First Day Blues (Reds, Yellows and Greens)

First Day Blues (Reds, Yellows and Greens)


First days at Secondary School are meant to be auspicious occasions. Mine certainly was. Apart from going to the wrong school a week late, suffering a couple of minor disasters and being sent home, I survived a colourful day.


The school I had been assigned to had a reputation somewhere between Bedlam and Borstal. In disgust my parents decided to postpone the inevitable by taking a holiday. Instead of joining the melee of my new classmates I ate ice-cream in Devon and pretended it wasn’t happening. I was sanguine about the whole business. I’d heard tales of genitals blackened with shoe polish and heads thrust down the toilet. It wasn’t inspiring.


Imagine our surprise when returning in trepidation from Devon on the Saturday my friend Mut came round and grandly announced that I had been placed in his Form. My Mum’s ears pricked up. Mut had been assigned a place at an altogether superior purveyor of knowledge. My Mum quickly surmised that a mistake had been made. I was promptly whisked into town and kitted out in new uniform – grey blazer with yellow piping, matching cap and tie and baggy shorts with a crease – all of which I was assured – I would grow into, and I was off to capitalise on the error. My future was suddenly bright – though I did not realise quite how dazzling it was to shortly become.


Mut came round early to escort me to school, to introduce me to the delights of my new institution and show me the ropes. A customary photo was taken of me standing immaculate and pristine on the doorstep, looking a little awkward and definitely diffident.


We arrived early and I was introduced to Mr Doyle my Form Tutor. He was a Technical Drawing teacher and our Form Room was the Technical Drawing room. He was less than enamoured with my arriving a week late and ordered me to my place in a surly manner. Nervously edging around a group of boys, squeezing past to get to my place, the first of my calamities occurred. I promptly snagged my blazer on a nail. Mr Doyle had little boards with sandpaper stuck to them hanging on the wall for boys to sharpen their pencils on. Apparently the nails they were hung from were of a perfect height to catch shoulders. My new blazer now had a big triangle of material hanging down. The class howled with laughter. I immediately turned a nice shade of vermillion.


My first class was Art. I liked Art. It was unfortunately taking place on the stage. Another boy and I were dispatched to the Art Block to collect the paint. These were trays of Tempora powder paint all carefully dolloped in the wells of a baking tray. There were supposedly all different colours but while in powder form they just looked like pale pink powders.


We placed ten of these trays on top of each other, which took them to chin level, and set off. We negotiated the Art Block and drive without a problem. I even managed the steps and door into the corridor leading to the stage. I was feeling pleased with myself. The trays were heavy. Unfortunately that’s when things went horribly wrong. I hadn’t noticed the sunken mat inside the door. I was much too taken with preventing the door bashing back into me, and besides, I couldn’t see the ground because of the damn trays. I tripped over the mat.


Like in a Laurel and Hardy skit the trays flew up in the air in slow motion as I sprawled on the floor aghast. Subjected to gravity they returned to ground. However the fine powder had a mind of its own. The trays hit the floor making a deafening racket. The powder took on the form of a dust-storm and, as if I was magnetic, promptly made a bee-line for me.


I climbed to my feet resembling a pale pink ghost as the entire class and startled teacher piled into the corridor to see whatever had happened.


I can clearly remember all their astonished faces as they gawped at me. I was completely coated in a layer of fine pale dust from head to foot.


As the tears began to appear, streaks of rainbows began flowing down my cheeks and uniform.


After calming me down my teacher thought it might be best for me to go home and get cleaned up. I don’t remember my Mum’s reaction. You could say that I passed with flying colours - a first day that I would never forget.


opher goodwin Added Dec 31, 2017 - 6:52am
I'm getting fed up with reading the politics put out on this site - so entrenched, divided and nasty. As it is the eve of a New Year with the promise of a new start. I thought it would be good to start with a true anecdote of a first day.
I remember it vividly.
The Burghal Hidage Added Dec 31, 2017 - 7:31am
Thanks for sharing friend :) Could it have been something of our exchange regarding memories?  
I like vivid memories. Have tons of 'em. Unfortunately I can walk from one room to another, arrive there and promptly forget why I'd got there to begin :)
I agree the politics grow a bit tiresome. This is WRITER beat, yeah?
There is some good talent here. Could we maybe make it more about writing? What would be wrong with more short stories? Don't tie my hands to 2500 words. Yes, one can be creative upon such a small pallette, but why be limited? For those who only want the blurb go to Facebook or one of those other abominations, theres a host of them now. I like to think that writers the attention span for it.
I will still on occasion dip the ladle into the sour and bitter dregs of the social kettle we call politics. One can say what they have to say and be done. I have been attempting for some time now, at least for my part, to have something else to contribute. One might consider that more material such as this you have shared with us would draw a broader audience.
Anyway, Opher, we will always find things to disagree on. Thats not hard. Anyone can do that. I like to think that despite a bit of a rocky introduction surrounding the climate question we have since found more things that we can agree on. I'm still never going to register Labour,  but thats okay :)
The Burghal Hidage Added Dec 31, 2017 - 7:55am
You know another passion of mine is cooking. It's all a bit of the same, really.  Politics,  food, writing... they're all subjective aren't they?
Prepare a five star menu for ten people and guaranteed no matter what at least one in ten (if not more) will have some complaint of something, no matter how trivial
opher goodwin Added Dec 31, 2017 - 8:08am
Cheers Burger - nobody agrees on everything do they? But at least we can respect, listen and argue in an intelligent manner.
I try to put out a varied produce. It's all about writing isn't it? Sharing our stories and anecdotes must be a good part of it.
Happy New Year Burg - I look forward to hearing more of yours!!
The Burghal Hidage Added Dec 31, 2017 - 8:12am
If I set out to build a dish from scratch I will select a set of ingredients. These will be selected with their compatibility in mind. For example, I would not recommend glazing a fresh trout with a sauce made of molasses and horseradish. There is no prohibition to it; it is simply a bad idea on its very face. Like the fig newton cookie and anchovy sandwich, it just doesn't work.
In the selection of ingredients one is seeking to translate something of all of the flavours into a finished product. The final dish is truly a sum of its parts. Now if the only other ingredients one ever uses are salt and vinegar it matters little what the choice of protein; from hoof or sea, fish or fowl it will all end up smelling and tasting similar. The palate is never challenged. As an Englishman I'm certain you can appreciate this :)
So is it true in the effort of maintaining a vibrant democratic system of governing. Monolithic rule is evil in its very nature. You need to have a variety of voices at the table and you need to insure that no one ever gets the whole run of things. Otherwise you are just cooking with salt and vinegar.
Your voice belongs in the conversation. You can still be wrong <ha-ha>and have a place in the discussion. And for the record you're not always wrong. Don't press me on percentiles :) Your voice belongs, as does mine and all the rest here. 
Be a human voice. Don't be a parrott. Dont cut and paste or bomb us with hyperlinks. Its writer beat. WRITE SOMETHING
opher goodwin Added Dec 31, 2017 - 9:14am
Burger - I couldn't agree more. We never learn unless we listen and we can put our views without disrespect or personal abuse.
Writers Beat is a smorgasbord of raw talent. A choir is made of many different voices.
You'll all get round to my point of view eventually, I'm sure.
opher goodwin Added Dec 31, 2017 - 9:14am
Burger - I have noticed that English Humour tends to often fall flat on this site. Why is that?
Tom C. Purcell Added Dec 31, 2017 - 10:33am
Great post, I truly enjoyed it.  I did have to wonder if that's the day they taught blood types to you.  ;)
opher goodwin Added Dec 31, 2017 - 11:09am
Tom - Thank you. No. I learnt about blood groups much later. When I went to college we did the genetics of blood groups.
Stone-Eater Added Dec 31, 2017 - 11:10am
Do you expect English humour on a US site ? That would be like trying to find humour in Swiss people !
opher goodwin Added Dec 31, 2017 - 11:59am
Stone - that was humour.
The Burghal Hidage Added Dec 31, 2017 - 12:31pm
The English have humour?
The Burghal Hidage Added Dec 31, 2017 - 12:33pm
Just kidding.....Umm, as an unabashed anglophile I've always had a theory about that. Its the same reason Dennis Miller didnt last in the booth on Monday Night Football.  Too many are just lacking the point of reference.
The Burghal Hidage Added Dec 31, 2017 - 12:48pm
LOL Tom! Thats good. Quick wit :)
Don Added Dec 31, 2017 - 12:54pm
Fun story, thanks Opher.  Speaking of English humor, when I received my AncestryDNA report I was nearly 100% English.  Guess that explains my watching British sitcoms.  What wasn’t funny was the prince’s interview with Obama other than his pretending to be a T V anchor.  He not only needs to keep his day job but also to stifle his anti-Trump new wife.
opher goodwin Added Dec 31, 2017 - 12:57pm
Burg - point of reference is a good point. But I think there are cultural differences on irony and such like. I've noticed that a lot of people take some intended humorous comments seriously. Maybe that's just me.
The Burghal Hidage Added Dec 31, 2017 - 12:59pm
No, at times I believe you may be correct in this. Opher I would again chalk this up to the great man's observation of "two great peoples separated by a common language" :)
The Burghal Hidage Added Dec 31, 2017 - 1:01pm
You lot over there walk upright, speak almost the same language, and yet somewhere, deep down there is some genetic mutation in English to American...not something you can actually describe, its more of a sense, a feeling. We are fools to deny our kinship
opher goodwin Added Dec 31, 2017 - 1:03pm
Burg - it is strange the way the cultures have diverged. But I think they are converging more by the minute.
Jeff Michka Added Dec 31, 2017 - 4:38pm
TBH, opher et al:  You folks speak English, we speak American.  I've wondered, given your residence on the Isles why you didn't call yourself "The Domesday Book," instead of TBH.  It would be more expansive, and you'd be shortened to TDB.
Stephen Hunter Added Dec 31, 2017 - 4:41pm
Yes Opher, it is always refreshing to have a non-political dialogue. British and American cultures coming together and drifting apart is an interesting topic. Take music, where the British in the late 50's took to American Jazz and particularly Blues, spawning the British invasion of Rock back to America. 
opher goodwin Added Dec 31, 2017 - 5:30pm
Jeff - I'd probably be the Doomsday Book!
opher goodwin Added Dec 31, 2017 - 5:31pm
Stephen - the interaction between cultures is responsible for a lot of great energy and inspiration. Long may it continue. I love the Blues!! Happy New Year to you!!
Dave Volek Added Dec 31, 2017 - 6:11pm
Nice story Opher
Maybe if we WB contributors spend a little more time away from politics and social issues, we might find things to unite us.
opher goodwin Added Dec 31, 2017 - 7:09pm
Dave - that would be nice. It has become so tribal and personal.
Happy New Year to you and yours from me and mine!!
Stephen Hunter Added Jan 1, 2018 - 8:58am
Opher speaking of energy and inspiration, how about Sir Mick, still rockin the blues at 74, and in such great shape physically, and then there is Keith, a wonder of nature! Love their latest album- back to the blues where it all started! 
HAPPY NEW YEAR- we all have a lot of rockin left to do! 
The Burghal Hidage Added Jan 1, 2018 - 9:07am
Jeff -  I am as much a Yank as you, I just hang out where I'm comfortable :)
TBH predates TDB.  There is a reason for the selection of this name, to be revealed at a later time.
opher goodwin Added Jan 1, 2018 - 9:25am
Stephen - yes the Stones are still amazing. I think Keith has embalmed his body so that it will last forever. I bought the new album and love it. It's what they are best at.
Happy New Year to you too - Rock on!
wsucram15 Added Jan 1, 2018 - 10:02am
Happy New Year Opher. A man of many colors!
I dont have any cool school rainbow stories to tell until high school in a public school.  But I liked art and music even in elementary and middle school and feel privileged to have gotten the education in those areas I did.   Even now.  I didnt like most of the teachers throughout school (again until HS)except the music teacher.  She wasnt always very nice either, but I learned how to sing better, where my placement should be and what my range is.   Also how to improve that.
I had a great Art Teacher in high school, she was good.  My sister even liked her (sister was a painter).  We did glass work, various textiles, watercolors and landscapes. Our final project was to create a unique design on this muslin piece of material using any and all skills we had learned during the year. 
I coordinated with another teacher in a different class, for yet another final which was to design a piece of clothing using that material.  I had to turn in the Art project early so I could create the item for the design/sewing class.
I tested different patterns and made starbursts with dye.  So I took my muslin and in spots dyed it dark blue over a white I had used.  I covered the areas with white differently than I had with blue  areas. It is a banding process....
and I came out with a starburst that almost looked like stripes. I made a shirt from the most simplistic design I have seen to this day,  Six pcs. Thats it. 
I got an A in Art and an A in design for sewing (which was a required class back then for all girls) for one piece of muslin, some thread and some dye.
 I was really proud of that..aside from my photography for the yearbook and school paper, its all I had ever done kind of like my sister did. 
opher goodwin Added Jan 1, 2018 - 12:13pm
Happy New Year Jeanne!!!
A bit different to my art experience. Sounds like you are artistic. I was not really turned on by school. My artistic side came out later.
Things have changed since girls were made to do the sewing and domestic science while the boys did metalwork and woodwork. Thank heavens.
wsucram15 Added Jan 1, 2018 - 1:42pm
Hey Opher--Happy New Year..
My Grandmother, Mother, Aunts and sister were artistic.  I loved these things but it was STRONGLY discouraged in my family. My older sister was much older and did what she did because she was an adult.
My parents and entire family pushed me into academics and eventually college prep classes (all accelerated classes) and I went to school year round, taking credits in the summer I would need for the school year.  I would have graduated at 16, but there was a class I had to take only in the senior year of school.
I hated sewing and I really didnt like art class until college. I cannot draw anything but a horse and I have not done that in some time.  My sister actually was the best art teacher I ever had...
But woodwork or metalwork is something I would love to get into.
opher goodwin Added Jan 1, 2018 - 3:16pm
Jeanne - I was thrown out of woodwork and metalwork - I lacked patience. I was thrown out of technical drawing for being too messy. I couldn't sit still. I loved animals. Still do. I wanted to be out in nature. Classrooms were a pain. If I only had applied myself but no. Wild animals, music and girls - now writing. Ho hum.
The Burghal Hidage Added Jan 2, 2018 - 2:57am
the right trailblazer, you are :)
opher goodwin Added Jan 2, 2018 - 4:10am
Happy New Year Burger!!