The eight year old sat looking out the window of his aunt’s car.
“Did you enjoy the week off?”
He smiled. “Yep”.
“Looking forward to school next week?”
A vigorous shake of the head. “No”.
His combination of delight and gloom brought memories of the joy and despondency of schooldays: the bright joy of terms ending and the dark despondency at the approach of further weeks of austerity and arbitrary discipline
Our school was an odd gathering of people brought together from corners of England through ill health. The clear air and Spartan regime of our school on Dartmoor was intended to build strength of body and character, as well as giving the staff the opportunity to assail us with fundamentalist Christain preaching..
Going home was always a moment of delight. I was always delighted when there was only one month of the term to go; it meant each date in the calendar would only occur once more.
The end of term was a morning of high excitement. We piled onto an old bus and were transported to Teignmouth railway station where we met with girls from our sister school. The half single fare to Taunton was 63 pence. The British Rail ticket was a red and white vertical rectangle with one corner chopped off; it was so significant for me that I can remember the print on it.
Getting home was, of course, always an anti-climax. I didn’t know anyone anymore and there was nothing much to do. Nevertheless, the end of the holidays and the approach of a new term was something to be met with gloom and apprehension. The journey westwards on the train was a pale reflection of that eastwards just a few short weeks before; I can barely remember the details, just the mood of gloom standing at Taunton station, contemplating the billboards along the never used middle platforms while watching for the yellow fronted British Rail locomotive to come rolling in.
There was a moment’s temptation to say I didn’t like going back to school either, but when I was eight there was nothing worse than adults telling me how bad things were in their day.