Thursday, 22 May 2008

Best days of our lives...

Do you remember the days of the old school yard.. as Cat Stevens once sang..?
I have very fond memories of my primary school days..
I started at the local C of E Primary School in 1963 in the village of Crowthorne, Berkshire. The school was a red brick affair, built in the late 1800's and had separate entrances for Boys & Girls.. A school hall, numerous Victorian classrooms, a canteen and the all- weather outside lavvies! I remember the dash across the playground to break the ice in order to use these conveniences in the colder months.. and in those days we had proper winters..Does anyone remember the winter of 1964.. it seemed like the second ice age had arrived.
Of all the years of my childhood.. my early school years are the most vivid and memorable.
I walked the mile to school with my older brother who had the dubious responsibility of looking after me each day. My first day at school is forever indelibly tattooed on my memory..Arriving at school tearful and bewildered I was ushered into a large cavernous classroom adorned with pictures on the wall, green tiled walls and tall windows. There was the Wendy House corner with assorted pots and pans, the reading corner with a jumble of books and the crates of small milk bottles on the floor with a box of drinking straws. Why was the milk always tepid.. yeuch!

I had a peg to hang my coat on with a picture of a boat above.
I wore a dark green pleated skirt and had a green v neck jumper embellished with the school badge symbolising three crows for the village of Crowthorne. The school motto escapes me but I think it was probably something like.. 'Keep a clean nose and sharp pencils at all times ' Latin of course!
My crisp white shirt, was far from, by the end of the day.. I was a mucky child and always managed to decorate my clothes with various mediums.. be it crayons, paints or food.
My outdoor wear consisted of a dark green belted raincoat which I flatly refused to fasten and would promptly undo the belt once out of the sight of my disapproving mother.. and a green felt beret which I wore Benny Hill style rather than the Bonny style of Bonny & Clyde fame. I wore Start-rite brown leather shoes with a cut out pattern and grey socks that were forever falling down.
The obvious highlights of the day were 'Play times' which were heralded by the old school hand bell.. rung around the school playground by a prefect. My brother had this honour in his last year at the school and when the bell developed a crack, it was auctioned and my brother and I won it with the highest bid of 10 shillings.. that is 50 pence in today's money.. Gosh I am sounding old!
I still have that bell but alas I could not find it as it is probably in one of the many boxes still unpacked from our house move 2 years ago!!
The games we played in the playground were Hopscotch, French skipping with elastic, What's the time Mr Wolf, Tag, British Bulldog, lots of girly gossip and kiss chase! Sorry Alan Scott..(who asked for my hand in marriage) .... I did play so hard to get!
There were the inevitable crushes that developed amongst the class members and mine was Stephen Skinner.. a dusky, tall legged and brown-eyed heart throb who had many hearts fluttering at the tender age of 11 years old..
Then there was the charming and hilarious Timothy Spencer who had a habit of pushing pencil rubbers up his nose much to the amusement of all except for the teachers who had to retrieve them!

Funny how I only remember the boys names..

I have another treasured relic from those days other than precious memories .. a book that I won for English... English being my favourite subject and I relished the essay homework that we were regularly given.. Why is it then that I struggle so with writing my blog ??

Dear Mr Blore (nicknamed 'Bore') would despair if he could see how my grammar has deteriorated since those days..sorry!
The school dinners were also memorable, not for the haute cuisine .. but rather the lumpy mashed potato, stewed prunes and custard pushed reluctantly around the plate under the watchful eye of the formidable dinner blancmange that always had blue inky specks in it and the mixed fear and pride of being the water monitor for that day..serving up coloured metallic beakers of water with a shaky hand..
Games were Shinty.. a derivative of Hockey.. Playing netball.. badly... and dreading anyone throwing me the ball in case I dropped it and the final indignity of wearing thick, school regulation, green knickers in place of shorts which exposed my skinny legs and knock knees.. (what I would give for those knees now)
I was briefly employed as the school Librarian and wore a green enamel badge so that everyone would know my status. My job description was a little ambiguous and I spent most of my library duties .. re-arranging the books on the shelves and wishing that I had one of those inked stamps that made a delightfully satisfying clicky noise when stamping library tickets.
I was also elected as house captain for 'Buckingham House' one of four school houses, for a year and I still to this day believe I was chosen because no-one else wanted the job.. This however did enable me to wear another enamel badge .. a blue one this time.. in the shape of a shield saying 'House Captain'.. I lived in hope that it would be swapped for a 'Head Girl' badge... but I was not qualified for that heady status!

They were truly happy days and I was lucky enough to re-visit my old school, five years ago, on a trip to my old haunts in Berkshire. The school had changed little in those intervening years..though everything seemed to have shrunk..!.....the step where Alan Scott proposed to me...

I really didn't intend to write about my school days at all on this post.. I was going to say that I had been tagged by dear Dana at Calico Cat Press and my mind just wandered off to the games of tag we played as children.. and the rest is history as they say.

I will return in a few days with my tag post and news of a grand adventure that takes place this weekend.... Ooooooh can't wait!

Ta ta!


Sweet Cottage Dreams said...

Now that was a fun post, Miss Michelle! Honestly, you should seriously think of writing a book. You are such a great story teller!! Now you have me thinking of my school days. Hmm...maybe a good post....maybe. Lots of toil in the younger days with mean kids and such.

Thanks for sharing a bit of your history with us. I can hear the noise of the library clicker!!


Country Cottage Chic said...

What a fun post! How funny though that we should both be writing about school days today!


Ragged Roses said...

Now what kind of adventure would that be I wonder ...
What a wonderful post, within a few seconds i was immediately transported back to my school! Outdoor loos, tepid smelly milk ( I was allowed the orange juice). lumpy grey mashed potato that still haunts me, the blancmange, grisly bacon, my love of writing, kiss chase, playing netball whenever I was allowed, my school team (Saxons) and Start rite shoes!!! gosh I've been rambling, thank you soo much for all these memories Michele
Hope your adventure is fun!!
PS I also remember that our local Start rite shoeshop had a fairground roundabout in it - how bizarre!

Françoise said...

Bonjour Michele,
I have been wondering if I was writing into a cyberspace black hole so !!thank you!! for looking at my blog and commenting.
I grew up in Brussels where my family suffered deprivations as did everyone else but we were very lucky in that my father and my uncles were neither hurt nor taken prisoner and that our homes were damaged by bombs but not so we couldn't live in them.
For those of us who were very young, I think war wiped out any innocence or illusions we might have had about the world. It certainly has played a part in who I am and what I stand for today. Does your mother still live in Belgium? Or maybe she married a nice Tommy ;-)

I hope you'll visit me again!
I'll certainly visit you. I really enjoyed reading your childhood memories!

LiLi M. said...

I'm really fond of these kinds of posts Michèle and I sincerely think that you are the Queen of time travelling. Of course even I, raised in another country, could turn back time for some moments (school milk yikes!!) thanks to your wonderful story. I even googled Star-rite! I always desperately hoped for shoes with straps preferably red. I always ended up with brown shoes with laces, think Lord Baden Powell, but I'll tell my story some other time.
Thank you for telling yours! xoxo L.

ps great artwork and pictures too

Anonymous said...

I loved your post. I can remember my old school days well. I remember receiving Valentine's from certain boys and thinking they really liked loved me. They had written them just for me. Now looking back it was their mother's that made them do it. LOL

Sal said...

Amazing, as what you describe could well have been my schooldays too..apart from your 'boyfriend'!
Great post Michele! ;-)

Vintage to Victorian said...

Hi Michele

How little school life had changed between my start in 1955 and yours in 1963. Similar school building, the same games, monitor duties and so on. The heart-throb at Barry Road Junior School in Northampton was Brian Lockwood who had come to the school from Heckmond Wyke which made him 'very important'.

Those were the days!

Sue x

Emma Herian said...

Hi Michelle,
Thanks for popping by. I am not at the Open House on Saturday but I will leaise (confir!) ((cant spell!)) with Kim and see if we could meet up.
Jam Jam is very cute indeed, she has started to be a little pickle already but its well worth all the mischief as she also brings so much joy! Sorry, I wont be sending her via parcel force!
I hear alot about you via Kim too, and have a nose at your blog, so it will be great to meet up. Hope you enjoy the adventure, its a fab place!

bj said...

So fun to read about your childhood...
have a wonderful weekend!
xo bj

Rosie said...

My first teacher Miss Marshall, a rather horrid old spinster, used to put the milk on the pipes during winter.... OH MY GOODNESS! I have tasted nothing more disgusting in my whole life! Especially at the bottom where it was turning thick...YUK.

Great memories of other times at school though.
Rosie x

Simone said...

My school days were not happy ones but there were a few memorable times such as the boy who stuck a marble up each nostril (as opposed to rubbers!), getting kissed on a haybale in a cupboard in the art room, eating water sponge and lumpy pink custard and a teacher taping a girl to a chair because she wouldn't behave herself! I wish I'd been to your school instead!

Rubyred said...

So lovely to read about your chilhood Michele.Havent you got a good memory!The tepid milk brought back memories for me!
Rachel x


I love these posts about our childhood days Michele. Reading about your time at primary school is really entertaining, I am definitely coming back to read it again. I walked to school with my big brother and sometimes we caught the bus into the village, stopping off at the sweet shop at the bottom of the hill. Only the other day I was saying about the smell of the milk, it was tepid because they didn't put it in the fridge! I hated it, and still detest drinking milk neat. I loved the school dinners. At my school they even dyed semolina pink to get us to eat it! We had the metallic beakers in all different shades and remember the matching jugs. Mrs Davis who seemed very old would come around with the water. I could go on all evening but I shall leave you in peace. I look forward to news of a grand adventure? x

Dana Jones said...

You get a gold star AND a smiley face on your blog today!

That is how our teachers rewarded good work in grade school where I attended.

Cathy said...

It sounds very similar to my school, and probably most schools throughout the country! The games, the food, the boys...No uniform though at our school - I have never worn a school uniform, and I am so glad that my girls have one. My fave lunch was chicken fricassee and chocolate sponge. I tried to introduce some of the old games into the playground when I was working at school last term, and they went down really well. It seems they don't play them as a matter of course anymore, which is such a shame.
Cathy XX

gillie said...

Being taught English by a wierd but lovely man who turned out to be Ivor Cutler. Going away to boarding school and learning how to break the rules. Taking my pocket money to the grocers (aka the penny witch shop - because we could buy penny sweets but the owner was,without a shadow of a doubt a fully paid up witch!). Sitting on the wall outside the chippy "persuading" the customers to give us a chip each. Taking pop bottles back to the corner shop and then "re-collecting" them from round the back for another sixpence (surely he must have known what we were up to?)
But most of all, I remember just hanging around, plotting, planning and avoiding being in the way by heading as far away from home as possible.

Gill at Lucy Locket said...

What a lovely post, brought back memories of my own school days,not all happy, as a rather chubby child I dreaded PE and sports days, if I could get out of them I would! But there were happy memories too, some wonderful teachers, singing All things bright and beautiful, school dinners,decimalisation (remember how difficult it was for everyone to learn how to use the new coinage?).Carefree days, we don't appreciate them until we're adult do we?
Gill x

Katherines Dream said...

That was a lovely trip down your memory lane! How similar our first schools were. I went to a victorian C of E sschool, with high windows and brick walls which were painted cream and green...and also had many similar pictures on the walls like your vintage prints. Our loos were across the playground and the boys and girls each had their very own entrance to the school. We were awarded postcards as prizes by the headmaster for working hard and school dinners all ended up in a little paper bag in my pocket and went home with me!
I remember French skipping with a big elestic band, two balls up the wall, alley gobs! and Jacks - I bought a box of Jacks in Cath K the other day. Dolly kitting - if you had a real doll with a hole through her middle you were very posh and if not, then you had a wooden cotton reel with nails for hooks! all wonderful memories.
I would love to do a similar post if that is ok?
Take care and speak soon,
Carol xx

Katherines Dream said...

oh yes Ragged Roses - the smelly warm milk in summer ! and rmemeber the sick room with little beds?
Carol xx

BeachysCapeCodCupboard said...

What fond memories! And such a charming school! I just love old schools! I attended two of them myself (very old Victorian clapboarded schools with separate entrances, just as you mentioned)! Now wouldn't you know it, but a new elementary school had to be built to accommodate our growing town - it was built on the street on which I lived, so I left the old clapboarded schools for the new one... the new one was called the GIBBONS Elementary School (I saw that surname on your prize book)! =)

Alchamillamolly said...

What a wonderful blog - I remember all those games and I was in Yorkshire! I remember being a 'server' at school dinners and I tipped (by accident) fruit and custard over Julie Macdonnell's head! It all ran down her face. I still have all the books that were awarded to me at school and my 'News' books from the first day at school - we used to fill them in on a Monday morning - I bet we told those teachers some stories! I was five in '61 and remember school so vividly I keep meaning to write down my memeories whilst they are still so lucid. I think blogging encourages us so much to think back to those halcyon - and I don't care what people say they were - people were more caring and kids had such stress free lives. I am glad mine arent kids in the 00's it was bad enough for them born in the 80's. Getting my flooring down in the hall, front room and loo on Friday - sooo excited. No internet access so can only go on at work for a few mins

Alchamillamolly said...

Had to come - forgot the Start- rite poster - how I loved that picture on the wall I would look atit and wonder where they were going.......I had to wear Startrite 'inner raise' shoes to stop me walking over on the inside so the styles were restricting for me - can you remember the brown sandals with the little squares cut out at the front - they were so comfy with crepe soles - I pity the little miss's hobbling round in heels nowadays like they do. I can remember vividly being told I didn't have to wear the special ones anymore and being allowed to chose a pair of Clarks sandals and picking them up after school one night with my Dad ( which was special in itself) they were RED!One question - where do you ladies get all these pictures to add to your blog ie the one of the girl and boy - do you scan them in?? Or can you find on the net?? I have so many people but have never had an answer yet?

Vintage Amethyst said...

Aahhhh such a wonderful post filled with such adorable school days memories.
Love Alison x

Ragged Roses said...

Michele I keep returning to this post as it has stirred so many memories for me. I remember a dinner lady dropping syrup pudding on my head and just dying with embarrassment. I remember hiding in the loos on the very last Sports Day to avoid it, but I also remember seemingly endless hot sunny days in the summer term playing on a daisy filled field and walking hand in hand with my best friend Jane and being allowed to bring in records for a party on the very last day there before moving on to Secondary school. I also remember revisiting when I was at Secondary school to do work experience and never quite believing just how small everything was.

Hazel said...

My goodness what a fun read. I am not alone then in taking trips down memory lane :) Far too nostalgic for my own good these days. Ah primary school, ladybird books, Start rite shoes, school dinners and warm milk in tiny bottles!

prettyshabby said...

I've loved this post..things weren't any different when I started school in 1974..the smell of plastercine transports me back to my classroom in no time..did you have to fold your arms and lay your head on them after lunch to let your dinner go down? I can still hear Mrs Kinningly the dinner lady shouting in her strong Essex accent "dont" the best piece of advice I've been given ever..!!