School dinners - you either loved them or hated them

Longroyde Junior School, April 26, 1995: young Emily Parker receives her extra ration of chicken soup from dinner lady Julia Green
Longroyde Junior School, April 26, 1995: young Emily Parker receives her extra ration of chicken soup from dinner lady Julia Green

School dinners - I think those who had them either loved them or hated them.

Well, I for one thought they were great and I know that I am not alone. I had them at Cliffe Hill, Lightcliffe and St Martin’s in the 1950s and 60s.

Mind you if the dinner ladies knew your mother you had better eat it all, otherwise they would just happen to mention “Your Christopher didn’t eat all his dinner today...”

If it was one of your favourite dinners that was the day you just had to be the table monitor. I am referring to “seconds” - the table monitor always had extra mash or even more sago with that dollop of jam in the middle or even a plateful of custard.

Occasionally I was invited to schools for my lunch when I was the community police officer.

One visit to Cliffe Hill School, in Stoney Lane at Lightcliffe, caused a little bit of a panic.

Having been invited by Mrs Jean Heslop, the head teacher, she invited me to the front of the queue - “No, no I will take my turn with the children and join the back of the queue...”

It was then a race by the children and all their persuasive powers to encourage me to sit at their dinner table. “Please sit here, PC Helme...”

Having decided which table it would be I then made the announcement to all the children on that table.

“I will sit here boys and girls but you must eat your lunch...”

“But PC Helme, I don’t like carrots...”

“Didn’t you know that carrots help you see in the dark...”

Having satisfied that youngster with that long held gem all mothers have quoted to their offspring, “PC Helme I don’t like cabbage it smells...” said another.

The first course came and went and it was my turn to be dinner table monitor - sadly no seconds. The pudding was great and all my table left clean plates.

Interestingly on other occasions I was invited to have a school dinner at Cliffe Hill the word must have gone round. “Don’t have PC Helme on your dinner table, you’re not allowed to leave anything. You even have to eat your carrots and cabbage...”

Back in those far off childhood days at home you were not allowed to leave any food on your plate - “Don’t you know there are children starving in Africa...?”

As true as that was, I doubt even they would have wanted carrots and cabbage we had.

In this photograph taken at Longroyde Junior School on April 26, 1995 young Emily Parker is receiving her extra ration of chicken soup from dinner lady Julia Green.