I remember that day back in fifty seven
my first day at school was going to be heaven,
I was really quite young, not quite five years old
I remember it well, it was hot – no wait – cold,
The woman who’d nursed me for nigh on five years
Left me there at the gate, face flowing with tears.
Mum’s face not mine I must hasten to add
I was quite happy while she was quite sad
We would both be apart for most of the day
But I wasn’t bothered, I just wanted to play
In the cloakroom, I hung up my coat and mittens
By the little black sticker where my name was written.
Ran into the playground to make some new friends
But the looks and the stares I could not comprehend
Why were they staring, what was wrong with my face?
My look was immaculate, not a hair out of place
Then a girl approached, she wanted a peek
Rubbed two of her fingers down my left cheek.
The school bell rang out they all rushed for the door
Lined up in silence one hundred or more
A teacher then herded them into a great hall
I was very surprised when I heard someone call-
-out my name, as the others looked around
The headmistress warned them, ‘Don’t make a sound!’.
I was taken by the hand and put on the stage
Then she spoke out like thunder, as though in a rage
‘This is the new boy who’s joining us today,
Yes, I know he is different but I hope and pray,
That you’ll make him feel welcome, help him settle
Make him your friend, keep him in fine fettle.
His parents have travelled a very long way,
So let us make him very welcome today’
I looked around the hall at faces uncaring
Felt very conscious of the skin I was wearing
I knew from the looks and bad comments I had
Life wouldn’t be easy for a West Indies lad.