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It had been a lot to take in. First had been the arrival of the school uniform, followed by a trying hour of photographs. Then, barely a week later, his mother had woken him earlier than normal, dressed him in the uniform and walked him to the children's building at the other end of the village. He had been horrified to discover he was expected not only to go in, but to remain there for the rest of the day.

He had survived, but only just. The other children were loud and boisterous, and simply would not do as he asked. And then there was Mrs Helman. He didn't like her at all. She was so bossy, and angry, and she kept telling him to do things he didn't want to do, and to stop what he really wanted.

No, he had not enjoyed the children's building. It would be great relief tomorrow to get back to normal. Only tomorrow had arrived and he'd been dragged from his bed, forced into the uniform and taken back to the wretched place again. It was all a most dreadful mistake. Surely?

But to his great distress the early mornings, uniform and children's building continued. He came to realise the children's building was actually called 'School' and that he would spend five days out of seven there. What was more, he discovered 'School' was to be his life for the coming thirteen to fourteen years. It was an outrage. Nobody had consulted him of course. Nobody ever did.

The trauma was lessened somewhat by the arrival of what the adults referred to as 'Harvest'. From what he could understand it was all to do with gathering the crops, which he had been led to believe existed in fields in the countryside. He saw no evidence of fields or crops in the school's 'Harvest Celebration' however. In fact, the celebration seemed to consist of singing new songs, which he enjoyed immensely, and lots of cans of food appearing in a pile in the entrance hall. The cans appeared to be symbolic, but he was unsure just exactly what a battered old tin of tomato soup or kidney beans were supposed to symbolise.

It was around this time he noticed the leaves had changed colour. This was unexpected and, for a boy who had endured more than his fair share of surprises for one year, most unwelcome. He was comfortable with leaves being green. That was the colour leaves were supposed to be. It said so in all his books. But furthermore, having changed colour they then began falling off the trees in alarming quantities. They made a mess of the pavements and left the trees looking pretty silly.

However, just as he was beginning to despair of the organisation of the world in general, something marvellous happened. Lights began appearing in all the shops and houses. He could only assume it was to make up for the failing sun, which he had noticed was appearing less and less.

His bewilderment only deepened when his parents brought a tree into the house and hung ornaments and fairy lights on it. He watched with a puzzled frown as they hung paper chains from the ceiling and ridiculously large socks from the mantle. They seemed very happy with the new arrangement but he found the whole matter strange, to say the least.

Even Mrs Helman seemed to undergo a change. Rather than alphabets and phonics and word tins, she allowed them to colour pictures of a baby in a stable and three old chaps riding camels. It all seemed a bit odd, but it was more acceptable than the usual nonsense.

They learned new songs and he was selected to perform the part of a shepherd in a play, which apparently meant standing on the stage and gasping at a snotty nosed girl with wings strapped to her back. It was obvious madness, but he found it strangely amusing.

But on one glorious morning he was woken later than usual to see his normal clothes spread out for him rather than the dreaded uniform. His mother smiled as he raced from his bed to dress.

'No school today. Autumn term is over,' she said.

He paused. So that was Autumn? On the whole, he reflected, it had been quite entertaining. Apart from the school element, obviously.


© 2014 Kay Lawrence.

line Gangang
11th December 2014

That was lovely and even at our great age we can remember feeling like that.


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