I’m admitting to feeling a bit nostalgic. I am nostalgic about my school days which undoubtedly stems from Lucas coming up to finishing his first ‘proper’ year at school. Into Year 2 next year when it all gets serious with Key Stage assessments and the like. I cannot remember my first day at school but I have very vivid images and memories. These are the ones that really stick in my mind….
- The smell of fishy school glue
- Tracing paper toilet paper – wee wee was NEVER absorbed on this blinkin’ stuff!
- Water fountains – the water always tasted of pencil sharpenings
- Dinner Ladies – PROPER Dinner Ladies who told you off and were allowed to put plasters on your cuts. I even remember Mrs White who used to pull your teeth out if they were really wobbly (a serious rite of passage in our Infant School)
- Learning to read with ‘The Village with Three Corners’. The Red, Blue, Yellow and Green Hat family all became firm favourites. Mrs Red Hat seemed to be the first crush for a lot of school boys and Percy Green Hat was the plump geeky one!
- Hiding my meat paste sandwiches in my flask so the Dinner Ladies wouldn’t see that I hadn’t eaten them. Mum wasn’t impressed by the meat paste/orange squash soup this produced by home time!
My nostalgia, however, is really coming from the games and activities that I don’t think Lucas will be taking part in at school for various reasons. If he does participate in any of them, I don’t think it’ll be as we did them………………
I always participated in a cheeky game of this in my lunch hour; it burnt off a few calories. I suppose nowadays people are too scared of a sexual harassment case between two five year olds hitting the tabloids to allow this wonderful game to continue to exist. The good old PC brigade are probably also petrified of saliva swapping, cold-sore contamination and they have probably forgotten what it was like to finally catch that one boy/girl you’ve had your eye on since registration, wrestle them to the floor, and plant a good old smacker on them. In hindsight, knowing Lucas, he’ll be playing this one……….
BRITISH BULLDOG/RED ROVER/WHO’S AFRAID OF THE NET?
Whatever you called this game, nowadays it’s tantamount to a playground prosecution to even mention this game. I cannot remember anybody getting injured when playing this although you did dread ‘Fat Billy’ choosing to run towards you, and that’s when you broke the link yourself!
I went to an infant school where there was a gym in the school hall. The backdrop was the sixties style hall curtains, and against the wall were the climbing bars which pulled out and clicked into the floor. Hanging from the ceiling were the monkey ropes which, when tied together, made a really cool swing. I remember the boys getting told off as the bottom of the rope was wound with thick brown tape, which the boys kept putting between their legs and pretending they had a really big Willy (perhaps that’s why monkey ropes were taken out of school!). We also had wooden benches and gymnasium ‘horses’ which you learnt to vault over onto a crash mat, helped sometimes by a springboard. There were no lawsuits, internal investigations and no complaints that we had to do this whilst wearing our pants and vests! If you did fall over, you were whisked off to the school nurse (who was also the school secretary – there was no Matron until secondary school) for her to announce, due to her receiving her medical ‘Doctorate’ from the University of Life, that you were fine, nothing was broken, and then she sent you back to the lesson which you HAD to continue.
I am pleased to say that Lucas’s school has different Houses (he’s in Blue), however, in our day, they were just called teams, and were only ever used on Sport’s Day. I know Sport’s Day still exists but not exactly as I remember it. You took part, you got a tissue paper rosette for coming First, Second or Third, and that was it. You weren’t called a ‘Loser’ exactly, but you weren’t all declared ‘Winners’. Cheering for your team was encouraged, however, booing the opposition and chanting “You’re s**t and you know you are” was frowned upon even then. You participated in Sport’s Day regardless of the weather, and wore your PE kit (thankfully, when you were outside, you were allowed to wear shorts and T-shirt over your underwear!). If it rained, you did Sport’s Day. If it was blisteringly hot, you did Sport’s Day. If it snowed, you did Sport’s Day. Your parents attended to cheer you on, however, they were suitable attired for the weather; fur coats, blankets over knees – pretty much dressed for the Antarctic if there was the slightest hint of cold weather!
This wasn’t about your school booking a coach and transporting you to your local, lovely sports complex. I’m talking about the onsite swimming pool that you shared with the Junior school, whom you also shared a field with. If you were at the infant school, you changed into your swimming costume in the classroom. There weren’t changing rooms and you weren’t segregated. It was boys and girls together. You then forced that plastic swimming hat over your head which looked rather like a mishaped condom. Keeping your sock and school shoes on, towel flung over your shoulder, you legged it across to field to the Junior school where the swimming pool was located. It was outside, naturally, and even at seven years of age, the water only reached mid-thigh level. You entered the pool via a very rickety wooden ladder, whilst your teacher remained sheltered under the little wooden hut that the chain-smoking, three-thumbed caretaker had thoughtfully constructed for this purpose. Your teacher would then ‘teach’ you how to swim by shouting instructions at you from underneath the shelter whilst sipping the lovely hot beverage the Junior school secretary had thoughtfully provided her. If you were really struggling, polystyrene floats which chunks ripped out of them would be thrown to you! Special mention should also be paid to the Verucca sock.
Whilst writing this, I am grinning madly at the memories this has evoked for me, and think I could write forever about my school days. I’m thinking about the friends I made at school, some of them I am still in contact with, and sadly, a few of them are no longer with us. I realise that I had an absolute blast.
Tennis ball football on the playground, elastic skipping, Bus 21 and ‘Who wants to play War?’ were all played. Our old headmistress Mrs Cook who could walk into the assembly hall and by her second step, we were all silent. The Christmas Nativity concert in which she told the parent off for talking by saying, “Well, the children are quiet………”
Lucas, I know you won’t read this yet but please, please, please, enjoy your school days. Try your best but if you’re not the cleverest kid in class, so what? We only ask that you try your best. Make friends and play games. Learn things and have FUN! Who knows………… in eighteen years time, I might just show you this, and see what you remember from your school days…………………………..
PS Yep – that’s me, cute as a button, in my school uniform. Mum clearly got the bowl out again when cutting my hair!!!!!