The boarding school for disabled children to which I was sent, aged eight, was an Elizabethan mansion with a lake, a river, and it’s own walled kitchen garden. It was quite different to the terraced house I was used to and was a formative experience, in more ways than one . . . .
A sweeping drive, manicured holly trees,
Crenelated turrets, mullioned windows,
Chintz curtains, wooden panelling:
My new, old Elizabethan school dazzled my eight-year old eyes.
Children crowded round me, scruffy amid the splendour,
Come to see the new girl.
‘How old are you?’ I asked.
‘Eight’, she said.
She was small:
‘I thought you were six’ I said.
I wasn’t street-wise: made my first enemy, unknowingly,
So sheltered my life had been.