Rough Rider

Schooldays. Happiest days?

Often were the days I rode my Hercules
The longer way over the humpy bridge
That crossed the minnow fishing stream
Along the hawthorn high hedge lane
Past the wrought-iron gates of the rich boys’ school
Freewheeling downhill all the way to mine.
Early spring was best –
Cherry blossom snowed my blazer.
Or autumn dodging storm-loosed conkers
Riding through sodden piles of rusted leaves.
Walking to school through winter snow
Singing songs from the hit parade
At the top of my voice
When no one could hear
Take the piss
And call me a sissy.

That’ll be the day.
I wanna be Bobby’s girl.
It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.

My voice broke with She Loves You.
At puberty, innocence was thrust aside and
An adolescent sex fixated teen unleashed –
My debut? Postponed… temporarily –
‘Swinging London’ never swung for me.
At school, while others were kitted out
From full price official outfitters
I rooted face-deep in the ‘lost property’ sweatbox
For caps and scarves, new school ties
Football boots, vests, and plimsolls
To run the annual school cross-country.
Fast around the cornfield
Sprint the path by the RAF camp
Along the riverbank to the spreading oak
And all turn back
The pack flagging in my wake.
First across the line at the funnel… again.
Masters’ approving smiles at my victory
Lit my day – for just a day.
Then back to frowns and shaking heads
I pretended not to see.
Scavenging cast-offs
Like Cox’s cap from the ‘lost’ box
(His folks were loaded anyway)
Summed my school days
More eloquently than my reports’ prophetic
“Amounter to not very much.”
But my long rides to school and back
Down winding windy country lanes.
Over bridges and under bridges
Smelling, tasting, every season.

Rodeo riding
Mile after mile
Kicking leaf piles,
Belting pop songs
When no one could hear.
Wind whipping my Beatle-cut,

‘Yeehaw! Ride ‘em cowboy!!’

That was the me
For no one to see.


© coolhermit 2023
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I love this it brought back so many of my own memories of growing up, roaming with my dog, free as air across Surrey’s numerous commons close to my home. So much freedom and joy now lost to today’s children.

The school bits were the very worst for me too. Damn school bullies.

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