Tonight I am opening a drawer in the museum of recollections with a key that I thought was lost in the midst of time, and in this drawer are all of the record cards of memories from my very first Primary School, Brudenell Infants.
The record cards in the oldest of drawers in the museum of recollections are faded and dusty and hard to read and some of them are illegible, but here are a few snapshots…
1. Brudenell Infants only had three classrooms and yet it had four teachers, all female, including the headteacher.
2. Three of those teachers were of the “matronly” style, huge busomed ladies dressed in coarse tweed, the same tweed worn every day to school.
3. The one who took the first class, the four and five year olds was called Mrs Whiteman and my Uncle Sid once told me to ask her if she was married to a black man, my mother slapped me around the back of the head when I replied “OK then” and told me that it would be “Woe betide me” if I ever did such a thing, I never found out what “Woe betide me” meant.
4. It was in Mrs Whitemans class one day that I was sick all over the head of a small girl who was sat in front of me during the storytime period.
5. Mrs Mannion, one of the tweedy buxon ladies, played the piano in assembly with flourishes of her hand when a hand came free of the keyboard, by that I mean that if she didn’t need one of her hands on the keyboard for a few seconds during a song she’d wave it in the air with a flourish, for years I thought that was part of the sheet music.
6. Miss Trenholme was the hugely buxom head teacher, it was her sole job to teach us five year old to read using Janet and John books, which she did by taking us one at a time into her office and sitting us on a chair next to her desk while she chain smoked Players No 6 cigarettes, the room was constantly full of smoke and had an aroma of tobacco and a sickly sweet perfume, I learned to read whilst passive smoking.
7. We had a PE lesson once a week when a huge wooden radio set would be wheeled into the hall and a BBC schools program would broadcast things for five year olds to run around the hall to, we had to pretend to be racing cars and buses and trees, I would not be surprised if the BBC program makers were on drugs at the time.
8. There was a playground at the back of the school with two small wooded paddocks attached that we were not allowed into unless it was a warm summers day, I think I dreamed that bit for this is the Brudenell area we are speaking off, small wooded paddocks indeed.
9. My grandmothers house was a terraced house right next to the school gate and so we’d go there most nights, I only recall the kitchen at the back of the house which had a range in it and a pot dog that she called “Rip” after a collie she’d once owned, as a special treat we were allowed to whitewash Rip once a year.
10. There was a Scottish dinnerlady employed at lunchtimes to serve up the rations of food that were sent down the road from Queens Road school in sealed tureens but before she dished out the food she’d stand in the boys toilets and watched us have a slash before lunch and then she’d force our hands into scalding hot bowls of water which she topped up with boiling water from a jug that she filled straight from an old gas geyser, she was bloody evil she was.
11. I must have pissed my pants one day because the Scottish dinner lady was given the job of removing my wet pants and finding something suitable to send me home in, she clad me in a pair of Ladybird elastic waisted red short pants that were at least three sizes too small, in fact I think they were girls gym knickers now I come to think of it, my mates laughed for the rest of the day, she was bloody evil she was.
12. My best friends were Derek Maitland and Paul Atkinson and one day Derek Maitland and I were paired up in a model making competition where you had to make something out of old cornflake boxes and Oxo tins, we made a huge battleship and painted it grey and we won the competition and a ten shilling book voucher which Derek Maitland stole and ran all the way home with – I have never spoken to him since and I don’t care*.
13. I once met Paul Atkinson at a site meeting when we were both in our mid-twenties and we both knew it was the other and neither of us asked the other if by chance they’d gone to Brudenell Infants School.
14. There was a boy in our class called Gary Green who was the milkmans son and who couldn’t talk properly and I suspect that he’d had a cleft palette or similar and not had it repaired properly, years later some other friends of mine who played for a football team told me of this freak who played for a team in their league who couldn’t talk properly and his name was Gary Green as well, which is as close to an amazing coincidence as you’ll ever get.
15. There was another boy in our class who’s name is too faint to read from the record card in the museum of recollections but he was the dirtiest kid I have ever had the misfortune to know, as well as being filthy and trailing dust after him everywhere, he also had a constantly running nose that produced copious amounts of bright green snot, constantly. The most vile thing I have ever seen in my life to date was the day I looked over to his desk where he was finishing off his one third of a pint bottle of free school milk to see that the snot from his nose had run down the straw and into the bottle, then down the inside of the glass and into the last of the milk which he was now sucking back up the straw – I still have nightmares about this.
*If Derek Maitland reads this then get in touch, I want my fookin half a book voucher back ok ?