I should have sub-headed these. Oh well. The numbers may go up and up.
So there I was, quite happy at school in my mildly bewildered way. I was good at anything that involved writing or reading, quite good at maths but a bit lazy about learning times tables, hopeless at anything artistic and highly reluctant to speak in class.
It took me years to nail the shyness, but I did in the end. As a child, it was so inconvenient. I was incapable of making a choice, sat in agonies for ages because I was too shy to put my hand up to ask to go to the loo, avoided addressing people by name in case, with my vagueness, I’d forgotten it overnight and they’d be offended or laugh (yeah, that’s an odd one, isn’t it?) and never referred to anyone as a friend in case they thought I was presumptuous. On the whole, I was biddable, but there was a well-hidden stubborn streak. I rarely got spotted as a rebel because I was so quiet, but actually I did exactly what I wanted. It was just that, on the whole, I was good-natured and conformed.
When I was in the annexe attic last year (a note of explanation at the bottom)* I found a painting I’d done when I was 8 or 9. My mother was so impressed that she had it framed. It’s a white horse lying in the grass. In vain, I explained that, though I’d done the basic outline and the painting, my teacher Mrs Hubbins had added a few brushstrokes that turned it from a daub into a horse.
The school was co-ed up to the age of 11, then was girls only. It was a Roman Catholic school, fee-paying, but not elitist at all. Catholic children were admitted regardless of their ability to pay – I’ve no idea how it was arranged, but I suspect that some parents paid little or nothing, there was certainly a very wide social mix. Not that I was aware of this in the least – I had no notion of class or snobbery.
In those days, quite a lot of people talked with a distinct local accent. I’d found it hard to understand when we first moved to Oulton Broad, though later I was almost unaware of it. One, that I’ve never come across anywhere but Lowestoft, was the use of ‘funny’ to give emphasis – “coo, that funny hurt!”
*My mother used to live in our annexe. Subsequently, Al and his family lived there for several years but their furniture meant that one of the attics wasn’t easy to get at. Some of her stuff is still in there as a consequence.