Happiest Days by Jack Sheffield #FridayReads #BookReview

It’s 1986 and Jack Sheffield returns to Ragley village school for his tenth rollercoaster year as headteacher.

It’s the year of Margaret Thatcher’s third election victory, Dynasty and shoulder pads, Neighbours and a Transformer for Christmas. And at Ragley-on-the-Forest School, a year of surprises is in store. Ruby the Caretaker find happiness at last, Vera the Secretary makes an important decision, a new teacher is appointed and a disaster threatens the school.

Meanwhile Jack receives unexpected news, and is faced with the biggest decision of his career

My Review

After teaching in a primary school for 9 years during the 70s then staying at home with my children for 5 years I returned to teaching in 1986. So this story really reminded me of the last hurrah of idyllic days in English primary schools when Art, Nature study, Music and Reading were a major part of the school day. As Jack Sheffield, Headmaster of Ragley village school, received surveys and notifications from the North Yorkshire council Education department, I was reminded of Kenneth Baker, Mrs Thatcher’s Education Minister announcing the new National Curriculum. Teachers and county council departments were no longer to be trusted, the curriculum was to be proscribed by the government.

This pretty village reminiscent of Postman Pat’s domain is packed with likeable characters with the exception of the dastardly Stan Coe who is up to no good. The school year trickles past in the words of Jack and also in a third person view of the other villagers. As a reminder of mid 1980s popular culture this book is superb; from Robert Kilroy-Silk to Dynasty, Smash Hits magazine and IBM announcing its first laptop computer. The children’s names reflect the time with Kylie, Sigourney and Chantelle providing us with many amusing comments. It is a different era when change was in the air.

Sometimes the author tries too hard with his flowery prose but the school and village tails are easy reading and engaging and I should like to read more about earlier years in this pleasant location.

Happiest Days on Amazon UK

Published by lizannelloyd

Love history, reading, researching and writing. Articles published in My Family History and other genealogy magazines.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: