Back in 1965, the Eleven Plus examination was well-established in English primary schools. It was a general examination that claimed to assess latent intelligence, problem solving skills, numeracy and literacy. Every springtime, eleven year old kids all across the country sat the test, perhaps not realising that the results achieved would significantly influence their future lives.
Quite simply, if you passed the test you would go to a grammar school the following September and if you failed it you would go to a secondary modern school. Grammar schools were meant to cater for clever youngsters while secondary moderns catered for the intellectually challenged and those who would go on to become manual workers or tradespeople - hairdressers, plumbers, shop workers, farm labourers and so on.
I attended a village primary school and I was the only boy in my Junior 4 class who managed to pass the Eleven Plus. In fact my score in the exam was so good that I was offered a free scholarship to Hull's premier boys' school. Most of the lads there came from wealthy homes and their parents paid hefty school fees but a small proportion of each cohort were scholarship boys. This was probably a requirement so that the school could receive a chunk of local authority funding.
I looked so smart in my new school uniform. I would be travelling thirteen miles into Hull every morning while the boys and girls I had grown up with would be travelling six miles east to the secondary modern school in Hornsea. Looking back it was a cruel separation. Things were never quite the same after that.
That first morning in the posh school in Hull, I met my classmates and very quickly I was struck by their manner of speech. While I communicated in a broad East Yorkshire accent, these lads spoke in a style that was much closer to the language of the BBC - received pronunciation. Until that morning, I had not realised that my manner of speaking might be deemed risible by anyone.
We met our form master - Mr Gale in his black academic gown and we were assigned desks with lids. They must have dated back to the 1890's when the school was built. Those desktops had been polished by hundreds of elbows and there were initials scratched into the surfaces with ink stains too.
After lunch we queued up outside our form room again and one of the posh boys started to make fun of me. He was tall with a shock of blonde hair and like the others he had progressed to the senior school from its attached junior school so he was well-known and clearly popular. He was mimicking my East Yorkshire accent and the others were in fits of laughter.
He came up to me in the line, laughing in my face, taunting me and pushing my shoulder. How did he expect me to react? I dropped my new leather satchel and squared up to him. I punched him right on the nose and then pushed him to the floor where I proceeded to give him a beating. We rolled over a few times with fists flailing. I remember he was crying and there was blood coming from his nose.
A circle of boys formed round us and some were chanting and spurring us on. I sat astride his head with knees over his shoulders and punched him at will. Then Mr Gale arrived, pushing through the crowd. To my partial relief he separated us and to be truthful I don't really remember what happened after that but I do remember that the fight won me much esteem.
Nobody mimicked my East Yorkshire accent again after that and oddly I became best friends with my tormentor. For a long while, other boys were wary of me. On my very first day, I had found a place in school legend. And they say that fighting doesn't solve anything...