Monday, 1 September 2014

Back to school

How I used to hate those words back in the 1970s of my childhood; usually liberally plastered in the windows of W.H Smiths, in the hope of luring parents in to spend a lot of money on new pens, rulers, bags, etc. Nothing much has changed these days except the sheer scale of the luring. In France it may be worse: 'La Rentrée' seems to require new absolutely everything.
So, back to school, or in Ezra's case Lycée.
I can remember that heavy feeling of fear down in my stomach at the thought of walking through those gates again after the carefree days of yakking about music, hanging about in Muswell Hill and the occasional trip up to Oxford Street to dream of buying yellow hot-pants in Chelsea Girl, or sky -blue platform shoes in Stead and Simpson.
Ezra's place of learning is far more calm and civilised than mine was however, and other than trying his hardest to blend in and not be noticed by some of the alarmingly cool, I think there is little to fear; just some scary maths and French hyper-verbs that he will no doubt have forgotten over the freedom weeks.
My personal terrors to face on entering the Bounds Green secondary school were the scary bitch girls with their school uniform dresses hitched up to buttock level, dark mascara eyes and forbidden lipstick. Someone as uncool as me with my jumble sale shoes and unruly hair was always a good target for gibing, especially as I was deemed to have a Posh Accent. The new array of teachers were there to be tested by the most violent members of the class; a victory if one could be made to break down in tears: ahhh, happy days.
At a 'Vide Grenier' (car boot sale) the other day, I found a copy of a book I remember from my infants school, before the time of the jostling junior school and the afore-mentioned hell of the Secondary establishment. My 'infants' school was a far cry from the pictures in the ladybird book of Going to School, although I do remember the morning milk break and the class hamster. The playground certainly didn't resemble the smiling scene in this book and there was, without doubt, some early dealing going on, if only for sweets.

Here is the rather wonderful Preface to the book, first published 1959.

In this book are illustrated all the interesting and enjoyable activities which day-to-day make school such a happy experience, and with its help parents can ensure that their children will eagerly anticipate what lies ahead. 

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