"Tell tale tit,
Your tongue shall be split
And every dog near this school
Shall have a little bit."
I was standing in the playground, mortified.
It wasn't another child saying this to me. It was a teacher!
I soon learned not to tell tales.
Although I cannot remember my first day at school, I do know that it was in September of 1947.
There was no gradual transition period, where parents stayed with children until they settled in. Mums would drop their children off at school and disappear fast. That was how it was then. Normal for that time.
The school was a Mixed Infant Church of England, with the local parish church standing next to it.
It was a stone building and the playground was tarmac with small white stones embedded in it.
Schools in those days were very strict and my older cousins had warned me in advance that the Headmaster, Mr Upward, had a cane that he used.
Being an anxious child by nature, I do not think that school was ever a pleasurable experience, nor did it ever boost my confidence, rather the opposite. However one of the teachers, Mrs Boardman, was very kind to me and used to take me under her wing. She taught me how to knit and sew and I remember that she was a slightly older motherly type of person.
Although my mum must have taken me on my first day at school, I can remember that my dad used to regularly take me on his large, black bike. It had a small saddle clipped onto the cross bar in front of him and two footrests anchored onto the front wheel frame. He used to drop me off at the school gate before turning round and heading to town and then work.
One day I took my feet off the foot rests, with disastrous results. I got my legs grazed by the spokes and Dad nearly fell off his bike. He was not too pleased and I went in to school with blooded legs, using Dad's hanky to mop up the mess.
Inside the classroom there were rows of wooden desks with seats, held together by a metal frame. Children had to remain seated at all times and there was to be no talking, which was difficult for me.
If a toilet trip was needed, we had to put up our hand and ask, 'Please may I be excused?'
The toilet block was outside the main building, in the playground and there was a short trip across the tarmac to get there. The boys' toilets were on one side and the girls' was on the other. I can remember it was very cold during the winter.
If an unfortunate child wet their pants then the poor mite would be placed in a corner of the room, facing the wall. Even though this never happened to me, I noted that everyone laughed and made fun of all who did. There were no spare pants to change into, so the child just had to dry out naturally and was shunned by others.
There were many crazes at school, depending on whether you were a boy or a girl, as in those days there was a definite distinction between the sexes regarding, hobbies and play.
The girls collected beads and used to carry them around in tins, to swop or just to look at and show them off. The glass ones were highly desirable, with plastic being the least liked.
The boys collected cigarette cards and unusual cigarette packets, and played marbles. They were encouraged to take part in sport activities and were taught simple woodwork.
Girls, on the other hand, were taught to knit and sew and later on, to cook.
Boys played football and cricket, while girls played hopscotch and skipping in the playground.
One of the rhymes, which is politically incorrect by today's standards, that we chanted while skipping was,
"My mother told me I never should
Play with the gypsies in the wood."
I cannot remember the rest which might be just as well. I would be interested to hear the ending, though, if there is some one out there who knew it.
I work in schools and find it so hard to imagine how today's children would have coped with the harsher conditions and discipline of the era of the post war days. Children today are more confident and have so many choices about everything. Maybe though, they are not so lucky as they don't have the freedom to go out on their own, as we did then. So maybe it is a question of swings and roundabouts!
My schooling was as different as chalk is from cheese!