The third Friday in July.
If you were going back to school on the first Monday in September and you had six weeks of school summer holiday, then I reckon you would be breaking up today and going back on Monday, 1st September, which means that thirty-six years ago today, or at least on the corresponding Friday in 1972, I walked out of the door of High Ham Church of England Voluntary Controlled Primary School for the last time.
It was 3.45 in the afternoon. The infant class got out at half past three and the juniors at quarter to four; there was no such thing as half days for the end of term.
The final seconds remain clear in the memory. Someone had left their coat hanging in our school cloakroom and Mr Britten our headmaster asked if they had gone. I looked, and everyone had gone.
“Oh well”, he said, “they will get it in September”.
September seemed like an eternity away and the world would have changed by then, I would be at a different school, a change that I dreaded.
Time lasted so long in those days.
Most secondary schools here have been off since the end of May and the primary schools since the end of June, but even three months holiday would not be nearly as long as the six weeks seemed in those years.
Perhaps it was that it was a much bigger proportion of one’s life, but perhaps it was also that the world went more slowly.
There were three television channels and four radio stations (or five if you counted Radio Luxembourg), telephones were for the affluent. Communication was from the phone box or by letter. London was 120 miles, but a four hour drive and what would take you to London anyway? Trains were for essential journeys and planes were unheard of.
Nowhere in the country moved more slowly than our village which, in retrospect, was maybe not so bad. It made time last longer and the ability to draw time out for as long as possible is not such a bad gift to have received.
You know I never felt bored in school holidays but I’ve heard so many kids (around the 16-17 mark) complain that they have nothing to do . . we weren’t allowed to watch telly during the day, naturally didn’t have computers to or XBoxes, had bikes and ponies and friends to keep us busy. Now it’s all instant gratification and if things don’t come quick and fast kids are bored. It was a different age I think.