Once upon a time, long long ago, a small boy sat quietly, legs crossed as instructed, on the floor of the school hall waiting for morning assembly to begin. There were many other children sat alongside him and behind him, and some in front of him. But despite this company of kids, the small boy, as he had a tendency to do, was in a world of his own.
He was looking at his knees, at how thin they were compared to the knees of the boys on either side of him, and the way the knobbly bones stuck out and made his skin stretch like it would burst, and how white the skin was. He didn't like his knees. He wished they were fatter. Suddenly he was started from his reverie.
"Good morning children."
"Good morning Headmaster," chorused the children. Some with less enthusiasm than the Headmaster would have liked.
"Let's try that again shall we? he asked, "Good morning children."
"GOOD MORNING HEADMASTER."
That little boy was me. Those thin knees were mine. Still are. I have never liked my thin knees. But this isn't about my knees. This is much more important. This is about the gold book.
Because this was the day that the Headmaster, Mr Knight, introduced us to the gold book. The gold book would contain the names of any child who did something special at school. As soon as the Headmaster told us about the gold book, I determined to get my name recorded in it. I did too. I got mentioned for having the best italic writing in the whole school. What a day that was. I had to go and stand in front of everyone during assembly whilst the Headmaster carefully wrote my name in the gold book. I remember feeling a bit embarrassed standing there, but mostly I felt pride. I felt good.
I had my name put into the gold book a second time too. This was for bravery. What happened was that during a game of cricket I was hit hard by the cricket ball on my knee, and despite considerable pain played on. Not only did I play on, but fielding in the slips I made a spectacular catch to get the other teams leading scorer out first ball.
The second time of getting my name in the book I did not feel the same pride. I shall tell you why. I didn't really hurt my knee badly during the match at all. I made a lot of fuss about nothing. I did this because during a game of football Teddy Weston got injured, played on, and got his name in the gold book for it. And that catch I made in the slips, I didn't know a thing about it. The ball just flew into my hands and stayed there. It was a complete fluke. I felt really bad about getting my name in the gold book under false pretences.
Years later at a school reunion I asked the Headmaster what happened to the gold book.
"Gold book," he said, "what gold book?" Mind you he was getting on a bit.
Sadly I think I know what became of the gold book. I think it got incinerated when the whole school went up in flames. Here are some pictures of the fire.
It was nothing to do with me I promise, but I am quite pleased the gold book has now gone forever. It was full of falsehoods. I can assure you I wasn't the only one determined to get their name in there by hook or by crook.
Funny how it got back to my knees though.