Generational time machine…

Mrs Howe. How on earth I remember that after so many decades, I do not know… but that was the name of my headmistress on my very first day at school. I can still ‘see’ her in memory… can see her in assembly, holding up the vases she collected for the school… could still describe her office, where we sat and read to her, one by one and where, every Christmas, the glittery wings were affixed to the archangel. It is probably the only time in my life I have been angelic… but it took me years to stop picturing Gabriel as a girl.

I started school at four. Before that, there was nursery school, when I was going on three and I remember that too. I remember my grandmother waving us off, that very first day and telling me to be a good girl. The raised beds, like hospital trolleys, on which we were obliged to nap, like it or not. The lunch we were forcibly fed if we didn’t eat. The coat-peg with a picture of a blue and red yacht…I was never happy about that. All the other girls had flowers, bears and butterflies. I got a ruddy yacht. Even worse… I could have written my name myself, but no, we were not supposed to be able to read or write at that age… so I had to live with the yacht. The only good bit was the old caretaker. He’d known my grandparents and mother years before and would let me come into his garden at playtime. I can still see the battered greenhouse where he grew vegetables and, when they were ripe, he would let me pick and eat fresh peas, which I have always loved.

It is odd what we remember, a lifetime later. They must have been very important at the time to linger in memory so clearly and for so long. It makes me delve into other memories, chains of association sparking whole movies on the screen of time.

I remember my sons’ first days at school… and the guilt I felt at not being worried, when all the other mothers seemed to feel they had to cry and regret ‘losing’ their babies. “He’ll be perfectly fine,” said the teacher. “But you can stay with him if you like… ” In both sons’ cases, they had already wandered off to play, not missing me at all…

It seems strange, seeing my granddaughter, not yet three and heading off for her first day at school, to realise that not only was her father once this size, but I was once this size myself, and still recall so much and so clearly. I wonder too what Hollie will remember of this first day when she is my age and her granddaughter heads off for that first day in her turn. With a fair bit of luck, I might even be around to ask her.

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
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43 Responses to Generational time machine…

  1. Pingback: Generational time machine… – The Militant Negro™

  2. jenanita01 says:

    Good memories are like gold dust, coating our lives with magic…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. stevetanham says:

    Reblogged this on Sun in Gemini and commented:
    So poignant…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mary Smith says:

    I was astounded when I took David to school on his first day and found myself surrounded by weeping mothers, some of whom accompanied their crying children into the classroom! I shot off home to make myself a coffee and enjoy reading the paper in peace. When I met him in the afternoon he was so excited at having had pink custard for lunch. I asked what happened with the children who’d been crying and he said, ‘Oh, they stopped crying as soon as their mummies went away.’
    I don’t actually remember my own first day at school, though I have a clear image of my five-year-old self turning to wave to my mum then walking along sucking a Haliborange tablet.
    Goodness, memories are rushing in now…


  5. Really! As time goes bye. Have a nice day, and a great sunday too. 😉 Michael


  6. Funny how I still remember that first day of school, too. I was also 4. They made us nap, too, but we didn’t have cots. We were supposed to have brought blankets to spread on the floor, but I didn’t have one. My mother was very pregnant with my sister. She didn’t know anything. So they all lay on the floor pretending to sleep. I sat in the corner, messing with crayons.

    I’m still sitting in the corner, but I ran out of crayons long ago.


  7. Oh, you are angelic in that photo, Sue. How sweet that you remember all that. I went to my first day of school on the bus with an older sister…no great fanfare. I was just so glad to finally be there, even with Sister Mary Kathleen.


  8. Wonderful memories!!!


  9. Widdershins says:

    The immortality of our minds. 🙂 … may you live long enough and it good health to see such a thing. 🙂


  10. Ahhhhhhh….Sue. This resonates. My memory of those times have never been crystal clear. But the thoughts of my children and grandchildren mirror yours. With luck…..we’ll both be here writing about those future generations. 🙂


  11. dgkaye says:

    You’ll be around for Holly! And funny, I detested naps in pre-school too. 🙂 xx


  12. Eliza Waters says:

    Oh, you are both absolutely dear – what photos! ❤ How did she like school?


  13. Pingback: Writing Links 9/11/17 – Where Genres Collide

  14. Fab photo and what lovely memories xx


  15. Pingback: Sunday Post – 17th September 2017 | Brainfluff

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