I date my vegan leanings (and apparently, evidenced by the illustration on the right, an interest in schoolgirls) to the year or so I spent at Wilshere Dacre School, Hitchin, Hertfordshire.
Although I was merely seven, I recollect two things very clearly about that period. One was the walk to school, from our house on Bedford Road, which passed at one point a corner shop that sold Waggon Wheels, in those days a hearty circular biscuit covered in chocolate, the taste of which I can still remember.
The second, and much more vivid memory, was of refusing to eat the greasy fat that was attached to the tough grey leathery substance we were told was meat and which was supposed to constitute the greater part of "school dinner".
I stubbornly wouldn't touch the stuff, threatening to vomit at the very least. However the staff, with almost Dickensian sadism, wouldn't hear of such nonsense, and would forbid me to leave the lunch hall "until I ate it all up". It was, apparently, "Good for you."
How many crimes against the innocent have been perpetrated in the past along with those hideous words!
So there I sat, staring at the congealing mess of oily gravy and glutinous adipose tissue while the sounds of my peers at play drifted in through the windows and the dinner ladies tut-tutted around me as they cleaned up.
Only the beginning of the next period would release me from this torture. And they say that they were the best days of your life!
By the way, two things interest me in my piece of artwork. The first is the representation of the distant child apparently riding a skate board, something that didn't exist in the 1950s. Even then I was ahead of the times! And the second is my six-year-old eye for detail, as demonstrated by the child at the drinking fountain. I have no idea who the pig-tailed young lady was, but I do note that I transformed the shield shape of the school badge into a heart...
I posted these not-too-happy memories of my brief attendance at Wilshere Dacre Primary School perhaps to exorcise a indigestible ghost, for my clearest memory is of the daily torture of being forced to devour revolting school dinners... I thought perhaps I was an unduly fussy eater, so I was greatly pleased to receive a couple of e-mails that told me that I wasn't alone.
One writer, I'd better not reveal who just in case the dinner ladies read this, reports that his wife teaches at Wilshere Dacre and that "the school meals are still awful"!!
And Mart attended Wilshere Dacre 1966-70 and writes: "...your observation on the dinners was spot on. I can recall the queuing in all weathers to get in the damp dark dump that was the canteen only to be faced with a plateful of inedible muck that induced a feeling of nausea from the pit of my stomach...and the sadistic sods making you sit there while your mates were outside burning off the stodge they had just consumed."