My brother suddenly disappeared off to boarding school when I was 8 and he was 10. He wanted to go so much. He greatly admired a second cousin of ours who went to a boarding school in Canterbury. So off he went. He had a smart brown trunk with a tuck box and Grandma sewed labels with his name on into all his new clothes, blazer, shirts, trousers, the lot. He had a straw boater to wear in Summer which he lost sticking his head out of a train window one day.
All the way to Canterbury he kept saying he had to pinch himself to make sure he wasn't dreaming, so happy was he.
I couldn't understand it, why would anyone want to leave our lovely Mum who told us stories and sung us songs, our wonderful, cuddly Dad who romped on the floor with us and always came to kiss us good night with his warm, lovely reassuringly masculine smell ( of beer and cigarettes in those days), but he was so ecstatic I could only wipe away the tears and be happy for him, achieving his dream. "Peter is as happy as a little sandboy" - Dad would say, I m still not sure what a sandboy is but they must be happy about something.
Every 3 weeks we would drive down to Canterbury and take Peter out on an exeat. We always had a delicious cream tea and a meal in a Beefeater. The highlight of the weekend was a trip to Dreamland in Margate. In the 60s Margate was the home of the Mods and Rockers and seemed a very daring place to be. There was a huge Amusement Arcade and Grandpa would give us 12 pennies and then see who could make it last the longest. It always disappeared astonishingly fast and made us very wary of gambling, but it was marvellous. For younger readers, there were 12 pence to a shilling and 20 shillings to a pound.
Sometimes Uncle Peter's friends would join us. They all had Boarding school nicknames like Nosnoj Woody and Smirk. Peter had become "La Tete ". Once Linda came with us (see Best friend post) and she spent a lot of time sitting intimately on Nosnoj's lap. There were no seatbelts in those days, we just all piled in.
On the long drive home from the Exeats we were always rather quiet in the car. We would listen to a programme on the radio called "The Adams Singers", play I Spy and in the Winter count the Christmas trees in the front windows of the houses we passed by. There was no motorway or M25 then. I sat in the back thinking of Peter doing his "prep" and his "dorm" and wishing he was in the car with me.
Sing something simple, as cares go by.
Sing something simple, just you and I tra la la la.
(Theme tune of the Adams Singers)