Infant School

Wychwood Crescent, Birmingham, West Midlands, B26 1LZ


David's letter

Dear Laura,

I wish I could be there for the 50th Anniversary of Lyndon Green School. I would have enjoyed the celebrations. Unfortunately, your celebrations are 7 months too early! I will be in England in December 2002.

I’m sure your Nana has already told you that I was one of the first pupils to attend the Infant School. When I fist started, all those years ago, the Infant block was still being built. So, the Infants were taught in the Junior School.

I remember quite clearly the day we all moved into the Infant School. The building was all new and shiny and had that special smell – all fresh and clean.

We didn’t use pens or pencils then, and biros were unheard of. We had to use a little blackboard, which sat on our desk, with a piece of chalk. As we got bigger, we were able to use a pencil and when we were in Junior school, we ‘big kids’ were able to use pen and ink. The little pots of ink were seated in the desk and the pens had little nibs on them, which were dipped into the ink pot and used for writing. We used blotting paper to dry any excess ink from our writing.

My teacher in the Infants was a wonderful lady called Mrs Elliott. She is the one teacher I have remembered all my life. She was a wonderful, caring person who always went that extra step to make sure that we understood everything she was teaching. I am led to believe that she only retired some eight or nine years ago.

IN the Juniors, my teacher was Mrs Bligh and then Mrs Pierce. I remember that Mrs Pierce had a withered hand. It is strange, after all these years, the small things you remember.

In winter, at morning tea, I remember drinking hot chocolate from red plastic cups. We also had milk to drink in little, individual bottles. In the afternoons I would try to sit up the straightest for the teacher so she would give me another warm milk, left over from the morning.

Across the road, between the Juniors and Infants, there was a huge pond. I think there’s a special school there now. I always used to defy my Mum and go to the pond after school with my friends to catch tadpoles and sticklebacks and throw rocks into the water. In winter, the pond would freeze over and we would skate and slide over the ice and have great fun, totally oblivious to any danger we might be in if the ice broke.

I can remember a house by the Junior school. There was a lady there who used to sell sweets and we’d go there after school with a threepenny piece and buy gob stoppers, aniseed balls and flying saucers that fizzed in your mouth when you sucked them. Plus, we had change!

In the junior school, they made me ‘Biscuit Monitor’ – big mistake! My job was to get out all the wafer biscuits and ginger nut biscuits and help to sell them to the other children for morning tea. I must confess that I ate more ginger nut biscuits than I sold (don’t tell your teacher!).

My Mum used to walk me to school up Brays Road. The flats were just being built at that time and that was where Brays Road ended. After that it was just one big field with lots of trees. There was a small creek running through the field and the only way over was by walking across a plank of wood stretched across the creek. I can still see my Mum walking across the plank with the plank shaking and wobbling and hoping that she wouldn’t fall off. (The creek wasn’t deep) She always managed to get across and never once fell off.

At school, I remember Harvest Festival. On that day, everyone would bring in a piece of fruit, a vegetable, tinned fruit or bread. Mum never had much to spare but she always managed to find me something – usually a tin of fruit. Then, at assembly time, we would all file in and look at the vast array of fruit and vegetables and bread made in plaits and folds. I remember the smell – a beautiful aroma of citrus fruits and vegetables. We would then sing the hymn ‘Raise the Song of Harvest Home’. After the celebration, all the goods were divided up and given to the needy. Children put forward names of families they thought might need a box of food goods. I really wanted to put my Mum and Dad’s name down, but I was too embarrassed.

These days, in Australia, schools have to be careful about singing hymns in case other cultures are offended. They do acknowledge Chinese New Year, Ramadan and some other cultural events. Christian events are very toned down. It’s a funny old world, isn’t it?

Australia is a beautiful place. We live about 100 kilometres from Brisbane, capital of the state of Queensland, at a place called the Gold Coast. We are about 7 minutes from the surf, by car. The South Pacific ocean is beautiful and the beaches are long stretches of white sand. The nearest coastal suburb to us is Surfers Paradise – very aptly named. We have a sub-tropical climate so even the winter is very midland still warm. Where you have central heating to keep your houses warm, we have fans and air conditioners to cool our houses down. My children have never seen frost, let alone snow. We live in a nice suburb called Benowa in a low set house (what you call a bungalow). It has four bedrooms, plus a converted garage as a fifth bedroom. That’s where our eldest son (23 years old) stays – a kind of bed-sit arrangement. It is too cosy and he will never leave! We have our own swimming pool so we can cool off in the summer and I prefer that to the ocean with the jelly fish and other creepy crawlies.

Lastly, the schools here are much the same except that they have lots of separate buildings instead of one large multi storey building. School starts at 8.45am and finishes at 3.00pm. Australia’s primary school is for grades one to seven and our high schools for grades eight to twelve. The long summer break is in our summer – December to January. Some of the school subjects taught at high school include body boarding, wind surfing, sailing, beach volleyball, and marine studies. Students can even get their boat licence.

Well Laura, I think I have rambled on long enough. Remember to enjoy Lyndon Green. It’s a great school. I have many memories of it. If I were living in England I know which school I would be sending my children to.

Take care, love from Uncle Dave

PS I miss the late nights as living closer to the equator means we have no twilight – it is dark at 7.00pm in summer.

PPS Yes, - the water does go down the plug hold the other way. Ask your teacher why?

See you on December 14th.