Hymns, poems and rhymes

This week at Walton, Newholme and Cavendish hospitals, we’ve continued our look back at school days and have been listening to, reading and singing some of the hymns, poems and playground rhymes we remembered last week.

We thought about school assemblies, and one member of nursing staff confessed that he’d been thrown out of recorder club because he wasn’t playing the right notes! In school, we often had to copy out and memorise poems – we looked back fondly on ‘As I wandered lonely as a cloud’ by William Wordsworth, and ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling.

We remembered the┬áhymns we sung, from ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ to ‘Morning has broken’, and the songs we sang and chanted in the playground. Jumping over French elastic, and games like ‘Ring a Ring a Roses’, which is actually a very old rhyme dating back to the plague of the Black Death in the 14th Century!

Poetry Time Machine

Hearing Wordsworth’s Daffodils reminds me of school days
Then All Things Bright and Beautiful in my head plays.
Reciting the Lord’s Prayer and before dinner, grace
Mumbling our way through the words, keeping up the pace.

In lessons, poems were learned by heart.
We hear them now, it makes us start –
Transports us back to carefree times
Playing games and skipping rhymes.

Wordsworth's Daffodils

Wordsworth’s Daffodils


School Memories

And we’re back! In my first sessions in Derbyshire hospitals last week, we looked at memories of school, talking about school uniforms, playground games, school dinners and learning to read and do sums. We even got to ring an old a school bell.

Some patients had grown up in the countryside, and had missed out on a lot of school due to having to help out on the family farm. Some patients had been teachers, and could look back on their career as well as their school days.

Different wards, in Cavendish and Newholme hospitals, wrote the verses of this poem.

Playing conkers

Playing conkers

School Days

I used to have to milk the cows before I went to school
I always got the cane because I always played the fool.
We had to learn our letters and do our tricky sums,
Praying that our home time would soon come.

Smart in our school uniforms, wearing our caps.
In assembly, we’d sit so still, our hands in our laps.
‘All things bright and beautiful’ we sang off by heart.
A rousing way for the school day to start.

The boys played marbles, conkers and football
While girls played hopscotch, skipping and netball.
A is for apple, and B is for ball
Practised times tables to chant in the hall.

Looking back on school days as pupil and teacher
Making the classroom bright and cheerful was a main feature.
The photographer’s coming, so the kids pull their socks up,
Tie their shoelaces, comb their hair and get rid of the muck.

Make sure you’ve got two pencils with points on
Teacher will expect your tie to be kept on.
Ink-stained shirts from fountain pens.
A cracking sound as my desk lid opens.

Sliding on our stocking feet on shiny polished floors
Bottled milk for morning break – we’d suck it through our straws
In freezing weather, milk would freeze and icicles would grow.
Walking home two-by-two in a neat and tidy row.

Learning sums

Learning sums