimes.

“It was lovely to see an example of a good mixed comprehensive. The students were very attentive and polite and made me remember my first career as a teacher, which began in Birmingham where I was born and bred. The pupils were amused to hear how we met the boys once a week for ballroom dancing lessons after school, and I loved hearing their earliest memories which mostly entailed things going wrong such as being stuck in a washing machine.”

Barbara’s first job – as Miss Parsons - was at Wychall Farm Junior School. She married her Londoner, civil servant, Mike, at Longbridge Parish Church and her memoir includes time growing up in Birmingham. Her tales from journalism in West London include having lunch with the Queen, covering a plane crash and going on a pitbull raid with police.

She may be familiar to Mail readers for her collaboration with fellow Brummie Phyllis Whitsell on her book Finding Tipperary Mary, which became a Sunday Times bestseller. She is still a columnist for Reach, this paper’s publishers.