There was no better feeling of euphoria inside my Balham classroom during the ‘60s than when the school TV was wheeled in.
As schoolkid you couldn’t have given a monkey’s that you were about to witness the funeral of a great statesman, the launch of an ocean-going liner or the exploration of other parts of the universe.
Neither Churchill, Queen Elizabeth II (the boat, not the monarch) nor Neil Armstrong could take away that feeling of ‘soon, we’ll not be working.’ Only double playtime, or an inset day, had that ability of relief from the monotony of learning about the Stone Age; the four times table or the tricks of the baby Jesus in later life.
It would be the school caretaker who would wheel the machine into the classroom (there were no IT assistants in the ‘60s – the only IT we knew about those days was the creature from The Addams Family). The TV was housed in a wooden box (the size of which wouldn’t have looked out of place outside Troy) and placed in the centre of the room, in front of the blackboard, thus hiding any trick way of remembering that four times four is sixteen.
And so, plugged in, warmed up (this took the best part of a week), we then sat watching corteges, yachts and automobiles (OK, Moon buggies).
At the end of it there was a sense of anti-climax as many of us had never heard of Churchill, unlikely to go on a cruise or fly to the Moon, we’d resume our daily tasks. I don’t think we missed much schooling as I know my four times table (up to 12), know how to slay a mammoth and know that the adult baby Jesus wouldn’t have needed flint to have started a fire.