Father quickly enrolled me at the local
comprehensive school. He made it clear that
it was a step down for me. Mixed schools, he
said, bred slovenliness, lewdness and drug taking.
They had no tradition to draw upon. As far as
Father was concerned, my life would be a shabby,
uncultured mess from this time forth. I was fitted
out with the bottle-green uniform and voluntary tie.
Only wasters, Father judged, went without a
perfectly neat tie. I felt compelled to wear mine
with pride. On my first morning, I cycled up late
to the main entrance. I was shocked to see
students who looked happy. Covens of nattering
girls watched as I dismounted. They giggled.
Relaxed teachers stood on the steps smiling.
Nobody was troubled by my lateness. Already
I liked this place. I wheeled my bicycle to the
back of the school and fitted my padlock. Father
had said they would be a bunch of crooks and
thieves. A bell rang. I hurried inside, to search
out my form room. The hallways buzzed with a
happy clamour.


Author: Robert James Berry

Poet & Novelist