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Starting School - Preston 1912

Robert Hull


Starting School - Preston 1912

Robert Hull


Starting School - Preston 1912

A hundred years ago this coming September, 2012, my mother started school at the Park School in Preston. She didn't stay very long.

 

 

Starting School - Preston 1912

 

 

 

 

 

At the interview for the girls' grammar school,
when you told the Headmistress you wanted to be a teacher,
she nodded and smiled; she approved wholeheartedly
of the profession of School-Teaching, she said,
though most of her girls were being trained
to take their place in society as ladies.

 

 

 

To your father, who'd had taken the day off from the factory,
she seemed like a sort of duchess.
And two pounds a term was a lot, he said afterwards -
he'd have to think about it.

But you went. The neighbours helped. They donated
a second-hand gym slip, and a straw boater
with a Park School hat-band ten years old.
You said it was shabby, and felt embarrassed
the first morning as you walked on your own
down Fishergate from the station.

And without knowing, you were aleady breaking
a school rule: you weren't wearing gloves.

You spent the whole of your first morning thinking
the girls were staring at you and saying things,
but a week later you'd come first in arithmetic,
and found you played the piano better
then the beauty who taught dancing.

But it was a school for ladies. Once in assembly
the Headmistress announced that two girls
- in school uniform, and not wearing gloves -
had been seen dropping toffee-papers
from the upper deck of a tram-car
on the driver's head below!

You only stayed two years there.
You remembered it happily - you'd some nice friends.
But you never came higher than eighth in the form,
so you couldn't teach, your father said,
and two pounds a term was still a lot.

The day you left, your form mistress walked with you
round the tennis-court, saying how surprised she was
you were leaving, and sorry - you'd been
such a help to her. You wondered how,
as you walked on your own
down Fishergate to the train,
aged just fourteen.


from High Tide (Salt, 2010), © Robert Hull 2010, used by permission of the author

Recordings

Robert Hull reading from his poems

1A. Non

2Frost

3Hunting in February

4Hedgehog and Moonlight

5Self-advert for mole programme

6Frogs

7An April Poem

8'Gift Offer - Traditional Wishing Well - £47-50'

9Leaving

10Table

11Sound Countdown

12Houses

13Steam

14English Rules - Not OK

15As, as, as...

16Lambs in May

17Arundel Swimming Pool

18Roman Terror

19The Tale of Sir Toby the Timid

20Galileo's Story

21Space

22The Girl Who Made the Stars - A Bushman Story

23The Maker Said

24When the Creator made the birds

25Things with feathers

26Beginnings

27'Please do not feed the animals...'

28Shiny cheery poem

29High Tide

30Sea-side September

31Useful phrases for when you're on holiday

32Hedge

33Deer's Skull

34Autumn Flood

35Swallows in September

36Starting School - Preston 1912

37December

38Snow

39Robin at Christmas

40It's Christmas So....

41For Imogen - newly arrived

42Peace Process

43Recent History Lesson

44Ping Feng

45Humpty, the true story

46Evening Song

47Shadows

48The Graveyard by Croston Church School

Books by Robert Hull