Early Education Part 3
Infants And Juniors
In Erdington. I attended the local Infants and Primary School from the age of 5 until 11, as did my sister, albeit from the luxury of the year above me.
Apart from the first day, these were happy times. On the first day at Infants I had that feeling of being abandoned that many kids must share. The feeling of being discarded by your mom, never to be collected again. Dumped into a world of complete strangers, all of whom were bigger than me. Indeed, this was a common occurrence in my early years – people being taller than myself.
My mom is only 5 feet and 4 inches. My sister is about the same now, and my dad is just 5 feet 9 and an important half inch. Hardly “Land of the Giants”. And so, I was often at the smaller end of the school height line until I suddenly began to sprout up around the age of 16 or so. It must have been something in the illicit bags of chips or chunks of coconut ice from Granny’s Sweetshop just up from Grammar School I attended. I used to spend my dinner money on such treats instead of the proper school lunches that it was intended for. Sorry mom. Sorry Jamie – Oliver that is. I’m with you. I always want to slap the parents of fat children when I see them. It is child abuse abuse! Drag them off their computers, tie them to a stake in the garden and let the neighbour’s rottweiler chase them for an hour or two – they’ll thank you for it in the end…….
Anyhow, I can clearly remember my first day at Infant School. I bawled and I bawled and when some boys laughed at me for bawling I ran to hide in the wendy house, and balled. Don’t ask me why the wendy house was there but I was glad of it. A place of refuge. Here I met the beautiful Carol T. My first love. Blonde, blue-eyed and stunning. Or, as stunning as any 5 year old girl can be. She was stunning when we left Junior School at the age of 11 too. By all accounts and, according to a couple of old schoolmates with whom I have since exchanged emails via Friendsreuinted, she remained pretty damn stunning thereafter too. Quite aptly, Carol T now runs a number of small beauty salons. In the wendy house, Carol T took pity on me. Being bigger than me, of course, she sat me on her gorgeous lap, put her arm around my shoulders, and, told me that it would all be alright. And, at that very moment it was.
Incidentally, Carol T, who I also contacted via Friendsreuinted, has seemingly no recollection of this momentous occasion in my life. Indeed, I’m not actually convinced that she remembers me at all. I suspect that she may have me confused with my best mate from those days, Christopher J.
Such memory loss in your First Love is pretty hard to swallow. Unrequited. How could she? I mean we must have been “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” off and on for nearly 3 weeks in total during our 7 years of school together. Surely, such a relationship must have had an unforgettable impact on her, as it has on myself. And, she even wrote to me once after I had gone to Grammar, asking if I wanted to go out with her. I declined. I declined because by that time she had become a Goth. Fashion has eluded me for most of my life, until quite recently, so I am not sure if I even knew what a Goth was back then. But I knew that I did not like the smell of pituli oil. In any case, this happened at an age when I wasn’t really interested in girls and certainly did not want to be tied down to any one girlfriend – no, that time probably hit me about a fortnight later.
And so, I chose not to reply to Carol T’s letter. It is probably this rejection that caused Carol T to erase the wendy house incident from her own memory. It was clearly too painful for her. However, I was dead jealous when “Granty” declared via another Friendsreuinted exchange that he had got to “go out with” (I’m being very polite with my phraseology here) Carol T at the much more interesting age of 18. Apparently she had grown out of the Goth thing by then but was still stunning. Lucky bast*rd!
Junior School was a happy place and time. I don’t really remember very much at all about the academic side of things. This was a time of free school milk with stripy paper straws, of softball and rounders on the playground, of Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat played on an old gramophone after Peter and the Wolf, of football and cricket, of mittens connected by string through your sleeves so you wouldn’t lose them. Every piece of clothing had your name sowed into it. This was a time of grandma’s knitted balaclava in winter (for me to wear, not her), of school trips to Burton-on-the-Water miniature village and butterfly park, or, to Alton Towers. This was before the theme park of today had been built. There was still the ruined castle, the odd slot machine, and, the best “big” ride was a giant slide, which you went down in a sack.
Junior School was sports days and inter-school “Its-a-Knockout” competitions (Jeux Sans Frontiers as foreigners called it) complete with greasy poles and swimming pools – we won! Junior School was cruises on the SS Uganda, a school cruise ship in the 1970s which turned up again as the hospital ship in the Falklands War of 1982. The SS Uganda took me to Santander, Oporto and Lisbon via a hurricane in the Bay of Biscay – which caused me to fall out of the top bunk – and an alarming incident with a tug in Liverpool docks.
This was a time of innocence and innocent girlfriends. Holding hands, “Kiss Chase”, “Postman’s Knock”, giving presents, and, being forced to hold the end of a skipping rope while the girls jumped up and down to stupid rhyming songs. Girlfriends. There was Carol T (blonde), of course, and Madeleine D (brunette, who only finished with me when her parents moved – or so I have chosen to remember it), Samantha (blonde), Julie (brunette, a teacher’s daughter), Heidi (blonde) and Gail T (brunette). Boy was I promiscuous in hindsight. Gail T’s mom was a receptionist at the local doctor’s surgery – a position of considerable power and influence in the local community. Gail T, like all my girlfriends of course, was gorgeous. She was tall (of course!), slender, with long dark hair. She also gained particular notoriety by being the first girl in our class to develop breasts. Boobs. Tits. Melons. Baps. Bazookas. (Now that must be worth a few interesting hits on Google!)
Entry filed under: childhood memories, School. Tags: balaclava, childhood memories, Erdington, fat children, first day at school, First love, goth, goth girl, Grammar School, Handsworth, holding hands, Jamie Oliver, kiss chase, mittens, nostalgia, peter and the wolf, pituli, school cruise, school memories, school trips, skipping, SS Uganda, store cupboard, yenton infant school, yenton junior school, yenton school.