Spent a happy hour at Castle Caereinion Primary School this afternoon. Not quite on a par with Michael Portillo's trek back through the mysteries of inland Spain to discover his roots, but a trip in my own little time machine nonetheless.
First visit to Castle School (as we then called it) was in 1949, when I faced my 'first day', along with my little sister, Joan. I'd stopped off at Roger's the Shop to buy a Mars bar to give me courage, but I still needed my little sister to look after me - because I was such a painfully shy little boy. Mrs Roger's was a wonderful woman who was twice my size in 1949, and half my size when I last saw her before she died. Her son Michael, an 'Open all Hours' character, who still runs the shop asked me to pay tribute to her at the funeral. Mr Emberton, who ran the Red Lion, doubled up as the school transport, and Walter Pryce, the blacksmith was known for many miles around. He used to allow us all to keep warm by his bellows when we were waiting for the bus to Llanfair High School (now known as Caereinion High School. ElfandSafety would have had a fit.
I was struck by how confident and polite the pupils are at Ysgol Gynradd Castell Caereinion. A 'Question Time' had been arranged, when I was put in the hot seat. They asked me if I'd ever had the cane in school. They were amused when I said I'd 'had the slipper' a few times. This involved being hit on the back of the hand by some item of footwear - bl*****y painful as I remember. I still deeply resent once 'having the slipper' for breaking a window, which was nothing to do with me. Don't think I forgave Mr Richards for that. Admitted that I once put a drawing pin on his chair. Deserved that encounter with 'the slipper'. For 30 minutes I was bombarded with questions, challenging and polite - a credit to the teaching and an example to the BBC's version which is so 'shouty' and unenlightening that I no longer watch it.
I came home with a copy of the school photograph taken in 1953, when I was 9. I was struck by how cute a little boy I was. Looked a bit like Darragh, our only grandson. Being an MP is hard work, but exciting work, and brings lovely experiences. Today was one of them