John (Jack) Wales: Earith evocative walk; Discipline and gardens
(John Wales speaking and standing near to the Earith British School on the Colne Road.)
In Standard 3 discipline was very strict.
The headmaster carried a cane permanently in his hand and this had a pig’s tail at one end and could be bent in two without breaking.
He had a supply of these — they came in brown-paper bags — and he administered punishments with these, the cane being taken up to his shoulder and down across the palm of your hand, leaving a red weal across it.
On my Earith evocative walk I remember on one occasion the builders were pulling down the Black Bull’ pub between Enderby’s grocers shop and Micky Day’s sweet shop, nearly opposite The Hut.
There was a rumour that a skull had been found under the foundations so, on the way to school that morning, we stopped to watch.
That was all the boys from the big room, with the exception of Binkie Vinter.
By the time we eventually arrived at school, morning prayers had started and the headmaster had locked the doors.
So we all waited in the porch until he opened the door and let us in.
Then he lined us up right across the room, in front of all the girls and Binkie.
We put out our left hands which he hit with the cane and out with the right hand on the way back!
I had a red wheal across both hands that I nursed under my armpits for the rest of the morning!
There was an open hovel and at the back was where they kept the coke, behind a partition and Dick Seamark used to come and take it over there and put it in the boiler house.
There were beams on the wall over the partition and us lads used to jump off there and grab the beam and swing.
We was doing this on Christmas Eve, the day of the party, and I tried to go and see who could get furthest along the wall.
I went along with the weight of my body, I sprained my wrist so mother had to hire Mr Mail who ran the taxi service to take me to the doctors and I came to the school party with me arm in a sling.
[There were] lovely gardens [behind the bungalow] they were divided into plots, you had two boys to a plot, a younger one and an older one.
All vegetables, potatoes (were grown). I remember we won the second prize because of deep digging – being a farm lad, I could dig deep and the Head Mistress she had a garden of her own down that side, just grew flowers and roses, and a lad called Chicken Annis he was her sort of gardener and later on he was Mr. Fuller’s handy boy — used to take his dog for a walk.
(Extracts from ‘Keeping Time by the Crows’ University of Cambridge John Wales retains copyright on original contributions)March 2012