Three Amoebas


In September 1968, after a series of exams and interviews, and having gained a place at my Tooting grammar school, I was amazed that the first set of homework was to cover our text books.

I was anticipating, in my first week to have gone home to split the atom; remembered the dates of the reigns of all the Anglo-Saxon monarchs or knowing that in binary 01000101 is 69 (which, when you’re 11, is just another number).

Over the next few days we would all come back to our school rooms with our books adorned in whatever material our parents had left lying around our houses.

Most had used brown paper, one or two had gone down the wallpaper remnant route, with one boy coming in with his books covered with red, flock wallpaper which looked suspiciously like the same wallpaper which decorated the Granada Tooting; I never went to tea at this boy’s house but I’d have bet his carpet would have had the word GRANADA inscribed into the weaving.

Another lad came in with his books bedecked in Thunderbirds wallpaper; sadly, for him, in the teachers’ eyes, Thunderbirds were not “GO” and he consequently got a detention – even Virgil Tracy couldn’t rescue him from that!

The homework did get harder: the toughest assignment being charged with looking after the class amoeba (this was a grammar school, so no run-of-the-mill hamster) for an entire weekend, making sure it didn’t die or get impregnated by other organisms.

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