The years ticked by and I progressed up the school. We had to make a choice in Year 4 whether we wanted to do humanities or science. Based on not very much, I chose science and left behind all the subjects I love these days – history, geography, art, cookery/domestic science. We did have some tremendous science teachers, particularly two nuns who were known as “Gus” and “Gerry”. I understand that they both could have been serious scientists had they not answered the call of sisterhood. Sadly, not every teacher was so good and many did not have any real teaching skills. (They certainly wouldn’t get a job in teaching today). For many years I felt that I must have peaked when I passed my 11+ at the age of 10 but I know now that I had an awful lot more to achieve.In 1962 it was time to sit my GCEs in Maths, Chemistry, Biology, English Language, English Literature, French and Latin. We also sat a strange RE exam called “Apologetics”, which unfortunately didn’t count towards our GCE numbers. I was not entered for physics because I wasn’t expected to pass but I did take it the following year and got a good mark and another pass.
On the home front, my mum and I became closer and closer. Every week we still went to visit her sisters in Bradford. My dad used to take us there when the shop was closed for a half day on Wednesdays and now we went by bus on Saturdays. Mum’s family lived close to David Hockney’s family in Eccleshill. I don’t know how well they knew them but my auntie Emmie used to tell me how Hockney had once given a painting or sketch to the local fish and chippie and that it used to hang by the counter.I wonder where it is now! Yesterday one of his paintings (Portrait of an Artist (Pool With Two Figures)) sold for £70m, the highest price ever paid for a painting by a living artist.
Some people I did know were neighbours who lived further along the row of terraces. Ada was a hairdresser and from time to time, my mum would go along to have her hair doused in some foul smelling liquid and then attached to something suspended from a huge stand, which often smelt as if it was burning! Then she came out with curly hair. And that, folks, was a perm! Albert had been gassed in WW1 and wore a wig. He mainly sat at home and put up with the terrible smell from Ada’s hairdressing. I don’t know if she did any “normal” treatments, perhaps people did stuff like for themselves.
Our journey home by bus involved a walk and two bus rides. I particularly loved bonfire night when almost every street we passed had a bonfire right in the middle of the road and fireworks being set off around it. I remember that, when we had the shop, we used to sell fireworks so we always had a good display which we would take up to share with Susan’s family. When we moved to Bingley, the local bonfire was often just in front of our house.