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On Wednesday afternoons we had school half day on Wednesday and Saturday Terry and the chosen one would sit front centre in the balcony of the Gaumont and smoke while watching Ava Gardner or Burt Lancaster on screen. Terry had a terrific memory but was not very good at translating Latin. We sat next to each other for most subjects. His elder sister went to Brockenhurst Grammar School and had a copy of the teacher's edition of the maths book we were using one year. So on our way to school on the train we would work backwards from the answer to the question filling in the intermediate steps.

We all did very well in maths that year. Harry was considered slightly mad. So we tried it out one day. Harry's bulging eyes were transfixed by the swinging bulb and he walked straight towards it scattering desks left and right. Another day, Harry was bending over the milk crates in the hall during morning break when his balls were grabbed between his legs by a boy who had mistaken him for a tall friend. The Latin master at the time Terry and I were battling with Virgil was Ponce Cooksey I never found out why he had that nickname; we just called him "Ponce", except to his face of course.

He was a terrific and exacting teacher and, as I found out later in an Old Boys v. Masters match, a very good fives player. One day he was taking a spare and instead of getting on with my prep I was writing a poem about the various masters. I suddenly realized he was looking over my shoulder; I had just finished writing "As I was passing Braithwaite Room I heard the chant of verbs; I op'ed the door and saw instead 'twas Ponce declining urbs.

My estimation of him soared. When I started Latin in my first year at grammar school our neighbours at number 20 were the Masters, who came from Dorset. There were two boys, Ron, my age, and David, a few years younger. I overheard them conversing one day. David: "Ay, ni'er, did you know Russon is doin' La'ern? Our accents had been a cause for concern among our teachers at primary school. Dropped consonants are characteristic of the speech of Southern England, but colloquial terms like "nipper" or "clot" were for the playground not the classroom.

Vowels were something else; we all got them wrong. In class a child might prod the one in front who would turn round and say "Ay, you!. We all started Masefield's "I must go down to the sea again" with "Oi" and were corrected by the teacher with something like "Remember, an eye for an eye. If the ball landed in a tree or a bush it was a "bird's nest". Neither of us particularly liked Robert Seely, who lived at number 24 the Shearings had moved to what was then Southern Rhodesia , because he was "weedy" and not good at games.

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Seely was considered "eccentric", as he walked slowly down the road coming home from work reading the Times with a rolled umbrella under his arm. I got into trouble one day for falling into step right behind him. The most imposing person at Peter Symonds, revered by all, was the headmaster, Doc Freeman.

He treated the boys as adults until they showed him otherwise, and addressed us individually as "Brother" and collectively as "Brethren". Each morning at assembly when all the boys were standing in the hall with the prefects down one wall and the masters down the other, Doc would walk up onto the platform at the front in his gown, take off his mortar board, and lead the assembly in prayers, hymn singing, scripture reading and announcements. An awe-inspiring, unforgettable event took place each year on Remembrance Day.

It was the onerous privilege of the Head Boy to stand at the lectern at the side of the platform, and read from a large book the names of the Old Symondians who had fallen in the two World Wars. Doc, who had been headmaster since the late nineteen-twenties and had known many of these young men as schoolboys, stood at the table in the middle of the platform, head bowed, his arms rigidly extended with the white knuckles of his hands planted on the table for support, and sobbed.

School was a way of leaving home for a while, particularly in later years. Wednesday and Saturday afternoons were taken up with sports. Besides the different inter-house competitions, I was on various school teams for cricket, hockey, track-and-field, cross-country running, fives and chess. The senior art master, Randy Renton, and his wife ran one of the boarding houses. Renton was famous for her cricket teas, particularly her rice crispy and syrup cakes, so home matches had a special attraction. Randy, who was Doc's son-in-law, had foibles that were tolerated by the board of governors, and even admired by the boys.

We had a double period with him; he would set up a still life at the beginning, tell us to get on with it, then go round to the pub until it was time to collect in our work. Like his father-in-law he had the reputation of being a skirt-chaser. Whether true or not, the reputation was just part of the aura surrounding the masters. Jack Northeast, the junior art and geography master, and Tom Pierce, the junior English and nature master, both worked freelance on The Hampshire Chronicle. Tom's "slipper" was feared, whereas "E. Whynot Woodhouse, noted for his scepticism and the grounding he gave boys in critical thinking, was the proprietor of the Chronicle.

Fluebrush Smith had in-laws in France, and the other senior French master, Oink Griffin, occasionally made laconic remarks about his cottage-cum-nature-sanctuary in Chandlers Ford. Fergie Ferguson, the junior chemistry and biology master, favoured experiments that involved lighting a match, so that he could take a drag on a cigarette in class. Cozens no-one dared give him a nickname , the senior maths master, brought his dog with him to class; the dog was docile, even if his owner was less so, and would lie under his master's desk.

Papa Watts bored us in history class, but entertained us as a member of the chorus in amateur Gilbert and Sullivan productions we attended in Winchester. The school rather went to pieces after Doc died. The senior chemistry master, Sam Simpson, was made interim headmaster. Sam made the fatal mistake of pausing in mid-prayer or mid-sentence when somebody coughed during morning assembly, and had unexpected lorryloads of bricks and sand delivered to his house.

The new headmaster, J. Shields, had a hard time gaining the respect of masters and boys. We used to play word cricket when he took us for religious studies. Each time he said "orff", it was either a six or a wicket, depending on who was batting. The debating room, where Shields did his "orff"s, was the scene of a balloon debate in which Simon Weir survived, as Brigitte Bardot, by ending each plea with lines such as "I appeal to you.

I had grown a beard over the summer during my time on a farm in the Marne and went back to school in September with it on. Shields hauled me into his office and told me that if I wanted to be a prefect I wasn't bothered and to get letters of reference that hit home I would have to shave off the beard. So off it came. Whereas in later years at Peter Symonds Wednesday and Saturday afternoons were taken up with house and school matches, in the early years I was more a spectator.

In the early fifties football teams, big and small, travelled to away matches third class by train. On the platform at Winchester station we watched the Waterloo-Bournemouth train pull in and anxiously scanned the windows for the sticker showing where the Middlesborough team had their reserved compartment. We piled into the open compartment in our school caps, blazers and satchels and eagerly asked the players which of them was Wilf Mannion.

They all said they were Wilf Mannion, so it took a while to sort out which one was our England team idol. They were a very friendly bunch as I remember, and the goalkeeper Ugolini initiated a game in which David and I tried to score "goals" by throwing our rolled-up caps at the door behind him as he stood in the central passageway. When we arrived at Central Station we earned ourselves seats in the stands by accompanying the team on foot, showing them the way up Hill Lane to The Dell.

On another occasion my youthful exuberance got somewhat out of hand. A group of us Scouts were sent to Stoneham golf course to man the field telephones at a tournament, reporting scores to the clubhouse from selected greens. My golfing hero at the time was Bobby Locke. I have a vivid memory of one moment: the great man was about to putt, and as silence descended my voice could be clearly heard babbling that "Bobby Locke is playing very well". I did nevertheless manage to get his autograph my main reason for wanting to go , as well as those of several other players.

The first time I tasted an alcoholic drink I was brought up in a Methodist home was when I was working in the Una Star laundry. One lunchtime we went to the Malvern in Winchester Road and I had half a pint of scrumpy. In Dorchester I had a pint and a half of scrumpy at the pub and afterwards uncharacteristically regaled the other occupants of the hostel with a piano and voice rendering of one of the Una Star songs. A year or so later I was working before Christmas in the foreign parcels depot in Redbridge. On Christmas Eve we had a delivery to sort about 6 p.

So we all spent the intervening time at the pub, where I drank a number of rum and blackcurrants. I cycled home completely steady on my bike and thoughtfully bought some mint chewing-gum on the way, but there was no hiding anything from Mum, so Christmas was somewhat spoiled. The bike I had at the time was a Rotrax with a Simplex derailleur. At some stage in my teens I timed myself on a three-point circuit from Maybush to Cadnam to Lyndhurst and back home. I went cycling two or three times in the New Forest with my cousin Graham. On our last outing we came to a fork in the track.

He went one way, and I went the other, telling each other we'd meet at the other end. It was in fact a parting of the ways; we never saw each other again. Travel was another way of leaving home for a while. Books of course are a traditional way of entering another world, and I was able to do this sort of travelling from an early age.

Under the bed blankets with a torch obviously, but also in my mind's eye during sermons at church. Church was also: early on, watching Mr. Sparkman lighting the gas mantles before evening service; much later, trying, with co-tenor Trevor Haynes, to drown out the three basses in the choir; year in, year out, singing "Trust and obey" whenever walrus-moustached Mr.

Scott from Totton was taking the service. One-time-only church thrills were: doing the folded-arms-hidden-holding-hands trick when sitting next to Judy Dale; holding hands with Janice Lee in the back row of the marquee during one of the missions held on the empty plot next to the church. I had learned the folded-arms trick from Sonja Berridge, who came to stay with us for a fortnight when she was recovering from an appendectomy. She was sixteen, and I, Adrian Molishly, was thirteen-and-three-quarters.

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She was, for a short time, my mentor in things relating to girls. She taught me how to kiss and, on the top deck of a bus, how to hold hands without other people knowing. I was mortified by a bus conductor when I tried mannishly to pay for the two of us, and he responded sadistically with "But YOU pay children's fare, don't you?! Sonja was, remarkably, Catholic. The two families had met and liked each other the previous summer at a caravan camp in Bracklesham Bay in Sussex. So, during my early adolescence, the Catholic girl Sonja taught me first-independence tricks which I later tried out on Methodist girls.

Under-the-desk evasions at grammar school included: early on, reading The Wizard stories about Wilson and Limpalong Lesley ; in later years, playing chess with Dick Barton during Oomph Sykes' Latin and Greek classes. We also took the travelling chess set with us on naval cadet field days to Portsmouth. A desk was the site of a magnificent firework display one time when Martin Smee, the clown of form 4B, decided to set fire to some crackers during a maths class. The master, Biffer Smith, had a good sense of humour, and waited until the banging desk lid and the puffing inkwell hole had stopped doing their stuff, and until the howls of laughter had died down, before with cutting sarcasm thanking Smee for the unexpected entertainment.

Another clown was Richard Lonergan, who went around one day at school with a half tennis ball stuck to his forehead by suction, and for the next week with a vivid purple circle. Lonnie managed to fall into the basin while we were spending a week on a destroyer in Chatham Docks. One of the sailors regaled us with tales of old salts sitting on the edge of the basin, picking their scabs and tossing them into the water. We did though have the thrill of sailing a frigate round Land's End from Bristol to Plymouth, of doing speed and gun tests on a cruiser in the North Sea, and of taking part in the Spithead Review on board an aircraft carrier.

My real, geographical and cultural voyages of discovery began when I gave up Scout camps for continental travel. First to Holland in on the Southampton Youth Exchange programme. A gentle introduction to Europe as it was not much different from England, perhaps a bit flatter and more bicycles, but everyone spoke English. There were however Dutch cigars and ice cream parlours, as well as raw herrings. France in was another matter entirely. Beer and cider on the trestle tables at lunch and dinner time.

Red wine had a disappointing bitter taste, not that of the expected sweet grape juice. We did, and didn't do, everything: a visit to Versailles, a non-trip on a bateau mouche we had misbehaved , lectures and skipped lectures at the Sorbonne, excursions to Montmartre and La Tour Eiffel. Summer harvest gathering on a farm in the Marne in the summer of was another, and greater, cultural shock.

Tony Askew and I had to speak a lot of French to the farmer, his wife and their two small children. The farmer's wife was the sister-in-law of one of our French masters, Fluebrush Smith, who introduced us to the songs of Georges Brassens. On the farm I learned to drive a tractor having, in earlier years, been chased by one and ridden on another. I learned to appreciate French cuisine, country-style on the farm: a huge tureen of soup, pungent sauces with the meat, strong and varied cheeses, a taste acquired for red wine vin de table , tasty hunks of chewy farm bread.

On Saturdays Tony and I would walk the two miles to Montmirail for the weekly film show in a big converted barn. Everyone got there an hour before the film started as this was the big social get-together of the week when everyone could catch up on news and gossip. The second time, I realized at the end of the film the story was set in a hospital that I had understood the story as much from what was said as from what was shown! The big succession of cultural shocks came on 15th August.

So the six of us set off in his Peugeot We arrived in a village about the size of Montmirail and went straight to the church. Our farmer spent most of the service I didn't then differentiate between service and mass irreverently staring at a mousetrap. At the end we were all supposed to go up to the front and kiss a crucifix, something I hadn't encountered at Wimpson Methodist.

Anglican Tony and Methodist I didn't know what was going on, so we were thankful when we all went back for lunch on the farmers's father's farm. We all sat round a gigantic table in the kitchen and ate and drank for about three hours. I particularly remember the gargantuan omelette. The food and wine fortified me for any new shocks to come. And they weren't long in coming. Five of us, three boys and two girls, climbed into a car and drove off to visit the Champagne cellars in Epernay. We were held up at a level crossing and our driver got out to relieve himself against a tree not more than a couple of yards away.

We were shown around the farm: in one barn the farmer-father was relieving himself in the straw, and in another our farmer's little three-year-old girl was doing the same. From school to university If one stayed on at school in the sixth form it was expected that most pupils would go on to university. The headmaster, Shields, did not have the savvy or the interest that Doc Freeman had had; Doc would have tried to get me in through an entrance exam to St.

Edmund Hall at Oxford, where he had an "in". And so I went, innocently and foolishly, to Cambridge to try for an open scholarship! It was during one of the varsity vacations and I was given rooms at Clare College. After the first day of exams, I realized that I was completely out of my depth, that the open scholarship exams were intended for public school pupils who had been trained for this.

Fortunately I found a soulmate, also called Russ, also doing French and Latin, and also from a grammar school. So we decided together that the exam room wasn't for us, and spent the rest of the week agreeably exploring Cambridge: going to the Fitzwilliam Museum, to Blackwell's, to Indian restaurants, walking along the Backs. The serious business started when I took entrance exams for King's College London I was put on the waiting list and Manchester University. I was given a place at Manchester to do Honours French.

Manchester was rated one of the top universities for French, so I was quite happy to go. It meant going "up North", a long way from home, and "leaving home" was the aim of many students. University was considered as much an opportunity to grow up and broaden one's horizons as a time to undertake academic studies, if not more.

This search for independence was made easier for me, as for the majority of my peers, by a grant from the Local Education Authority. Study fees were paid directly by the LEA. In those days a student from a less well-off family could be more fortunate than one from a family that was supposed to supplement a partial grant.

One of the other first-year students at Manchester, Gail Thompson, had no money for essentials and had to wear her brothers' cast-offs. First year in Manchester I started off in digs in Whalley Range. The landlady provided us with bedrooms and two meals a day, breakfast and evening dinner. She also did our washing. I must have had a wet dream one night, because the next day she was very solicitous and said I must be missing my girlfriend from back home. I was in fact quite happy in Manchester, and said to myself "Sod this!

I haven't left Southampton to find a substitute mother. My first year was largely determined by my upbringing, either being influenced by it or consciously fighting against it. During Fresher Week, preceding the start of classes, there were stalls set up in the foyer of the Students' Union where one was invited to join the various students societies socs.

Thus I joined Meth Soc and enjoyed the Saturdays spent hiking in the Peak district train to Whaley Bridge , but became gradually disenchanted with the church services. My conscious rebellion took the form of pub crawls, often in the less salubrious districts of the city, but a good introduction to a characteristic slice of Northern life. Other soc memberships, which lasted throughout my time in Manchester, were Film Soc, which brought me into contact with the full range of the classical cinema, and French Soc, which added a social dimension to the academic one of classes.

I remember Fred Whitehouse, who was a terrible lecturer in first year as the shell shock he had suffered in the War prevented him from being able to control the sometimes outrageous behaviour of students feeling their oats. Yet at French Soc evenings he could be hilarious; he had a running, never explained, joke about the daughters of Sanders, Sanders being one of the lecturers.

Pub crawls began when I met up with a trio of first-year students who shared digs: Ron, Dave and "the Twerp". The last-named seemed to accept with great equanimity the role that had been assigned to him and which, on the first evening I accompanied them to the pub, entailed being thrown into hedges on the way there and back. Dave Sale was in my French year, a born leader, with a gift for the gab, a broad Midlands accent, a connoisseur of pub life, and an extremely vulgar streak.

His landlady had a car and was learning to drive; Dave had a driving licence, so in exchange for lessons from Dave, he had free use of the car until she got her own licence. According to Dave she couldn't drive for toffee, and we thought we had it made for our pub crawls. She however passed her licence within a few weeks and we had to make do with shank's pony. Dave was just what I needed in first year, a year of being "with the boys" and of getting drunk on Saturday nights, until I had got that out of my system and moved on to more mature and sophisticated society in second year; in Students' Union terms: from the Men's Bar to the Mixed Bar.

I received a big push in this direction from my flat mate in the third term of my first year. Bill Willett was in third year, introduced me to girls in various university and non-university circles, and got me involved in the Gilbert and Sullivan Soc. Bill was not averse however to the occasional pub crawl, and we got back to the flat on my 20th birthday laden with signs we had nicked from pubs and elsewhere. One of the signs that decorated our flat was a typical punning poster from the Hulme Hipp: "Here the Belles Peel".

The flat was in Moss Side, one of the many areas of Victorian terraced housing in Manchester and other Northern industrial cities which were razed in the sixties by "enlightened" city planners to make way for what quickly became vandalized "modern" low-rise apartment blocks. While I was there Moss Side was a vibrant neighbourhood, everyone knowing everybody else and spending a lot of time chatting on their immaculately clean and distinctively painted doorsteps, a feature of the North of England way of life. At the front our flat overlooked Alexandra Park where I learned to play crown bowls, a Northern, democratic variation of lawn bowls.

Soup, meat and two veg, pudding and tea cost us 1s. Darroch presided over all the operations; she was a delightful lady with a "posh" accent. Archie Mr. Darroch was in charge of the shop, and had a great sense of fun and dry humour. Once when I went with him to Old Trafford he pretended not to know who the very well-known bowler Brian Statham was; there was no lack of outraged spectators around us willing to put him straight.

Their daughter Shirley ran a hair-dressing business upstairs and had the exotic appeal of being the divorcee of an American G. Sally and her French-Canadian husband Bob lived over the road next door to a brothel. Bill and I spent many evenings with the Darrochs and their friends, usually pub evenings full of good fun. I returned to Manchester several years later to find the Darrochs. I finally found Miss Edith and Shirley in Wythenshawe, a huge suburban housing estate where they and others from Moss Side and similarly razed city neighbourhoods had been shunted by the authorities.

There was no community life there, no fun. They both looked sad and a lot older. Classes were attended, though somewhat sporadically. One big event of the student year was Rag Week. Among the various activities I remember two in particular. Eleven of us, on ten bikes, hit a hockey ball with a hockey stick all the way from the Students' Union in Manchester across the Pennines to the Students' Union at Leeds University.

Another equally mad occasion was the Rag Week parade through the city centre. Each soc had a float. The unofficial aim of the parade was to get as many office girls on the float as possible. I was one of the few whose grass skirt stood up to the wear-and-tear of jumping off the float, grabbing a girl and hauling her and oneself back onto the lorry.

We did quite well, and treated them all to refreshments at the Students' Union afterwards. My first year was also an introduction to the rich musical life of Manchester. England had rediscovered this type of jazz in the Revivalist Jazz movement of the nineteen-fifties, so we also went to concert hall and pub evenings where we listened to Chris Barber, Cy Laurie and a number of excellent local bands.

I remember there was a Trumpet Involuntary , the Voluntary with the score played upside down, and a Gerard Hoffnung-type composition scored for orchestra and kitchen sink, the latter being manned by the percussionist, who broke plates in time with the music. My first summer job was as a vacuum cleaner salesman.

I learned a lot of the tricks of the trade, and even sold one cleaner. Targeted areas were of course working-class homes dominated by a large television set. A favourite trick was to put a white handkerchief over the nozzle and suck up some dust from the sofa; after a few seconds the handkerchief was inevitably black The cleaner had various components and attachments, and when the customer had added up the cost of a vacuum cleaner, a carpet shampooer and a hair dryer, the salesman made the "unbeatable offer": at a fraction of the estimated sum the householder could take advantage of the special concession during the trial period of two cleaners per district.

For every sale, the salesman received a commission, as did the team leader and the company boss. In the one week I was on the job, the company changed both name and office. Frightened by the fact I had assimilated the salesman's pitch I looked for saner employment elsewhere.

I found it at the soft drinks company Jewsbury and Brown. There I was normally in the office checking invoices. I dispatched my allotted batch quite quickly and spent a lot of my time composing love poems and typing them out on a typewriter, a good way of learning to type, if nothing else. I was one of the lucky ones sent to sell soft drinks. I think I sold a lot of drinks but I certainly enjoyed watching the cricket. We had obtained visas for Albania, in order to go through Greece, and Bulgaria, to get to Turkey.

We only made it as far as Zagreb and the Adriatic coast, but we had a lot of fun and adventures on our way through Belgium, Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia, Italy and France. In Belgium we loved the sea and the dunes on the coast just over the border from Dunkirk, to such an extent that we spent three days there and our car didn't want to move; so we had to have it towed out. In Germany we especially enjoyed a picnic on the banks of the Isar near Munich chatting with some local students. In Austria we bathed in a frigid stream in the mountains and ate cream cake walking around Salzburg. In Zagreb we were taken out for dinner in a charming courtyard restaurant by a local official we encountered who wanted to impress foreign tourists why young, bedraggled us?

In Italy we fell in love with Venice, and in Milan were duly impressed by the Cathedral and the Scala. Since we had little money we decided we would have one meal out in each country. Restaurants in Bruges, Aachen, Salzburg and Venice. A restaurant in Zagreb we were taken out and in a small Yugoslav village near the Austrian border a tavern where we ate sausage and drank several glasses of slivovitz, all for about a shilling each. We couldn't afford to eat out in France, so while we were in the South we made a point of sleeping in vineyards, so that we could at least have a local delicacy for breakfast.

Otherwise we cooked for ourselves. The car had its own adventures. We had the chassis welded in Belgium, the exhaust pipe replaced in Germany the garage-man refused payment so we bought him a case of beer , the car just made it over the Austrian Alps in first gear, we ended up putting the headlights on by manually inserting a wire in the battery, and a new half-shaft was welded for us on the Italian Riviera while we spent two nights sleeping on the beach.

We had a brutal reminder of the fact that English roads have a lot more bends than Continental ones. The brakes hadn't had much to do on the round trip from Belgium to France, but were constantly being applied when we got back to England. Arriving at a T-junction in Sussex the driver discovered that the brakes had packed up and the car was brought to a stop by the high verge opposite the access road. The car we returned in to England was somewhat different from the one we had set out in. The doors, which we had to either jam shut or keep closed with pieces of string at the beginning of our trip, fitted perfectly by the end.

Besides the car and its passengers there were a number of accoutrements. The driver made a point of wearing a bowler hat one that Bill had brought back from a drunken Morris dance evening , and, whenever possible, raising it when meeting other motorists. I think the hat got mislaid somewhere in Yugoslavia, probably at the time we discovered that the tents and one of the sleeping-bags tied onto the fold-down platform on the outside of the car at the back were no longer there.

We also had an Eccles-influenced "porridge sock" that also went missing. On the other hand we acquired in the Austrian Alps a moss-covered hiking boot which stayed tied to the radiator at the front of the car all the way back to England, despite the interest shown at the British customs in Dover. Apart from one night in a hostel in Bruges and another in a hostel in Zagreb, we slept out in the open for the whole five weeks.

I don't think we even bothered to put up the tents. After one of the sleeping-bags was lost, Janice and Ray slept together in one bag. They were packed in like sardines, so they couldn't do much, but they did end up getting married later. We slept in fields, on road verges, and in vineyards. On awaking in a field after our first night in Yugoslavia, we found a girl and a boy, brother and sister about 9 or 10 years old, peering at us in our sleeping bags.

We offered them chocolate, and took the little boy the girl was too scared for a ride round the field in the car. They then ran off, and came back about twenty minutes later with a large basket of plums for us. The Yugoslav people may have been poorer than in other European countries, but they were generous. We stopped at a farm to buy milk, but the woman who gave us a large jug of delicious milk would not accept any payment. We saw a number of women walking at the side of the road carrying large pottery or metal containers on their heads.

We had put a little money by to purchase souvenirs, and decided to buy them in Yugoslavia. I bought a decorated leather-covered flask and had it filled in a shop with slivovitz. I also bought a Tito pipe. Then in Venice I bought a little Murano vase, the only one of the three souvenirs I still have.

We hadn't made it to Istanbul, but we felt that we had travelled far and experienced many things. Manchester: second year In second year I spent quite a lot of time in the French Common Room, which was a good place both to do course assignments because of the library it contained, and to chat with other male and female students doing French. We would often go from there over to the cafeteria in the Students' Union, where we could chat, drink coffee and smoke. One of the female students I got to know in second year was Kay Redhead, whose parents and three younger sisters lived in Wilmslow, a reasonably short distance by bus, train or hitch-hiked ride.

The first time I went to a party at her house I received a number of cultural shocks. First of all, not only were we drinking beer but her parents were there chatting away to us! And there was I with my parents at one end of the country and my beer drinking at the other, and, as far as I was concerned at the time, never the twain should meet. But better than that, the beer was being fetched and carried by two charming little girls, Kay's sisters Julie and Elizabeth.

I started seeing the world in a different light. Whereas in the first year Rag Week had been fun, drinking beer during the week and getting drunk at Rag Ball, in second year is was fun and beer, finding a girl to take to Rag Ball, and taking her to Rag Ball. Life was becoming more interesting. During the second term we attended a series of presentations given by third year students on the subject of where to spend one's third term in France. The alluring charms of Paris, Toulouse, Tours, Aix, and other university towns were laid out for us, but I was struck by the spiel for Montpellier, which was basically sun, sand, sea and sex.

So, after a summary exam on French History we all made preparations for crossing the Channel for the Summer term. Montpellier The third term was in essence a paid holiday. It was not until we had become taxpayers ourselves that we looked back and saw how irresponsible we had been. We attended a bullfight in Arles, but were not impressed. There were eight of us from our year at Manchester, two girls and six boys.

The six of us boys rented a Simca Ariane for 24 hours and drove to Barcelona to see Real Madrid against Barcelona in the semi-final of the European Cup. It was a pretty hairy ride through the Pyrenees and back, with only the match, a meal and a short sleep to punctuate our long drive. But seeing the magnificent stadium, the huge Spanish crowd and Di Stefano made it all worthwhile.

The eight of us, along with some students from Birmingham and Kay and Carol who came over from Aix, celebrated my 21st birthday on the beach at Carnon-Plage. We all drank quite a lot of wine and thought at one point that Godfrey must have got himself drowned as we couldn't find him. The News of the World headlines would scream: "One drowned as drunk English students party on French beach. The six of us boys had started off in pairs in three different hotels and three different hotel rooms.

One pair got thrown out of their hotel and moved in with Barrie and me. Then something similar happened to the other two, and for one night there were six of us in one room. I decided it was time to move on. I had been invited by Kay to spend some time in Aix, and I managed to get there by thumb and bus.

During the stay in Aix a group of us students spent a weekend near Apt helping to restore what had been a monastery to turn it into a convalescent home. It was a very enjoyable weekend, my main memories of which are eating some delicious goulash prepared for us by the Hungarian housekeeper, and eating doughnuts at a street fair in Apt. On the buses Barrie got me a summer job working as a conductor on the Southdown buses at the Bognor Regis depot.

The Watsons lived in nearby Aldingbourne. Watson was a small woman, an amazing bundle of energy with a razor-sharp wit and a wonderful sense of humour who ran her husband, four children, sundry visitors and household with great efficiency. Being a conductor in a summer seaside resort was hectic but fun. I earned quite a few tips by having passengers' luggage ready for them when they got off at their caravan camp. The tippers were known as "Londoners", as the practice was quite unusual. With an empty bus the conductor could catch up on sleep.

Catching up on sleep was important as the summer conductors often worked double shifts. The conductor was also in a position to benefit from the light summer wear of the holidaying girls. Glimpses down blouses when collecting fares, or up skirts when checking on the upper deck from the platform at the back of the bus. And of course the conductor was in the legitimate position of being able to chat with them and thus chat them up.

I was having lunch at the Watsons' one day when Barrie arrived from the depot in his car bearing one of these girls and her friend. She had been looking for the "bearded conductor" so Barrie obliged. We went back with Barrie and sat on the top deck of his bus for two or three round trips before she had to get off leaving me her telephone number.

Taking the station chief's daughter out didn't do any harm either in racking up bonuses by doing double shifts. I was also involved in a couple of amusing "off the buses" incidents, either amusing at the time or when I was able to look back with some equanimity. Of the first sort was one involving one of my passengers, who seeing me alight from the bus followed suit. The only problem was that I was getting off while the bus was still moving as it came into the depot at Bognor.

It was usual, while the driver was driving the bus into its bay, for the conductor to hop off the platform, go through a door, run up the stairs to the canteen, and order two teas, one for the conductor and one for the driver. I later had to fill in a report in answer to a complaint made by the passenger, who had found herself flat on the floor, fortunately with no more harm done than her bruised dignity.

My own come-uppance was to follow. I was standing on the open platform at the back of the bus in the conductor pose, left hand in my pocket, right hand nonchalantly holding onto the bar, watching the world go by. The bus was going slowly through the centre of town. I saw a girl I knew standing on the pavement. She smiled at me and waved to me. I smiled at her and gave her a wave with my right hand. Just then the bus accelerated, and I found myself on my backside in the roadway with coins spilling out of my bag all around me.

Too embarrassed to look at the girl, I started to pick up the money, helped by a Good Samaritan who came to my aid. A few minutes later the bus driver came running up, his face as white as a sheet. By the time the story of what had happened had passed from mouth to mouth from the back of the bus to the front, he had visions of my needing a stretcher to the mortuary.

One of the other bus drivers had a reputation as a story-teller. And so several days later, when I was at the bus depot in nearby Chichester, an inspector came up to me to ask if I was the conductor who had seen his girlfriend with another man and jumped off the bus to go after him. I chose the latter option as up until then French had basically been a "book" subject for me even though I loved France. I was not to regret my decision, either for its beneficial effect on my French or for the many rich experiences it afforded me. So my poor French became proficient fairly rapidly. My teaching duties involved spending twelve hours a week running English conversation classes.

The potaches , as they were called, were boys and girls ranging in age from about fourteen to nineteen. I quickly learned school slang. Meat was bidoche , beans were fayots , and so on. There were a dozen or more pions , all my age, some boarders, some externes. One of the pions , Daniel, was my teacher of argot. Another good school of French was the cinema, attended two or three times a week. One of the duties of the veilleur was to count the number of boys in each dormitory to make sure none of them was elsewhere doing something he was not supposed to be doing.

The veilleur , who was fond of the bottle vin rouge ordinaire , simply counted the beds instead of their occupants, and usually had to start over several times as we could see from the crossings-out in his book. He would often be away from his office so long that we internes ended up climbing over the wall to get back in. Unwanted pregnancies and back-street abortions were common at that time as contraceptives weren't available in France. I became acquainted with several aspects of Norman country life through one of the pionnes I was friendly with. One of her friends at school was a girl who lived on a farm.

We went one day on the scooter to the farm. Janine, my pionne friend, had family friends on another farm. Whereas the stereotypical image of the agricultural worker's morning wash is putting his head under the pump, this farmer splashed his very red face with calvados apple brandy ; babies typically had calvados mixed in with the milk of their bottles. The man I rented a second-hand radio from had helped downed Allied pilots get home during the War, and was pleased to speak a mixture of French and English with me.

One of the lessons my pupils enjoyed was learning the words to top-twenty songs. Reading newspapers and magazines was another popular activity. Eight or nine of us packed into his deux chevaux rocked the car body from side to side while he imperturbably drove the chassis in a straight line. You started off with a cup of coffee into which you poured a few drops of calva ; you drank some coffee-calva then added more calva , and so on until you were drinking a cup of calva with a hint of coffee.

That was near Falaise at a sumptuous farm-restaurant meal I shared with the members of the Falaise football team after a match in Dives-sur-Mer. After a love affair that went wrong Gloria spent much of the rest of the year in her room, away from the Re. Michael was doing a four-year M. Part of the way during the year Michael found out he had failed his second-year exams, which meant that when he went back to Edinburgh he would be doing a General degree, for which the year abroad was not required James was a regular patron of the Re but kept to himself seated at the bar drinking his cognac.

I sometimes thought he had come to France for the year because the cognac was cheaper than back home. One time Barrie and I went on the scooter to Paris; we went into a bar in the Pigalle district, and there was James seated at the counter drinking his glass of cognac. The year ended with a carnival, the Corso fleuri at the end of June. It was of course the occasion for much and varied merry-making including the consumption of a lot of wine French wine having replaced English beer.

I wanted to stay on in France for the summer but had no money. I presented myself to the head guide at the Abbey and was immediately taken on as they were looking for a guide for the English-speaking visitors. I went to the regional head office of the Monuments historiques in Caen to fill out some forms, and that was it. I read all the books and accompanied the other guides on their visits, worked out a spiel and I was ready.

The best visits were those where visitors were genuinely interested and asked intelligent questions. With other groups I went onto automatic pilot and inevitably experienced the horrible moment when I came back to reality and wondered what on earth I had already told them. There were many ways to amuse. The impressive flatness of the bay of Mont-Saint-Michel was the setting for a story about the monks of the abbey raking the sand each day in olden times; one visitor wanted to know how it was that the big rock of Tombelaine out in the bay wasn't swept away by the huge tides.

Of a different order was the sight of one of the summer guides, a school chaplain, standing on a stool giving his "Sermon on the Mount". The only income of the summer guides was the tips given at the end of the visit.

Mother’s Day: A Diatribe

One third of these was put in a pot for the permanent guides, who had to find other employment during the off-season. English as I was I couldn't bring myself to put out my hand at the end of the first few visits, but soon learned. I developed a schmaltzy wind-up to the visit and did quite well. I ate extremely well at midday and in the evening at the Mouton blanc where the summer guides at the abbey and in the museums were treated as demi-pensionnaires.

When Mum and Dad came to stay at the end of August, the patron offered us a free banquet that included oysters and lobster. And so I developed a passion for sea food. I had a room at the gendarmerie where one of my neighbours was one of the regular guides I forget his name , who taught me a number of Norman dialect words and how to drink fine high-quality calvados. He also had a daughter I was quite keen on. I stopped at the end of each day at a little bistro in the narrow street leading down from the abbey to drink a Ricard and watch the summary of the day's stage on television.

My drinking companions were Jean-Pierre et Tit Louis, guides at one of the museums and keen followers of the Tour. One night the patron and patronne took me, along with a girl who was working for them as a summer waitress, to the Casino in Saint-Malo. That was the first and last time I wagered money on a roulette wheel. We had champagne and frites in the casino restaurant. My year in France had been a total success as far as I was concerned. I hadn't done a stroke of academic work but I felt that the French language and culture were now a part of me. I felt confident about going back to Manchester for the final year and final exams.

Manchester: third year In the final B. For the first time, what was being said and what I wrote down made sense to me. Fred Whitehead was no longer the butt of first-year pranks but the source of great knowledge and wisdom. Doc Kennedy received rapt attention in class, and amused us at a cocktail party she gave by managing to inhale smoke from a cigarette without her lips touching it.

She told us she was the world's greatest authority on theoretical sex. I took my "special subject", French vocabulary, with Peter Wexler, whom I first met at the top of the stairs in the Science Building leaning over the banister and winding up from the basement a long trail of magnetic computer tape that he had let escape from its spool. We needed to break the tension now and again, relieve the stress of concentrated work.

A ping-pong ball bounced on the floor of the library reading room was the sign to go over to the Students' Union. Kay, Barrie, Jenny and I spent a lot of time in the Union cafeteria saying witty things and calling each other by silly nicknames. Barrie and I had started off the year renting a room in a house in Whalley Range run by a couple whom we goonishly called Henry and Min.

Henry and Min didn't take kindly to Kay's staying over one night in a sleeping-bag after a party, so Barrie and I went flat hunting, and were delighted to be able to move into the old Claremont Road flat in Moss Side. My scooter was popular. I remember bringing home Ant from a party held at the Wythenshawe sports centre; he was completely drunk and sat back swaying with his arms extended to each side. Amazingly we didn't fall off. Another time I gave a non-ride to Barrie: he had hitched his leg up preparatory to getting on the back seat when I took off leaving him standing like a territory-marking dog, or so I was told by friends who witnessed the incident.

And so to the nerve-racking, adrenalin-pumping fortnight of final exams. There was a break between the first batch of exams and the second, so Kay, Jenny, Barrie and I went to the North of England tennis championships in Didsbury. I was struck by the looks and enthusiasm of teenagers Billie Jean Moffitt and Karen Susman, who won the women's doubles. At one point a newspaper vendor went past calling out "Read all about it!

Latest on Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Colgate's I wanted to stay in Manchester for the summer and found summer employment at the Colgate factory in Trafford Park. We found that a concentrated three hours was sufficient to get the job done, and spent the rest of the time playing cards, reading Proust me , sleeping, and illegally driving the fork-lift trucks. One of the workers was an Indian prince. During our last week there were so many employees on holiday that we were put on the mind-numbing assembly line.

Pete, who was a medical student and worked in a hospital during the day, thought at one point that the stamp pad with which he was supposed to stamp the full cartons of Colgate bleach once he had weighed them he stamped regardless was his girlfriend's change purse, and wondered what it was doing there. At another point he thought it was a bar of chocolate, and he had to be restrained to stop him from eating it. So in the end we were glad to leave. It was a trip marked by history.

The newspaper was full of the suicide of Marilyn Monroe in America and of the exploits of Geoffrey Boycott on the cricket fields of Yorkshire. Manchester: Graduate Certificate in Education I didn't know what I wanted to do, but I enjoyed being a student in Manchester, so I did what a lot of others did and took the Grad Cert Ed course. The first two weeks were most enjoyable. They involved doing primary school teaching practice in one's home town. I was assigned to the nine-year-olds' class at Newlands School on the housing estate near Maybush Road. What a pleasure to be faced with a class of children eager to learn.

I found the conversation in the staff room somewhat infantile though, so was pleased to meet there another training student, from Bristol University. Back in Manchester, I was in a phone booth following up some accommodation ads in the paper, when Mrs. Pierce went past.

She saw me, recognized me, and stopped her car. When she found out Barrie and I were looking for a flat or digs, she said "Why don't you come and live with us? Pierce and her large family lived in a large Victorian house in Scarsdale Road near the university. Barrie had met Mrs. Pierce's eldest daughter, Gay, at a party, and amazingly the next day was able to remember the phone number she had given him. Pierce was a very good-looking Irish widow who knew, and was able to charm, all the top policemen in Manchester. All her children were good-looking charmers too. In descending order of age, though no more than a year or so between one and the next, there were Gay, David, Mary, Liam, Madeleine, Richard and Kenneth.

And they even had a large room at the back for just Barrie and me. We were inevitably drawn into the colourful life of the family, and appreciated the one meal included in the rent, Sunday roast beef and yorkshire pudding. The classes at Manchester were on the whole boring, but that was not the main reason I was there. I enjoyed my six weeks in the high-powered atmosphere of the "Oxbridge factory" that was Manchester Grammar School, but did not like having to take a class of thirteen-year-olds at Wythenshawe Comprehensive School.

The most interesting parts of the programme were: the Sports course, in which one qualified to become a football referee and a rugby referee; and particularly Outdoor Activities, which took us, among other places, to Lake Coniston and the Isle of Arran. We learned to map-read, to sail, to canoe, to climb, to hike, to survive with the aid of a map and a compass. We ate haggis and drank scotch on St. Andrew's Day our directors were both Scots ; we rowed over to John Ruskin's house on Lake Coniston one evening to see a slide show given by one of the members of Sir Edmund Hillary's Mount Everest team.

The apprentices had to get credits for these two subjects, but spent most of their time in class listening to the racing results on their hand-held radios. They were hopeless at addition, multiplication and division, but experts at subtraction, through playing or at darts. Jenny had gone off to teach English in Majorca. So the three of us, and other friends, kept up the tradition of going to the Mixed Bar and the cafeteria in the Students' Union. Mid-morning breaks in the cafeteria were typically taken up with doing the Guardian crossword, or playing crazy eights.

To make the latter more interesting we added a new rule each day, so anyone who didn't attend the sessions every day was lost. Barrie was in the Varsity second basketball team. One Saturday we went with the first team who were playing in London. I was driving everyone in a hired mini-van, and we drove down the motorway singing "Love Me Do".

When we got back in the evening I went to a party where everyone was doing the twist. Since the van wasn't due back until early the following morning, I had arranged with Kay to go up to the Cat and Fiddle Inn, near Macclesfield, "just for a lark". It was freezing, we were freezing, and going back down was for me like floating in a foggy dream as I hadn't slept for nearly 24 hours.

We made it back to Wilmslow, where I dropped off Kay, and I made it with the van back to the rental depot. The end of the year came round. Barrie was off to Algeria to teach English. Kay was off in the autumn to Canada to do an M. Mister Softy I was determined however to spend one last summer in Manchester, and managed to find a job selling ice-cream in a Mr. Softy van. After a few days training I was mostly on my own, but one Saturday I was put with another man to sell ice-cream in Cheetham Hill.

He spent most of the day either going into betting shops or watering down the ice-cream. I thought it ironic when two bleached-haired women, mother and daughter in scarves and curlers, told him the ice-cream had curdled. I thought to myself it was the sight of these two that had done it. This ice-cream salesman wasn't however around the following Saturday. On another occasion, a fat boy, with more money than his associates, asked for a ninepenny special, a cone with as much soft ice-cream as one could put on top.

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There were a few smirks from the onlookers as the ice-cream slowly toppled over when he started bringing it up to his wide-open mouth. Kay's mum, Mrs. Redhead, had her strong likes and dislikes, but you could always get round her with ice-cream or chocolate, especially a box of chocolates.

I drove my Mr. Softy van one day to Manor Close in Wilmslow to present her with a large carton of ice-cream. A neighbour came to the door to complain about the van, particularly the motor keeping the ice-cream cold. Five nippy Vikings set out hiking, off on an adventure to find some yeti fluff. As in the chilly weather, no underpants are better, than a pair of knickers knitted from the stuff! Christmas is coming and Archie has never been so excited!

Look out! Is Christmas ruined, or can the friends make it perfect after all? What will it take to make Bear smile? Could it be… a snow rabbit? Or maybe even… a friend? With fresh and fun illustrations, these simple retellings of classic fairytales make the perfect. Bring stories to life with our new selection of board and novelty books, perfect for toddlers!

With vivid colours, lovable characters, interactive flaps and noisy buttons, reading has never been more fun! A playful rhyme about the love shared between a parent and child. With gorgeous heart-shaped pages, this book is ideal for helping little ones to cope with separation anxiety. A chunky star-shaped board book with a quirky rhyme and adorable owl characters. Perfect for reminding your little one what a star they are! Best-loved nursery rhymes are brought to life in this beautifully illustrated collection. Perfect for sharing with very young children. This gentle bedtime book features soft tactiles, soothing sounds and a lyrical rhyming text.

Press the button on every page to sing along with this musical version of the favourite countdown rhyme! Say hello to ONE little dinosaur and keep counting all the way to TEN as more happy, bouncy, dancing dinos join in the fun! Press the button for a toe-tapping tune to sing along with on every page. Grandma Loves You! A sweet celebration of the precious bond between a grandma and her grandchild. What will become of poor little Plip, out in the snowy storm? Archie is adorable. Everybody says so. Then one day, he learns a new word… No!

A hilarious tale — perfect for any family tackling tantrums! For all families with curious toddlers who just LOVE to ask why? The animals gather under a glittering moon, knowing that sleep will surely come soon. Snuggle up together with this sweet rhyme, perfect to share with little ones before bed. Poor Zebra just wants some peace and quiet, but everywhere he looks crazy creatures are creating a chorus of chaos! This hilarious lift-the-flap book is sure to delight little ones at bedtime.

Our new collection of illustrated books makes finding the perfect gift easier than ever. From celebratory books with greetings One Rainy Day. Specially designed to send through the post, these gorgeous gift books feature a free greetings card and an envelope ready for sending. Sarah Ward Join a cast of sweet animal characters as they spend a fun day with Mummy!

With a gorgeous glitter heart and die-cuts on every page, this sturdy board book is the perfect gift for new babies and mums! Join in with the animal friends as they dance, sing and play their way through a very noisy day. Packed with flaps to lift, finger trails to follow and 10 fun sounds, this is the perfect book to introduce little ones to their very first words! Or snippy-snappy teeth like Crocodile?

Uh oh — look out, Little Why! A heart-warming story and cuddly elephant toy — just right for inquisitive little ones! Share this wonderful bedtime book with the youngest children who will love to discover the adorable animals and soft textures on every page. Make reading fun with these fantastic early readers. Read the story, complete the exciting exercises at the back of the books and look up words in the super Picture Dictionary.

To A Very Special Grandmother. Narrated by Lesley Sharp and Jason Isaacs.

Every book is designed with care to educate and entertain. Touch, feel and discover first words with this interactive, chunky board book. It is packed with appealing pictures, tactile textures and spoken words to help your child develop simple vocabulary. Touch, feel and hear the sounds of the jungle in this interactive board book. Packed with photographs, fun facts, tactile textures and exciting animal sounds — little ones will experience the jungle like never before!

Children will love learning about animals with this colourful and interactive first book of magnets. As well as placing favourite animals in the appropriate scenes, children can expand their early-learning vocabulary with a variety of first words. The book includes eight individual magnets and introduces children to the core concepts of colours, numbers and opposites in a fun and accessible way, with bright artwork and lots to spot.

Explore the farm and learn key concepts such as counting and opposites along the way. Put the fun in learning with these interactive, photographic sticker books. Each title focuses on a core early-learning concept — alphabet, numbers, colours and shapes — and offers different sticker activities that allow your child to explore and learn.

Explore the farm at your fingertips with this delightful lift-the-flap book. Meet the animals, find out where they live and discover all about how the farm works. Touch, feel and hear the noisy vehicles of the road, rails, sea and sky in this interactive board book. Share a book with your little one with this charming split-page board book that teaches parent and baby animal vocabulary and features an engaging rhyming text. Farm This tactile board book is ideal for child-sized hands. With soft, bumpy and smooth textures to explore, this little book introduces babies to some of the cutest members of the animal kingdom!

Textures, rhymes and colourful photographic images create a multi-sensory learning journey for curious young readers. Help your little ones develop manual dexterity with these introductions to letter and number forms. Each book has grooves and arrows for children to follow as they work on their primary writing skills. Full of chugs, beeps and zooms, as well as fascinating facts and photographic images, these vehicle books will educate and entertain. My First Book of Words Packed with bright photographs, these books are an excellent introduction to important early vocabulary. Each page introduces a new topic with a key question to encourage interaction.

A bright introduction to early-learning concepts and themes, our jigsaw and book sets combine learning with play. Each chunky piece puzzle is double-sided so children get twice the fun! Take babies through their busy days with these curved board books, featuring sturdy tabs to make the pages easy for babies to select and turn. Introduce little ones to first words by encouraging them to name and describe the pictures on each page. This series of sticker activity books encourage learning development through creative play.

Packed with sticker, doodle and educational activities, children will enjoy hours of entertainment with these bumper books. This chunky book uses simple labels and bright photographs to accompany its colourful, tabbed pages. It provides a great way to practise vocabulary and develop word-picture association for the very young.

Little learners will have fun matching all the animals and making the right animals sounds in these bright and interactive photographic lift-the-flap books. These high-contrast board books feature simple rhyming text and photographic images that make them perfect for the littlest of learners.

Join a quirky and colourful cast of illustrated characters as they lead young readers through the key earlylearning concepts of opposites and counting. Hunt for hidden objects in the super-busy scenes and learn about key early-learning concepts on the activity pages of these action-packed sticker activity books! This exciting series explores key concepts with interactive novelties and friendly illustrations. From finding first words to telling the time and from colours to counting, there is something here for every little learner!

Learn over a hundred first words as well as numbers and colours in these cute little books from My Little World. Join curious Mouse and Yellow Digger on their noisy journeys around the farm and the construction site. With flaps to lift, noises to listen to and actions to copy on every page, young readers will love these jolly rhyming tales. These pop-up books are perfect for little learners to discover key concepts.

Counting and colours come to life with these fun characters, engaging texts and ingenious pop-ups. There are lots of words to spot, find and learn in these bumper early learning books from My Little World. With flaps to lift on every page as well as a large gate-fold finale, children will enjoy learning their first words and animals over and over again with these titles.

From a heavyweight hippo to a feather-light frog, this peek-through collection of animal opposites makes learning come to life! Join Crocodile and his friends in this snappy shape-matching game, with bright artwork and peep-through pages. It is a perfect teaching aid to highlight the importance of asking with manners.

This adorable finger puppet book teaches young readers the importance of manners and kindness. Use the clickety-clackety clock hands to learn how to tell the time from breakfast until bedtime. Digital time is included too! Let little hands loose on this first book of fastenings, with something new to try on every page! Explore first concepts, animals and seasonal themes in these playful board books that combine bright artwork, concentric die-cuts and a cheerful rhyming story. Fhiona Galloway This jigsaw and wipe-clean sticker book activity set develops problem-solving skills and builds vocabulary, while providing hours of farmyard learning fun!

Fhiona Galloway Open up to explore a world of learning fun! This carry case contains four early-learning sticker books with reusable stickers. Four little girls meet under an apple tree and form a bond that grows as they share secrets, dreams, worries and schemes. Find out how their friendship flourishes as the years pass by and the girls become women.

Discover the origins of the universe and how our solar system was formed. The narrative verse takes the reader on an immersive journey through space and time, illuminated by striking, dynamic illustrations. The worlds of poetry and non-fiction collide to create this beautiful, unique picture book about our Sun. Discover the secrets of the mountain in this stunning picture book.

Watch the world transform as day turns to night and explore the never-ending possibilities of nature as you travel up and down this picturesque mountain. Engaging, informative poetry flows over the pages and stunning illustrations bring this story to rushing, gushing life. Journey up the mountain and uncover its mysteries with this new pop-up book, featuring stunning artwork from Clover Robin. The Garden of Hope Isabel Otter and Katie Rewse This enchanting tale tells the story of how one little girl finds courage and purpose as she transforms an overgrown and neglected garden into a place of beauty, love… and ultimately hope.

With stunning illustrations by Katie Rewse, this is a picture book to treasure. With stunning illustrations and thought-provoking rhymes on every page, this poetic journey to a place of happiness and calm will inspire and empower your child to enjoy the practice of mindfulness. Cross the hot savannah and discover all its secrets with this new pop-up book, featuring rhymes, facts and stunning artwork from Clover Robin. Welcome to the Bug Hotel, a homemade habitat where creepy crawlies of all shapes and sizes can find a place to stay!

Bird houses come in all shapes and sizes, designed to suit all different types of birds. Discover how bird houses can provide much-needed shelter, explore how we can help our gardens to become more bird-friendly and lift the flaps to find out more about your favourite feathered friends Discover how a bug hotel can create a sustainable, safe environment for insects and mini-beasts by exploring each section, lifting the flaps and finding out facts about your favourite garden insects.

We all deserve some time to play. But all lions should practise those soft growls, For the quieter times of the day. Things had changed since Mum had been gone. The house was untidy. Maya, Dad and Pip were a bit of a mess. And the garden had become wild and overgrown…. We breathe deep and expand like the galaxy, We breathe out many thousands of stars, And if ever we start to feel panicky, This reminds us of just who we are. Explore the amazing animal kingdom with over 70 fun flaps to lift.

Packed with facts and bright, beautiful artwork, this multi-layer flap book will keep your little one entertained for hours! Follow her through the forest as she says goodnight to all her woodland friends and look out for the surprise ending in this delightful peek-through storybook. Join them on their journey through this colourful pop-up extravaganza and learn the letters of the alphabet along the way.

At last it is bedtime for all dinosaurs. The air will soon echo with loud dino-snores! Snuggle up with sleepy Stegosaurus and his dinosaur friends for a gentle bedtime read with rhyming text, a variety of touch-and-feel textures, and charming illustrations. Explore the wonders of a city farm with this colourful lift-the-flap book.

Nicola Edwards and Natalie Marshall Tortoise always takes last place Who shoots past him in the race? Peek under the flaps in this adorable animal board book to discover the answer! Can you find the scuba-diving dinosaur, a prehistoric pinball game or a destructive meteor? Also in this series: Can you find the jet-skiing daredevil, the family of tired travellers or the cunning jewellery thief?

Celebrate your little cuddle bug with this sweet and colourful rhyming board book.

Dreamtime Stories - Tiddalick The Frog

With rosy cheeks, you smile at me, And chase my blues away. Jonathan Litton and Thomas Elliot Ever tried explaining photosynthesis or respiration to your baby…? Well now you can! These bright books present the basics of botany and anatomy with simple explanations and colourful images that will keep both child and parent engaged.

Celebrate the power of love and friendship in this beautiful book. As the moon waxes and wanes above, the world below is full of busy night-time creatures. Turn the peek-through pages to see the moon change shape as it goes through the lunar cycle. Welcome to a world of words! Discover first words split into fun and helpful categories in this colourful book, with raised pieces and cheerful rhymes on every page.

The Complete Short Stories of W. Somerset Maugham

We all live under the same sky and we share many of the same hopes and dreams. Well, perhaps if everybody pitches in to help, one little mouse can achieve that dream. This heart-warming story is brought to life with clever die-cuts and playful illustrations. This book uses a gentle rhyming text to follow ten different families, celebrating their everyday differences as well as the similarities they share. Meet Rikki, the little kaiju who just loves to build things. Find out what happens on his first day at Stomp School, where he is in for a few surprises!

Every parent will identify with the universal themes of creativity and destruction in this die-cut novelty book. Follow a little swimming fish on her epic journey downriver as she travels into the unknown. Join Turtle as he dives deeper and deeper into the ocean — what surprise will he find at the bottom? Discover all the things going on in and around the tree as Squirrel searches for acorns. With lots of flaps and peep-through holes on each spread, there are plenty of surprises in store! Become an explorer and meet wild animals from all around the world in this action-packed activity book.

With seven different habitats to discover and a wide variety of activities to complete along the way, this book promises hours of wild animal fun! With fold-out scenes and stickers! Lively creatures of every shape and size are waiting on every page to jump out and say hello in these bright and playful pop-up books from Jack Tickle.

With timeless characters, simple rhyming text and ingenious, child-friendly paper-engineering each book will delight and entertain over and again. Count down from ten with this bright peek-through series. From busy bugs, baby animals and twinkly stars to roaring dinosaurs and whizzy vehicles. These colourful books have something for everyone! Follow the adventures of five tiddly, widdly tadpoles as they swim around the pond in this colourful counting book.

Debbie Tarbett Count down from ten to one as the cute and colourful creatures disappear one by one in these clever peek-through paperbacks! Join Lazy Lion and his jungle friends in a comic caper with this fantastic storybook and plush toy set. Jonathan Litton and Kasia Nowowiejska Come and explore with these busy, factpacked, lift-the-flap, peek-through books! Find all of your favourite animals and learn more about the fascinating jungle and forest creatures with Little Snappers Peek-through Fun!

Can you find the sleepy calf, the jumping horse and the loud cockerel in these colourful farmyard scenes? Funtime Sticker Activity Kasia Nowowiejska and Samantha Meredith These colourful sticker activity books are packed with puzzles, stickers, doodles and much, much more! Find out what happens when one little girl decides to make her own witchy rules…. Teach children early writing skills with this innovative trace-and-flip book. Trace over the grooved patterns and shapes to develop a feel for the patterns required for handwriting and lift the flaps for more farming fun!

Enjoy the rhyming text, tactile materials and realistic animal sounds of the farm and forest with these noisy touch-and-feel books. Libby Walden and Maddie Frost Search for the hidden baby animals in this rhyming slide-and-seek book. Slide out each page to reveal a cute character hidden in every colourful scene! Follow Bee on a colourful journey through the farm, with five giant fold-out pages and a wonderful surprise ending! Follow the adventures of five playful little ghosts in this rhyming tale of Halloween magic and mischief!

Join the playful skeletons as they go off on a counting adventure in this peek-through picture book with an extra special glow-in-the-dark finale! Maxine Lee Join the most rascally rat on the seven seas and his swashbuckling crew aboard their boat, the Soapy Dodger. Nothing scares this fearsome Pi-Rat…well, almost nothing…. Prepare to unleash the monsters! Bring mini monsters to life in this activity book with six mighty models to build. Packed with pages of sticker and colouring activities, children will have hours of fun creating monster mayhem! With ROAR-some activities and spooky sketches, turn the pages of this monstrous activity book for oodles of doodling fun!

Kate Daubney Little monsters just learning their ABC will love this riotous, rhyming alphabet book with a marvellous monster pen and wipe-clean board that can be used again and again. Colour, doodle and sticker with these fantastic fairyfun and pretty princess activity books! With pressout fairy princess models to dress and decorate, these sticker activity books are packed with pages of fairy princess sticker fun. Libby Walden Wissper loves her friends with all her heart! Who will be your favourite friend?

Around the World Libby Walden Using her magic pan flute, Wissper can travel all over the world to see her animal friends and now you can too! Press the sound button, turn the page and follow Wissper as she visits all five of her magical worlds. Did you know that, in the wild, Herbert the Shire Horse is able to sleep standing up?

Or that Ellington flaps his elephant ears to fan himself and keep cool? This noisy touch-and-feel book is packed with real-life facts, sounds, textiles and photographs to bring five of our favourite Wissper animals to life! In this fast-paced world, there is great value to be had in pausing for a fresh look at your surroundings. Embark on an interactive tour of the wonders of the world, from the ancient to the modern, as well as its natural marvels. From the Great Pyramid of Giza to the Taj Mahal and on to the Grand Canyon — every page is bursting with amazing facts and vibrant illustrations.

Lift the flaps to discover the history and the secrets that lie behind many of the most amazing sights on Earth. From the everyday to the extraordinary, our authors and illustrators have crafted interactive books to intrigue and delight. Featuring over animals from a variety of habitats, lift the flaps to explore the Amazon Rainforest, Madagascar, the Great Barrier Reef and many other wonders of the natural world. It has been a source of both aspiration and inspiration to astronomers, poets, mathematicians and artists alike. But how much do we know about our closest neighbour? Discover an array of global greetings, from the familiar to the unusual, and test your linguistic abilities as you play the fast-moving and beautifully illustrated Hello World Bingo.

A perfect family game for up to 9 players. Filled with bite-sized facts, multiple flaps and sumptuous illustrations, this book is perfect for introducing young children to the wonders of the woodland. Fizer Coleman Walden. Filled with bite-sized facts, multiple flaps and sumptuous illustrations, these new titles in the Hidden World range are perfect for introducing young children to the wonders of the animal kingdom.

It also controls posture and body position. Cardiac muscle This muscle operates by itself and is found only in your heart. It keeps your heart beating without ever getting tired like your skeletal muscles do. How do we move? Once we decide we want Tricep to move, our brain sends contracts signals through our nervous system to our skeletal muscles. Our muscles then work in opposite pairs, pulling or contracting and relaxing to create movement.

The other is called the antagonist and this one relaxes. To pull your lower arm up, your bicep contracts or shortens and your tricep relaxes or lengthens. If you want to drop your lower arm down again, your tricep contracts and your bicep relaxes. Skeletal muscle These are the muscles everyone thinks of as muscles, the kind you actively control, and which work with your bones to give your body power and strength.

Skeletal muscles come in various shapes and sizes to help them do all sorts of jobs. You have big, powerful muscles in your back to keep you upright, and then there are muscles in your tongue that work together so you can talk and chew. This hand-picked collection of untranslatable worlds from all over the world celebrates the magic of language, with gorgeous original artwork and fascinating facts about each word and the culture it comes from. Get under the skin of the human body with this interactive and informative book.

What is blood made of? What happens to food when we eat it? How does memory work? Packed with original illustrations, this book covers everything from what makes your heart beat to how DNA makes you who you are. The muscle with the most force is the calf muscle, which allows us to stand, walk, run and dance. The muscle that can put the most pressure on things is the jaw muscle, which helps us bite our way through all sorts of things. The tongue might not be the most powerful muscle, but it does get points for being versatile. It is elastic and forceful and allows us to do a variety of things like speak and eat.

This twitch works like exercise to raise your body temperature and warm you up. The most hard-working muscle is definitely your heart, which pumps blood at a steady rate throughout your life and beats over 40 million times a year! Freeze time for a moment around the world and discover an incredible array of events, from a herd of swimming elk in Canada to a nomad leading his camels through the Sahara Desert. The day that appears to be unfolding is occurring all at once…. Delve into this fascinating book of holes to discover a world of burrows and boreholes, subways and sinkholes.

From the mythical and mysterious to household and human holes, find out what makes a hole a hole and how they shape our world. In this enormous book about the Earth there is so much to explore. Readers can marvel at the physical planet, travel back in time to primordial Earth, explore all branches of the tree of life, discover habitats from oceans to deserts, learn how the weather works and take a tour of the human planet from the Maasai steppe to Manhattan.

Libby Walden and Jocelyn Kao Delve into kitchens around the globe and sample a vast array of culinary delights with this beautifully illustrated book. Uncover tasty treats, unique utensils and fascinating food facts as you experience the diverse foods of the world. Ten illustrators place ten amazing subjects under the microscope to help readers look beneath the surface. Lift the giant flaps to examine wonders of the world from the outside, in.

Travel the globe to find a fresh perspective. This super-sized book delves into the cultural, social and historical identities of ten world-famous cities. Lift the giant flaps on every spread to find out more about the iconic cities on the map. Take a high-speed journey through the past, present and future in this illustrated book that celebrates the things that go! Since the invention of the wheel, we have harboured a need for speed and this book uncovers the different modes, methods and machines we have used. Time Atlas: An Interactive Timeline of History Robert Hegarty and Marcelo Badari Travel through time and take part in a chronological journey with this interactive book, filled with flaps and novelty elements.

From dinosaurs to DNA, and from reed boats to rockets, celebrate the landmarks and inventions that have made our planet what it is today and pose the question: where do we go from here? Use the wonders of the natural world to fire up your imagination and give a voice to each visual story.