8 February 2003

002      Ullswater Me and Barton School 1

   Immediately on our arrival I was enrolled at Barton School which was near to Pooley Bridge on the Eamont Bridge road. This was again the typical two-teacher village school, headmistress was Miss Patterson and the primer classes’ teacher was Mrs Wilkinson an older lady. I was five years old nearly six and I found Mrs Wilkinson to be a nice lady. I enjoyed the primary classes and look back on my playtime memories here with a great deal of nostalgia.

During our morning and lunchtime breaks the boys from five to fourteen would use the playground facing the main door entrance and the girls to one at the other side of the school building. There was no mixing. The playgrounds were not sealed they were packed clay and they must have been very flat, water did not seem to collect in rainy weather. In the summer the clay surface used to be very dusty but us younger boys used to like it that way. We younger ones used to congregate by the big Oak tree with gnarled and large exposed roots. We used to create roads and highways in the dust and build the roads up the Oak tree’s roots with steeply constructed embankments. We used to use water from the tap to moisten so the dust held together and shape the hills to our needs. Sometimes an unkind kid would kick the embankments down on a trip to the toilets but after our initial indignation and what we would do to him if we caught him, two minutes it was over.That kid had given us a good reason to build bigger and better.

A darker moment came at school when I met the Dentist for the first time. The Dentist came round the schools periodically to inspect and carry out any required work. If I remember rightly he had a portable chair with him. I had my first inspection and he told me to come back at lunchtime, which I did. He sat me in the chair and angled the chair back, next thing I knew I had a mask popped on my face and then oblivion. The next thing I knew was being tapped on my cheek and feeling woozy. After I had come to he gave me a cloth and told me to go into the cloakroom and rinse out my mouth, which I did to find the water running red and I felt very frightened. He scared the hell out of me. After a few minutes the Dentist came into the cloakroom and asked if I was all right and I nodded yes. He said to sit down which I did and after a while I felt better. I was six years old probably going on seven. I certainly was not seven; I had not got my second teeth yet. He didn’t even show me the tooth.

Yes it was rough and ready in those days and you just accepted it. He was an old Dentist or it seemed that he was to a young boy. He probably was, this was 1940, WW2 was in full swing and enlistment in the forces was also in full swing. He didn’t have an assistant either.

Many years later when our family were young at Primary school I used to try and make sure our children not only cleaned their teeth regularly but they also took fluoride tablets to combat decay, I used to go into the bathroom and supervise the taking of the fluoride tablets. I tried to make sure they did not suffer my unpleasant experience that I carried with me for most of my life. Until the last few years I would relive that visit by the school Dentist on my periodic visits to the dentist.

Next episode it is Joey and Eddie.

No comments: