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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksiesilk Classic Group

Elyssa finds her place at school and manages to cause concern about her reading ability. She deals with another bully and thinks she might improve her name again.

As my time in the Infants school at Ellington drew to an end and the six weeks of holidays drew closer, I remember fondly that summer of 2007 with a group of us girls forever singing Rhiannas song of the season. Breaking out into song was met by a chorus of "Ella-ella-ella - My umbrella" every time. Even the boys joined in and on one playtime Mrs Brown even sang along.

Looking back I reckon Rhianna had some kind of voodoo going on, because if ever there was a summer for umbrella (ella ella ella)'s this was it. It seemed like the weather was keeping the record at the top of the charts and there were even floods in some parts of the country (untry untry untry).

Talking about music, - if the Eurovision song contest counts for music, - Britain had chosen Scooch to sing 'Flying the flag' a song that looked and sounded more like a nineteen seventies advert for National Express coaches, ending up finishing '...

Talking about music, - if the Eurovision song contest counts for music, - Britain had chosen Scooch to sing 'Flying the flag' a song that looked and sounded more like a nineteen seventies advert for National Express coaches, ending up finishing 'joint' second last. Nobody at school was singing that! By the middle of August Rhianna's Umbrella ella ella was going down the pop chart slowly and her new song was called 'shut up and drive' going up the chart. - We didn't sing that either.-.


Jeffrey honestly believed that at nineteen his quite extensive experience with livestock anatomy qualified him as an expert on the female body. Jeff had a girlfriend who he saw whenever he had time off off from work on the farm. Her name was Janet Burlace and her Dad had the farm up the valley. Janet kept horses and was keen on competing in gymkhanas and the like. Mam called them posh buggers, she used to say they were all fur coat and nee knickers.

I didn't realise what Mam meant as a seven year old and once when I disturbed Jeff and Janet in the top barn, I asked her why she didn't wear any knickers. She blushed. rearranged her dress and said she did normally but she had forgotten to put them on when she got ready this morning. Jeff laughed a lot and when I think back, I could swear he had them in his trouser pocket cos I saw him pulling out what I thought was a hanky and handing something to her as they left the barn.


To this day, I still cringe at the image of Jeff pulling a lamb free from a ewes rear end and then picture him, raking around in Janet's pants with those same fingers, in the top barn puffing and panting that day.  I reckon that's why I've never had a relationship with a farm boy.One of the drawbacks of being raised in such a wonderful setting is that other children were always a long walk or a bus or car ride away. As the 'mistake' of the family, I think that what I became used to seeing around the farm, probably influenced my psychological development.

 Watching My Grandfather collect semen from his prize pig while I ate a bacon sandwich on a bale of straw in an old barn was bad enough. Sitting on the stall door watching Janet collect a thermos flask of it from her old stud horse, because it was too old to mount a mare provided a strange introduction to masturbation for any child.

Many of my friends at school played a game they called 'Doctors and Nurses' that basically involved exploring each others genitalia.  and pretending they were medics.  On the odd occasion I would join in behind the sheds at school, I discovered that if a girl touched a boys little 'willie' it grew bigger and harder.  If a boy touched a girls 'tushy' it made her want to wee.  Our Margaret explained how boys and girls touched themselves sometimes because it made them feel tingly in their wingly.  She called it Wonking.

The birth and delivery of lambs and sometimes calves was also a routine I grew up with. As the youngest sibling I was unlikely to experience watching my mother give birth or suckle a human child. However, I was regularly asked to "hold onto that" while one of the men in the family thrust their hands into the female orifices of various animals. I will admit crossing my little legs tightly at the thought of it.

There is then little wonder that I got a strange feeling of satisfaction, when I held the legs of male lambs while Jeff or Barry released the rubber ring onto the testicles of the poor creatures to castrate them

There is then little wonder that I got a strange feeling of satisfaction, when I held the legs of male lambs while Jeff or Barry released the rubber ring onto the testicles of the poor creatures to castrate them. "They don't feel a thing" they would say as the animal jumped in my grip. When I grew older I would tease them with the tool they used to apply the band, chasing them down the yard with an evil grin shouting "You won't feel a thing, I promise"

Margie on the other hand appeared to have escaped the farming life by the time I came along. Margaret was the brains of the family, she went to school, brought in homework that 'must be done for tomorrow'. She stayed behind for various clubs and extra activities. She had piano lessons, ballet classes,


Jim from the house a mile up the road taught her to play the guitar, and sometimes let her sing with his little band of folk musicians. She could cook like a proper woman, and had learned all of the various girly skills like how to sew, do embroidery and she really was a canny dressmaker. Little wonder that she was always in the company of one of our Nana's or Mam. She was always top of her class so Barry and Jeff used to call her"Little Miss Perfect", but not in a nasty way. They were somehow in awe of her, and often they would ask Margie to do little repairs, or write them a letter to a girl they liked.


One day Great Granda Joe was hobbling down to the Bins with an old concertina that he had played in his youth - 'back in the olden days'. Margie was horrified and took it from him, she cleaned and dusted it and began to slip into Old Joes annexe whenever she could. In less than two weeks she had learned enough to come skipping into dinner one evening, curtseyed and proceeded to play "Poppa Picolina" on the old squeeze box.  Even I was in awe of her that day.

Of course there was a downside to all of Margaret's skills. As her younger sister, attending the same school that she had attended, it was assumed for some weird reason that I would be just like Margaret. I was nothing like her. I questioned everything, not because I needed to but because I could. I teased the teachers mercilessly, always managing to look as though it was unintentional.

One of my worst experiences of being one of a group at school where the expectation placed on all children is more or less the same. Average was the norm. My Nana Molly and Nana Katie, had begun to teach me how to read as soon as they saw me showing an interest in printed materials. They delighted in teaching me how to recognise words and letters. By the time I was three, much like Margy had been before me I was reading the morning papers. I was asking what words meant and how to pronounce them.


By the time I started school I realised that it was rather unsual for a five year old to read the weather forecast in the Northumberland Gazette. Or to leave notes for their teachers on their desks. I was even told that my reading was poor because I had learned the wrong way. I laughed at that when I read it out loud. The teaching assistant told me I shouldn't be able to read it because it was in 'double writing'. Can you believe that I was told not to be cheeky for telling her that it wasn't actually double, and that the correct term was 'cursive script'. Which I was learning at home.


The poor lady, who wasn't very clever, but was extremely caring and kind sent a letter to Mam and dad asking that I stopped learning double writing because "We aren't doing it until year four" And could they possibly get me to read the book's about Meg the Hen, because they don't have any exercises about the Northumberland Gazette and the Daily Express. I actually read that letter and asked her to correct her misplaced apostrophe and was told"The letter is for your Mammy and Daddy, not for your little eyes."

I was also learning the subtle art of influencing people by my behaviours, although I didn't know the proper terms for it at the time

I was also learning the subtle art of influencing people by my behaviours, although I didn't know the proper terms for it at the time. I could not understand why educated and experienced ladies, such as my teachers could be so easily influenced by a little salty water and a sad face. Oh how they loved it when I came in looking devastated, my eyes glassy and my chin quivering. "Come here Elyssa" they'd say holding out their arms, then quick as you like I was sitting in their lap, head on their shoulders sobbing my way out of, or into, some situation. Oh my goodness I was good. Margie spent hours working to get top marks, I just turned on the waterworks and I got my own way.


I'm not being big headed when I say that most of my peers liked me too. I was a good ally to have in the cut throat world of Infant school. I could beat any boy in my class in a fight, yet I was only little. The secret was that I didn't fight fair, I fought to win. I also used wrestling moves that nobody expected from a little skinny blonde kid with big innocent blue eyes.


Nobody was ever going to believe Katy Strong, Peter Strong's big sister when she came down from the juniors school to teach me a lesson for punching her brother in the throat. He deserved it because he thought it was clever to try to pull my pants down in the school yard for a joke. Katy marched into the infants yard and started making threats, trying to scare me. She was bloody massive in a fat sort of way and she was two years older than me. Granda has always said "If they tell you what they're going to do to you, they probably won't."

She walked right up to me nose to nose, well more like nose to chin, and said"I'm gonna kick yer effing head in for hitting me brother."

Katy had quite an audience, so she must have thought she better do something. She grabbed my shoulders and pushed me onto the ground, crouching over me with slaver coming from one corner of her lips. Thats when I remembered my brothers talking about how to get a bulldog to let go if it bites you.


I squealed like a pig, loud as I could as my hand flew up her skirt, up the leg of her knickers and stuck my finger up her fat bumhole. What a reaction: - she let go of me and screamed struggling to remove herself from my finger which I continued to push until she moved out of my reach and ran. I curled up on the ground and sobbed 'uncontrollably' as I waited for the staff who were running across the yard as Katy ran away clutching her massive bottom. As Mrs Brown and Miss Beaton asked my audience what had happened they babbled the story of how "Katy came in the yard and told Elyssa she was going to 'Kick her head in' then she pushed her down but Elyssa screamed real loud, and she must have seen you coming so she ran away."

That suited me

That suited me. The teachers helped me up and took me into the classroom where they made a big fuss of me. They kindly asked if I would like some Juice and a biscuit. I was struggling to keep my stinky poo finger, away from the teachers so I asked if I could go to the toilet, where I washed it. I swear it took a full day before the smell went away off my finger properly. Poor Katy got into big trouble for bullying little me and then again for lying and saying rude things about what I'd done to her.


My elevation from an infant to a Junior was to be my next big step. School sure was a learning experience for me. My tactics of preemptive measures combined with subtle but robust defensive actions that I had learned or been taught from an early age have served me very well so far, in life.


School Summer Holidays are the time of year when Farmers can get so much more done. Longer days, better weather and often willing kids at home to help out. Well that was the theory, Margy did a bit in the kitchen to help Mam but Nana was always there to help out so Margy wasn't really needed.

I pretty much had a whale of a time. Reading in bed at night, playing on the farm until dark, sitting on the Combine Harvester beside the driver and riding on tractors with Jeff, Barry and Granda.

What I didn't have was much contact with kids of my age

What I didn't have was much contact with kids of my age. At seven I was getting into 'Famous Five' and 'Secret Seven' type books I read about Adrian Mole and The Story of Tracey Beaker. I probably spent a bit too much time with my Brothers, who were old enough to do the work but a little immature to be role models for a seven year old. I loved it. I really did.


At fifteen Barry was inclined to treat his school work with a lot of contempt. He was operating sophisticated machines, looking after valuable livestock, and he could drive tractors, vans and even the Combine Harvester as well as any adult. Barry would dodge school whenever he could to work the farm, but he also liked to play benevolent big brother. Much like the rest of the family Barry spoiled me rotten. Just before we all broke up for the holidays he came home early from Ashington after school and called out to me, teasing me by using my baby name.


"I got you a present, 'Airbithybith' and he threw a book to me. It was a children's adventure book about a girl named 'Alyssa Twigg'. I began to read it that same night and I just couldn't put it down until it was finished. I loved it so much and really I wished that I could be like her.After I finished it I read it again, and decided that I was going to be just like Alyssa Twigg. I started by correcting my family on the proper pronunciation of my name. I would say quite seriously.


Please call me Alyssa not Elyssa, and then I began to ignore it when someone called me Elyssa. I did get into trouble a little for being rude, but a few tears and a sweet pleading voice soon had the result I was aiming for.  Adults will do almost anything for a peaceful life when they are busy, so I learned to pick my battles until one by one they all were referring to me as Alyssa."Well what harm can it do" Nana and Grandad would say. I don't think it did me any harm at all. After all a change is as good as a rest.




Submitted: January 11, 2022

© Copyright 2022 Graham Makem. All rights reserved.

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