My first school was called Luis Vives. It was a large city school in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. Colegio is the Spanish word for ‘school.’
To get to school I used to walk down this wide, busy avenue. There are several linked avenues like this one that were all known to palmesanos (people from Palma) just as the Avenidas. There was no point going to school in the car because there was so much traffic it was quicker to walk, and it wasn’t very far away anyway.
On the extreme left is a famous bar in Palma called Bar Cristál, and a few doors down on the same side, in a very old building, was where my Doctor used to live.
The Doctor’s surgery was on the third or fourth floor, and I remember that we used to go up in a really old lift that I was really scared of, a bit like this one:
A lot of old buildings in Palma had lifts like this, which were dangerous, claustrophobic cages with hardly any guards on them. You could easily trap your fingers or even fall down the shaft on the way up to your floor!
Anyway, once we had passed the Doctor’s and the Bar Cristál, we carried on walking down the zigzag-shaped Avenidas towards school.
Look at this school calendar from when I was your about your age, Thomas, in 1980:
Can you see the times I used to go to school?
School started at 8:50am and went on until 12:55 in the afternoon. Then, I would walk home for the long lunchtime. School started again at 3:30pm (another walk back) before finally finishing at 5:30pm. That’s a lot of walking!
They often played this music- Oxygène IV by Jean Michel Jarre- at the start and finish of school over large loudspeakers; I don’t know what the neighbours must have thought. For this reason I always associate Oxygène with Luis Vives.
So, after walking for four or five blocks of the wide Avenidas, I’d reach this side street which led to my school:
There it is, with the green railings, on the left. I’ve a photo, Thomas, of you and me standing outside these railings in 2005.
On one corner was the school office, where the Director’s (Headmaster’s) office was. In those days there was a white statue at the entrance like on the one in the first picture on this page:
It was a very large building with all the classrooms being in rows of numbered doors. There was a playground at the bottom, and a huge sports area high up on the roof (the large fencing is to catch stray balls!) Land is very expensive in Palma and a separate sports field would have cost a lot of money.
Here I am in this playground dressed as a (distinctly unscary) Indian. You can see the pillars behind me where the ground-floor canteen used to be.
At one end of the school was the scariest, steepest staircase you’ve ever seen, and I fell down this several times during my time there in the rush at the end of day:
This is my report for 1979-1980 school year, when I was 7/8:
SS stands for sobresaliente (excellent); N is notable (very good); B is bien (good); S is suficiente (satisfactory); and I is insuficiente (very poor; I didn’t get any of those thankfully!) At the top right is my number (43); in school classes in Spain everyone has a number, and because they are in alphabetical order and my surname begins with ‘W’, mine was always a high number!
We always wrote our names in the way shown above; so you would be Thomas Henry W. and Katie Anna W. I got told off for doing this when I came to England: in England we tend to write T.H.Wainwright and K.A.Wainwright instead.
Here is an example of some of the work we did, in this case a project about fuels. In Spanish it’s okay to write a hyphen (-) to split a word, like Combus-tibles, when you reach the edge of the page. (There are rules though, such as you can only split words into whole syllables such as com- or bus-; ask Mummy to explain!)
Smarty-pants Daddy got an SS for this one, but the teacher had to guess who wrote it because she writes ¿43? in the bottom corner! I’d forgotten to put my name on it!
Notice how the teacher corrects my missing accents (like this: ó) with her red pen:
This was cheeky: I didn’t know how to spell ocurrió so I gave the teacher two options to choose from!
Oh dear, that lorry’s not long enough to fit on the word INFLAMAB…!