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There’s no doubt I was the timid one of the family when it came to attending school, I have already recalled many incidents of my educative years on these pages, but some of my memories go back as far as nursery and early infant school when I was five or six years of age.

I didn’t make friends easily, being shy and nervous I tended to steer clear of the noisy and boisterous, many of the boys were residents of the cottage homes and they tended to be loud and bossy and scared me, they were to be avoided. I did have friends in my first year though and they were mostly the girls, they were quieter and more friendly than the boys and I slipped into a cosy relationship with a small group, I didn’t feel out of place and felt secure with their friendship. I recall some of their names as if it were yesterday, there was Linda who was the leader of the gang, Verna, Patsy and Rhoda, they were the ones I liked best, especially Linda and Verna. I guess I must have driven my mother nuts with constant tales of what Verna and Linda had been doing in school each day and I think this went on for about a year through nursery and into the first year of infant school. I was reasonably content, at least as far as friends were concerned, I was more reluctant about the educational element though.

My friendship with the girls was doomed, not through theirs or my doing, but the intervention of adults. At the beginning of a new school term, I don’t remember which one, but I was in the first class in the infant school, I was taken to one side by either the teacher or the head and it was suggested to me that didn’t I think I was too old to be playing with the girls now? My whole world was suddenly about to fall apart, the one thing I liked about school was being taken away from me, I clearly remember sobbingly explaining to the girls when they sought me out at break time that I was no longer allowed to play with them. For goodness sake, I was only five, or maybe just six, how cruel and unkind was that? Thankfully the teacher suggested I should be friends with Richard who was another quiet boy and so began a companionship which lasted through our junior school days for which I was grateful.

After the 11-plus examination we all went different ways, some to the grammar school, some to the secondary modern, and a few like me to private education, all those I have mentioned above I never saw again.

A few years ago I entered the Facebook community and joined in a few South Wales history groups. One day on one of these groups a person by the first name of Verna joined in a debate, I think it was about school milk (yeuk). I couldn’t but help remarking that Verna was an unusual name and had she by any chance lived in Bridgend when she was a child. The response was affirmative and we have been corresponding ever since. The photograph shown here to illustrate this tale has been loaned from Verna, it’s not a particularly good copy but I’ve straightened it out as best as I am able. It shows Verna, third from left, and I believe Linda could be second from left plus the other girls I’ve mentioned in my tale with one or two others, unfortunately I can’t remember which is which of the others, well it has been sixty years!

The girls at Oldcastle School, circa 1955.

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