There Are Some Things I Remember
Many moons ago…actually, I’ll rephrase that…many, many, many moons ago I was a spotty callow yoof who more by luck than skill was an attendee at a Grammar school in Bristol.
Sartorially elegant in grey shorts, grey blazer, and with a cap worn at a jaunty, come-hither angle, I like to think that I cut a fine figure (complete with briefcase, rucksacks being for yobs) as I strode to school, and turned the eye of many a young lady. I walked, to be honest, as it saved me the daily thruppence bus fare that my parents gave me: I had a more nefarious use in mind for those ill-gotten gains…
I have been told that/read that many people believe that schooldays are the best time of ones’ life but I tend to disagree with that in general terms. I did enjoy my time at school, when I was out of school. Getting home at about 4 o’clock meant that I could rip off the trappings of school life, throw my briefcase in the corner, and get to the park where I could enjoy a game of footy, the occasional cigarette and even a chat with local girls, with mates I’d had for several years before the Grammar school thing tried to create a schism between us.
However I do have some fond memories of Grammar school, one of which is the ubiquitous tuck shop, a standard fixture of schools back in the day. From what I remember ours was run by the Woodwork Master (yes, we had Masters, not teachers) and was run from his workshop though my memory is a bit hazy about that.
The tuck shop was the domain of the younger boys, above the age of 14 young men would hie themselves off to the streets of Bristol to partake of coffee and beat music in the cellar bars in the local area, but for us youngsters the tuck shop was the venue of choice, and this brings me to my fondest memory.
Burton’s Potato Puffs.
Whatever happened to them? Other tuck shop delights like Sherbet Dips, Sherbet Dip-Dabs, and Black Jacks still seem to exist albeit in a new form, but I cannot find an outlet for Potato Puffs. A beautiful pillow of light potato cooked to a golden brown, that snapped on first bite but then melted in the mouth with a salty tang. A delicacy that I suspect even Gordon Ramsey would be pushed to recreate.
An ideal snack to have between Periods (yes, we had Periods, not Lessons), they were cheap, better than school dinners, and added little weight to one’s briefcase. I repeat, whatever happened to them? Burton’s…makers of the abominable Wagon Wheel…have much to answer for. What happened? Did some Health & Safety wallah decide that they might explode in children's mouths? Did medical science prove that they were carcinogenic? Or did the Government decide that consumption of said PP's would lead to Communism?
I despair, but it was worth walking to school to save a few pennies and it was worth queuing outside the tuck shop; it was worth wearing shorts and a school cap in public places; and it was worth learning Latin declension and trigonometry, simply because after all that one could get a bag of Potato Puffs, and dream of scoring the winning goal for England in a World Cup Final.
I don’t need no education
I don’t need no thought control
I just need…