On bright autumn mornings, the dew dazzling on spiders' webs in all the hedgerows along Park and Vauxhall Roads, we would break thin, pliable shoots from a bush, bring the ends together and then, by scooping the cobwebs, make 'mirrors' and hope they would last until school time.

They didn’t, but they were briefly beautiful.

After Miss Randall it was Miss Williams's class My memory seems to tell me that at about that time – 1942 – one of Miss Cross’s class fell victim to diphtheria. Could I be wrong about that?

Miss Williams, dark haired and dressed always in grey (in my memory, anyway) was, for me, one of the great teachers.

She helped us to enjoy reading and writing, and to welcome learning.

In her eyes poetry was important and because she knew that it needed to be heard she had us learn by heart and then recite in front of the class.

We were introduced to Wordsworth, Masefield, WH Davies, de la Mare and writers of patriotic verse such as Newbolt (but the why of The Funeral of Sir John Moore at Corunna' still escapes me.)

School dinners arrived in great, wheeled, metal containers and always smelled the same.

Sometimes I went to the British Restaurant where for about a shilling a decent meal could be had without having to tender food coupons.

The BR stood about where the Edinburgh Drive car park is now and later became the local office of the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance.

I came to know rather well a girl who worked there.

From time to time I would be sent to school with nine pence for a haircut at Mr Larssen’s in Wantage Road.

He was a man of few words and one haircut as far as we boys were concerned.

To have us move our head he would administer a quick, light, slap to one side.

It was get in, get done, get out, and the nearest I ever came again to that was at RAF Cranwell in 1953 in preparation for the Coronation parade.

The top boys' class was in All Saints church hall and our teacher was 'Pop' Harris, long retired, surely, but brought back into service.

Among all else he taught us the scientific way to make tea and that belts were an anachronism – why else would we have shoulders but for braces to hold up our short trousers?

Pop was ahead of his time: the end of every Thursday morning was given over to question and answer.

We boys asked the question and he answered.

Our first question was 'Sir, how do you get a baby?'

He told us and added that that was the first question every year.

The year 1944 was the end of The Manor for me, but I recall play on the rough ground outside, the passing enthusiasms, kick-about in borrowed short and scuffed shoes, belts (!) with snakes-head clasps, school milk and, inside, the great tortoise stove keeping us warm and, yes, content whilst others fought to keep us that way.

In in my mind I hear, still, the shouts and laughter and see once more Eddie and Kenny, Rob and Ray, Gordon and Peter and all he rest: in my memory we still play and learn at that Manor School of a childhood a world away.