It was just the done thing, every morning in Mrs Whiteman’s classroom at Brudenell Infants School us five year olds had to write in our diary, its probably why I still do it in this very blog, Mrs Whiteman was a woman ahead of her time obviously.
One line would do and if you couldn’t think of anything to write then you just had to copy whatever line she had already written for you on the blackboard, “Today is sunny outside” she’d write or some other bland informative line, and then you’d have to accompany it with a nice drawing in wax crayon, so perhaps a big yellow sun, smiling.
And when I’d grown a year older and moved on out of Mrs Whiteman’s class our Ned started school and was quickly introduced to the Whiteman Diary Plan, “Today is sunny outside” he’d write and when he came home at night and our mother would ask what he’d been doing he’d say “Today is sunny outside” and she’d look at him with a puzzled expression and wonder what sort of imbecile she’d produced from her loins, only I understood what he meant and would tell him in no uncertain terms “We wrote that last year, I bet you drew a yellow sun, smiling as well” and he’d nod his head in agreement.
And the year dragged on and the daffodils got a mention in the daily diary, and someone’s pet dog got a mention, someone’s new shoes “John has got new shoes” they’d all write and draw some brown wax crayon shoes, and the year dragged on…
And then one day Mrs Whiteman came out of the classroom to meet our mother at the gate after school and she chatted for a while about the sun and the daffodils and Johns new shoes and then she sort-of-smiled and asked our mother where it was that we’d been to recently on the aeroplane.
Let me remind you here that this was 1961 and nobody, I mean absolutely nobody had ever flown on an aeroplane before, except a few of our fathers who had flown on aeroplanes to bomb the shit out of Germany 17 years earlier…
…you know, I still find it hard to believe that I was born just eleven years after the end of World War Two, thats like a baby being born today looking back as far as 2001, my god, how bloody old am I and more importantly, how the hell did I get here, this far ?
Anyway, so in 1961 there was no such thing as package holidays abroad and the only time you ever went abroad was to bomb the shit out of some other country so the fact that our Ned had written in his daily diary in Mrs Whiteman’s class “Yesterday I went on an aeroplane” was astounding news indeed and Mrs Whiteman had gone to extraordinary lengths to get up off her fat arse and walk all the way to the school gates in order to glean more of the story from our mother.
“Where did you go on the aeroplane ?” she asked of our mother.
“Eh ?” said our mother.
“Your little Ned wrote in his diary that you went on an aeroplane yesterday” said Mrs Whiteman.
“Eh ?” said our mother
Later that evening, after tea, our mother gave our Ned a lecture on telling lies and fibs and how it was wrong to do so and that he should always try to tell the truth, or at least not tell such big whoppers so that she’d get flummaxed at the school gates, in short if he was going to tell lies and fibs in his daily diary then at least make then something that was slightly believable.
But far from being admonished he was absolutely insistent that yesterday he HAD been on a aeroplane, absolutely.
Now our mother knew that he hadn’t been on a aeroplane the previous day, and I knew that he hadn’t been on an aeroplane the previous day but the more you pointed out this simple fact to him the more he insisted that he had, so insistent was he that I almost started to believe him, but our mother was getting quite beside herself by now as the last thing she actually wanted in life was a five year old who told such big whoppers that everyone would think he was bred from lunatics.
“I DID go on an aeroplane yesterday” shouted our Ned, stamping his feet for greater effect.
“No you didn’t” insisted our mother, “You’ve never been on an aeroplane, I’ve never been on an aeroplane, your fathers never been on an aeroplane” and then turning to me “did you put him up to this, is it you thats been telling him he’s been on an aeroplane ?” and I shrugged my shoulders, I hadn’t the foggiest what he was on about.
“BUT I DID GO ON AN AEROPLANE YESTERDAY” he shouted stamping his feet and clenching his fists for greater effect.
“No you didn’t…” started our mother
“YES I DID” he shouted back, “ON THE ROUNDABOUT”
There was a long pause.
“Ah yes” replied our mother, “time for bed, come on, stop this arguing”
It was true, he had been on an aeroplane and I’d been on the racing car, on the kiddies roundabout at the Woodhouse Moor fair (or “feast” as we called it around these parts).
The day he out-flummaxed our mother AND Mrs Whitehead, who was never fully informed of the truth and must have thought of us as a remarkable family to take their five year old on an aeroplane to nowhere in particular one day.