When We Were Kings and Queens of the Road: Angeline Ball

I never thought I would say it but I miss my school days when the only thing you had to worry about was not missing Dallas on the telly because ’Who shot JR?’

I tell my children that I was walking a full mile and a bit to school on my own from the age of about eight and a half. That half made all the difference. They joke and ask me if Jesus was alive then!

You’d have to make sure that the school bag full of books, stayed firmly on your shoulder or better still on your back. God forbid it fell and you’d hear that familiar sound of a flask full of soup smashing and you’d have to wait until your mother got a replacement canister in those cardboard boxes. It looked like a perfect sliver bullet bomb. Ready to smash into smithereens at a touch.

I walked to school hail, rain or snow. Sometimes getting there with my shins roaring red, lashed by hailstones, or after coming home I’d sit on top of the fire only to get a different kind of red, those dreaded ABC’s on your legs.

I tried a scooter but the supporting leg always got tired, a bike I walked home with because my friend didn’t have one and I’d rather chat to her. Never roller skates because my hand-me-downs took too much effort to push an inch at a time. The wheels were banjaxed.
I used to see our local road sweeper every morning, a lovely handsome man who wouldn’t be out of place as 007, a shaken not stirred martini in his hand instead of a road brush. When I got a little older I’d pass the boys school on the way to mine, and I’d search frantically for the one I ‘fancied’. I could pick him out in the huge throng.

This photo is my attempt to emulate Madonna at a
party. Those were the days when my eyebrows were
plucked to within an inch of their lives. Circa 14/15 yrs
of age.

Summers where always lovely walking to or coming home without a coat and ankle socks that gave you the perfect tan line. I can still smell the new books bought in Easons and covered in brown paper if you were posh, wallpaper if you weren’t. My school bag smelt of pineapple, strawberry, watermelon from the craze for smelly rubbers you got in Hector Greys. Nowadays sometimes kids complain if they need to walk to bus stops.

Whereas I can walk for miles.

Those journeys to and from school held me in good stead, a top and tail to end the heady days of school.

Angeline Ball is an award winning actress/singer/songwriter from Dublin. She grew up in Cabra on the Northside in the 70’s and 80’s. She’s currently writing her first novel set in Dublin in the 70’s.

On behalf of the Museum of Childhood Ireland and Robert Burns, we would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to all of our wonderful participants for their time and their stories. We are thrilled to be presenting this project and we hope you will enjoy following along with us in the coming weeks.

Have a story on this topic and want to get involved? Contact us on our social media sites, or email us at cbrowne@museumofchildhood.ie – we would love to hear from you!

By Chloe Browne

Chloe Browne is an Irish writer, curator and Art Historian, with a keen interest in objects and social history.