I was about six years old, so we are talking 1952 or 1953. My mother had collected me from school. As always, I picked up a book to read and bring back the next day. I know I was past the structured readers by then. I remember being told to take a “proper” book instead of a reader, which of course I did – very proudly.
Anyway, on this day we were on our way home, when my mother met one of her friends. Now, if I was a reader, she was a talker, so we stood for quite a while and like any six-year-old, I rapidly grew bored. I sat down on a grassy bank beside the footpath and started reading my book.
I don’t recall how long she talked but, by the time we started off again for home, I had finished my book. Given my eagerness to read it, it is possible that this was the actual day I graduated from the readers to real books.
I can remember the precise location and could take you there even now. It used to be a colliery (coal mine), but by then it had long closed. The old colliery yard had become a scrapyard surrounded by a high, stone wall, presumably left over from the colliery days.
These days the school, the stone wall, and the scrapyard, have all gone. Where I sat is now housing. In my mind’s eye, though, I am still six years old, sitting on the grassy bank with his back to the wall, lost in a book. I looked for a photo of the school too, but all I can find is this postcard from 1905. It is the same building as the one I attended.