The 60s for me were a period of growing up. Nowadays they call it the Swinging Sixties but it didn’t swing from day one.
From what I have gathered that is also when teenagers began, even though Bill Haley had tried to introduce the term six years earlier without much success, or so I have been told.
That is for later, however, and for now we will rejoin the young Robin on his Raleigh bike being escorted to Rhyl Grammar School by his elder siblings.
Nigel and I stopped at the first gate while our sister Jacqueline continued on to the girls’ entrance.
My brother looked me up and down, checking that my socks were pulled up; my tie was neatly knotted; and my cap was firmly on my head.
“Right, you wheel your bike up the drive and put it in the bike shed. I told you all about that. Don’t forget to lock it. Then wait until the prefects tell you to line up. You’re in 1W remember. After that you just do what the prefects tell you to do.”
With that he was gone.
I couldn’t blame him as I was a new boy and he was just starting in the fifth form.
I trudged up the drive, wheeling my bike, and crossed a covered way which had a rubber matting laid along it.
It didn’t take long to find a slot in the bike shed and chain it up and then I turned and looked out on a vast expanse of concrete covered by boys and girls in all sorts of sizes. Beyond it I could see the green playing fields.
Just as I was beginning to feel lonely in a crowd I heard a friendly familiar voice.
“Oi. Robin! Over here.”
It was my good pal Roger who had arrived before me. It wasn’t long before we had found a few other Christ Church boys, including Tony Roberts, Roy Poole, John Cliff and David Prandle.
Then a bell went and tall young men were ushering us into lines (the girls clearly lined up elsewhere). Once in order and quiet each line (a different form) was given instructions as to how to get to our form rooms at which point a whistle was blown and we headed to our first classroom.
We went through the quad and into the old building and ascended the first staircase we came to. At the top we found the girls who were to be our classmates and a short, sallow faced woman wearing a gown over her skirt and blouse.
She introduced herself as Miss Watson (we later learned her first name was Sally) and told us to go in and find ourselves a desk each.
The girls went first. Roger and I were near the front of the boys’ group and we got in and selected desks on the left hand side about three rows back. Not too near the front and the eagle eye of any teacher but not too far back to be seen as lurking.
In front of us were two boys, one with dark hair and one with short fair hair. They seemed to know each other.
We later found they were twins called Louis and Jimmy Parker.
They were to become very good friends and will earn frequent mentions in days and weeks to come.
The rest of the morning was a whirl of checking timetables, finding classrooms and eventually finding our way around this great edifice.
At the morning break we gathered outside in varying groups. Initially Roger and I chatted with old friends from our primary school but before the bell went our little group had grown to about 10 – including the Parker twins and others we did not know properly from 1W.
This was the start of a number of beautiful friendships.
Next time: Friends and foes