'Schooldays' by Jacky Long

When I was at school

I used to play outside

With my friend before our lessons

It was there that we wanted to go

Out in the playground

We ran fast like cars on the motorway

Racing at seventy miles an hour

Away from the teachers

Away from the lessons

and all the domestic chores

Like making beds

Washing up

Laying up

Polishing shoes

Shoe and uniform inspections

Being sent to bed as a punishment

If your skirt ain’t right

If your shoes ain’t right

If your hair ain’t combed right

But the playground was open

It was freedom

I thought it was my own place

Where I wanted it to be

Where I could say what I wanted to say

Away from the rubbish tasks I had to do in the boarding school.

On my first day

I wore a little blue skirt

A little blue jumper

Buckled shoes

And a little blue coat.

I was about eight years old

I had long brown golden hair

Done in a pony-tail.

My clothes were in a little zipped bag

With my teddy and my little dolly called Sarah

I took a photo of Aunty Joyce

Who died from breast cancer

She left two little girls behind

I felt left behind

I felt on my own

Lonely, shut-in, scared

At boarding school.

There was a great big brown door

With a big black knocker

The headmistress opened the door

And I was shut in.

But back to the playground......

Out of the door

As fast as a dog after a rabbit

Hopscotch, marbles, conkers

London Bridge is falling down

Scraping my knee

Scabby knees, skipping:

I sent a Letter to my Love

And on the Way I dropped It

Somebody must have picked it up

And put it in their pocket.

When I ran away

I put Sarah in my pocket

We went to a haystack

Burrowed into it like rabbits

Being chased by an old dog of a headmistress.

But I heard her voice horrible

Shouting, barking.

She kept a cane in her office for hitting the girls

For hooking me round the neck

For pulling me out of the haystack

For pushing me, marching me back to school.

She took everything off me then:

Sarah, half of my money, my teddy and my photo of Aunty Joyce,

My clothes were took away, and all my privileges

I was sent to bed for a week

No talking to friends

No playground

No place of freedom

No where to go

With bars on the windows

I was all caged in