This post can be categorised as holiday fluff that avoids me addressing my sore knee and lack of running.
It’s a bit of a Proustian story and it goes like this:
(For the nose pickers and arse scratchers amongst you Proustian just means that something (a story, an image, a smell) can invoke a strong pleasurable memory from your earlier years. I think pleasurable is stretching it a bit but you get the idea: deep heat evokes a memory of under 10’s rugby in the mud, fluorescent colours and skin tones evokes the memory of your first illicit jazz mag and so on.)
Back in the days when the last day of school actually meant something and half the class wasn’t already on a sun holiday with their parents and the teachers hadn’t given up teaching around mid-May the big deal was the toys you were allowed to bring to school to play with the other kids.
This is any time before 1990 I suppose. I stand to be corrected on this one but seeing as I left primary school sometime around 1983 I am guessing that by about 1990 the average 13 year old was more worried about scoring some E’s and getting the new Stone Roses EP than whether he had a fully functioning version of Connect 4 to hand.
So, if you had caring and loving parents this was a day to look forward to. A day to lounge around (as Harry Potter would do, I expect, if he wasn’t up to his balls fighting the Dark Lord and trying to brush up against one of the girls) and play connect 4 with your mates.
I have no idea whether they had this sort of day in girls schools. Did girls get to bring in dolls and comb their hair and put on their knickers? I don’t know but if you are of the female persuasion you might have similar memories.
If you had parents like mine it was a day to fear and dread. I had 5 brothers and sisters so the idea of a game of any sort making it from Christmas to the end of June in one piece was a contradiction in terms. By definition the game would have to be shit to not be destroyed. This was coupled with everybody else in the family also wanting to bring in the surviving game so they could play with it.
The other alternative was to bring in a Christmas annual but who wanted to read about Ivor Lott and Tony Broke or Alf Tupper (a running reference there in case you were getting bored) when they were 6 months out of date?
So, on the last day – no cheese sandwiches and the promise of some sweets from the teacher – we rocked up to school with a box of draughts, a game of snakes and ladders or a game of chess to pass the time and hoping to God that some friend would have the luck to bring in Connect 4 or Buckaroo or something equally desirable. If this didn’t work you’d face a long slow morning trying to get excited about a game of chess with the kid who was even more misfortunate than you.
During my holiday in Italy I was wandering around the now annual pilgrimage to the children’s market – where they sell their old toys to make a bit of pocket money.
The toys are making me feel older and older – what the fuck is a Gormiti card?
But occasionally you’ll find a kid selling his dad’s old toys. Some lucky kid who didn’t have to bring snakes and ladders to school on the last day.
It’s mine now – and for just €1.00.
Bring on the last day of school!