I was only at the school for three months, three short months out of my whole life to date, September to December 1964, but I hated those three months – because of that school.
Queens Road Annexe it was, a small three roomed concrete panel pre-fabricated building surrounded by an eight foot concrete panel fence with one gate in which was topped by barbed wire, as was the fence – sounds really nice for an Infants school doesn’t it ?
It was the year that you had to do before you went up the road to the proper Queens Road Junior School which was a huge Victorian edifice of a school, blackened stone, rooms with high ceilings and tall windows and huge radiators, the sort of school where Victorians sent children to be educated in a “Be silent, listen, learn and then get the cane” manner, and sixty years later they still used those same principles, “the big school” as we knew it, looked terrifying to a seven year old kid, but we had to survive a year at the annexe down the road first…
Apart from looking like a miniature wartime prison camp the annexe school was the worst school that I ever attended simply because it was staffed by utter bastards, I remember very little about the place other than the fact that it was staffed by utter bastards who taught me very little other than the fact that sometimes utter bastards get to be teachers.
The rest of my school life was brilliant, I loved school right from five years to 17 years of age, apart from the three months at Queens Road Annexe, I was absolutely rubbish at everything at school right the way through and in this I am proud of my consistency but I made some wonderful mates, some of whom I still regard as close friends to this day, and we had great fun.
Apart from September to December 1964.
The Annexe had two classrooms and in the middle was a staff room that was always enveloped in cigarette smoke, and from memory it had two women teachers in the mold of the green Wicked Witch of the West, and an utter bastard of a man teacher, a thin man of average height with black greased-back hair and black national health spectacles, a thin sharp face and a permanent snarl on his lips, the man had probably never smiled in his life and for all I know probably suffered from the most horrendous and agonising hemorrhoids for I can think of no other reason why any adult would be quite such an utter bastard to seven year old children – yes its must have been huge grape-like clusters of Farmer Giles that so turned him against the human race – good.
There was a concrete area which was jokingly refered to as “the playground” around the back of the school within the eight foot high topped with barbed wire concrete panel fence and inexplicably it was always covered in small pieces of broken glass, so excellent for small children to play on then. Why it should have so much broken glass in it I have never been able to fathom, the whole school was enclosed by an eight foot high concrete paneled fence topped by barbed wire so its pretty inconceivable that anyone would walk across the playground and accidentally break lots of bottles on it, every night, or maybe all of the local residents just stood on the street outside every evening and played a game of “Lets see who can throw these milk bottles over that eight foot high concrete panelled fence with barbed wire on top” ?
Whatever the reason the whole playground was always strewn with thousands of shards of broken glass and rather than get someone in to sweep the playground clean, the utter bastard who was the male teacher in the school decided that it would be an excellent punishment for any misdemeanour to give a seven year old child a waste basket and walk around the playground at lunchtime picking up the broken glass, and he went out of his way to invent at least four or five strange misdemeanors every morning in order to get at least four or five kids on glass picking duties every lunchtime – he’d stand at the smoky window of the staff room and watch, more evidence that he had really bad Farmers because now I think of it I can’t remember seeing him sit down once.
Anyone involved in education these days has probably fainted at this point, go get them a glass of water will you ?
The two bitches who were the female teachers were no better, I sort of stayed anonymous for a couple of months but after my mother had been into the school to advise them that we’d be moving house in the December to the leafy suburbs of Cookridge and that I’d be attending a very newly built and very lovely new school in those leafy suburbs, then suddenly I came onto the radar of The Wicked Witch Of the West and the last four weeks of my attendance there were just fookin rubbish, the cow.
One incident which earned me repeated cracks across the knuckles with a wooden ruler was a “Read from a book at the front of the class” episode, I was pretty good at reading so it wasn’t a huge task for me and I stood next to her desk facing the rest of my fellow inmates, each of whom was staring at me in a way that said “Thank fook its you and not me up there”, and I read a page or so from a book until I got to a phrase that contained two instances of the word “there”, in the manner of “they’re there, next to the cupboard “, and she stopped me and asked me to read the sentence again.
So I did, so she hit the back of my hand with the wooden ruler.
Will you pick that current day teacher up off the floor again please, looks like they’ve fainted again.
“Its not “they’re, there” she explained by shouting, “its they’re, there”
It all sounded the same to me so I read it again, and again I got a crack across the knuckles with the ruler.
“You’re not listening you stupid boy” she screamed, “now listen to me, its “they’re there, now you say it”
Look if you’re going to keep fainting, current day teacher, then maybe you shouldn’t read on any further.
“They’re there” I attempted to repeat the words exactly as she had said them.
Another crack across my seven year old knuckles, “They’re there” she yelled.
Eventually she gave up, I suppose even an utter bastard grows tired of beating up a small kid with a wooden ruler, eventually, and my sum total of learning experience that morning – nothing, other than sometimes, utter bastards can get to be teachers, and in the 1960s they could hit you with wooden sticks for fun and pleasure.