Saturday, July 07, 2007

Ordinary Life 2

This is quite scary folks. When you write down early memories they start to multiply, already I realise that what I wrote a day or two ago just scratches the surface of what I still carry from those times.Smoke me a kipper, I'll be back for breakfast...

One immediate big effect on me of the break up of my parents marriage, was that I changed school. My mother resumed her education and trained to be a teacher. Off every day to St Mathias college in Fishponds. For her to go backwards and forwards to college in Bristol it was much easier if my sisters and I went to school en-route. From the two classroom village school of twenty four students I was thrust in to the much larger environs of Bitton County Primary. Here there were four classes and more than a hundred students. Many of the students were quite rough and tough. As well as the children of farms and hamlets I was now mixing with the hoodies of the late sixties.
At the age of nine, I had the only fist fight of my life, with Earl Brailsford. We were pulled apart by the woman from Bitton shop. No real harm befell either of us but, the next day, I learned that whoever got to school and told the tale first, was the one that wrote the history.

While singing in the school choir it became clear that someone was rather beyond the description of 'a little bit off key'. The voices of the angels had been joined by a troll from under the bridge. After hearing a few of us in turn, Mr Field decided that I wasn't going to the Colston Hall to sing the Daniel Jazz. He robbed me of confidence in song and it has really never returned, save in moments of alcoholic bravado. I also remember, though thank God the full circumstances escape me, Pamela Harris being astonished at my pubic hair. Followed quickly by all her mates. I was an early developer in that regard.

In 1969 Neil Armstrong walked upon the moon. I watched this through a gap at the top of the stairs door. Unintelligible flickering grey shapes. I have a lifelong passion for space and astronomy. I now own thousands of pounds worth of astronomical equipment. I scored a full house when Magnus Magnuson asked an astronomy set. I even correspond with Patrick Moore.
I watched every scrap of Apollo long after it became tedious for most, and even now bore the pants of my students with tales of tinned heroes. At the age of nine I knew more of the moon than the country beyond my terrestrial vision.

I was a voracious reader, still am, loved mathematics, still do, but my writing was appalling and my boredom threshold low. For this reason it came as a surprise to find that I was one of the few that the dying eleven plus selected to go to the grammar school. If I had been just a few months younger, comprehensive education would have sent me much closer to home.

Some time along my way Margaret Thatcher came along and robbed the school milk. She continued, 'metaphorically' to do this to me for the next twenty years.
The currency changed from lira, sesterce and denarius to the new pence. The nineteen seventies arrived,and with them, a brave new world.


buffalodickdy said...

When I try to explain to younger people most of the math that put a man on the moon was done on a slide rule, the first question is "What's a slide rule?" I toured Cape Kennedy with my family right after the Challenger space shuttle blew up on take off. The mood was subdued and grim, and the future of the space program was in doubt. I went to the gift shop, bought a NASA hat and wore it proudly, telling people I would die anytime for mankinds' advancement if they would let me fly aboard a spaceship!

sablonneuse said...

That was a really interesting read, Meredic.I hope you are going to carry on with your life story.
The bit about being put off singing reminded me of when my music teacher told me I had a 'farthing squeak from Woolworths'. As I'm stubborn that's probably why I became a music teacher myself - or was it because I had a huge schoolgirl crush on her?

parisian cowboy said...

Nice photo.

Theblonde said...

It makes a change for me to be reading of your early days doesn't it? I like the way you write meredic, great stuff. More please. Funny how you remember more than you think you will when you start out.

meredic said...

buffalodickdy – the slide rule and a lot of very scary ‘by the seat of your pants’ flying. Listening to Armstrong coming in to Tranquillity base, you barely realise how close it all came to nothing. If you look at 102:38:42 in this record. I think it shows amazing cool and confidence.
I still have my old slide rule and can just about remember how to use it. As long as you weren’t too worried about accuracy beyond 3 figures they were pretty good. I used to get it out to show my advanced math students.
Do you know I reckon you might have given me a topic for a post here. Cheers.

sablonneuse – ‘a farthing squeak from Woolworths’ I haven’t heard that for years. I wonder where it came from. Isn’t English a lucky language.
I have written stuff down now up until the early noughties. On the way I have been amazed at what comes streaming back and am making notes for the future. Of course I shall trot it out here (but perhaps not all at once).

parisian cowboy – greetings. Yes I like it as well, collecting conkers some time in the late sixties. I think I am still wearing that shirt.

theblonde – that remembering things bit is scary. Bits of the sixties keep waving a flag at the aging synapses, makes me want to fill in the gaps. Thank you for the kind compliment.

headless chicken said...

Brilliant post.
I don't recall the original news coverage of Neil Armstrong on the moon...I was just 2! K will be envious of your astronomical equipment...he would love a good telescope to peer at the night sky through. When we were first together we spent many an hour at night, laying on the shed roof staring at the night sky. K would ramble on about space, wormholes, planets, parallel universes etc, etc while I just listened, not really comprehending alot of what he said. K has always left me standing with clever stuff like that....I can never quite get my head around it all!....and he also still has his slide-rule from school. He has tried to explain to Artist how to use it!
I'm absolutely loving your Ordinairy life posts...looking forward to more.:)

me said...

a delightful photo, and your writing style is a joy to read. As charming as ever, thank you for sharing

Sally Lomax said...

We got a cat the week that Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, and so there was great disussion in our house as to what it should be called. My brother wanted to call him Apolo, but he lost!