School Days

St Anne’s Prep was on Wilbraham Road, Fallowfield. A large grey house behind tall wrought iron gates set in a privet hedge and surrounded on three sides by tarmac which was the playground. The back of the school  was adjacent to playing fields which consisted of football pitches and artificial cricket strips made out of a hard dark brown composite material which gave a fair amount of bounce when bowled at with any speed. the left hand side of the fields were walled behind which were residential semis and at the far end of the fields ran the railway line to Manchester.

I remember going with my father to be interviewed for a place when I was eight. I was introduced to Brother Cyril Birtles who was the headmaster at the time and was dressed in the robe of a Xaverian lay brother which was a long black habit. I didn’t find the process intimidating – I was asked to read from a book of stories and then he asked me various questions about the content. He may have given me a maths test as well but I am not sure about this. On the way home my father stopped at a shop and told me I could have any sweet that I wanted. I chose a red lollipop.

Many months later I was told that I was going to a new school next year and as I was not happy at St Clare’s in Blackley, that suited me just fine. The fact that the school was on the other side of Manchester and meant two buses with a walk from Canon Street to Piccadilly didn’t bother me at all – my elder brother would ride with me most of the way as he was going to the senior grammar school, Xaverian College.

Those three years I spent at the Prep were certainly my happiest school years and among the best years of my life.

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