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Sunday, November 11, 2012
ONE minute the alley was in Jimmy Osborne’s hand, the next it was looping across the playground like the Dam Busters’ bouncing bomb.
Its impact was just as spectacular, too – the hefty marble striking the large swimming pool window low down on the left, a spider’s web of fissures fragmenting the glass in dramatic fashion.
It was a complete accident. No swimming though for a while.
The incident happened at St Helen’s Primary in Ipswich, one of many memories which came tumbling back across the years after I wrote about the school dinner queue last week.
Those first school years make such an impression on our lives – far more than our dozy teenage days when minds focus more on sport, music and the opposite sex.
WE have a spider Sellotaped to one of our kitchen tiles.
It’s not something you see every day while making a cheese toastie. Quite macabre, really.
“Is it dead?” I asked.
Apparently, it is now.
So if it wasn’t some kind of strange medieval punishment – I know: they didn’t have sticky tape in the Dark Ages – what had the poor arachnid done to deserve death?
Apparently he jumped down my wife Rachel’s top . . . and bit her (allegedly).
She was keeping him as evidence in case she suddenly succumbed to strange symptoms of illness and we needed to identify what bit her and find an antidote.
I can still recall all the teaching staff from my school years in the late 1960s and early 70s – Mrs Francis, Mrs Moore, Mrs Elliot, Mrs Spiller, the fearsome but much-loved Mr Hendry, Mr Goodchild, Mrs Cowdell, Mrs Pierpoint and Mrs Armstrong, the head Mr Bingham, and Mr Cawt, whose enthusiasm generated in me a lifelong love of reading and writing.
Being one of those children who loved a job to do, I was made milk monitor for a time – the job involved pulling a small trailer of crates of one-third pints of milk, delivering to each classroom. The privilege was removed after a spectacular crash in the corridor which left glass and the white stuff everywhere and no one drinking milk that day.
In the juniors, I had the task each morning of setting the hall for assembly, putting the hymn numbers up, music in place for the pianist, and opening windows on warm days. One morning as I tried to get the hook of the long pole through the loop latch of a high window the pole slipped and smashed the glass. Not wanting to lose this coveted position, I told the head a bird must have flown into it – not sure he ever believed me.
At lunchtimes we played football at the canteen end of the playground. We had a goal chalked on the school wall and the other was usually a milk churn and a pile of pullovers.
On Thursdays at the end of lunchtime we used to kick the ball over the fence into Nigel Coote’s garden in Jefferies Road – it was craft afternoon and the teacher used to let two or three of us go to retrieve the ball, not knowing it was in Nigel’s garden, where drink and biscuits might be on offer.
As another Jimmy said, “And there’s more”, memories that is – but for another week.