A Seventies Schooling

St Andrews – 1974

The lady bus conductor has knobbly knees poking out above her long white socks; socks like mine; socks like a girl. She’s old, maybe twenty three: just like the engine which is knocking and rumbling, belching out black smoke from bus to us. We bounce our way to school under conductor lady’s watchful stare and stern beaky face; not daring to move and risk a reprimand. As I fidget on the scratchy seat I feel the rash rising on the back of my thighs. I stare at the identical homes trundling by and hope my mum runs to meet me or how will I know which house is mine when I return?
We walk across acres of playground, past the friendly oaks of home base from kiss chase with their comforting knobbly bark with nooks and crannies that fit my grip, all old and crumbly leaving green stains on my dress and an imprint over my heart. They smell now of earth, moist and rotting, permeating my lungs after the acrid ride in. As I near the building my senses are overtaken by the stampede of children thrum thrumming up the steps, the clatter of doors flung wide and a cacophony of voices rising to the ceilings and racing down the corridors, rapidly filling all available space. I’m swept along with them and plunged into the hot body smell that rises as we pull off our coats.
In the classroom the outside world is lost and calm prevails. I sit on my chair, feet skimming the floor as my legs swing, bent over my desk and I love that it all fits me just right. My teacher leans over me; wafts of her perfume envelop me along with a warm fresh soapiness. Her large chest swings towards my back and I feel the heat of her as her necklace dangles in front of my face hypnotising me. I long to reach out and touch that medallion, close my hand around it and feel its ridges and curves. She’s explaining but her voice is soft and gentle and far distant as her breath tickles my ear. I like the sound as it rises and falls; meaningless, soothing. As I turn towards her the massive expanse of her bosom fills my vision. Soft, downy white, motherly; safety, a home from home.

© Ammie-oy 2010


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