A penny wrapped in silver paper
I started at Pelham Street School in 1956 at under 4 years old. The Headmistress, Miss Webster, smacked the back of my legs on the first day. The lovely nurse was Miss Scott. She wore a full skirted overall in pale green. I believe Miss Jupp was my first teacher, so kind. She recognised me on a bus when I was 20 and spoke to me. Mrs Smith was a teacher who gave me an old penny wrapped in silver paper so the class would think I had half a crown; this was for sitting up straight during story time. Not a very helpful thing to do, it did not help with the bonding of classmates. Later I was taught by her when I was thirteen, old enough to understand her methods were cruel.
My first love
Pelham Street School was were I first fell in love, he was called Andre Welch. I used to have a photograph of myself in class with a pink and blue Triang pushchair that said Mum-Ma when pushed. Also in the photo was Dennis Vaughan dressed in full cowboy gear, sitting on a metal horse on springs. I can almost smell the place as I type. The swing in the playground tucked around the corner, the little green canvas camp beds where we had our afternoon naps. The teachers stopped me sucking my thumb. I remember jealousy rearing its ugly head for the first time. The object of my jealousy was a pretty blonde girl. I hit her – what was her crime? She wore a beautiful angora knitted bolero with silver thread running through.
Hand me down shoes
I remember the end of my first day. My Mum came to meet me; I was sitting in the playground, my thick brown hair having escaped its ties. My pleated skirt with straps had had its buttons pulled off by a boy who was behind me whilst enacting The Big Ship Sails On The Ally Ally Oh. Not forgetting my hand-me-down, brown, lace-up shoes with blakies on the heels that made me do the splits on the wooden corridor floors, hurting my under-carriage. Oh Mother, sanctuary, take me home. Then horror strikes as I am informed I must come back the next day. Life will never be the same.