"What big ears you've got!"
"All the better to hear a Shostakovich symphony with, m'dear!"
Ten years old here. Am I still the 'Grange Council' pissing champion?
Don't be silly. I don't do childish things like that anymore. I'm one of the 'big boys' now, although I hope I'm
never summoned by Mr John into a whole class of over 40 seven-year-olds to receive a public caning from him in front of them
all like some of the other 'big boys' have had to do.
Next year I'm going to the 'big' school; Cardiff High School. Mind
you, I haven't sat the 11+ yet, but my mum says I'm bound to pass it and go there, 'cos I'm so bright. (God, I hope she's
right, otherwise I'll end up in Ninian Park Secondary-Modern, where all the 'rough' boys go, who'll 'jump' me and stick
me 'ead down the 'bog' and pull the flush or maybe pull my shorts and pants down and 'check me for inches' - they'll
be disappointed! - and where I'll be likely to get the cane EVERY DAY - I've been told they cane a lot there - and
on the hand too, which hurts a lot more than being caned on the bum!)
Still wearing those hand-made woollen jumpers. If any of you familiar with the darker side of childhood are thinking that there was something sinister about
my mum sending me to school always with a long-sleeved jumper on, even at the height of summer, then you'd be right. My mum
took her disciplinary role in my upbringing very seriously, and like many a British parent of the 1950s, was a true believer
in the efficacy of corporal punishment, firmly, liberally and regularly applied to errant male offspring, both at school and
at home. At school, she was content to leave it to the likes of Mr John with his stick, or Mr Fraser and his smacks, but at
home, she considered it her prerogative, regularly administering a thrashing to me or my brother whenever she felt
either of us needed or deserved one - which, in her opinion, was often! Initially, a small traditional-looking school cane
was acquired for this purpose, and hung, conspicuously, by its curved handle, from a gas pipe that ran near the living-room
door, both in readiness for its instant use and as a warning to us both.
It wasn't long before I found out, painfully, that it wasn't
hanging there just for show. I remember several parts of my body first feeling its stings when I was six or seven, and frequently
thereafter, until it broke one day; (but soon replaced ad hoc by a long wooden mixing spoon my mum also used to make
cakes with!). As you might expect, I hated both, and never considered that the resultant exchange of the weals for bruises
made much of a difference! But to be fair, I guess my mum thought she was doing the right thing
in order to bring us up right by not sparing 'the rod' where my brother and I were concerned, and the parental infliction
of corporal punishment at home on kids in general was almost universal round where I lived at the time.
But even so...well...not everything was 'good' about the 'good old days'
and I'm glad we have moved away from that situation somewhat since then, although I think we have still some way to go.
In any case, aside from a stinging smack or two (which I never really minded)
across my bare legs or bottom which I received from my mum from time to time until my mid teens, it all stopped
not long after this photo was taken when I started at Cardiff High School - (my mum knew of the compulsory communal nude showers
I was now having there after weekly games lessons) - and I've long since forgiven her.
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