The countdown had begun. One week left of the summer holidays and the dreaded trip for the new school uniform. Everyday someone asked if you were going into the big school in September and with apprehension you a nodded reply wondering what it was going to be like.
Collinsons sold everything and the shop was packed with 11 year olds all trying on over sized blazers, stiff white shirts and pencil pleated skirts and black trousers. The blazer badges were sold separately so you had to sew them on when you got home. With a black and gold Collinsons bags families paraded round the corner to Gibsons for some sensible black laced up shoes either Clarks or Startrite. And with empty purses and without the regulation PE kit they walked home.
Having never wore a school uniform we were all comparing notes and anticipating our first day. We even had a bus pass so we felt really grown up. Monday morning at 8.30am on 4th September 1967 the bus stand was crammed with new starters wearing clothes to grow into. The bus journey was madness with all the older kids crammed upstairs on the double decker while we were forced to sit downstairs three to a seat.
The welcoming assembly made us realise our insignificant we were in this great big world of the secondary school, and the thought of having to change classrooms for each lesson in a different part of the building was challenging to say the least.
By lunchtime we were exhausted and happy to queue up outside the dining hall. Here was an even bigger disappointment. Just when we thought we’d get time to chat and eat with our friends, two at a time we picked out of the line to go on the older kids tables so they could serve us dinner.
The fourth year lads on our table had no intention of playing fair and as we sat at the end we watched despairingly as a teaspoonful of mashed potato was doled out, resting next to a minuscule amount of white cabbage beside a tiny puddle of minced beef. Meanwhile their plates were piled high but we didn’t dare say anything.The comforting sound of the last bell of the day meant we could go home to safety and comfort once the manic bus journey was over.
With ties askew and rumbling tummies we were home at last. The first day over and only 189 to go to the summer holidays.