One of my old schoolmates posted this on Facebook recently. I must have been around 8 or 9 when it was taken. I will let you guess which one of this fine group of students is me. Mrs Ellis’s Class, Croft Primary School, circa 1975.
The fact is, I remember very little from my childhood. Through the joys of Facebook, a number of folk have made contact with me, and invited me to join other school pages/groups for secondary school too. They always seem to know far more about my school days than I do.
This might be because I have a poor memory, but also is something to do with poor memories. Mine was not a happy childhood- neither at home nor at school- too much difficulty, awkwardness, bullying and violence in both places. The end result was that childhood for me was all about insecurity and isolation. My lovely big sister had a rather different experience- she was cleverer and far more articulate than me so could hide her insecurities much better. I have spent the last 30 years slowly trying to rediscover me. It is a work in progress, and looking back at these ghosts makes it seem a lot closer.
However, the trip down memory lane, painful and fractured as the memories are, forced me to count blessings too. The secondary school that I attended (not the one above) was a rather experimental ‘Community School’- located in the middle of our small Nottinghamshire town, with ice rinks and sports halls, day centres and adult education all mixed in. The building was open plan and teachers and adult learners mingled with us all on first name terms. The experimental nature of the school did not survive long- scandals over the so called teaching of swear words and loose discipline found the front page of The Sun, and there was a conservative fight back after Thatcher came to power.
But something of this school made me who I am. The fierce sense of social justice, the love of English literature. These are friendly ghosts. They can stay.