Monday, May 26, 2008

Two school memories

1. Infant school. The class next to mine was studying measurement. They identified the tallest boy and girl in the class; laid them down on big pieces of paper and drew around them; then painted on clothes and features in that glorious poster paint, the smell of which does the Proustian rush thing like no other substance; and stuck the cut-out, life-size figures on the corridor wall for the rest of us to see, annotated with "ANGELA IS THE TALLEST GIRL" and "MATTHEW IS THE TALLEST BOY".

It's probably fair to say that nobody had noticed they were so tall before this. Angela was better known as The Fat Girl; and Matthew was The Simple Boy.

2. Secondary school. Fourth year lesson. At this stage, girls were slowly being brought into the sixth form, but the lower years were still all-male. One of the rare females, a particularly curvaceous specimen, joggled past the classroom in her netball kit, attracting the eyes of not a few students. The teacher gazed at her, raised an eyebrow and muttered under his breath, "Oooh, stiff as a poker."

It was a grotesquely inappropriate thing to say, but I suppose he felt that it would assist the emotional bond; that we might see him as a human being rather than as a distant authority figure. And it worked; we laughed, albeit in a slightly uncomfortable manner, like when you hear your mum swearing. And it was several years before we discovered that, in reality, he preferred boys.

9 comments:

pleite said...

Did Mr. Plemper set you off down memory lane? I've just been looking at the photos and they're fantastic, aren't they? Either he was a wonderful teacher whom the kids all seemed to love, or it was fun being photographed, or there was still a happy satisfaction with submitting to authority figures, or people were happier back then.

My most vivid memory of primary school is a wicked dinner lady being wicked to a friend. So wickedly wicked. Secondary school: being thrown out of the choir by being too dim to follow the words when they were printed on a proper score-like page.

Murph said...

They don't Macum like that any more. John Alderton, Sidney Poitier ....

Your infant teacher was brilliantly assisting Angela and Mathew to improve their self-esteem. I bet they are City Traders now.

Tim Footman said...

Yes, Pleite, I seem to be on a schooldays kick at the moment, don't I. Sadly, I hung my school tie on the railings of Greenham Common... Want to know more about the wicked dinner lady.

Maybe Matthew was a savant, Murph, and we were all too dumb to notice. I just remembering him wandering off the football pitch - he'd sort of forgotten we were playing. Or was that someone else?

pleite said...

Tim, but if I tell you, it will ruin your life, and the life of anyone else who reads it. Maybe you can delete it after I write it, or translate it into Thai, or something...

Paul H_ sat next to me eating his infant school dinner off a pink or yellow plate. Now I'm not dissing school dinners, which were sometimes delicious, but Paul H_ proceeded to puke his dinner back up onto his plate. Unfortunately, it looked rather like his dinner still. When the dinner lady was called over so he could ask to be excused, she refused to believe his tale of vomiting and made him eat it back up. (So sorry for sharing this. Now delete if you want to.)

dh said...

In my grammar school days the only girls we saw were behind a hedge at the girl's school down the road. Just talking to one was an event. And if we'd worn our ties loose like some of those kids it would have been a detention...or worse. Probably explains some of my social abnormalities.

llewtrah said...

I managed to get my schooldays memoirs out of the way in the first couple of months of blogging. Just read "Born to be mild" (Dave Armitage) and it's sent me down memory lane again .... and now you start!!!

Christopher Campbell-Howes said...

Well, I think you were lucky to have girls, even tall ones called Angela, to draw round. No girls whatever graced my schooldays from 5-18. I'm not certain that this did much good, really. I don't think I've ever caught up.

Tim Footman said...

Pleite: OK. I did ask.

DH: Do you get flustered whenever you see a hedge?

Llewtrah: Clearly a midlife crisis - we're getting in a last burst of nostalgia before we start forgetting.

Christopher: I was surrounded by girls until I was 10, but I thought girls were rubbish. Just when I started appreciating them, they were taken away. A microcosm of life, I suppose.

Rosie said...

i was always in a class with boys - boys who only ever fancied Mandy and Rachel. consequently as an adult i presume that all boys will still only ever fancy Mandy and Rachel and not nerdy, fuzzy haired me, even though nerdiness has translated to articulacy and fuzzy hair to curls.