Tuesday, 26 August 2008
Back to School; Tillie's Tale
As the summer draws to a close and children return to their desks, a special welcome is extended to guest blogger Tillie, who tells about her first day at school. School Days I started school not too long after my fifth birthday in 1941. I wasn't scared about the prospect, after all I had no big brothers or sisters to put me off by telling me all about getting the belt. I was going to Ibrox Primary School, facing the Rangers Football Park, and my first day was so exciting. All the children arrived with their mothers, grannies, or older siblings. I didn't really know anyone on my first day, as most of the children who were my friends were off to St. Saviour's Primary School. I lived in Broomloan Road, close to Neptune St. which was nicknamed the Irish Channel. Most of the tenants there were Irish Catholic immigrants, as were most of our neighbours, and also the majority of the Wine Alley. I was so disappointed when I didn't see my wee pals setting off for Ibrox School. I couldn't understand why they weren't going there, especially John L- who had asked me to marry him and I had accepted. We went in through the gates and down a little stairway which led us into the girls playground. That was another shock in this new world - the boys and girls were segregated in the playground. The boys entered into their playground from Edmiston Dr. which they all loved, as it was facing the Rangers Football Club. Most days at playtime one could see a row of boys, who all looked as if their faces were attached to the railings, trying to catch a glimpse of a Rangers player. On that first day, I felt a little uncomfortable in my new navy blue coat, which was part of the school uniform. I had soon noticed that I seemed to be the only one wearing this style. My little wooden suitcase also made me stand out like a sore thumb. It had been beautifully crafted by my grandpa and my name was printed on it in gold lettering and varnished all over by my daddy who was a signwriter to the painting trade. Everyone else had a little leather bag on their backs. I trudged through the playground, feeling all eyes on this strange creature in the navy trench coat with suitcase in hand. I must have looked like a member of MI5. We were ushered into the class where our teacher Miss G- awaited us. She was a middle aged woman, very tall and slim with tight grey curls, and wore a long grey dress well past her knees. She turned out to be always calm and kind and could sort out any problem to the satisfaction of the children in her class. Our mothers were quickly dismissed and we were told to sit down at one of the double desks set in rows. As I was taking a place, we all heard a peculiar noise coming from the back of the class, a low howling, emitting from a small boy in the back row. Everyone turned round and I recognised Tommy W- who lived across from me in the Wine Alley. By the time Miss G- had started towards him, he was out of his seat and screaming at the top of his voice, heading for the door. Before he could make it, the door burst open violently making a loud bang as it hit the wall. Mrs W-, Tommy’s mother, came rushing through it and grabbing hold of the collar of her son’s shirt, she began dragging him back to his seat. A tall elderly gentleman, whom I later found out to be the head master Mr S-, then followed her into the classroom. Poor Mrs. W- was trying desperately to make her child remain in the seat into which she had thrown him and was now forcing him down in a wrestling hold. All the while Mr. S- and Miss G- were trying in vain to prevail upon the poor wee woman and her unfortunate son. What a racket they were all making! Mr. S-'s voice could be heard above the others saying, " Please be calm Mrs W-, I will deal with Thomas". Too late, wee Tommy dealt with everything by wetting his pants. Mrs W- screamed and howled with shame and indignation, shouting at Tommy, "See whit yiv done noo? Ye'll niver get intae Ibrox School", as the puddle spread across the floor. We never saw Wee Tommy in Ibrox School again. Later the whispered rumour spread around, that "the Powers That Be", had decreed that he should attend "the Special School".