The King is dead

John Ogden, Tettenhall
Born 1941

John Ogden

"My first real insight into the corruptibility of the human soul came on February 6, 1952.

"I was 10.

"Barely had the milk monitor strutted back to her desk after taking out the bottles that Wednesday morning when lessons were interrupted again at our village primary school, on the Staffs-Cheshire border.

"The headmaster ordered us all to assemble in the school hall immediately. The buzz of speculation which augmented the thunder of hobnailed boots and clog tips was silenced as the headmaster walked on to the small stage.

" Boys and girls, I have some very bad news,' he said - and we were instantly enthralled by seeing that he was on the verge of tears. We have just heard that His Majesty The King has died.'

"He spoke for a couple of minutes more, but we hardly took in a word, being much more absorbed in the steadily increasing wobble of his lower lip, as the emotion of the moment gradually got the better of him.

"At that age, even the death of a king didn't mean too much to us, but nevertheless, as children do, we dutifully took on the mood set by the teachers, and returned to class professing to be so grief-stricken that we couldn't possibly eat a morsel of school dinner.

"But that day they served up meat and potato pie. And the Woodcock's Well School dinner ladies' meat and potato pie was the tastiest meal in the history of school catering.

"As I joined the long queue for second helpings, I little realised that the pie's aftertaste would be of self-betrayal and fallibility.

"Or that it would linger on into the next century.