Stu's Stories as at 2022

21 | P a g e Growing Up During the Second World War When I look back on my childhood and compare it with that of today, I believe that, in many ways, we had it much better in those days. The adults had to contend with war, but to us kids, life was innocent. My first recollections are when I first started school, age 5. I think, in those days, you started school when you turned 5, regardless of what time of the year. We lived about a mile or so from the public school and my mother walked me to school that first day. I didn’t like being left there, so walked out and all the way back home. My mother walked me back to school and they sat me on a rocking horse in the corner and I must have been content with that as I stayed. I had only been there for less than a year when my brother, Brian, who was 2 years older than me, got up to his usual tricks and managed to upset his teacher so badly that we were taken from that school and placed in a Catholic school only a block up the road from where we lived. Nevertheless, didn’t take long for Brian to be at it again, fighting with, and bashing up, every kid in the school who was bigger than himself (he never picked on anyone smaller). The only boy whom he couldn’t beat (and who could not beat him) was a kid named “Grumpy” Hall. Grumpy was about the same size as Brian and, one afternoon after school, they fought until I got bored and went home. When mum asked where he was, I told her and she went to break it up. Brian and Grumpy were best friends from that day on. Mutual respect at work? We were at that school for about a year before Brian managed to get into trouble again by throwing an inkwell at one of the nuns – black ink all over her nice white habit. So, off we went again, back to the public school. At this time I was half way through 2nd class. It turned out that the catholic school had us so far advanced on the public school that, having been tested to see where I should be, I was placed straight into 3rd class and, even though being a year younger than the rest, immediately topped the half-yearly exams. I repeated this at the end of the year. I continued being in the first couple at the top during 4th class and had no problem when the music teacher told me to stop singing as I was “flat”. (He was the school music master.) This did not worry me until we went up to 5th class where my refusal to sing had the music teacher for that class dragging me off to the headmaster’s office where I received 6 cuts of the cane (they used a length of cane and struck it hard on the open hand) every day for the rest of the year. I still refused to sing – if I wasn’t good enough to sing in 4th class I decided I wasn’t good enough to sing in later classes. This caning continued through 6th class and the same question after each 6 cuts: “Are you going to sing tomorrow?” and they got the same answer: “No!” All this had a detrimental effect on my averages. In those days all exams were judged in percentages; 100% being best and 50% being a minimum pass. I dropped from having all between 98% and 100% to an average of around 75%, depending on my opinion of the teacher. If you failed to get an average of 50% over all subjects, you failed and had to repeat the class. Not like today when they put kids up