Photographers, artists, poets: show us BEGINNING.
Remember I am now a golden oldie and this all happed approximately sixty-three years ago
My first school, the photo taken on a trip to London a few years ago. It has not changed very much outside. It was originally a so-called infant’s school catering for children from 4-7 years of age, the first experience of education in the brain. It was a mixed school, boys and girls together. The school has been transformed over the years and is now for boys only. Actually it is the only school still standing from my childhood. The other schools I visited have been deleted to make room for something bigger and better, but no longer schools: more high rise blocks of flats. New schools are to be found in other places.
So there I was, ready to go, be educated and mix with the others. Mum was also ready to go. She gave me a good face scrub in the morning just to make sure I was nice and shiny when I arrived at the school. She accompanied me on my first day, and accompanied me on my second as well. I think she actually walked with me through the complete first year until I told her I now knew the way. It was a five minute walk from home, but you never know. I could have been hit by a car, held for ransom (we actually had no money), or got lost. Mum was not alone, there was a complete army of mums bringing and fetching their children from school. I suppose it was a dangerous neighbourhood, although I never really noticed it. Jack the Ripper had left at least eighty years before.
I remember entering the class on my first morning and being shown to my place. We were all new (all had shiny faces) and it was quiet. Probably we were nervous, although I think the mums were more nervous. Then it happened, it was time for mum to go (at last). I had no problem, I was free and could embark on the adventure. One girl I remember very well, she was not happy. What did she do? She screamed, grasped her mother by her skirt and pulled her back. She was desperate, hysterical. The mother also became hysterical and the teacher did her best to calm the situation. I suppose it was fun for me really: a complete distraction to the nervosity of the first day at school. Eventually the mother left her tearstained daughter, who was still moaning, but she seemed to calm herself eventually.
Funny thing was I remember this heap of hysteria quite well. We became schoolfriends until our schoolways parted. She was a very thin girl, practically no flesh on the bones. The next time I saw her we must have been about 17 years old. It was from a distance in the local market and she was about six months pregnant, so it seemed she had overcome her childhood anxieties.
Now we were on our own. I do not remember what happened next, I do know it was not the age for writing in books and each of us were given a small blackboard and chalk, that was the way things were done at that time.
We soon had our first playground break. We were confronted with a crate filled with small bottles of milk, and each of us were invited to take one. Milk was free to school children. It was a remainder of the olden days when children suffered with rickets, bone weakness. Milk was good for you and so the schools supplied it, making sure you actually drank your bottle of milk. My first problem: I hated milk, especially the sort that had a think chunk of milk cream on the top. I managed to tip it away or give it to a milk addict in the class. A couple of times I actually had to drink this disgusting liquid, although my stomach refused to accept it (it was all psychological I suppose). I do not remember exactly the outcome of this force feeding, but the problem followed me through school life until I went to high school.
Mum picked me up and took me home for dinner (lunch was not invented in those days) and brought me again to school in the afternoon. And so school life continued. We were all products of the year 1946 meaning the baby boom. Imagine thousands of soldiers returning from a woman-starved wartime army. They did their best to replenish the population. We were on average around 40-50 children per class.
This was the first day of many, I even made it to high school. It is a strange coincidence. I have a school photo on a “friends reunited” site on the computer. I almost forgot it was there, but today I received a notification from one of the boys in the class who had discovered the photo talking of some of the others in the photo. Must look him up on facebook
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