One of the sports teachers was predictably sadistic and gave us a foundation course in stress positions. Minor misdemeanours were rewarded with the culprit facing a wall with knees bent and arms parallel to the floor. A piece of paper was held against a wall by the nose. If the paper fell to the floor, the victim would be beaten with a gym shoe. It had no effect whatsoever on our poor class behaviour. Continue reading

Dog Shit Heroes


I played lots of football and was in the school team from the first term. It was an unsuccessful team, even though we played only one other private school called Mill Hall. That school had a pupil whose Dad was a professional footballer and he helped coach them. We lost for years, exacerbated by the dubiously large kids who played for the opposition’s under-fourteen team. Continue reading

Thornhill School


When it was time for secondary school, Marky and I were enrolled in the fee-paying Thornhill School. It had an authoritarian regime. The pupils were worked hard. We had three pieces of homework a night and four at weekends. The school was small with usually one class, but sometimes two per year. It amounted to about four hundred pupils in total. The main school building was Edwardian and two stories tall, with wooden flooring, high ceilings and musty air. Mainly traditional subjects were taught. Art and History were my favourites from early on. Continue reading

Court Martial


At Taylor’s place, we talked about what had happened in his back garden. Scotty really wasn’t happy and used an old climbing rope to tie Taylor to a tree out of sight of the house. With the frayed ends pulled tight, Scotty glared at him. Continue reading



The farmer’s land and forest beyond was where Scotty and I spent our time during the school holidays. Influenced by Warlord and Commando comics, as well as The Professionals, we called it HQ and spent many a happy day in the wilderness. We trained, as best we knew how, in military manoeuvres. During downtime, we settled back and watched the blue sky and floating clouds. With the trickle of the stream nearby, we stretched in the summer sunshine, chewed grass and chatted the time away without a care in the world. Continue reading



Onwards and over a rickety fence at the end of open fields. We ran down a slope to the stream below. It sounded loud at night and ripples shimmered under the moonlight. In the shallow valley, it was noticeably darker and easy to move along the banks of the meandering stream toward the distant farmhouse on a hill to the right, beyond the other side of the water. It was approaching 1 a.m. and there was only one light on upstairs as we crawled past the farmhouse. The forest and gamekeeper-country was soon upon us. We were forced to make slightly more noise as the carpet of twigs and leaves cracked and crunched beneath our feet. The going was slow to minimise sound. We traversed over an incline and into the darkness of the forest. Continue reading

Midnight Adventure


One summer evening, Marky, Scotty and I pitched a tent in Scotty’s back garden. He lived in Wolverstone Village. We crawled into our sleeping bags and waited for nightfall. As the sky darkened, we kitted up and slipped into the inky night. We melted through the shadows beside his house and listened. The amber glow of the street lamp to the front cast long shadows on the pavement. The air had chilled. No sign of anyone. We moved under the windows of his neighbour’s house and into the nearby lane. The full moon was good for when we reached the safety of the fields, but it left us exposed for about the next two hundred metres. Pavement bordered a wall to the right, backing onto houses. This provided cover from the darkened windows, but would leave us wide open if a car approached. To the left was a ditch, then a barbed wire fence surrounding a field containing two massive horses. We crept through the ditch as a compromise. Although overlooked by windows, we could keep to the shadows. Continue reading



At Wolverstone School, a friend and I discovered the world of camping in each other’s back gardens. Scotty was a stocky character with a cheeky grin and brown hair scruffily covering his ears. We formed a club called the Night Fighters. Scotty and I both liked anything army, so we were sergeants. Another friend, Taylor, also liked army and he was a corporal. Marky preferred the air force because he made model aeroplanes. He was a flight lieutenant. Clearly, we were a mixed services club. Continue reading

Finding My Way

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My parents decided to return to England after a year in Spain. Our lease on the flat was up and we spent the summer in a hotel with rooms on the ground floor near the outdoor pool. Its blue waters sparkled in the sunshine. There were often lines of ants marching along the walls or an occasional lizard darting about. In the bushes outside the patio doors, I discovered some spiders that seemed to have red fangs. When I got close, the spiders flew away. We used to have lunch in the bar and sank big glasses of orange drink until the infestation of cockroaches marched over our sandwiches. Continue reading

Anarchy In The Playground


The school became more unruly and some of the older boys argued with the teachers. Toward the end of summer term, all children were herded into the main hall and locked up. It was lunchtime and we didn’t know what was going on. The Spanish boys were trying to talk to the teachers through the door, banging it in frustration. The heat was getting unbearable in there and tempers frayed. After around an hour, I heard a window being smashed. With shards cleared from the edges of the window pane, kids began to pour out. The room cleared at a rapid rate and we peered out. It was only two metres down, so Marky and I jumped and walked clear. The glass crunched under our shoes. There seemed to be a riot going on with Spanish boys ransacking the place. It was nearly home time, so we waited at the back of the school to be picked up by Mum. Why this all happened was beyond us. But the school didn’t re-open that term, so it was our last day. Continue reading