Miss Lorna Bayley.

Miss Bayley joined the staff of Eastwick Primary School, I calculate, sometime in 1963/4. I remember her arrival. Suddenly things began to change in our morning school assembly. There were new ideas, new components, creative changes.

She taught my older brother Arnold in his last year at Eastwick in ‘63/4. She became my class teacher in September ’64, and remained so for two years until we left in July 1966.

She had a one-eyed Song Thrush in her garden called Nelson.

She introduced a maths-teaching tool called Colour Factor which was very modern but which I totally failed to comprehend.

It was the time of the Tokyo Olympics. She set maths questions on the board and a race to answer them, awarding Gold, Silver and Bronze stars to the winners . . . I remained starless.

However, she also got us boys gardening (the girls were busy dressmaking I think) – and she put up a bird table outside the classroom window. This was pioneering stuff. At this time feeding the birds mostly meant throwing crusts of bread out in the back garden or hanging up bacon rind. She bought proper bird feed. She put up large RSPB bird identification charts on the classroom wall and Robbie Medland and I competed to identify each bird. We thereby came to know birds which we had never actually seen – and many which I have still not seen.

Miss Balyley also encouraged my artistic leanings – drawing and painting animals and birds. She even set me up with a one-boy show of my work on the corridor wall.

She paid for me to join the RSPB, and continued to pay my subscription for some years after I had left Eastwick and moved away. We corresponded during that time, until I grew into a teenager and probably just stopped writing any more.

I did meet her once during those few years, at an Eastwick School fete in, I would guess, 1968. By this time I had been growing for a couple more years. I towered above her. As the photo of her class shows, she was really very short, only I hadn’t noticed when I was short too. Now I was an awkward thirteen year old. I don’t know what I said to her. I hope I thanked her for being so very good to me.

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