I remember well the little red season pass for the 78 bus, which I caught on the Old Kent Road, going round the Elephant and Castle and over Tower Bridge to get to school. Each day I had to make my own way to school and back and I had my own front door home key, as I was usually home before my mother - Hard to believe at the age of 5 yrs!
They were perhaps the happiest days of my childhood - I remember what then seemed to be the huge quad playground and tall municipal red brick building that towered above it. I imagine that is the heritage listed building of today, now surrounded by a few skyscrapers, very different from how I remember it.
I have attached a picture taken at the school, I believe it was either in 1964 or 1965 together with a poem I wrote a few years ago (alas personal but not one of my best).
Apparently I used to write poetry when I was young, some were published in the magazine of the Preparatory School I attended from the age of 6 yrs in Sussex. I later attended Monmouth School in South Wales, founded in the reign of King James I, 1614 by the Worshipful Company of Haberdashers. Interestingly, I understand Sir John Cass School was also founded nearly a century later, 1710 in the reign of Queen Anne by Sir John Cass, the London philanthropist himself, Master of the Worshipful Companies of Carpenters and Skinners, an Alderman and Parliamentarian.
Later in life I started writing poetry again, having sadly neglected this fine discipline for far too long, and have begun publishing them individually in a number of anthologies under my pen name, Barddylbach or just AW. I hope to put together a full collection, my first book of poems this year, having only ever previously published a few book chapters, journal articles and one commissioned book, a modest social history, of sorts on mental health in New South Wales some years ago. But these things can be a little slow to materialise, after all what's the rush!
I am myself a 'young' grandparent of five children, sixth on the way, and four daughters, alas my mother never knew them - she died when I was 13 yrs old. In fact, the only reason I left Sir John Cass School as I understand, is because she had a stroke in 1966, being a single mum, she had to find me a Boarding school in Sussex. A school grant was provided with the generous support of the Buttle Trust in London. I must have had a cockney accent in those days before boarding school, which was 'elocuted' out of me!
I have a very sad memory at the age of six of sitting on the opposite side of a London bus to my mother, on our way to Victoria station. I never wanted to leave her side but was so mean and angry with her. My memories of school were never the same again, since it was my time in London up to the age of 6 yrs, attending Sir John Cass School that held the happiest of all memories - My 78 bus pass was my passport across London, going to the Saturday morning matinee and regularly feeding the red squirrels at Greenwich Park in the afternoon. I remember too watching the Lord Mayor's show from a balcony of the Mansion House, and occasional visits to the markets at Petticoat Lane.
I now live in Australia, immediately outside Sydney in the Blue Mountains and expect to make a trip back to England in July this year. Times are very different from those foggy iconic and memorable sixties, locked away only in the distant memories of our imagination.
I look forward to hearing from you, if you can confirm I have made no mistake on the true location of my very first school, or indeed if you have any record or photos of the school from the sixties that may be of interest. So little of my mother and those times seem to have survived the rigour of this half century.
And thank you for listening.