Vera’s Life: Part Four

This is the fourth part of a fiction serial, in 759 words.

Elsie walked Vera to school for her first day. On the way she explained that Clara would be picking her up after, and looking after her until she got home. “I’m going back to my job at the jam factory, Vera love. Now Viv has moved out, we need to make up her housekeeping money. So Mrs Simmons will look after you until me or dad get home, okay?” Vera was not exactly in a position to debate that, so she just nodded.

One good thing about school was that it was full of other children she either knew, or had seen around. Less than a ten-minute walk from home, the building was a familiar local landmark. There was a ‘Girls’ entrance, and another marked ‘Boys’, though once they got across the playground and inside, the classes were mixed. Elsie was told that Vera would be in Mrs Chiltern’s class, and she turned to her daughter. “Now be a good girl, do as you’re told, and whatever the teachers say is the same as if it’s come from me and dad”. Some of the other children were crying, and hanging on to their mums. Not Vera though, as she was keen to get into the class and see what school was going to be like.

Nodding at Lizzie, one of her best friends from the street, Vera grabbed her and made for the two seats at the front left, by the window. The Fuller twins, Jean and Joan, got the places behind them, and the class filled up quickly, except for one seat. Little Georgie Baker came in last, almost late but not quite. When everyone had answered their names as they were read out, Mrs Chiltern took them all to the assembly hall. All the children who had just started that day were there, and Vera was one of the oldest, as her birthday had been nine months earlier. Mr Lloyd, the headmaster, made a long speech about behaviour, being on time, and not talking in class. Then they all had to stand up when he left. Vera thought he must be very old, as he was walking with a bad limp, and his face looked sad.

The rest of the morning, they learned their numbers up to fifty, and the ABC. As Vivian had bought a book about the ABC and kept going over it with her, Vera had a head start. By playtime, it was starting to feel familiar, and the four friends rushed over to the girls’ toilet block at the far end of the playground. Vera loved the school toilets. They had real toilet paper, which was a bit like the greaseproof paper mum used when she was baking. And the toilet bowls were low to the ground, so her legs weren’t swinging. Best of all, they were not draughty, and there were no spiders inside.

In the afternoon, they learned how to do papier mache, using flour and water to make glue, then sticking strips of paper onto wire frames bent in the shape of animals. It was messy, but they all enjoyed it. They had been given brown aprons to wear to save their clothes, but Vera was worried that her mum would tell her off for the spots of glue on her shoes. Mrs Chiltern told her not to be concerned, as it would wash off. At home time, Clara Simmons was waiting at the gate, and held Vera’s hand as they walked home. Clara gave her a drink of orange squash when they got back, and two home-made shortbread biscuits. Vera would have loved to have been given another one, but Clara told her “No more, or you will spoil your dinner”.

When Elsie got home, she thanked her neighbour, and took Vera upstairs. She got busy peeling some potatoes for the evening meal, and Vera sat at the table looking at an old encyclopedia that dad had got from someone at work. She couldn’t read that many of the words, but enjoyed looking at the drawings and maps inside. At the back, it had coloured drawings of the flags of all nations, and Vera loved to look at the different designs, trying to remember what country they stood for.

Dinner was almost ready when Albert got home. As he had a wash at the kitchen sink, he winked at his daughter. “First day at school then, Vera love. What did you like best?” Without turning away from the pictures of the flags, she answered without hesitation.

“The toilets, dad”.

39 thoughts on “Vera’s Life: Part Four

  1. What a very detailled documentation about school times in the past. I am remembering just the same situation.I had loved the first day at school, including the sweets we got. But as a remember, i thought it was the one and only meeting there. Lol Best wishes, Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  2. John beat me to it that was my first thought …I remember newspaper squares hanging on a nail and then it was updated to the Izal/bronco ..we used to have to rub it between our hands as it was so slippery…Lots of lovely detail Pete we are all reliving our childhoods 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. (1) Work hours at the jam factory are called jam sessions. Those sessions are instrumental in making sure the company can legitimately entertain hopes of turning a profit.
    (2) Back then, classes were mixed. Today, classes have been nixed.
    (3) The Fuller twins brush each other’s hair.
    (4) Is Lizzie bored in class? And if so, will she take an axe to Mrs. Chiltern?
    (5) “Vera had a head start” when it came to the alphabet. She always started with the letter D, as in Dodds.
    (6) Will Mrs. Chilton be able to coax Vera out of the school toilet? Or will she have to threaten to beat the crap out of her?
    (7) Bad citation: “In the afternoon, they learned how to do papier-mâché using strips of used toilet paper. It was so messy they ended up with brown aprons.”
    (8) “Vera sat at the table looking at an old encyclopedia that dad had got from someone at work. She couldn’t read that many of the words…” She has every right to blame Diderot and d’Alembert for that. They wrote the articles in French.

    Liked by 1 person

All comments welcome

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.