There is no doubt at all that I was “teacher’s pet”. At eight years of age I moved up from the infant school to the “big school” across the playground and was placed in Miss Francis’ class. She really was a dear, had complete control over her class with a quiet, calm firmness and never any thought of physical punishment; all the kids loved her, I certainly did.
The year spent in her class was utter heaven in my mind, only marred towards the end by the thought of the reputation of the teacher I was going to get in the next class; I wasn’t wrong, she was a nightmare, but we won’t go into that now. As a class we knew that the following year the next teacher was going to be even more of a tyrant, so it was with considerable relief we learned of her imminent retirement, but also a little concerned as her replacement might be a similar horror.
On returning to school that autumn we couldn’t believe our luck when our new teacher was discovered to be none other than Miss Francis again; and so we settled down to a routine of blissful education in our pre eleven-plus year.
Fairly soon into the school year Miss Francis decided to have an election to select the class monitors, usually the extrovert or brightest youngsters were chosen for this role and normally picked by the teacher. We were all given voting slips and asked to choose wisely. Miss Francis reminded us we shouldn’t select our friends or people we liked or the most popular, but to choose those we felt would best fit the role and gave us an example: “I’m very fond of Michael Stokes” she announced “but I don’t think he’d make a very good monitor”. There, she’d said it; admitted to the whole class that I was a favourite and I must confess to being very embarrassed that my name should ever have been mentioned, let alone in the context of being the favoured one! I don’t actually recall whether my peer credibility rating went up or down following this admission, but I still loved her as my teacher.
Unfortunately, I have no school or class photographs of myself I can use to illustrate this tale, so I have used one one taken at about 8 years of age dressed as I would have done to school. I must have been a little eccentric even then as I clearly recall asking my father to take a photo of me standing in the wheelbarrow!