The end of the school year

Standing in the school reception at half past three, I tapped the iPad with which staff log in and out. Stepping back, I pondered the moment.

“This is it. This is the end of the school year. This might have been very different.”

The final day of my first year of teaching might have been different if normal school life had not ended on 20th March.

The third Friday in July was not always so anti-climactic.

Forty-eight 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 junior class 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.  Secondary life was a prospect filled with unknown terrors.

Time lasted so long in those days. Six weeks seemed in those years. Perhaps it was that the six week period is a much bigger proportion of your life when you are eleven years old, but perhaps it was also that the world went more slowly, there was no sense of a need to rush.

There were three television channels and four radio stations (or five if you counted Radio Luxembourg). Telephones were for the affluent, and even they did not use them unnecessarily.  Our communication was from the phone box or by letter. London was one hundred and twenty miles away, but it was a four hour drive. But there was nothing to take us to London, anyway.  Trains were for essential journeys and travel by air was beyond our imagination.

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.

Forty-eight years after leaving primary school, the six weeks will pass much more quickly than in 1972.

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