Early Education Part 4
Infants And Juniors Continued
My Infant and Junior School was my world, my life, my everything in the formative years up to the age of 11. It was a world of easy learning. Learning through fun. It was a world where teachers put on Christmas shows for the kids. Where the kids put on shows for their parents. (These were the days before the throw away camera, video recorders, and mobile phones were invented. So us pre-pubescent kids could frolic around in our underwear until the cows came home without fear of ending up as a download on a paedophile’s PC). A time when Santa would arrive on the roof in a helicopter (albeit it a special, silent one) and bring presents for us all.
It was a world where films were shown at the end of each term. Can you imagine the scene at infants school when they showed “Bambi” on the big screen to a couple of hundred 5 to 7 year olds? Well do imagine: the hunter enters the clearing where Bambi, still young, is nuzzling his mother. “Run Bambi, run!” shouts mother. “Bang!” goes the hunters gun. Bambi’s mother falls to the ground, eyes closed. “Mama? Mama?” squeaks Bambi, a tear rolling down the side of his muzzle……..and 200 small children begin to wail and weep in absolute horror! The film Bambi must have been responsible for many childhood disorders over the years. I suspect that Walt Disney was in league with the psychotherapy industry. Or maybe he was just downright evil.
As an adult I made the mistake of leaving small children to watch Bambi on DVD while us adults finished Sunday lunch around the dining table. These were the sprogs of my best mates from Oxford, including our God-daughter, V. I
went to check on them at this very same point in the story. They were staring, open-mouthed at the screen clutching various cushions, toy dolls and other comforters. On seeing me they shouted, “Uncle D, Father Christmas has just killed Bambi’s mom!”. You see what I mean? Well, there is an interesting plot twist that old Walt should have used….
My Infant and Junior School was a world of summer camps on the playing field and of Morris dancing. You were given a stick (every boy would want one). You dressed in cricket whites and the school cap (yes, this was still the days of school caps and wearing shorts. Only “big boys” at “big schools” got to wear long trousers;), and the teacher tied a scarf around your waist, put a pair of braces on you, and, tied bells around your ankles, and you were off. For some reason which escapes me I was foreman (an official Morris-dancing term for the lead dancer) of this particular dance troupe. We performed just the two times – once at the May Day Festival (traditional you see) and then again as an interlude during the school performance of “Alice In Wonderland”. I have read the book since, and seen the film, and I challenge you to find any interlude involving Morris dancers in the middle of the croquet game! And, I can still remember that bloody tune: “da, da, da, da, da, da, diddy……”
Infant and Junior School was a time of ghosts on the stairs – the school was built on the site of an orphanage. Stories abounded of orphans who had hanged themselves from the orphanage stairs. More frightening still was Miss D, form mistress (and that was the correct word for her) in my second year junior – class 2D. Miss D hated children. Miss D hated boys in particular. Miss D never really took a shine to me. Miss D made me cry!
Infant and Junior School was a time of marbles, of school lunches, school trips with packed lunches, of no-contact rugby matches during which one boy got sent to hospital after getting his head stood on by a pair of studded football boots. Happy days indeed.
And so I left Infant and Junior School with two school prizes (maths and English), and an IQ of over 135 (there was a test at some point or other). Subsequent infrequent IQ test have confirmed that I have maintained this reasonably high intelligence measure. And, I left with a place (via entrance exam) at a Grammar School for Boys.
This was a huge source of pride and relief for my mom and dad. My sister had gone to a Grammar School for Girls a year earlier. I remember that my mom came to school and marched straight up to me in the middle of the playground to tell me that I had got in. She was overjoyed. Gaining a place at Grammar School represented the saving of a boy like me. A boy who otherwise was clearly destined for a life of crime. Instead of which a whole new world of Middle Management could be mine. My mom and dad had actually decided to vote Conservative in the local elections to ensure my future – Labour had been standing on a platform of abolishing the City’s 7 Grammar Schools. The 1970s and 80s were a period of the Loony Left, socialism, punk rock and the comprehensive educational system after all…..
I suspect, however, that these right wing leanings were not such a huge wrench for my parents. Over the years they have consistently demonstrated traditional working-class conservative tendencies and ideologies. They were big fans of “Mrs T” and never quite forgave me when, in my first term at university, I gave donations to the striking miners’ fund…..”You’ve changed! You think you’re better than us now”…..well, actually, yes….but I kind of thought that had been the whole point of getting to university in the first place.
Entry filed under: childhood memories, School. Tags: bambi, childhood memories, christmas show, formative years, ghosts, Grammar School, Handsworth, happy days, infant school, josiah masons, junior school, morris dancing, nostalgia, orphanage, playing fields, pre-pubescent, santa's helicopter, school caps, school memories, school trips, summer camp, summer camps, teachers, walt disney, yenton, yenton infant school, yenton junior school, yenton school.