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I understand I first went to Longroyd nursery school when I was three years old

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Autobiography - The school I understand I first went to Longroyd nursery school when I was three years old. It was said that this was because my mother made a mistake about my age. She later caused a panic by informing them I'd had yellow fever. Jaundice was what she actually meant. I clearly remember having jaundice because during the day I was allowed to lie in Granny Annie's bed in the front room with the fire lit. This luxury was unheard of. I was given medicine that I had to drink through a straw to stop it touching my teeth. I think it was quinine. Usually when we were ill Mam, would give us an eggcup full of 'Fennings Fever Cure'. This stuff burnt the polish off your teeth, which wasn't surprising. I was told later that it was dilute nitric acid. The principle was that it dissolved the top layer off your teeth and throat killing all the germs. I loved the taste. I lay there all yellow and they fed me oranges. ...read more.


The nursery was at the lower end of the junior school. The entrance was at the top of a huge flight of stone steps. With my little legs it was like climbing a huge Ziggurat. Then when we got to the top what did we do? All I remember is, we were given cod liver oil capsules to stop us getting rickets and, I think, a red pill like a 'Smarty.' Then we were put on small camp beds and made to pretend we were asleep. Women walked up and down the ranks of beds looking for any signs of cheating. The women then clapped their hands and we all pretended to wake up and they sent us home. The joy of the kids running home with their Mac's like cloaks fastened at the neck with one button, because we all knew heroes in a hurry always wear cloaks. From the nursery school we went on to the junior infants in the main school. In the morning when we arrived in the school playground, we'd hang about doing whatever the season dictated; marbles, conkers, dead leg (kneeing someone on the thigh hard enough for the leg to go dead and they'd fall over) ...read more.


When queuing, usually the idea is to be at the front, but on these occasions the reverse was true. No one wanted to be directly under the eye of the teachers. Much discreet positioning and tactics were involved. Suddenly lots of shoelaces needed retying and noses had to be picked. Kids' brains went blank and they walked in the wrong direction like the Zombie Dead. These skills came in useful for some later in life, when they used them to avoided being first at the pub bar to buy a round of drinks. Eventually, we would all settle down and we'd look up and there would be Miss Milnes, the head mistress. She liked to tell us about cannibals and talked with relish about eating chubby children's bottoms. She'd silently emerged from the depths of the school while we were doing the 'great silent pose'. The staff were all now standing like Indians round the rim of the canyon watching over us unarmed cowboys and girls. She'd nod to her lieutenant with the whistle. This meant she was taking over. Then she would address us, "Good morning children." "Good morning Miss Milnes," we'd all reply with one voice. ...read more.

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