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By Margaret Renwick

Two tight plaits secured with rubber bands, tartan ribbons, clean liberty bodice, navy blue knickers with a pocket in the leg for a hanky. Kilt and hand knitted gansy, gloves on a string through coat armholes. Ready for school, past the Chi Pub trying not to breathe the alien beery smoky smell. Down Laygate Lane reading the names on the headstones in the monumental masons yard. Up the narrow stone stairs and into the yard.

Neat rank and file, prayers and hymns at assembly, not daring to talk or giggle, register called, "Here miss. "Reading, riting, rithmatic. P.E. in the hall on a wet day with bean bags and raffia mats, bamboo hoops. Black plimsoles and navy knickers.

Playtime in the yard, girls games, skipping or tiggy, playing two balls against a wall. Gossiping in groups and trying to attract the boys. Boys ignoring girls and running round being cowboys and indians, Germans or English or Stanley Matthews with a football. Back inside, bottles of warm milk sucked through a paper straw. Settle down for geography, art, history, needlework or the ultimate excitement, Scottish country dancing!

The elderly caretaker wandering round wth his bucket, mop and sawdust clearing up the result of too much warm milk and excitment. The school nurse, Nitty Nora scouring the scalp for livestock, and finding it ! The shameful note to be taken home and the fine tooth comb every night. Happy days.


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