373 Enfield Grammar School, part 1

Some two months have gone by since this page came to the top of my “things to do” list, and I still have little idea of what to say about it. Why should this be?
The answer is, perhaps, that my time at Enfield Grammar School was mostly seven years of nothing much happening. Let me start by setting the scene, which is, initially, not the imposing building behind the market place, and conveniently next door to the pub, in the centre of Enfield. It was another smaller building, which had clearly once been a fairly luxurious house, but was by then (1958) known prosaically as the Lower School. This was located at the corner of Baker Street and Parsonage Lane; in present-day terms diagonally across the road from the Civic Centre, though this was built much later. Google Maps’ aerial view suggests the buildings are no longer as they were. The one picture I have found seems to show the rear of the building.
We spent our first two years there. A lot of the people I knew from Merryhills School were there, and class sizes were much the same, so the transition was not too difficult. The wood-panelled interior was a little solemn, but the playing field was close by, as at Merryhills; in winter the cloakroom smelled of musty damp just like Merryhills, and the toilets were, as at Merryhills, outside in the cold. But the headmaster was very different from the kindly Mr. Perry. This was a man called Smith. His general manner suggested he had been a minor officer in the army; he was brusque and abrasive, and had no charm of any kind. How he came to be a head teacher at all is beyond me; he didn’t seem to know much about anything except keeping order. He taught woodwork.

I may not have mentioned that this was an all-boys school. At the age of eleven this didn’t matter much, but there may be something to say about this when I move on to the Upper School. At Merryhills we hadn’t had much contact with the girls but it was still strange not having them around.

There was of course a more organized syllabus at Grammar School, a regular timetable of lessons, and of course the drudgery of homework. Then as now I could feel no enthusiasm for homework. I’ve always felt that the working day should end when you go home – but that’s a topic for a different page. One really good thing was starting French, which remained one of my favourite subjects; and beginning to learn Esperanto during the preceding summer holiday got me off to a flying start.

And that. I think, is enough of that. There is a good deal more to say about the Upper School and the interesting people I met there.


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