Just like every other primary school in the UK, we'd have a school sports day. Normally it would fall in the last few weeks of the academic year, and would mean that it was either a) scorchingly hot, or b) pissing down on a biblical scale.
Throughout the year we would get house points for good work. This was normally accompanied with a star drawn by the marking teacher, or on rare occasions (normally the headmaster) you'd get a little sticky one stuck on your page. The excitement of getting marked work back with one of these stars was enough to make any 10 year old wet themselves with excitement, because it meant you got the honour of going up in front of the class and changing the accumulated total on a board with your house. Ah yes, the houses. Houses were your group, much like Griffindor or Slytherin, but nowhere near as cool names. We had the four primary colours, and I remember I always seemed to be in the Blue house.
The thing was, however the teachers had chosen the houses for each child, the fattest and most unsporting child (me) always seemed to end up on the same team as the fittest and most likely to have a career in sport. This meant that working hard through the year meant that we already had a large points tally by the time the sports day actually arrived.
On the morning of the sports day, I would earn another couple of house points by turning up early and helping Mr. Pillar, the teacher laden with the job of removing all the ancient sports equipment (some of it seemed to date from before the war) from a shed on the edge of the field early and putting it all out ready for the day's festivities. Whilst we would put out the posts with the heavy weights at the bottom to stop them falling over or the bean bags with coarse hessian sacks, Mr. Pillar would have the unenviable task of walking around the field, clean up dog crap where the local dog walkers would use the school field and not clean up after themselves. We'd then return to class for a morning of supposed lessons, but in reality very little used to get done with the excitement of the afternoon's impending competition.
After lunch we'd head up with the horrible wooden chairs from class and line them up for the parents to sit on, then cross the track (a 200m behemoth with staggered start) and be forced to sit on the now cleaner ground. Quite often the council would have visited a few days before with their tractor that cut the grass, so the less than responsible kids would set up a grass fight before the teacher would get involved and put a stop to it before the kid with hayfever (normally BLS) started to cry. A huge board would display the current points and one of the teachers would be the scoremaster. They had 4 tokens, with 4 different points according to where you came, 1 to 4, and as the children crossed the line they'd be given the token and they'd have to take it to the scoremaster who'd then tally it up on the scoreboard. Understandably, the blue house (my house) would streak away into the lead as one fast child after another would win the race. It is at this point that I should point out something. I was no good at sports day. I was full of fail as I always crossed the line close to last. One year I got second in the egg and spoon race (now replaced by the politically correct crew as the potato and spoon race!), and I remember actually being manhandled from the field dunking for the elusive apple in the obstacle race. But we had sprinters galore, long jumpers that could hurdle 6 foot fences, and girls with right arms like Popeye for the tennis ball throwing competitions. This meant the inevitable, and by the end of the afternoon (or when the rain came, which ever arrived first), we'd have won. The head boy and head girl of the fourth year would step up to collect the trophy and walk away proud, and the rest of the house would cheer vehemently. It was at this point one year that my mate Nik bit my calf. Not just a nip, but a full blown tearing action like a dog on a postman. Apparently he wasn't impressed that the Blues had won, and the yellows (his house) had come last again.
Do you know, I'd completely forgotten this tale until last week, when I met up with Nik. He then apologised for biting me on the leg, and as soon as he said it, I thought I have to write it for him. So Nik, here's to you and your chompers.
Oh yes, he's coming to visit next week. I'm sure we're going to have a hoot.
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