Sunrise over Beadnell Bay in Northumberland
Sunrise over Beadnell Bay in Northumberland


Search the whole Yorkshire Walks site

Request a Route...

National Parks

Tree Hunt

Whilst you're out and about why not get involved in 'The Ancient Tree Hunt'

"My First Days at School". . .

A short story . . .

We'd often passed the school railings before, my mum and me , on our way to visit my grandma, but I'd never been inside before. It was an unwelcoming place with its high ceilings and rows of black iron framed desks. I didn't want to stay. I cried. The teacher took me firmly by the hand and took me to a pleasant girl with long straight black hair.

"Now then, Frank, this is Susan she'll look after you and tell you what to do. You will sit here, next to her."

That was it. I was installed in my desk prison in this strange place watching the blackboard monitor giving out the little blackboards and chalk to each child in the class to copy the teacher's work on the big board at the front. What a beginning. I hated it. It didn't get much better knowing each morning I had to go there again.

One afternoon a week there was the handwork lesson. Once we were each given a little pair of round ended scissors to cut out paper shapes. It was not very interesting. I had long curly hair and it seemed a good idea to trim a bit off. It was going very well. the little scissors sliced through the hair easily with a pleasing sniping sound and a small heap of curls was beginning to accumulate on my desk. I brushed them onto the floor and spread them out with my feet knowing that any initiative such as cutting a bit of hair was likely to infringe some rule or other introduced by the teacher with retrospective effect if my activities were noticed.

It wasn't long before a creepy child two desks away picked up a lock of hair from the floor and announced, "Look what I've found Miss." This was the signal for every one to see if they too could find such a treasure. All too many of my classmates were successful in their search. Cries came up from all round the room "I've found some over here Miss" "Me too Miss, there's some here." "Look at this bit Miss its really curly."

No one else in the class had curly hair like mine. My mother liked to comb it into ringlets, sausage curls she called them. In no time at all I was identified as the culprit and spent the next half hour staring blankly into a dark corner whilst the remaining trustworthy members of the class continued to cut out paper shapes.

I had spent four terms at my first school when we moved from Leeds to Peckham in south east London. My new home was a flat over an ironmonger's shop. It was a four storey semi-detached building. My bedroom was in the attic with a dormer window at the front of the building. The adjoining semi-detached building had been bombed in the war and the structure was propped up by large raking timber struts. The buildings at the back had been completely flattened by the bombing and the local youths had levelled the rubble to make a circuit for scrambles bike racing.

Mr. Smallbone junior, he and his father ran the ironmonger's shop, recommended an infants school about a mile away and I was duly enrolled. It was a difficult beginning. For a start there was my speech. I spoke with a pronounced northern accent which any Yorkshireman would have identified easily as coming from Leeds. This was a great curiosity in Peckham where I became the butt of a good deal of playground humour, standing at the centre of a chanting crowd, "Yorkshire pudding, Yorkshire pudding, Yorkshire pudding" It went on and on with any protestation on my part only serving to renew the chant as my words confirmed my northern origins. Needless to say I very soon learned to speak with a south London accent.

Frank Firth, August 1995