Just as I still get uneasy on Sunday afternoons about not having done my homework, this time of year takes me right back to my first days at school. I can feel the new uniform, the hatefully crisp shirt – and all the general anxiety.
I’m thinking back to my first days in new schools and imagining what difference Covid might have made. My first school day ever was in Miss Timmins’ class of 1971 at infants. My clearest memory is of Mum coming to take me home for lunch. The thing that shocked me was that when I had polished off my lunch, she said it was time to get me back to school. What? No one had told me it was a sort-of continuous thing. Many an auntie had asked me if I was looking forward to school, but I’d heard this question as if they were asking me whether I was looking forward to going swimming or something. I thought you went, enjoyed it or not, and then it was all over. I’m not sure when it dawned on me that not only would I have to go back there that afternoon, and the following morning, but subsequently on most days for the next 14 years. What I’m saying is I had reached peak bewilderment – so maybe masks and stuff wouldn’t have made much difference.
By the time I started middle school at the age of nine I had discovered mortality (even though no one had yet died on me). For this reason, I suspect I would have taken all necessary precautions and complied with Miss Hale’s instructions re social distancing. Also, I would have welcomed masks because they would have levelled things up in the looks department. My attractiveness to girls seemed to have peaked at the age of seven, when I was invariably the main target in kiss chase. I had already noticed that my powers were on the wane.
Four years later it was time for high school and things in the girl department had continued to deteriorate. The mask would have been even more welcome, but by then I was wearing specs, which would have steamed up and made things so much worse. Anyway, just five more years to get through.
• Adrian Chiles is a Guardian columnist
Source: The Guardian