Tuesday 29 June 2010

Going Back

This weekend I returned to my roots for the first time in 15+ years - normally considered a mistake, this turned out to be an excellent idea. The prompt was the demolition of my old school - an 'end of an era' reunion was organised and the opportunity to show Ian where I was brought up. I had butterflies as we drew into Warrington Bank Quay ( used to be infamous for the smell of the soapworks - legend had it that if you left your car in the carpark and it rained you got a free carwash !) After a coffee in town caught the bus and butterflies vanished as I pointed out my primary school and church en route, eagerly looking out for landmarks and also for change.
The school was absolutely heaving and a display had been put up with photos and memorabilia for each decade along with a presentation on the swish new building that has been built alongside. Met up with 3 old school friends I hadn't seen for years (although kept in contact via Xmas cards etc) We'd been in the same class since we were 11 although in different subject groups, even had the original register on display showing how we'd been divided into our forms ( over 200 pupils in my year among 8 tutor groups). The room pictured above in 'B' Block was one of our bases for registration - Bay City Rollers were at their peak (if you can call it that ) and I was thought deeply uncool as I wasn't a fan.
The science labs brought back most memories ( I guess as I did Chemistry and Biology to A level) we had lines of benches in our day rather than these 'islands'. I wonder whether lab design follows the same trends as kitchens?
There used to be cages of locusts and a tank with toads at the back of the biology class ( where the green board is) . It was a shame that more teachers weren't at the event - we were discussing how influential our 'A' level biology tecaher had been. It's something I've been thinking about a lot in devising plant tissue culture experiments for schools - the importance of being exposed to interesting practical experiments.
Everything looked rather run down as you'd expect when it's about to be pulled down but still evidence of vibrant teaching. I was envious of the light in the art studio - it had been rebuilt in the 80's after a fire, we'd had to manage without skylights.

After arranging to meet up at the evening event, I took Ian down the 'ginnel' from the school , walking my route home. I plucked up the courage and knocked on the door of my old house, our family home for 30 years. The owner was delightful and happy for us to look round. They'd made substantial improvements: my old bedroom had been knocked through to make a bathroom; a conservatory had been added;the garden replanted. It looked so different that there were no ghosts raised, pleased to see that the house had moved on and was loved.
The village has grown a great deal, with a lot of extra plush housing squeezed in and even some restaurants but still a sense of identity

A bus trip back to Warrington, a quick shower and meal at the hotel (Premier Inn) then back to school. Packed out again - they were up to the 900's on the tickets (mine was 15!) , my curly hair and glasses drew some old faces to our table! Most of the evening however was spent with Jackie and Helen telling Ian what we'd got up to as children and resolved not to let decades pass before we met up again.

1 comment:

reensstitcher said...

I'm glad to find someone in the UK knocking on the door of their old house! New Zealanders do it all the time and when I went back in 2008 I got a tour of the house we left the day I got my equivalent of 'O' level results and had never been back to. I also got to poke around the outside of the house we lived in when I was aged 3 - 8. It had fallen on hard times, not that it worried me but my mother would have been appalled!