ONE of the highlights of going back to school after the long summer holiday was eating great puddings cooked by the dinner ladies.

I loved school dinners, mainly because they were fresh, wholesome and homemade, fuelling me for endless football in the school yard at playtime.

I particularly remember the jam and coconut sponge pudding, especially if it was made with pink custard.

This was the crowning glory of all school dinner puds, and they seemed to get more pink near to Halloween.

When the school dinner bell went off at noon we called it ‘’charge of the light brigade’’ and rushed to queue up orderly down the long corridors with our pink blancmange paper dinner ticket.

A few sniggers often came from the older boys at the back of the queue if they realised that Spotted Dick was on the blackboard.

I often felt sorry for the designated packed lunch kids who longingly drooled over our plates of chips and or pink custard puddings.

It was only when I was a bit older that I realised if you were on first lunch, eating slowly never led to seconds. But if we instead offered to help tidy the canteen this did get us the chance to to eat leftover chips and desserts.

Our school dinner ladies cooked loads of grub to be honest, very little was wasted and Oliver-Twist-style waifs demanding ‘’seconds’’ were always a common sight in the a spotless canteen.

But I’m sure today many of us still refuse to eat certain foods after being force-fed soggy cabbage, tapioca fog eyes, lumpy mash, cauliflower and wallpaper cheese sauce, and not forgetting the liver and onions. Such torture!

We always cheered whenever a plate or metal jug of water was dropped on the floor.

We couldn’t leave the table until our plate was empty.

Dried foods were slyly put up our sleeves to flush down the loo at some later time - but I’m sure the slop trolley lady found left-overs for the pig man after our chimps’ tea party manners.

School dinners, like everything else in life, have changed. Today there’s at least one portion of veg a day and no more than two fried portions of food each week.

High-fat, high-salt, high-sugar was the norm when I was a kid and it didn’t do me any harm, even though my mind often wonders now from time to time!