Monday 6th May 1968
In May 1968 I was fully aware of my place in Pilning School pecking orders. My position was seriously challenged by my stupidity of this day. My diary for the time would be somewhat extended from that of my Letts diary. Mr Taylor, our class teacher, was encouraging us to write in detail, avoiding the word nice and using commas and colons like they were breathing apparatus.
The extract is given in full as it would have been written for a Monday morning after a weekend. You know it was of the “what did you do at the weekend?” type of letter to Sir. I was a clever little sod so didn’t write about my weekend at all. I had something to get off my chest.
I spent this weekend thinking very hard and long about my essay of last week. I am very sorry Mr, Taylor for hitting you. I didn’t mean to hurt you and I am very very sorry. I did not, as you said I should, tell my parents about it. It would not make it better for either you or me because I would only be told to apologise to you. This is what I am doing here. I hope that will be enough of a punishment.
I should explain why I was so annoyed that I hit you. You are still wrong about the argument. Bristol is a City and a County. The road sign at Henbury says “Welcome to the City and County of Bristol.” You marked my essay as only worth a B and gave Christopher Studley an A. I wrote 20 pages on the City Of Bristol and it took me two days to write out in full. It was much better than Christopher’s essay of only 10 pages and I had also told him what to write. You said I didn’t get full marks because it had a glaring obvious error of fact and I should check my facts before writing about things. To check my facts this weekend I rode my bicycle to Henbury and the sign there still says “Welcome to the City and County of Bristol.” I am sorry for hitting you but I am not sorry for writing what is correct.
As I am writing about my weekend I should also say that I have finished my map of the school. I spent most of Sunday drawing it out again to scale of 1 to 4. I like drawing this map but my Mum says that she wonders why I am spending so much time on the map when I should be doing Maths and writing. I have also thought long and hard about this. I know that I do the map on my own and I like being trusted to do it. Am I missing work when I do this? Christopher won’t tell me what you have been doing when I am doing the map. To do the final map I will need to have a very big piece of paper or do it at a better scale.
I see that the hobbit is coming. It is written on the blackboard and I am told it is a very good story. I wanted to buy the book at a bookshop in Westbury-on-Trym. It was too expensive for me at the moment. Westbury on Trym is in the City and County Of Bristol and was the destination of my fact checking bicycle ride. I did have enough money for some coloured pencils and a rubber that was useful for drawing the map.
On Saturday, when I returned from Westbury on Trym, I watched Severn Beach Wanderers play Eden Grove FC in the Severn Beach Playing field. The score was 4-4. Bristol Rovers were playing Swindon Town but I wasn’t allowed to go to watch. I went to get the Green Un as usual and the older men said Rovers didn’t play very well and deserved to lose. On Sunday, after drawing my map, I played football in the field before we went to church in the evening.
I am looking forward to this week. I hope I will still be able to do my map and can sing on Wednesday. Mr Tutton says I can either sing or play a musical instrument. If I play an instrument I won’t be able to play football for the school, team. I promise to be much quieter and not wave my hands when I answer questions. I won’t shout out the answer any more and will let other people answer even if I know they will get it wrong I expect to be told off for writing this essay. This is not my best essay. I think it is only worth a C mark because I haven’t put enough detail in my description. I could have added that the Severn Beach fought back like tigers but that would be a bit of an exaggeration. I could have told you who scored but I couldn’t check my facts with the referee. My Mum has not read this piece of work. Please do not let her read it.
Of course I didn’t write it exactly like this. I thought it and was really angry about the incident. In any other school I would have been given a very hard time. A year earlier I would no doubt of been caned but we had a new Head Teacher, Mr Tutton, who looked hard but was very soft on us. The sentiments are true and I did get on my bike instead of being at home and having to tell my Mum. I remember vividly swinging the punch, connecting, crying and the class going silent as I ran back to my desk. I hid my head in shame and waited for the inevitable abuse that was to come my way as a consequence. They didn’t do anything. They must have missed it. Chris Studley must have seen it. Mr Taylor must have felt it. Mr Taylor told me to go and carry on with my map. I left the classroom very quickly. Mr Tutton found me and asked me what had happened. I told him the truth. He told me to apologise and all would be o.k. I did and it was. I never did tell my Mum. When I met Mr Taylor in 2010 he didn’t mention it either.
ON THIS DAY
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