Tuesday, 22 April 2008

School misery (5)

I soon discovered at Fairfield that I was not good at many things. I was a weedy little kid (aged 11), and P.E. (physical exercise) was clearly not my thing. And the weekly out door sports led to more misery.

We would be ‘bused across town to the school playing field at Combe Dingle. There we would change in old Nissen (Quonset) huts, one for the girls, one for the boys. In the autumn we played football (soccer), or rugby. In the spring it was track and field. In the summer, cricket was offered.

But I could not (and still cannot) kick a ball, hit a ball, throw a ball or catch a ball with any modicum of skill.

Cricket terrified me. I tried for Rugby - a foolish choice for me. So in the autumn I kicked a soccer ball around with the dozen or so other klutzes, not really playing football. I was dismal at track and field, and feared cricket, so in the spring and summer was set at running laps around the field.

A huge sign hung over my head, and that of my fellow nerds. It read “failure”.

Then there was the miserable shower in the cold and rickety hut, and a long journey home, by city ‘bus or by bike if I had cycled.

When I left school I vowed “no one will EVER again make me play an organised sport.

To this day I am but marginally good at our ten pin bowling outings.

(When looking for pictures for this entry, I discovered that Nissen huts were developed by the British in World War I, and that the American Quonset Huts were based on that design).

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