July 17th 1972

“Went to Chamb school in morning. In afternoon went up trev’s and on the way home popped into see Andy” / “10m” / “Argument starting”

Chamb School” refers to Chamberlayne Road Boys, my (what is known in England as) Junior School, the institution I attended between the ages of 5 and 11.

I have no idea why I went back there – maybe some kind of open day or daytime reunion session? – but it certainly wouldn’t have been for the food!

It’s weird that a most of what I can remember of Chamberlayne Road are all the bad or disturbing things.

For instance, I shudder at the memory that the ‘toilet block’ for the school was outdoors, and I mean outdoors. The opposite side of the playground to be precise, meaning that whenever nature called, one had to leave the comfort of the main building and first commit oneself to whatever weather prevailed. How archaic is that? Can you imagine how c-c-cold those seats would be in the middle of winter? (The toilet block had NO heating, and in summer REALLY smelled of… well, you can imagine I’m sure?!)

I suspect this early introduction to ‘facilities’ goes a long way to comprehending my adult reluctance to ‘sit down’ (for want of a much better, but less gentlemanly, phrase) on a public toilet. I will if I really really HAVE to, but if there’s even the vaguest hint of an alternative (i.e. we’ll be back home in a few hours) I will prefer to clench and wait. I wonder if it’s too late to sue my junior school for the consequent bum grapes?

No idea who Andy is. This is getting embarrassing!

As mentioned before “10m” refers to the distance I cycled today. 10 miles of bike riding being nothing to a skinny, vaguely healthy, 14-year old but representing the equivalent of a ‘coronary-waiting-to-happen for the overweight 50-year old me.

I have commented on phrases like “Argument starting” before, suffice to say again that I find it incredibly sad that I documented the rows that went on between my parents. I suppose in retrospect I should be happy that my folks stuck with their marriage through these evidently very tough times, giving me an important understanding of the word “commitment”. Back then though – even in later years – I hated witnessing them shout at one another and felt utterly powerless to intervene.

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