Back to School
The summer holidays were over and I was back at school, and I was going up to form three in the big room, and under the tuition of the Headmaster. I soon realised that this was going to be no picnic, he moved around the classroom all day with the cane under his arm. When he went to lunch he used to hang it on the blackboard till he came back. He was very keen on teaching copywriting, two fingers on the pen, if he saw you with only one finger on the pen, he would walk over and give you such a cut across the fingers knocking the pen flying, before you could recover from the shock he would grab you by the hair of the head and drag you across the desk and give you six of the best across the seat of the pants. He treated the girls the same, they had no preferential treatment, I well remember one occasion when he had given me a caning for something I had not done I decided to get my own back. I waited for him to go to his lunch, I then took his cane off the blackboard and broke it up and hid it behind the radiator. On returning from lunch he missed his cane and immediately grabbed the first boy he could lay his hands on, by the hair, shook him and demanded who has had my cane, the boy naturally frightened told him that I had. The master then rushed out of school and returned a few minutes later with another stick, and my word did he lay on, I had a job to sit down for about a week, mind you looking back it was a silly thing to do and perhaps I really did deserve it.
Our schoolmaster had a garden on the opposite side of the road to his house, at the back of his house he had a sty where he kept pigs, one of our jobs about twice a week was to clean the pigsty out, load the manure onto a wheelbarrow and push it over the road and tip it on the garden to act as fertilizer. One day as we crossed the road we noticed a shepherd coming down the road with a flock of sheep, so we left the gate open. You know what sheep are like one old ewe saw the gate open, looked in saw the big patch of winter greens , went baa, and the lot were in like a shot, the shepherd sent his dog, to fetch them out, we ran to help as well , but in no time the whole patch of greens was gone, not even the stalks left. The master hearing the commotion rushed out of school, when he saw what had happened he ordered us all into school and told us never again would we be allowed to clean his pigs out. This was just what we wanted as it was a very dirty job, we would much rather be in school learning reading, writing and arithmetic. Although barred from cleaning out the pigsty, we had other work to do in the masters garden, and in the toolshed he kept a small barrel of cider, it was full but there was no tap in it, so we got some straws, withdrew the vent plug and sucked the cider out with the straws, this went on for weeks, then one day after dinner the master came into the school reached for his cane and said come out all the boys who have been working in my garden, I thought this is it, and it was. We formed a line in front of the class and wack he took the first one, at the same time saying who has been drinking my cider, he then proceeded to serve us all the same, six of the best but everyone kept mum, and he never did find out where his cider disappeared to, needless to say we were never again allowed to work in his garden. In a field near to the school were some milking cows and some boys including myself, used to crawl up a ditch at the side of the field and wait for the cows to come close, then we used to milk them into tin cans and drink it, one day we were spotted by a man who looked after the cows from a building some distance away, just after dinner there came a rap on the door, the master answered it then turned round and said come out you, you and you, we were confronted by the man who looked after the cows, he had a long carriage whip in his hand, about ten feet long, he then started to lash out with the whip, we dodged and with the whip being so long he could not hit anybody, after about five minutes he said get back into school, I hope that will be a lesson to you, nobody had been hit once.
I recall a few lines about our Scoolmaster they go like this:
Our Master is a very good man
He teaches the children all he can
Reading, Writing and Arithmetic
But he never forgets
To give them the stick
When he does he makes them dance
Out of England into France
Out of France into Spain
Over the hills and back again