Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Early Memories Guernsey I

When I was seven I was sent to boarding school, I have three memories of my first day; the first was calling the housemaster 'Sir', it was the first time I had ever called anyone Sir, and for some reason it made me feel grown up.

My second memory of that day was falling out of a tree house and splitting my head open within about half an hour of my parent leaving me there. My parents only found out about this when I mentioned it some forty years later.

The overarching memory was being left, and the following poem describes how the excitement that my parents had built up turned into a feeling of being utterly alone, but also being aware that I must not show I was upset. I hope you like it.

Early Memories Guernsey I

Today was the day I’d been prepared for
I was bubbling with excitement
as we neared the big blue door.
We were met by a teacher
my Mum my Dad and me,
he was going to be the Dad
of my brand new family.
Later on; that same day
my parents said goodbye
and I was left, a little boy
determined not to cry.

John Carré Buchanan
07 February 2012


  1. The first day of the school for anyone would be a memorable day and i think were strong enough to go through that moment with all the courage by not letting your parents down.

    1. Elvirah, Thanks for your comment, I was not trying to prevent my parents being let down, I was ensuring that I was not seen as a target for bullies. One of the early lessons I learnt in Kenya was that Lions pick on the weakest in the herd.

  2. I'm (slowly) rereading the first volume of Doris Lessing's autobiography. Both she and her brother were sent off to boarding school (they lived in what was Rhodesia at the time) and she wrote something like "No boy can be sent off to boarding school at age eight without coming back with half of his heart sealed off." (despite the quotes, this is a paraphrase). Your poem -- and your comment above -- reminded me of this.

    1. Jennifer, I think the quote is very accurate, as a seven year old it was hard to adjust. My parents did a great job of preparing me and explaining why it was all happening, it wasn't until 35 years later that I began to understand what it had really meant to me and my subsequent life.

  3. I can't believe they never called your parents after your head injury.


    1. Those were the days, Our parents got a few lines of reports once a term and that was it. In those days Health and Safety didn't exist and most people were better off for it. Nowadays you can't move without having to do a risk assessment, I doubt you could have a tree house nowadays, let alone fall out of it. LOL


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