Childhood memories: From Nursery to Primary School

A Salford creative writers’ group has created a book called ‘Memories Unlocked’ during the pandemic, which shares tales of childhood memories. 

Here, Rosemary Swift from SWit’CH group (Swinton Writers in t’Critchley House) shares her memories of growing up. 

Aged three years, I was petrified, stuck on a platform at the top of the Nursery Class climbing frame which could not have been more than five feet high.

Allocated daily a small bottle of pasteurised milk to drink through a straw, invariably warm from being stored near a radiator. I loved it as we only had sterilised milk at home.

My eldest brother Gregory overhearing Mum & Dad muttering that my younger brother Michael had not received a nursery place, whereas a neighbour’s only child two months younger had (her mother owned a hairdressing salon).

Greg relayed this to his teacher the next day. Lo and behold, Michael was promptly offered a place.

My Mum and Dad laughing when my third brother Stephen’s teacher left as Miss Bashall for the summer break and returned at the autumn term as Mrs Box.

My Mum mortified when I returned from school with a drawing of my bedroom featuring a chamber pot under the bed. My Dad laughed and said so what, everybody had one.

My class, at seven years old, received the strap on both hands, administered in anger when the culprit of a playground accident had run home. When indignantly telling of this after school, my Mum retorted: ‘Well, you must have all deserved it’. 

When collected by Mum from class to attend the school dentist and being told on the way that there was no H in aitch. Eh? Apparently not meant to be pronounced ‘haitch’.

Being proud of creating rumpety-tumpety poetry, only to realise that a bespectacled serious and studious girl in the class had produced pieces worthy of any Poet Laureate.

Enacting the moon when reciting Lewis Carroll’s The Walrus & the Carpenter, holding a hoop covered with yellow crepe paper, through which I poked my head. A girl with as round a face as me was the sun, with her head poked through an orange crepe paper hoop.

For a school show of Hans Christian Anderson’s stories put to music, sulked when my Mum made me a costume to be one of eight marigolds because she had made a super outfit for a friend to be a furry creature. On the night of the Concert, my Mum was called out of the school hall to be told that her younger sister, aged 31 years, had died in childbirth and that we were to take my cousin Barry home with us.

My classmates cooingly talked of this cute-looking boy in nursery class named Desmond, sobbing throughout his first day at school. That was my youngest brother.

Once her brood was past infancy, Mum was accepted as a student-teacher at my school (being the same one she had attended), but her weak heart meant she could not keep up with the rigours of everyday life. She hid her frustrations well but was yet another thwarted career-woman of her time. Anyway, who would make the clothes for our large extended family if otherwise occupied!

Junior Classes for boys were on a different school site. One of Greg’s friends, aged seven years, fresh to this new route as he returned after lunch, was fatally run over on a hump-backed bridge near my home.

Lustily singing The Skye boat song on a Friday afternoon with the partitions pulled back so all junior classes could take part. Other favourites were sanitised versions from The National Song Book of Barbara Allen, Sweet Polly Oliver and The Golden Vanity.

As I progressed through primary school, at morning school assemblies, whenever we sang the hymn Lord for tomorrow and its needs I do not pray, set Thou a seal upon my lips just for today, I thought seal referred to a honking sea creature.

Whilst revising after school for the 11-plus exam, informed of Manchester United Football Team air crash. Numbed with shock, recall running home through hushed streets.

Be sure to check out Rosemary’s poem, Street and Parlour games.

For more information on SWit’CH Writers, please go to http://www.switchwriters.btck.co.uk/

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