The nephews returned to school today, (somewhat reluctantly, but how many eleven year old boys want the school holidays to end?)
In 1972, the first day of a new term would have merited the commencement of a new right-hand page in the school exercise books. Today, the day would have begun with the writing of “Summer Term” at the top of the page. The words were always written with a sense of thrill. The three terms of the school year were always named in a positive way; there was an autumn term, a spring term, and a summer term, winter did not form part of the calendar.
As the nephews are beginning their final term in primary education before moving to secondary school in September, so the summer term of 1972 was to be a final experience of life in the village school.
Returning to school after the Easter holiday that year was a strange experience, it was a school very different from that which we had left less than three weeks previously. Miss Rabbage, the headteacher of the two teacher school, had reached her sixtieth birthday and had retired. Miss Rabbage had been at the school for a lifetime, and it seemed difficult to imagine the school (or the village, for she was moving away), without her presence. Miss Rabbage was to enjoy a long, well-deserved retirement, living until the age of 91 and coming back to the village to be buried.
Going through the school doors for that summer term of 1972, we were greeted by our new teacher, Mr Britten. It would have been hard to have found anyone more different. Thirty years old, driving a brand new car that was a sporty orange colour, teaching in a way very different from anything with which we had been familiar; those final weeks were filled with smiles and laughter.
Time undoubtedly progresses at a faster rate when one is happy, and it was no time at all before the third week in July came around and the primary school days were over.
Perhaps there was no appreciation at the time of the importance of the time at that school. On the final day, there were no special events to mark the moment of departure, we walked out the door at 3.45 and that was it. Maybe it was more sensible that way.
School for the nephews is something very different from what it was in 1972. In 2064, they will have their own recollections of the final term, their uncle will have long joined Miss Rabbage in the village cemetery.