When I was a boy I used to love singing, whether I was any good or not is neither here nor there I do believe I sang in tune although I knew couldn’t whistle in tune. My brother Sonny could really whistle in fact he was a beautiful whistler. That’s something you don’t hear these days; whistling! When I was growing up just about everybody could sing or whistle and did but nowadays no one does; well except for the oldies like me still plodding along. It’s not surprising you only have to listen to the rubbish that passes for music and songs now, no melody, lyrics that are unintelligible; I suppose the sounds that come screeching out of wide gaping mouths multiplied tenfold by echo chambers and whatever else they can come up with are supposed to be lyrics. I doubt any modern day “singer’ could be heard at a distance of 2 metres (6ft) without some sort of electronic aid.
Enough of that, that’s not what I planned on writing about. Once a week in junior school; that was around ages 7/8 -10/11 or thereabouts we had what was called “Assembly” ( this went on into secondary school too). I suppose it was a quasi religious service.There was no Parson/Vicar it was non-denominational but any boy or girl who was a “Roman Catholic” didn’t have to attend, so they didn’t, they had an extra 40 minutes to play. My only real chum was a boy named Joe’y’ Richardson he was Catholic so he didn’t go. A little more about Joey later.
My time in junior school was from September 1942 to ’46 and in Secondary (Comprehensive) ’46 to April ’50 – that gets that out of the way.
So back to the “Assembly” ; this was usually conducted by the “Headmaster” and a teacher would thump/bash out the music on the piano. When I was in the junior school we did not have a school hall in which to hold the “Assembly” so we would be marched around to the church hall just around the corner.
This hall came in handy because that was also used by the Junior School for the “School Lunch’s). As the war had swung our way the education department started supplying a mid-day meal for the students (for want of a better word) at a small cost to the parents a couple of shillings or half-crown a week.
The same old stuff every day meat potatoes and greens, looked the same smelled the same and tasted the same, but we ate it just the same. We also got “afters, afters are what came after the befores which was the meat potatoes and greens, and was usually some pudding and custard stuff, I’ll tell a small tale about the afters one day when I get around to it.
Back again to the “Assembly” ; we’d sing a couple of hymns the head would make some sort of speech that nobody listened to then we’d sing a couple more hymns and toddle off back to school for another week of learning.
Now I must admit I really liked the singing bit, I’d bellow away having a great old time, in fact I think most of the kids did. Thing is we’d actually be singing the same hymns over and over again I doubt if they’d have been a dozen in the whole repertoire, and before long I knew the words to them all, even today some 70 years on I can remember a lot of the hymns we sang, sometimes of a Sunday evening if I have the wrong station on my radio I’ll get the evening service and find I’m singing away to those hymns (not to loud mind you). And me the self appointed President of the Atheists of the Universe. For shame!
The one that I think got the most punishment/airing was “Eternal Father Strong To Save”, don’t forget I’m talking WWII time and the Royal Navy was everything to everybody. True the RAF came into being what with the Battle of Britain and then the RAF Bomber Commands raids on the Jerries but it was the RN that was our life line and lifes blood. It was always the hymn that got the best rendition anyway!
Well I think that I’ll have to do this blog as a mini-series with not quite the episodes of “Days of our lives” as I’ve been given the drum that blogs over 600 words start to pall and this has run over 750 words. so Part II tomorrow or whenever.