I have really fond memories of St Philomena’s Catholic Primary School, in Orpington, where I went from 1982 to 1988. My favourite teacher there was Mrs Golden. I was 7, going on 8 when she started teaching me. She was a really warm and welcoming woman, who had the patience of a saint; she was just lovely.
I learnt more than schoolwork in Mrs Golden’s class; I learnt that you can be special and you can be who you want to be. I didn’t feel like I was competing against anyone for her attention as she made every single child feel individually special.
My favourite subject was English because I loved writing stories. I used to love needlework, too. Mrs Golden once stapled her finger while we were doing needlework. I remember that like it was yesterday. I was so upset because a teacher I loved dearly had stapled her finger and there was blood all over it. I cried, but she kept telling me it was all right. I thought she was going to go to hospital and die, but all she did was go and get a first aid box.
Mrs Golden had a way to make things fun. In class, if our energy levels were down, she would have us on our feet and in pairs dancing in the classroom. She was really good. I don’t have a memory of us sitting down all day in her classroom.
I was bullied in the school playground, but I don’t think Mrs Golden really knew, though she may have had an inkling that I was not a particularly popular child. The bullies never hit me, it was just name calling. They called me all sorts of names like “smelly”. I wet the bed a lot until I was 11 and so I was quite a smelly child. I never spoke to the teachers or my mum and dad about the bullying, I just soaked it all up like a sponge. I had a tough childhood because of that. I’m working with the NSPCC now to get children to speak out more and to tell people when they are bullied.
I was never bullied in the classroom, though. In the classroom I tried to be the funny one and make people laugh. Once I went out of the classroom and peeped through the window in the corridor that allows you to see into the classroom. I had this boy’s coat with me and put my foot in it. I used it to start doing rude gestures in front of the window and all the kids in the classroom started laughing. Then I heard a big rip. My foot had ripped the pocket of his coat. When the boy went to put it on, after school, he told a teacher that someone had ripped his coat pocket. The police were called in for an investigation and I had to own up to it. His parents came round to my house and my mum and dad had to pay for a new coat for the boy. The whole experience frightened the life out of me.
Mrs Golden never told me off. She was just a nice lady with a soft-spoken voice and was really pretty. She had brown hair and was always dressed really smart. I can’t remember how tall she was, but she was a lot taller than me.
I don’t know where Miss Golden is now. Weirdly enough, not a lot of my school mates remember her, but I remember her because she was a great teacher.
Sam Bailey was talking to Adeline Iziren. Sam’s UK-wide Sing My Heart Out tour kicked off in Northampton on 2 March and will be stopping at some of the nation’s most prestigious live music venues. The tour ends in Southend on 20 May.