Saturday, 25 February 2012
Crayford Northend Primary School, Kent 1953
This is autobiography.
The funeral of King George VI was on 15 February 1952. I watched it on TV and it's the first TV programme I recall seeing. I was four and a half years old. I made the adults laugh: repeatedly hearing the word "coffin", I enquired how if he was dead he could be coughing.
In the autumn of that year, I started school at Crayford Northend County Primary School, located between Slade Green and Erith, and stayed there until my parents moved to Dartford in 1955.
It was a school for poor and rough children. In morning Assembly when we stood, children often fainted onto the wooden floor. They were hungry. I developed a fear of fainting - in fact, I have never fainted in my life. Some children smelt. Some children had gentian violet painted on their faces to treat impetigo.
Of course, the school did The Coronation of June 1953 and every class had a Coronation photograph taken and every child received a Coronation mug (I still have it). In the photo, I am one of the better dressed pupils - my mother was "respectable" - back row, standing next to a girl. (The photo calls the school "North End" and locates it in Erith, but from my school reports and Googling, the school was technically a Crayford school and "Northend" is one word)
I was very keen on the Coronation: I was always being told in later childhood that I had marched up and down our road proclaiming "Here comes the Coronation" and remonstrated with workmen digging a hole: I told them they would spoil the Coronation. I also got to dress up as a TV - a television not a transvestite - for Slade Green's Coronation Fancy Dress competition. I guess it was my parents who collected the autographs of the local MP (Norman Dodds, Labour) and the journalist Hannen Swaffer, the day before my sixth birthday.
Northend was a mixed school and I do not recall any activity which was conducted separately for boys and girls. So I got to learn needlework and you can see my handiwork at the top of this Blog. I am sure I made this for my mother and inside there is some of her tatting - something she was introduced to in convalescence from one of her mental breakdowns. My mother and my Aunt Nellie taught me to knit and my Uncle Ben (about whom I have written before on this Blog) taught me simple leatherwork.
I have already made my plans for the next of the Queen's many Jubilees. I will leave the country for a week and take a holiday in a nearby Republic. The atmosphere here will be intolerable.
Added 25 July 2018: I have now published a memoir of my childhood, I Have Done This In Secret (degree zero 2018), freely available from Amazon, Waterstones, and other booksellers