I remember feeling a mixture of relief and fear.
Relief because I had a school to go to at all. According to my primary school I had got the highest mark of any child in Greenwich Borough in the year 6 tests, but I had been turned down for places at all the schools on my list, including Tallis. A week before school started I did not have a school place. No grammar schools had been included on my list on principle, but Charlton Boys, Woolwich Poly, Crown Woods, Abbey Wood, Tallis, all had sent letters saying thanks but no thanks.
Being a sensitive soul I was gutted, nobody wanted me. On appeal I got an interview with the Head of Tallis back then, Mrs Husein . I had to visit her on my own in her office at Tallis, and she grilled me about my character. Different times... But I was in!
I remember the gates opening on the first day. At the old site there was a long walkway that dropped down to the concourse, with the two arms of the building on either side. It felt like entering into an alien spaceship, or the mouth of a massive, terrifying animal, hundreds of little ants tumbling in with no idea of what went on inside the belly of the beast. Aargh!!!
But out we came at the end of the day, a tiny bit less scared, and even starting to feel just a little excited about the years ahead.