Hazelbury Road Open Air School reminiscences pg4

JEFF Avery on the Web


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Jeff (1948-1953): I began at the Open Air School in class 1 in 1948 but I don't remember the teacher’s name. I remember working with Plasticine, reciting multiplication tables and sitting on a mat in the building used for after-lunch naps listening to the BBC's "Listen With Mother" which always began: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.".

Margaret (1948-1951): I wasn’t in Mrs. Blight’s class but I have memories of the oblong or oval mats that we took onto the field for games or exercises.

Tony (1952-1954): There were some teachers we had little to do with but when we did they were always very nice. Who was that blond German(?) lady who taught the youngest class? She once saved me from a gang led by a boy called Eddie when they were frog-marching me to the cloakroom. When I went home that evening I found a collection of bus tickets held together by an elastic band in my overcoat pocket. Someone had planted them there. I found out the next day they belonged to a boy called Barry, as I recall, and I gave them to him.

This may be related to an incident where a completely inoffensive boy named, I think, Paul, came to join in with Gerald Blick and myself throwing newly-mown grass at each other on the field. I completely lost it for no reason and chased him off the field, across the playground, and into the cloakroom where he sat down on a chair. I ran up to him, punched him in the eye, and ran off. Never hit anyone in anger before or since, so I have no explanation, only an apology.

Pauline (1961-1965): The blonde-haired lady who taught class 1 was Mrs. Blight. I believe she may have been Austrian.

Wendy (1949-1952): Like Jeff and Tony I had forgotten that teacher’s name but now that you have mentioned it, Pauline, I remember.

Pauline (1961-1965): When I began in Mrs. Blight’s class I had already read all the class readers so she let me straight loose on the class library. This was at least partly contained, I think, in a folding bookcase maybe a metre in height, that was opened up to reveal bookshelves (the sort where the books are upright but flat against the back, rather than with spines outwards). I read my way through its entire contents in just over a term. Then Mrs. Male sent Mrs. Blight a proper, "grown-up" book for me to read called "Who goes to the Garden". It was about three kittens called Hurry, Husky and Hullabaloo! Would you believe that years later, I came across a copy of it in a jumble sale, opened it up and it had "Margaret F. Male" inscribed inside - the very same copy! Of course, I bought it.

Another book memory is that in my first term, Mrs. Blight began to read a book to us at story time which made a very deep impression on me - it was "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe". I found it really scary - it was a cold midwinter and beginning to get dark at the time of day she would read it. When she reached the mention of the White Witch I was petrified... with her high cheek bones, blonde hair (which she wore scooped back and up I think), and her unfamiliar, clipped accent I thought of her as the White Witch! There was even a real robin hopping about outside on the hedge when she read the chapter about the Robin that showed the children the way to the Beavers! I was engrossed by the story but then got co-opted for the Breathing Lessons which, to my annoyance, clashed with story time. I was about twelve when I came across the book again and instantly remembered where I'd heard it before!

Feedback: For more information about Mrs. Blight and to see some photographs supplied by her son, Ivor, see the third page of Feedback.


Mrs. Blight, Teacher of Class 1

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