On a large wall chart were printed the letters of the alphabet, each with a corresponding picture. The first steps on the road to reading began with the teacher pointing to each in turn, while we chanted with her ' A for apple, B for butterfly, C for cat, D for dog', and so on. I can still recite it like a litany, and in the appropriate sing-song voice, too.
The times tables were learnt in a similar fashion. To this day, I regret that we stopped at the ' twelve times', and number thirteen never made its way into my brain. I'm sure it would have come in handy…The owners of the school were Miss Hilda, Miss Kathleen Mr Tom and Mr Frank Daley, and here they are as children, thanks to a former pupil who remained an enthusiastic keeper of School Photos and Reunion Records.
|The Daley's as children|
Tom I don't remember, but Frank was tall and thin and a bit craggy, like a long necked tortoise. Kathleen was tall, like her brother, with large feet and hands, but a relatively gentle, though solemn, manner. By contrast, Hilda was short, verging on the rotund, and bright and chirpy as a little robin; pink, applely cheeks, a narrow pointed nose sporting fine, wire framed spectacles and short, silver white hair completed the picture. I see her still, wearing a pale pink blouse beneath a light grey, short waisted cardigan, and matching light grey skirt which went down to her lower calf. Her shoes had sturdy, block heels, about an inch high, pointed toes and laces all up the front, like a brogue shoe. Her feet were quite small, compared to her sister's, and she turned her toes outward slightly as she walked.
Although she was one of the joint heads of the school, she still found time in her busy schedule to take us members of the 'baby class' for an occasional lesson. She used to read poetry to us, and we were often set to learn poems by heart.
If I were an apple
and grew on a tree,
I think I'd fall down
on a nice boy like me.
I wouldn't stay there
giving nobody joy,
but fall down at once
and say 'Eat me, my boy'.
This was definitely one of them. The entire class, come the end of my first school year when Prize Giving Day came round, had to go on stage and recite it before an audience of adoring parents. And a grand old day it was, as the venue for the festivity was South Parade Pier Theatre. Probably every class performed something, but what with the nerves attendant on my first stage appearance, and the pride in my first pair of black shoes (I'd always had brown ones before), all aspects of the proceedings that didn't directly involve me, were eclipsed!
At the end of the performances came the time for the actual Prize Giving. Trestle tables were set up at the front of the stage, and the Heads of School, plus an occasional governor, sat behind it in a solemn row, whilst year by year, and class by class, the top performers filed past and were awarded with a book and a handshake from Miss Hilda, after Miss Kathleen had handed her the appropriate volume from the stacks of books on the table.
My prize that time was 'Parlicoot', an endearing, imaginary animal. It told the story of his adventures whilst trying to find another who looked like himself. I remember crying at his sad plight before he finally encountered Playmate at the end of the story. I still have the book, and have added a picture of its front cover, as well as proof of its happy ending, to let you see what a delightful creature Parlicoot actually was!