A photo to leave in my school records - age seven
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The school would have been better to file this colour shot in their records of me at the age of seven. The headmistress might then have realised I was still in the infants and too young to be given the cane by her.
Rather than a photograph of me looking happy and showing my teeth in a smile at that school.
She managed to get rid of me at the age of seven by arranging I was sent off to a boarding school that took naughty boys.
Boarding school part 2
With Christmas being close all it seemed were looking forward to adding a few more things to their own collections. I was told that parents are allowed to send us certain toys and things, but the school also provides a few Christmas presents to each off us, the better behaved you are the chances of getting to choose early from the selection. We all get fair shares though.
A bell was rung, this it seemed was the first bell for tea, it gave us all a chance to tidy away anything we had out and to visit the bogs before sitting down, the next bell would mean that we were meant to be lining up by the dining room, be late for that and you might find you have to sit next to the adults or the older boys. Our lower and middle group were soon in an orderly queue, it was explained that for tea it was often bread and jam, cake, and something to drink. Most days we get a hot tea; it might be sausages or something of that nature, two days a week the cook has an afternoon off so we get cold teas. As you go in, take a plate and two slices of bread and one slice of cake, later on if you want more bread you hold your hand up and one of the older boys on tea duty will hand you an extra slice, most of the time two slices is all you need. We get a supper before bed so there is no need to eat a large amount unless you are starving. I followed the others into the dining room, the slices of bread already had margarine or butter on them, unlike my mother''s thin slices these were very large, if my mother had been cutting the bread it would have been quite easy to get two or three of her slices from just one of the slices the school provided. A single slice of cake was now placed on top of the bread as we filed through, to drink there was either tea or orange squash, I was more than happy to find squash, tea was never something I really liked.
There were no set places to sit down at; we simply took the next available space at the tables. As we grouped together in the queue it meant that friends could normally sit together for most meals.
We sat down and remained silent for a short while until everyone had their food. Grace was now said by an elderly man, this was my first view of the headmaster. When the grace was finished we were allowed to start, talking was allowed providing it did not get too loud. When I had first arrived there had been some fear of my new surroundings, but really it was just like ordinary school.
The others soon explained how the daily life went on. Around seven we would be woken up to go for our showers, the upper form start at six thirty and the middle form at six forty-five, so normally they are finished by the time we get to the showers. Once we have dressed and made our beds and checked the room is tidy its breakfast, that is at seven thirty for everyone. At eight breakfast things are tidied away and its chores for three quarters of an hour. Us lower group have the nice chores, cleaning the bogs, showers, baths and filling the laundry tubs. We normally do the chores in groups of four or six; you do a month at each chore, so as not to make it too boring. The middle form normally to the sweeping and polishing, the upper boys do the washing up and the boiler room.
The work is not that hard, school starts at nine, we have a short assembly and any announcements are made, lessons normally start at nine thirty so on most days we have a little free time once assembly was finished. I was now told it was important you visited the lavatory before the lessons started, unlike ordinary school, the staff here do not like you leaving the form room once the lesson has started, they think you might be up to mischief or run away.
Life here I was now told was not all bad, we were given rewards for either good work or good behaviour, this was a small bar of chocolate at the end of Friday afternoon to the best work of the week in lessons, or from Matron on a Sunday morning to the best three in the school over chores that had been done during the week. The chores were not really difficult just a little cleaning, there are members of staff that do most of it, we are set chores just for something to do. On a Saturday we all get a small bag of sweets.
When you finished your tea you waited until everyone at your table had finished then you were allowed to leave, dirty things were placed in neat piles. Some of the older boys would do the final clear up. Our lower form did not have any homework unless it was set as a punishment, so we were free to go and watch the television until the middle and upper form came in and took the best seats over, they would also choose which channel to watch. If there were found to be any arguments then the set would be switched off for the rest of the evening. If you were not watching television there was the choice of either staying in the activity room or outside, it is not much fun in the winter as there is little to do, but when the summer comes there plenty of fun.
I was taken back to matron to see about my the rest of my clothes, I was now introduced to the other matron, it appeared that all my clothes had been dealt with, my only task would be to keep them in good order. With us now free I was taken to the small hall where the television was. A range of chairs were grouped so that the first twenty or so had a good view of the set which was put up on quite a high cupboard to give those seated in the rear rows some chance of seeing a picture.
Television was something I had not seen for over a year, the last opportunity had been at the first school I had been at, then my age meant that only for a short while after the news had finished was I allowed to watch. Our bedtimes here depended on which form we were in. Our group would be turned out at seven thirty, on Fridays and Saturdays it was eight, it did not matter if the programme had not finished those were the times we left, the middle form was half an hour after us and the upper form half an hour later. If we were dirty it was a bath, otherwise it was a good wash and into bed. When we were in bed we were allowed to talk until the lights were turned out, it was then to be silence, we could get away with whispering but if caught talking it was normally a whack with the nearest plimsoll.
Slowly the older boys came in, it seemed it was best to give up our seats and slowly move further back; eventually matron came in to call us for bed. I was asked by her if I was settling in; I appeared cheerful enough to be allowed to go off with the others. None of our form thought they were dirty enough to need a bath, when the games lesson had finished it appeared they had been directed to the showers. Martin and I simply grouped ourselves with the others when matron came to see if there were any candidates for the bath.
Supper came when we had all finished our wash and had put our pyjamas on, all of us were identical in our blue and white matching sets, our dressing gowns varied in colour, but for the most they were fairly thick in type. I found that the collar part itched my neck where the pyjamas ended.
Soon we were in the dining room; supper was the one meal you did not sit down for, as the tables were laid out for breakfast and the floor clean, making it untidy was not allowed. The small area where we were confined would soon be made tidy by the upper form when they had finished. Supper it seemed varied as to what the cook felt could be used up. Often it was toast and jam, but we might get beans or something like that if one of the large cans needed to be finished up. In a way having supper first meant that if there was something left over we would get it. If we took too long over supper, then the time we would get called for bed would be brought forward in the future.
Teeth done and the lavatory visited we headed for our dormitory. We soon were in bed, I was asked by the boy next to me if I was going to find it odd having to sleep with other boys, I mentioned that I had already been at a school where I had shared a room with another boy. Matron paid a final visit to see that we were settled and the lights were turned off. If any other adult had to come in it would be the master on duty tonight, there were often odd visits during the night just to see we were not up to any mischief, in the normal way the lights will be left off, he will have a torch, so don''t be afraid if it gets pointed in your direction, it will be just to check that there is someone in the bed.
If you are up to mischief, you will be made to stand in the corridor until it is felt you will be quiet for the rest of the night. If you get a whack you will be taken into their room, that way your crying will not wake up any others. If there are no others around, starting to cry just before you get hit might get you off the punishment.
Today had been such a change, I was not really afraid of this school, but I soon put my head under the covers, although I was not crying out loud, I was a little unhappy that I had been sent here for not doing anything really wrong.
The start of the new full day came suddenly, I was used to waking up to almost silence, if the weather was windy there might be the sound from the trees, but other than that nothing really to hear. A few of the others were awake; chattering was slowly starting from various parts of the room. It might be still dark outside, I had no idea what the time really was. Thick curtains stopped most signs of daylight from coming through.
The boy in the next bed said that we could pair up for all chores as it was easier. Alan it seemed had just turned eight, birthdays here are nothing special, the school give you a small present and your parents can send small items to you.
There was a loud bang of a door opening; I was told that this was Matrons way of waking those who might be asleep; it saved her from going from bed to bed. There was a friendly greeting to all of us to get ourselves up and ready, if there was encouragement it was that anyone not out of bed in the next ten seconds would be tipped out.
All of us were soon out, at this point we were allowed to open our curtains, a dull day it appeared was waiting for us, but as the sun was not fully up it might be better later.
I followed what most of the others were doing. The blanket and top sheet was pulled back, slightly rolled so that the bed had a chance to air while we went for our showers. I watched as Alan pulled his top sheet and blanket completely off and placed them on the side chair, another boy opposite us was doing the same. There was a bit of a joke from him that if you don't soak the top sheet it does not have to be changed. The others did not seem to take any notice of what they were up to. Alan gathered up the lower sheet and a small piece of blanket that had been underneath his lower sheet from the bed, and with the others and myself left the dormitory; we took our towels, our dressing gowns were taken with us but not worn, I was told that after our shower when we have dried ourselves, if you then put your dressing gown on it will keep you warm.
We all went into the shower room, Alan deposited his sheet and pyjamas in an open wicker basket in the corner which already had a few sheets inside, he told me that we would take it to the laundry room later. Until this moment I had only had a quick look inside the shower room. Soon we had put our dressing gowns on a long bench and taken off our pyjamas.
One of the boys told me that matron would be along in a moment to turn the water on, we have to stay in the shower area until she decides we have had long enough, she threatens to just turn the cold water on its own, but has never done that yet.
I followed the others into a small walled area, those from the other lower dorm were already there. It was not too cramped, if the was any shoving it was more in fun than anger. Originally the showers area looked to have been designed for a few to take individual showers, but the shower heads were now directed into the centre of our group.
This had been my first opportunity to be with a group of boys of my own age where no adult supervision seemed to be around, suddenly one of the boys started to pee, unlike the ordinary boy''s school lavatory where there might be a game to see who could get highest up the wall, in this shower area the aim was more to see who he could hit. All of us including myself now joined in. this it seemed was a regular morning event. Matron knows what we are up to but does not say anything, she hopes we get tired of silly things and just aim at the floor. We are allowed to do this as it saves her having to supervise us visiting the main bogs first thing in the morning, if we are all in the shower room she does not have to look for stragglers. If you do need to go and sit on the lav first thing you will probably still be in time for your shower.
Suddenly the water came on; a cheer went up from the others. Warm rather than hot, we soon were fully soaked, a single bar of soap was passed around our group, there was not really the aim of using it to keep clean more the fun of who could squeeze it into the air for the next person to catch. The water eventually was turned off, matron controlled the water from outside the shower room, it appeared that we had to shout to tell her it was off.
Drying ourselves off seemed to be done in record time, if there were any parts not fully dried putting on our dressing gown without any pyjamas solved that. Alan said he would show me where the linen cupboard was, while the others headed back to the dormitory I followed Alan down a side corridor. A large cupboard contained various sheets and blankets, if we were cold at night it was all right to take an extra blanket the following day.
I was warned that when you were in the middle or upper dorms if you wet the bed matron would give you a light hit with the slipper or cane when you got up, the older boys had told him that in never really hurt, but it was not someting he was looking forward to when he moved up next year. For some of the others in this dorm, they wet their beds when they hear matron wake the older ones up, it's the sound of the hits and not wanting to go for a pee whilst the older boys are about. The other time is if you go to the single night lav next to the upper form, if they are there smoking, just return to your bed, they would torture you just for fun.
Breakfast started as soon as our first chores of tidying our dorm had been completed. As we lined up in the queue for breakfast the rules were explained. There was a bowl of porridge for each of us, there was the choice of brown sugar, golden syrup or black treacle to add, if you finished the porridge you were allowed a bowl of corn flakes and either hot or cold milk, but only if the porridge was finished. Unlike other meals where it might be possible to get a item you did not like much taken off your plate by a friend, there was no luck with porridge, if you do like it however you can have an extra large bowl and go without the corn flakes. To add to my porridge I chose brown sugar, but as there would be other days ahead there was a choice to be had. Warm milk on corn flakes was something I did not fancy, even drinking warm milk seemed to sickly for me.
Breakfast finally over we set about the morning chores before school started. Alan selected me for his group, I would spend the rest of the month on laundry chores then we would swap over to bogs. If you were on laundry duty is was slightly different to any other chore, we did part now and part during morning break, it was not unfair as we spent the same time in total as the others.
Our group formed, most went off to the laundry room, Alan explained that it took only a couple of us to collect the sheets, if the others go off to run the cold water into the tubs we get the first part finished early. Once back at the shower room we gathered up the sheets and pyjama trousers from the basket. If the basket was ever full it was necessary to take the basket down to the laundry room, at other times the sheet that was the driest was selected and everything bundled into it. If the driest sheet was used, if you had to put the bundle down whist it was carried you did not pick up any dirt from the floor and matron would not do her nut. Soon the bundle had reached the laundry room, pyjamas went into one tub and the sheets plunged into two other tubs of cold water, once submerged that was the chore finished for the moment.
At our morning break we had to return, let this first water out, fill the tub again and let it run away, then put all the damp sheets into the big copper where one of the staff would fill it with hot water. That was the chore finished. Sunday is the worst day everyone has a new lower sheet on that day, most of the two lower forms wet the bed on a Saturday night as they know the sheets will be changed without been embarrassed in any way over the matter, the older boys will spend Saturday night lavatory as they have spent any pocket money on cigarettes that afternoon, not a place to visit if you want a happy life. If the top sheets are in clean condition in the winter months they get used as lower sheets during the second week, in the summer both sheets get changed on a Sunday. It takes two separate goes to do the sheets.
Freedom without others before school started was ideal for visiting the library, any new comics would have been put out unless they had just been received personally by anyone, the school purchased some of the more educational or story type comics for us, but as these were the more expensive types they were always welcome.
Lessons at the school seemed odd, with so few of us in the form room, the teacher could either spend time watching what you were up to or get through the lesson without really checking on what work you had completed.
For most of our lessons we would have one teacher, he came to the school only on days that we had lessons, unlike the other two teachers and the headmaster he did not live in the building. I was told that the main advantage to this was that he did not normally know if you had been in any trouble. Often if punishments had been set for you to complete and our teacher gave you an additional punishment you needed only to do one.
It appeared out teacher could on occasions appear stricter than the others; this was simply due to him favouring to give us a whack with the plimsoll than having to see that we completed extra work that was set.
Over the next few days I found lessons rather boring but easy enough to do. I resisted the temptation to cause a nuisance at this early stage, as it was rarely that a morning or afternoon was completed without someone getting hit with either the plimsoll or the cane, it was easy to see that these punishments were not done with any real force, once his back was turned it was often the grin on the face on the one who had received the punishment, showed that it had not really hurt.
The actual time that we spent in the form room was less than the other schools I had attended. If time was allowed for the morning and afternoon breaks plus the lunch period. There were the two afternoons that were devoted to sport and the single afternoon when we were taken outside on what appeared to be a nature ramble, although we were really allowed to run about and have fun. The actual amount of written work that we did in our work books was quite limited, which I found was ideal.
The Sunday before Christmas we were taken into the main town to attend a carol service. For those that wanted to go there would also be an opportunity to visit church for a further service. It appeared only a few names went on the list for that event, even with the promise of a little extra treat for all that were well behaved. Having been give our Saturday sweets, this offer of an extra treat was not really enough of a reward to sit through another church service.
Saturday afternoons were spent by going on an organised walk around the local lanes, it appeared that in the summer months we were taken out for longer and were given the freedom to run about, during the winter the walks took less time due to the weather.
Christmas 1964 - Age 7, but almost 8.
Now that school was over that staff appeared were more relaxed to our behaviour. As long as we did not do anything really wrong or made it look as if we were trying to cause a nuisance it appeared that we were allowed more freedom.
With our numbers slightly reduced, chores and other activities were changed slightly. With no lessons to attend there would be more freedom for us. The staff decided that occupying us with chores was a way of preventing us getting into mischief.
Our lower form now had the boiler room duties added to our morning tasks. Once we had done these we were free to do as we pleased until lunch time. The boiler room chore was regarded by us more of a pleasure than a chore. As the form rooms were not in use, heating to some parts of the school had been turned down quite low, this meant that less coke was needed and for us less to move from the main store to the daily store area. The warm ash was fun to play with, some minor dust clouds were caused as we broke up the clinker into small chunks, but as we left the area clean there was little sign of the short period of fun we achieved. Ash when taken out of the boiler room was to be spread on various paths, small piles were located at the end of the drive in case there was ice, but most was available for us to neatly distribute on the ground, to us this involved throwing a shovel of ash into the air trying to cover our friends in dust.
With the aim of spending as much time out of the way of the staff as possible, if we did get a little filthy then there was plenty of time before lunch came to get presentable. The few older boys that were still here decided that some of the chores were to be avoided if possible. The staff were a little more easy on us when it came to checking that chores had been completed to their normal high standard.
Two days before Christmas and out thoughts on chores did wander a little, one of the form rooms had been allocated to take the Christmas presents the school was going to give to us, these were unwrapped but just out of clear sight from standing outside the building, the door was locked to prevent us getting in from inside, on a far table we could see a selection of wrapped presents, these we knew were from our parents and relatives, but as to how many we had each was simply unknown.
There was an unwritten rule that was made by the older boys that you had to obey. If it was possible to get into trouble, it was your duty to get told off and be punished, any boy who was good all the time deserved to get beaten up.
As punishments of all kinds were dealt out, one seemed actually to welcome a master using some minor form of punishment on you, to save been thought of by your friends or the older boys as been too good.
Christmas at my new location seemed to offer far more excitement. None of our age group really admitted out loud that there was no Father Christmas. Matron had seemed to quash any ideas of our non belief with the words that those who don''t believe in Father Christmas won''t be disappointed if he did not leave them any presents. This did not seem to apply to the older boys who we knew had firm ideas on where all toys came from.
Once the school term finished our numbers thinned out quickly down to a total of twenty. The two upper dormitories were soon combined into one room. Our lower dorm numbers did shrink a little, not really enough to give the impression of an empty room. Matron decided that our dorm could now have our rival dorm joining us two extra beds were brought in. For us it was ideal, the spaces between each bed shrunk a little, talking when lights were out was much easier.
Christmas Eve had all formed into one group at the end of the afternoon. Presents provided by the school were now given out. Two tables were covered with a range of unwrapped toys books and other items. To make it reasonably fair each of us would be allowed to take one present from each table. The order it seemed was based on how we had behaved during the year. For those of us in the lower form, it was how we had behaved since arrival. Although during my lessons I had been reasonably well behaved together with a friend there had been a possibility that we had been in minor amounts of trouble. Slowly the line formed as names were read out. If there was any surprise I was not at the end of the line but nicely in the middle.
We slowly moved forward, all eyes were on various items in the pile, at odd moments there were groans from those still in the queue, when an item they wanted was selected by someone earlier. When my turn came I was quite happy with a pen set and a model car. Those at the end still had reasonable choices. When all had selected two items there were still several toys left, these it appeared we could have on merit according to our behaviour over the next two days. Limiting this to just two days gave us something to really concentrate on.
After a short carol service we were released for a while. There was a second treat for us later. As it appeared that bringing Father Christmas to us would be difficult, this was not actually explained fully by the staff, there was to be a film show once tea was over.
Tea today was not really a rushed affair, the greedy members of the group did not bother asking for extra slices of bread. Before the meal finished there was an announcement made that we should all visit the lavatory before we went and sat in the hall, they did not want any continual disturbances with us moving about whilst the film was on. If we asked questions about what films we were going to see, the adults wanted to keep this a surprise.
All of us were involved in the chore of cleaning the tea things away; if one group was delayed it was thought to be rather unfair. As we went in to the hall we were handed a small brown bag, sweets were normally only handed out on a Saturday, now we had an extra selection of a few boiled sweets, a small bar of chocolate and one gobstopper, this appeared should last us the rest of the film once the bag of sweets had been eaten.
The staff did have some say as to where we sat, this was done more by size than age, I was quite lucky at getting a seat where none of the older boys were in front, but just smaller boys who were not in the way.
A cartoon started the show off and then it was total anticipation as to what the film was. The adults were hinting that it was going to be Snow White or some other film that whilst it would be a treat it was not really a choice we would have made. Once the titles were up it was soon realised that they had been teasing us, A War film featuring plenty of action was although not really a subject I was keen on it was better than something aimed more at girls.
Other than cheering and other excitement we remained well behaved thought the film. Once it finished there was the thought that it would be best if we all went to bed at this point. Minor groans came from the older boys, but as they informed us that normally on the breakfast table on Christmas Day we would find a small present from the school. All it appeared wanted the following day to start as soon as possible. Even as we arrived at the bathroom at the same time even us younger ones seemed to get an equal share in turn to use the sinks. Matron decided than none of us had managed to get dirty enough to warrant a bath. We could guess that the sooner we were all in bed the sooner the adults could start to enjoy Christmas without us.
We were told by the few that had been here last Christmas that if matron found that a parent had not sent a present or the present that had been sent was rather minor, the school would add something to make up, on Christmas Day everyone even if they had not done well in lessons would be happy at breakfast.
Matron paid a final visit after lights were out just to se that we were not up to any mischief, then we were left alone for the rest of the night.
Christmas Day came as a surprise to us all. None of us in our dorm had been at this school last Christmas so all we had learnt up until now was from the older boys.
We all seemed to wake up at one point, the noise we started to make, roused the rest of the dorm within seconds.
Looking on the floor a brown paper bag had been left by the foot of each of our beds. Inside was an apple, orange and a few sweets. A small duplicated note said that we should stay in our rooms until we were called, if we were going to eat the orange could the peel be put inside the bag.
Eating any food in the dorm was a treat. None of us felt the need to wander out of the dorm to see what other events were lined up for us except for a few of us who visited the lavatory at the end of the corridor.
When eventually matron came, there was the instruction that there would be no chores for us today except for moving the coke to the boiler room, the ash could be left.
The morning shower and dressing was completed in record time. We had been told by the older boys that some presents would be waiting at the breakfast table. Our beds were made to a reasonable standard but would not have passed the normal inspection by matron.
Our snack before breakfast did not seem to spoil our appetites, possible the instruction that when we had all finished our breakfast we would be able to open the single present that was in front of our plates. These we were told was a present from the school. In this case they had chosen what they thought was appropriate for each of us. We could exchange these gifts between our friends if we liked, but any bullying or the like was to be reported.
If there was a slight delay before we managed to get at the presents it was having to wait for a few of the older boys who had the duty of serving the breakfast, there had been a slight delay in them starting.
Finally every plate was clean and we set about opening our present.
A set of various games was not a present that I had ever received before, as I was often on my own before coming to this school there had been very few chances to play board games. Now I would have several of my friends close at hand to play with, looking around our group there did not seem to be anyone else with a similar present.
If there was a disappointment it was our lower group that was sent off to do the boiler duty, whilst the middle and upper forms could go off to play. If there was anything unfair it was the headmaster deciding that only four of us were needed to move the coke. I wondered if his decision to pick Alan and Michael together with another of my close friends as well as myself had he realised that a small slightly troublesome gang was forming, although not totally up to mischief we needed to be watched.
The coke was moved in record time, we did make the pile for today up to the required size, had we cheated and the boiler gone out today, we could bet that tomorrow would not be that much fun.
When we returned indoors matron suggested we had better hurry along to our form rooms as presents from parents were waiting for each of us, the rest of our form had already started to open their presents.
I was quite pleased with the present from my mother, a colouring set with some liquid ink coloured pens was ideal if we were to be indoors over the holidays.
If any of us were disappointed not to be with our parents and jealous of those that had gone home, we did not seem to show it. During the holiday this did not really feel like a school, it was just a friendly group with the challenge of the adults to watch out for. To me this was the best Christmas I had ever had. Other than getting the plimsoll a couple of nights ago, few of us had really been in trouble.
The adults came round to see that we were all happy, toys now had to make their way to our lockers, there was the encouragement for all of us to go outside and have a run around, they would all like to see us with good appetites ready for our Christmas lunch.
If there had been six inches of snow on the ground for us to play in Christmas would have been really great, but we just had to put up with the normal cold morning as most others had been. One game of football was organised, two of the older boys wanted to have the chance to try out their new leather footballs, to a few of us they resembled exactly the ones that the school used in lessons, why they should think of the new balls as something special we did not know.
If the game was slightly uneven in numbers it was that it was the lower dorm against the remains of the middle and upper dorm, we did no want to totally out number them so a small group of four of us disappeared into the woods. Even with our suits and raincoats on it seemed cold, taking our raincoats off so that we could join in the football was something we did not want to happen.
The woods with just us in was more fun than normal, there was no need to look out for missiles and other things coming down to hit you from above. Quite a long game of hide and seek was played, this only came to an end when we realised that there was no sound coming from the field. Getting to the edge of the wood the grounds were empty, We were sure that the bell had not been rung to let us know it was time to go in, one of us was sure to have heard it.
We did get up quite a speed crossing the grass; the normal rule of not going across the football area was simply ignored. Before we arrived at the door we had the view of the dining room, all the others were sat down at the tables, it was not a case of them waiting to start the meal, all were already eating.
With our coats off we were clean. All of us needed to go and wash our hands; the various branches and wood we had used in our play were not something that would have passed a hand inspection. Our route to the boys'' lavatory meant that we were not seen until we were presentable.
Going into the dining room whilst everyone was in the middle of a meal was not something we really wanted to do, had it been a ordinary meal then missing it rather than admitting our wrong doing was something that we might have done. Christmas lunch was something that we must not miss. Entering the room quietly there was no escape, all the adults were seated and in the middle of their meals. There almost seemed to be a chorus from them asking where we had been.
With enough noise going on from the others it was necessary to go right up to their table to tell them we had been in the woods and had not heard the bell rung.
We were waiting for at least one of the adults to shout at us; all we were now told was that the bell had not been rung as all of us were thought to be playing football. Only when everyone had sat down was it realised that there were a few short, rather than send out a search party it was decided to let us make our own way in. If we had been any longer there was a good chance that we would have missed our lunch.
Instead of been sent to join the others we were now told to bring a chair each to their table. As the staff had been served last, our portions could come from their selection.
Sitting at the adults table we now found did have a few advantages, we might not be able to talk as much as we liked, but the food was far better. The Christmas meal was turkey. On the staff serving plate was just the white breast meat, in large slices, this was better than the selection of meat that our friends had been served with, extra roast potatoes now came our way, I was happy that for vegetables, sprouts were not simply put onto my plate.
As school meals went this was the best one so far at any school. Christmas pudding was also an extra treat for the four of us. While the ordinary tables had their puddings served from one big tray, an individual pudding was put on this table. Our friends at the other tables were too busy eating their pudding to notice the headmaster pour something onto this pudding.
I was quite use to watching such a pudding then being lit, but for my other three friends this was new and a little strange. There was a comment from one of the matrons that perhaps she should fetch our portions from the main container. The headmaster decided that as it was Christmas it was not going to do us any harm as long as we did not have too much.
In the normal way Christmas pudding was quite rich, with the headmaster in a good mood, perhaps giving boys of seven and eight the staff pudding was unusual. I could taste the brandy, with my mother''s job I had already found that ends of drink bottles an interesting find at the end of the meal before they were put in the bin and had already several preferences of types of drink.
There was a final grace, there was now the instruction that we should all go and do something quiet for the next hour or so. With our meal just eaten they did not want any of us feeling unwell.
Having our meal at the teachers table we knew our friends would now want to tease us any make our lives a misery as were appeared not to have been given a telling off for arriving late. We headed off to the dormitories where we might not be found straight away. We could have gone into our own dorm but we would soon be found, the others having played football might be going to change their clothes.
The other lower dorm was our hiding place; those that had been moved into our dorm had all their things moved in with us, there would be no reason for them to return here. It was not that we were scared of our friends, but having got away with one matter so far a fight or the like we might not be as lucky.
Having become use to small amounts of alcohol, I was quite ready to feeling slightly sleepy, the extra amounts of food today meant that the suggestion by matron that we find something quiet to do, in a dormitory with the beds not been made up, simply lying down on them to rest, did not seem wrong. That the four of us were soon sound asleep proved that if the teachers wanted to keep us quiet, staff Christmas pudding could be one way. We eventually woke in time for tea, our friends had now forgotten about lunch and when we reformed up nothing was mentioned over our disappearance over the last few hours.
Once tea was over we returned to our toys before matron came to drag us off to bed and what we thought an earlier bedtime.
Boxing Day and everything returned to normal, chores were slightly extra as those that had not been done yesterday had to be caught up with. The day soon passed with everyone possessing something new there was plenty to keep us amused.
One event that took a whole day of our holidays. We were to be featured in part of a television programme about children growing up.
The parts of the programme we were to be in, showed us at play and doing chores. Most of the morning was spent with some of the boys endlessly kicking a football into a goal. I spent most of my time watching the adults at work.
The afternoon was with us showing how well we completed our chores. The older boys were shown polishing the floor, followed by matron shouting at a couple of us younger ones about walking across the floor and us not getting it dirty. The other chore we did was to keep making our beds to make the dorm look perfect.
If there was a disappointment it was that the film was going to be shown on television late in the evening in a few weeks time, we would all be in bed.
The day was fun, it would be something to tell the others when they returned after their holidays.
The holidays were soon over, school and the work in our form rooms was tackled once again.