Thursday, September 19, 2013


It`s a curious thing but, having lived in Kent for well over 50 years, I still try to maintain some sort of contact with the places where I grew up (at least physically if not mentally.)   So I still follow the fortunes of Southampton Football Club and each day I get a news feed from the local Southampton newspaper, the Southern Daily Echo.   And it was reading an article today that brought back some poignant memories of a particular incident on my very first day at school.

In a nutshell, the story in the Echo is all about a four year old boy who on his own first day at a Winchester primary school, decided he`d had enough and so after lunch decided to walk home.   Cue parental indignation, school embarrassment, thorough going security review and big article in local paper - all very predictable these days.

My own experience - back in 1944 or 1945 I`m not sure which - was essentially the same but with some added ingredients.  Now for quite some time before I started school, I had repeatedly been told that on that particular day, I would have to go.  I took it to mean just that one day - no-one mentioned anything about going the day after that and the day after that....... 

Anyway, just before the lunch break, I was convinced the teacher mentioned something to the effect that the best behaved child in the class could go home early. Looking back on it, I`m sure that wasn`t what she actually said but I convinced myself that it was.   Moreover, I also convinced myself that as I had behaved impeccably, I had earned the right to go home early.   So I did.  Just after lunch.

I began what was for me at that age a fairly long walk from Fawley school, shown on the right, back to where my mother and I were living during wartime with my aunt and uncle in the next village of Blackfield.   And as I trudged along, a couple of things happened.   It started to rain and also some doubts began to emerge as to whether I really should be doing this.  

So I hung around a bit, killing some time until, in my mind at least, I would arrive home when I was supposed to.   When I got there, far too early and soaked to the skin, my mother gave me one of her accusative stares, in response to which I could only proffer the pathetic statement which I still recall to this day - "I thought it would rain so I walked home."

No parental indignation, no school embarrassment, no thorough going security review and no article in the local paper - things were different back then.   But I`m pretty sure the adventures of the four-year old from Winchester will stick in his memory just as long as mine have    Maybe he and I are two of a kind after all, although I`m not sure I should wish that on him.

No comments: