After the church, the graveyard and the brook have been negotiated, the footpath emerges back onto a public street. You then have a steep hill to ascend to reach my school at the top. Meanwhile, at the bottom of the hill there is a small row of houses, surrounded by a high privet hedge. One day, at this very location, I was showing off my new pair of shoes to a friend – incidentally, every new school year my mum took me to Clarks in town to get my feet properly measured. I’ve never had any foot problems, so credit to her for that. Anyway, I was sticking out my foot and rotating it so my friend could benefit from a 360 degrees viewing, and for some reason which is not clear to me now I performed a high karate kick. Consequently, one of my brand new shoes flies off over the hedge into the aforementioned garden. There was just no way of getting it back as there was no one at home, and the hedge was impenetrable. I had no choice but to walk all the way home with one shoe. My mum was quite reasonable about it and we later went to get my shoe back from the householder. However, a few days later I was having a laugh about the incident with somebody else in exactly the same spot, and while I was demonstrating the occurrence the same shoe flew off again into the same garden. People weren’t as forgiving this time and I got a telling off. There was a lesson to be learnt here - something about never making the same mistake twice - but I really didn’t catch on till much, much later.
At the top of the hill is my school, which is land-marked by the red-bricked, stained glass windowed Roman Catholic Church that takes priority on the road-side. Apart from having to say prayers in morning and afternoon school assembly, every Wednesday morning we had to attend a full length mass. We would file into the church from our classrooms. The girls had to cover their heads, so I usually pulled over the hood of my anorak…
To cut a long story short: