When I was a child I attended a number of schools that had outside toilets, dip pens and inkwells. One had central heating that ran through large pipes and Victorian radiators and the others had pot-bellied stoves. They also had school cooks and kitchens that prepared fresh food every day, disposing of the waste in pig bins. In 1978 we finally moved to a school with modern heating and inside toilets. That coincided with a general downturn in the moral fibre of the nation, though I don’t suppose it was caused by the provision of indoor plumbing for children.
However, we’re talking about 1963, and even by the standards of the day it was a bit of a museum piece. It was very much like this. It also had a flogging headmaster (who eventually got 4 years for inappropriate behaviour with girl pupils) and a map of the world. The map is the point of the story – it was mainly coloured red and pre-dated the the partition of India.
Moving on by 50 years, two of the group are going to South Africa on holiday so we did a jigsaw of Africa today. It’s a bit old as it belonged to our kids, but I wasn’t quite prepared for how things had changed.
On the school map (yes, there was a point to that preamble) we had places like Basutoland, Southern Rhodesia and Tanganyika. By the time the jigsaw was made these were Lesotho, Zimbabwe and Tanzania.
However, when we started the jigsaw it became clear that things had changed in Africa, even in the lifetime of my kids. As we pieced together Zaire, Upper Volta and the Somali Republic I realised how dated the puzzle was. When we had used the internet to identify African countries in the morning these had been Democratic Republic of Congo, Burkina Faso and Somalia. Fortunately nobody noticed the changes.
Just shows how things change, and how much there is to learn. I’m just hoping nobody goes on holiday to Eastern Europe, because I’ve never been able to catch up with what happened to Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia.