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A Shout From The Attic: René Bray

...Overall, I did not enjoy school. Too much to remember, too many places to be and too many people to please, many of who appeared incapable of being pleased....

Ronnie Bray continues his life story. For earlier chapters click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page. Read also Ronnie's invigorating column Letter From America which appears weekly in Open Writing.

When the war came, I had been attending Spring Grove School on Water Street for about two years. All nursery attendance ceased. On the following January I was five and started in infants after a lapse of a few months. I suppose I ought to remember more about school than I do. I find it strange to listen to people talking in detail about their school years. I can only remember mine in broad sweeps, illuminated by occasional concrete events.

Overall, I did not enjoy school. Too much to remember, too many places to be and too many people to please, many of who appeared incapable of being pleased.

I do not remember anything about nursery school except that I believe I ran away on my third birthday. My memory may be faulty here and I may have been older than three. I may also not have run away, but got lost.

Arriving at school from Fitzwilliam Street by way of the Rifle Fields, I would have entered school by the infant's playground on Water Street. I remember finding myself up against a wall of interminable height and crying against it. Soon after René appeared with a chocolate aeroplane and took me home. She remembers asking me, “What did you run away from your birthday for?”

It is a confusing memory but when one does not have much memory of the early years, it has the status of a significant one. It seems as if the only memories that I can trust with any certainty from my childhood are those associated with powerful emotion, as if all commonplace events made no impression.

René remembers that our Nan went out with Mum and Dad to the Unicorn public house on Shambles Lane, and that Granddad took us to the pictures and to Ravensknowle Park on Sundays. These must have been when we were quite young, because I cannot remember going.


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