The schoolday I’ll never forget by Jacqueline Wilson
jeanniejeanniejeannie.co.uk BLOG Tuesday 14th September 2021
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
The schoolday I’ll never forget: ‘Our teacher broke all the rules and took us for a wild day out’
My school had any number of petty classroom diktats, and there were severe penalties for naughty children. But one day our nature study teacher decided to break free
by Jacqueline Wilson (Guardian)
My primary school, in the 1950s, was incredibly strict. We lined up when the bell rang for the start of the school day and marched in smartly, swinging our arms. Anyone who swung their arms a little too wildly was severely punished.
You were always punished for breaking the rules. In the infants, you were simply smacked on the back of your legs, but in the juniors there was a cane in every classroom. It was seldom used, but it was an ever-present menace in the corner.
There were any number of petty classroom rules. You always stood up when a teacher came into the room. If you dared yawn, you were sent to run round the playground, to wake yourself up. You mustn’t ever whisper to a friend. If spotted, the teacher threw a piece of blackboard chalk at your temple with deadly accuracy. If you were very unlucky and in Mr Branson’s class, he threw the blackboard rubber too, and nearly knocked you unconscious.
It also seemed to be a school rule that all our teachers were highly eccentric. Miss Dowling was a fierce lady who taught us to make raffia baskets and cross-stitch purses. Mrs Symons was Austrian, as sweet as the pastries she brought in for a Christmas treat. Mr Townsend was the kindest father figure, encouraging us all so that we blossomed.
The quirkiest teacher of all was Miss Audric, who taught nature study. She could have been any age between 30 and 70, a startling-looking woman with hair as orange as a carrot. She wore it in old-fashioned earphones but occasionally, on sunny lunch hours, she would sit on the school lawn, undo her coiled plaits and brush her hair until it rippled, like a crazed Rapunzel. She wore hand-knitted suits, winter and summer, in eye-blinkingly bright colours: green, purple and electric blue.
One memorable sunny day, when we were all feeling dozy after lunch, she stopped drawing an oak tree on the blackboard, threw her chalk away and clapped her hands.
“Let us go and look at real oak trees, children!” she declared. “We’ll take a trip to Richmond Park.”
So we took a trip there, right that minute. No permission was sought. We broke the most fundamental rule of all: no leaving school premises until going-home time. Miss Audric marched us 40 children out of the school and all the way to the park. No one saw or stopped us. It was a good half-hour walk and our straggling crocodile must have been hard to direct across all the roads, but Miss Audric was up for it and so were we. When we got to the park, she allowed us to break ranks and charge through the grass.
She showed us hundreds of ancient oaks, herds of red and fallow deer, pointed out wildflowers and butterflies and birds, and when we eventually got tired and started whining that our feet hurt, she took us even further into the park to Pen Ponds. There was sand at the edge, almost like the seaside, and the water shone bright blue.
We didn’t hesitate. We flung off our sandals and went splashing into the water. Miss Audric undid her suspenders under cover of her woollen skirt, slipped off her lisle stockings and joined us. We splashed and sang and laughed for sheer joy.
Of course, we were all limping in our soggy sandals by the time we got back to school again, long after four o’clock. The headmaster was waiting, arms folded, and anxious parents were complaining bitterly, but Miss Audric wasn’t cowed. She swept past like a Pied Piper, triumphant. We all knew this extraordinary breaking of all the rules had been the most memorable school day of our lives.
The Primrose Railway Children (Doubleday) is published on 16 September.
TOP THIRTY OF THE DAY
TOP 30 WARNING LIGHTS BRITISH DRIVERS IGNORE ON THEIR DASHBOARD:
- Windscreen washer fluid level
- Low fuel level
- Replace car key battery
- Seatbelt buckles
- Rear fog lights
- Tyre pressure monitoring
- Rain and light sensor
- Lane assist – system fault
- Bulb monitoring
- Boot lid
- Key not in vehicle
- Airbag and seatbelt system
- Engine management warning light
- Emissions control light
- Engine oil level
- Tower hitch
- Rear spoiler
- Convertible roof
- Engine oil pressure
- Headlight range control
- Brake lights
- Recharge adblue
- Air suspension
- Steering lock
- Electronic stability programme
- Brake system
- Adaptive light system
- Anti-lock brake system
REMEMBER: The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.
– Nicolas Chamfort
INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE FOR THE DAY
“It isn’t where you came from. It’s where you’re going that counts.” – Ella Fitzgerald
Happiness is…a Jaqueline Wilson book.
GRANDAD’S ONE LINER JOKE OF THE DAY
“A man walks into a chemist’s and says, ‘Can I have a bar of soap, please?’
The chemist says, ‘Do you want it scented?’
And the man says, ‘No, I’ll take it with me now.’” – Ronnie Barker.
Love is…not caring if he/she is from the wrong side of the tracks.
A time to ignore the windscreen washer fluid level light…A time to ignore the low fuel level light.
1752 The 3rd of September became the 14th as the Gregorian Calendar was introduced into Britain. Crowds of people rioted on the streets demanding, ‘Give us back our 11 days.’
1891 The first penalty kick in an English League football game was taken by Heath of Wolverhampton Wanderers against Accrington.
1914 Lord Kitchener: “Your country needs you” appears as front cover design for the London Opinion magazine.
1955 Little Richard records “Tutti Frutti” at J & M Studio in New Orleans.
1956 IBM introduces the RAMAC 305, 1st commercial computer with a hard drive that uses magnetic disk storage, weighs over a ton.
1964 Walt Disney awarded Medal of Freedom at White House.
1964 The British daily newspaper, the Daily Herald, ceased publication and was replaced by the Sun.
©2021 Phil M Robinson