"Ah Primary School. It was the late 60s for me, but the sentiments remain the same ....
The schoolyard. Aged 4. Short pants. Tarmac, trepidation and snot.
I remember the obligatory boy with the white patch of sticking plaster over one eye. His hideous black-framed NHS spectacles sat upon his wart-infected ears. My new shoes were rubbing already.
The older kids in the corner mischievously sang that summer's bizarre novelty hit, "There Coming To Take Me Away Ha-Haa!" Mum had cut my hair around a basin and I had a lop-sided fringe. I smelled of camomile lotion following the recent spotty Chicken Pox affair. 2lemon bon-bons gathered lint in my pocket.
The teachers looked about 55; looking back, they were probably 26! 'Maybe they'll teach me how to become a real Thunderbird?' I wondered. (I had imagination - what more would I need in life?)
And the girls. Lots of girls. Mostly pig-tailed, missing their front teeth and ugly as sin; but one or 2 were worryingly pretty. Handstands against the wall with knickers on display. It was all too much! I'd never considered that girls existed before. I had football, a dog and a tortoise - girls had never been necessary.
The bell clanged. This was it.
"You're a big boy now. These are the best days of your life". (Had I known about God then, I'd have asked him to help me). I so desparately wanted to cry when my mother said goodbye. That wretched stomach through a mangle feeling. She spat on a handkerchief and wiped my grubby face one last time and she was gone.
I noticed a pile of freshly steaming sick was being covered by a man with a shovel and a bucket of sawdust. Some boys were still sobbing into their mothers' aprons. My bottom lip wobbled precariously - but I must've somehow realised that future playground pecking order and classroom kudos could not be gained by wailing like a 'puff'.
Besides, I'd previously learnt how to be 'mummy's brave soldier' when TV's Andy Pandy show ended, and the heart-wrenching signature tune had played .. "Time to go home, time to go home .. Andy is waving goodbye ... Goodbye".
On that very first morning at school, I remember learning 2 important things:
Lesson 1 - If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands.
Lesson 2: Don't sit next to the boy who's shit himself.