Perry Lane County Primary was a single storey modern looking school. My mum taught there in the second-to-top class, and I had moved there from Mersey Drive for my final year. I liked Perry Lane, and particularly liked the head, Mr Ramsbottom, and the dinner staff. Then, as now, I had a hearty appetite though then, and not now, I burned off so many calories doing gymnastics and general rushing about so I was a skinny wretch.
I don’t know if we ever had this precise combination of food simultaneously, but I most fondly remember the meat and potato pies cooked in massive steel trays. We’d each get a small slice with its accompanying square of pastry. We’d get beetroot or pickled red cabbage and mushy peas, and boiled potatoes and cabbage. Most of the kids turned their noses up at anything other than the pie and potatoes, but I liked it all. I think now that it may have been Lancashire Hot Pot pie, but we didn’t know it as such. It was indeterminate meat with potatoes, swede, turnip and carrots and, to my mind, was delicious.
I may have been on my own regarding the vegetables but dessert was something that most of the kids liked. It was either semolina or rice pudding with obligatory dollop of jam, or white sponge with pink custard. My two favourites were Manchester Tart and the chocolate sponge swimming in mint custard.
I’d usually sit opposite a young friend whose name now escapes me. I think she may have been called Trudy. She had long blond hair and always wore it in a high pony tail. I was obsessed with Trudy and had taken to imitating her, particularly her facial twitch in which her lips pursed to one side. I thought it was the most beautiful facial characteristic, but didn’t pull it off like Trudy did.
One day, lets say it was meat pie and chocolate sponge day, Mr Ramsbottom was doing his usual headmasterly patrol around the lunch hall. I was affectionately aping Trudy when he caught me and took me to one side. These were the days before political correctness and when bullying of any kind was usually accepted with a ‘kids will be kids’ kind of attitude. I was told by Mr Ramsbottom not to take the mickey out of such a nice girl. I told him I wasn’t doing that. I was simply copying somebody I liked. I was marched off, not to the head’s office for further punishment, but to a place far scarier- my mum’s classroom. The telling off I got was monumental.
To this day whenever I see this particular facial tic, I want to copy it, but am scared of the consequences!