My earliest memory is of waking in my cot, in the middle of the night and seeing snakes crawling all over the covers. I seem to remember that my sleep was disturbed more than once, in this way. Whenever I was ill, as a child, I often became delirious, if I had a high temperature, so I think that, I either saw snakes every time I suffered from delirium, or as a result of a recurring nightmare. Apparently, I slept in a cot until I was about 2 years old, so it isn't necessarily such an early memory as you might think!
My next memory is of sitting up in my pram, looking out, as my mother pushed me to the shops. Again, it isn't a particularly early memory, because I remember my mother telling me, on the day concerned, that it was raining much too hard for me to go into town in my pushchair, so I would have to go in my old pram. I was too big for the pram, of course, so I had to sit up, with the hood raised, because of the rain. Once again, I think that I was about 2 years old.
My next memories date back to when I started school, aged 4. I can vaguely remember my first day at school, feeling sick with anxiety when my mother went home, leaving me in the company of several other rising 5s, in a strange, but bright classroom, furnished with infant-sized desks and chairs. I was an only child and had had very little contact with other children, except for my cousins. I didn't take to school at all, at first and had to be dragged there, crying, a couple of times, during those first few days.
After a short while, I accepted the fact that I had to go to school and didn't mind quite as much. I particularly enjoyed learning to read and learning how to do simple sums. I always looked forward to Wednesdays, because Wednesday afternoons were known as 'choosing' afternoons and we were allowed to play with whatever toys we wished.
Another thing I enjoyed at school was learning how to use money. I don't know whether it was anything to do with the fact that the Bournville factory was situated just a few miles away from us, but we played shops with a wonderful selection of dummy Cadburys chocolate bars, which I found totally fascinating.
I made a few friends, spending most of my playtimes with the same group of girls, whose full names I can still recall, but I chose not to join in on the occasions when they played kiss chase with the boys, or went down to the end of the playground furthest away from the classrooms, so that they could play showing their knickers to the boys. I didn't start playing those sort of games until I was much older.
I did have a boyfriend, though, in those early days. We would walk in the playground, holding hands, at playtimes and we told our parents that we intended to marry each other, when we were older. The gentleman in question recently moved into a house very close to my mother, in the Midlands, with his wife and daughter, but I haven't seen him for a number of years. I sometimes wonder whether he remembers our plans from over 50 years ago!
During my last year, at infant school, when I was 7 years old, my class was taught by the headmistress. She was a dreadful woman - a proverbial spinster - tall, thin, bony and miserable, always dressed in black, wearing flat shoes and thick black stockings. When we painted pictures, she would run round, looking over our shoulders and shrieking 'More water! More water!' if the sky was too blue, or 'More blue! More blue!' if the sky was too pale.
During this last year, we were taught how to knit, if we didn't know already and then spent hours knitting dishcloths, with some sort of yarn, which closely resembled string. I have a vague idea that the boys went off to do something different, whilst the girls did this, but I'm not sure. It was very humiliating, when any one of us dropped a stitch, because we had to take our knitting to the headmistress, at the front of the class, who would generally unravel almost all of our hard work, down to the last 3 or 4 rows. She would then put the stitches back on the needles and thrust our depleted masterpiece back into our disappointed little hands, in a very disapproving and unsympathetic manner.
When we had PE (Physical Education), we had to strip down to our navy blue knickers and the headmistress would take the lesson in the playground, at the front of the school. I have no recollection of the boys' attire, at this time, but, the playground must have been a paedophiles' paradise, on those days, because the school was situated on a busy road, with plenty of traffic and people passing by.
After 3 years of attending infant school, I moved on to junior school, which was further to walk, being a 20 minute journey away from home, as opposed to 10. A few of the children, from my class, went with me to the same school, but the majority of them, I never saw again.
My old infant school was knocked down, many years ago and the whole area has since been totally rebuilt, leaving me unable to point to any place, in particular and say 'That is where my old school stood' because even the road it stood upon no longer exists. I can see the school in my mind's eye, as if it were yesterday. I tend to picture it, with my class standing in the playground in front, having a PE lesson, wearing nothing but our navy blue knickers!
How about you? What are your earliest memories?