From big fish to little tiddlers

From timid little infants at Christ Church CP School Roger and I had come a long way to reach the pinnacle of Standard IV with Phyllis Owen as our main teacher.

Two things happened in the Spring of 1961 and they were both to have a big influence on my future. Roger was involved in both.

One was the annual school play, produced and directed by Phyllis Owen. More about this later.

The major event was, however, sitting the 11+ examination which would decide who went to Rhyl Grammar School that year and who (those who failed the exam) would go to Glyndwr Secondary School.

This is the first page of one of the papers in the 11+ examination. I don’t know if the Welsh Joint Education Committee used the same papers as their English equivalent but the style questions would be the same.

I don’t remember being that bothered about the exam, I still took that sort of thing in my stride. Anyway to my mind if my brother could pass the exam and my sister could pass the exam then I wasn’t likely to fail. Roger seemed pretty relaxed about it too.

It was many, many years later that I discovered not all the children in standard IV were entered for the exam. The headmaster would decide who sat it and who didn’t.

Obviously Roger and I were deemed likely to pass. As it happened we did with a quite a few more of those who sat in that room that day.

The only other major event was the annual school play. I know my brother had taken part four years earlier (Emil and the Detectives. I think he played Emil). Oddly I have no memory of my sister treading the boards.

I am sure the play I took part in was a wondrous play but I really can’t remember it.

All I do remember is that I played a soldier (as did David Prandle) and Roger was a goblin.

The soldiers all had black trousers, with light blue stripes down the side (sewn on specially), white shirts and black pill box hats with a black plastic chinstrap. Very smart (which oddly enough links to something in my family tree going back to the early 1800s but that is another matter).

Roger as a goblin was dressed all in black with black face makeup.

The only other thing I can tell you about that play is that I was eager to know if my mother was in the audience and Phyllis Owen told me off for peeking round the front curtain.

I still wasn’t old enough to understand stage etiquette. That would come later.

The school year ended soon after and ahead of us was a wonderful summer.

It didn’t seem long, however, before early in September, I was dressed in grey short trousers; a white shirt with a blue and yellow striped tie; grey socks with shiny black leather shoes; a blue blazer with the RGS badge on the pocket and all topped off with a blue school cap with a similar badge.

I mounted my new Raleigh bike (a reward for passing the 11+) and with my brother ahead and my sister behind (to make sure I didn’t get lost) I was heading off for my first day as a grammar school boy.

Next time: Loss of innocence

Published by Robin

I'm a retired journalist who still has stories to tell. This seems to be a good place to tell them.

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