Kit inspections were never predictable. Sometimes we went a fortnight without one, and sometimes we had one on Monday and another on Wednesday, depending how worried the Head was. We lined up by forms on the tennis courts, emptied our pockets and bags, and laid our kit out at our feet.
Untidy kit meant we lost a house point. Untidy kit a second time meant we had to write a 500 word essay about why tidiness was essential. Anything missing from the kit was five house points, and an hour in the Head's study listening to ever more gruesome stories of how a person could die from incomplete kit.
The usual thing missing from a kit was rations. Sometimes we would take clothes or blankets out to wash them and forget to put them back, or leave something on the table when we did a half-hearted sort through, but mostly it was food. Kids who had skipped breakfast or didn't like the school lunch would nibble on a packet of salty crackers or a few dried apricots, gambling that there wouldn't be a kit inspection that day. Others ate the lot during the afternoon, partly because they were peckish but partly to show they weren't afraid. The boldest of all would declare, through a mouthful of mint cake, that it was all a waste of time and the Head's fuss. Did anyone really think we would actually need our kit?
I pretended that I did. I kept saying that it was better to be safe than sorry, that the Head and our parents thought it was necessary so it had to be. But I didn't believe it. I kept my kit in order, but only because I didn't want to lose house points or listen to far-fetched stories that would probably give me nightmares. Once we were out of the school gates on the way home, I snacked on my rations like everyone else.