Saturday, 19 January 2013


I love leather... I would have walked on hot coals to have a  
leather satchel like the one that I saw in the second hand shop...
such stuff as dreams are made of. 

I always longed to go to a solid brick school, with lots of timber and surrounded by  
beautiful gardens. Instead, I simply had to put up with quaint timber  
schools, lots of light and open spaces and surrounded by huge Moreton  
Bay figs, some literally hundreds of years old, which we were  
forbidden to climb. 

I would have taken notice, I really would, but  
it's very hard to hear a yelling teacher calling out "ChrisTINE, for  
the last time, come down from that tree, or ELSE!!" Hard, because the  
branches I liked to sit on were a long way up. One hot afternoon, the  
grade teacher went marching into battle, at least that's what she  
looked like, straight down to my parent's shop, and demanded that my  
mother do something about me climbing trees as "she is setting a bad  
example". My mother got her Irish up and asked if I had ever fallen  
out of a tree, or if I ever pushed anyone out of one, or even up  
one...   "Well, no, but..."

"No?" said my mother, and gave her her best glare, "Well you had  
better get about your business and let me get about mine."

"Well, I never" said Battling Bertha, as we called our dear teacher....  
she really was ok. " Maybe you should" said Mum. The teacher left, Mum  
took a deep breath and I came out of the back room, all smiles.  
Whack. Through tears, I asked why.. when she had stood up to the  
teacher. I was told in no uncertain terms that Mum letting the teacher  
know that she thought it was ok, was one thing, but me causing  
problems and then the teacher needing to come see Mum was another.  
From then on, I never climbed the trees, in school hours. I know I  
digressed, but it still brings a smile to my face when I think of that  
day and I reminded myself when I mentioned the trees.

Crissouli (c)


  1. What a fabulous story Chris!!! That sure "put a smile on m' dial" :-) and reminded me how mum, when driven to distraction by us four, would shout "Get the Strap"!!! I remember that ONCE one of my brothers ran to get the strop, a terrifying thing which dad used to sharpen his cut-throat razor, and my bro was stopped in his tracks by mum's warning "and if you do... you'll be the FIRST to get it"!!! Third generation was my mum but I reckon she had a lot of "the irish" in her :-)
    Sorry for "rabbiting on" but thanks for the reminding Chris.

  2. My Mum was 2nd generation and definitely inherited more than a touch of the Irish... always made life interesting. ;-)

    I remember those strops, but luckily, they were only at my grandfather's home and he would rather give a child a hug than even raise his voice.

  3. Don't you love the logic of parents -I could see that coming. Love the satchel but not the thought of a red brick building in lieu of that open timber building. We're birds of a feather -as a child I used to love climbing my grandmother's very substantial mango tree and would call out to her from its heights. She never panicked or carried on.

  4. As to the strop -my recollection is that I buried ours one day when I got sick of having a whack. Still not 100% sure this is a real memory or wishful thinking -that bit of under the house has never been concreted. I'll be tempted to do it one day just to find out. My Mum was also 2nd gen Irish but didn't manifest in quite the same ways.

  5. I was always up a tree, a great place to read or sketch. Mum was mostly happy, she sang a lot, told us stories, taught us the joy of magic and using our imagination... but if she got stirred, her reaction was quick, then forgotten.

    I think I read so many stories of English schools, they all sounded so 'posh'... but as I got older, I really appreciated the style of education and the buildings that we had.


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