Warrandyte Primary School, Grade Prep, 1969
Well now, wasn't this a long time ago?
One of the more unnerving things that happens as you age, is that you find yourself being able to remember the names of people you knew 40 years ago, but not those you've been introduced to in the last half hour.
I was about to tell you all about these kids, but then realised that they're not my stories to tell. I can tell you that I am bottom row, second from left, trying very hard to look nice (because my mum had threatened me with crucifixion if I didn't), and that my favourite friend is sitting to my left. I don't remember Sasha or me ever being this dressed up in Real Life. We spent most of our time traipsing through a foot of mud in gumboots, our pockets filled with oats, trying to catch ponies.
The beautiful Miss Anderson was like a goddess to me, until the day that she discovered, with alarm, that I could already read, and with horror that I could write equally well with both hands. She made me choose between them, immediately. Shattered by her lowered opinion of me and convinced that my freakish ability was irrefutable evidence that I'd been spawned by demons, I frantically did the eenie-meany-miney-mo-thing, and came up left. To this day, I write with my left hand, but do pretty much everything else with my right, and both, on occasion, and, er, sometimes I'm not sure which hand I'm s'posed to be using. Occasionally, I wonder if things might have been different if I'd been allowed to just remain in my blissfully ignorant state of generic evilness.
It wasn't a bad school, as schools go. It was very old, having been built during the goldrush, rather pretty, and not very big, but it all hit me as a Dreadful Shock. Before school, I had experienced Almost Perfect Freedom, roaming as far and wide through the bush as I saw fit, as long as I was home by nightfall or there would be Hell to Pay. To have to sit in a classroom for hours and hours, doing pretty much the same stuff day in and day out consituted a kind of hell for me that I never entirely recovered from. Even now, walking through the gates of a school, any school, sets my teeth on edge and gives me an attitude that is laughably inappropriate to my age. I am the world's worst PTA Mum, and am completely useless as a nine to fiver.
Of course, it's equally possible that I was born, not made, a confused, left-handed/ambidextrous, undisciplined, reprobate maverick.
But it's much simpler just to blame Miss Anderson. It's all her fault. I'm sure of it.