This is London 1958. To me, an 11 year old, the big school is an intimidating place. A glass, and concrete fronted monstrosity eight stories high. It was I believe the first, purpose built comprehensive school in London, maybe England even. My first day is a nightmare. I don't know a soul.
The teachers wear black gowns and mortar boards. I find them very scary. The headmaster is a fearsome looking man. He speaks, shouts mostly, in a booming Welsh accent, that seems to shake the very foundations of this hideous edifice, and causes tremors across the floor and up through my nervous body, to rattle my confused brain.
There are official school bullies too. Well they are actually called prefects, and supposed to keep order, but in my experience most of them were bullies. They had a sash type thing to distinguish them from the other boys. But they used to hide them so you couldn't see them coming. I hated prefects.
This is not a good time for me. As well as starting secondary school, I have at the same time, without, as far as I recall, any notice, been placed with foster parents.
I am far away from any of my wretched life's familiar things. I am a stranger here in this locality, and my former comfort zones, although somewhat frugal, have been left, without ceremony, many miles away.
I am dispirited, sad, lonely, and unhappy. I want my Mother to be here. I want her to take me back with her to wherever she lives. I want her to stand in my corner, and tell me everything is going to be all right. Mind you, this is something I yearn for most days. But perhaps a little more fervently this time.
But that won't happen. It would be a miracle if it did. I haven't heard from her for years. What will happen is that I will get used to the way things are here, I will somehow fit myself into the system, whilst not actually conforming to it, and I will survive the turmoil in my life, and in my head. Because that is the way I am. A frightened but resilient little fighter.
This is just one more testing time in my life. I'll deal with it. What else is there to do?