School Tour 

When we visited the School for previous reunions,  many of us were disappointed to see the state of it - dilapidation,  untidiness and obvious pressures on space.  Pokey offices built into the ends of corridors,  for instance. 

But the School's now beautifully smart.  It's had a makeover,  thanks to its new status as a Technical College (it that's the right term),  and the new money that's come with that.  More secure,  too:  CCTV everywhere and code-entry locks on most doors. 

Here's a Science room.  Science isn't what it was.  For instance,  we were told they don't do Physics,  Chemistry or Biology any more.  They do 'Modular Science'.  As a long-serving computer pro,  that causes me some alarm.  I've lived through 'modular',  two flavours of 'Structured' and now lots of flavours of 'Object' programming - all attempts to make the art 'easy',  'reliable' and 'reusable'.  They don't succeed.  Maybe the educationalists should look at the only 'ism' that really does work,  and move to 'Relational' science.  That's what scientists actually do,  after all.

This room looks strangely like a Physics lab to me.  That's what it used to be,  and I'd have loved a low-voltage electricity supply on my bench.  And the beautiful instruments on the shelf could be a TV property store for 'What the Edwardians Did for Us' .

 

And here's the Gym.  It hasn't changed a bit,  as far as I can tell.  Those of you who know me may find this surprising,  but the Gym has some very happy memories for me. 

When the School was new and the weather was wet,  (and I bet this doesn't happen any more),   the gym was used by boys and girls together for Ballroom Dancing (and English Country Dancing too,  which wasn't so much fun.  A lot of that turned out to be Scottish,  which ain't at all English,  accompanied by Jimmy Shand's Teeth Grinders,  which wasn't exactly music). 

Not at all like Joyce Grenfell's stately galleons,  we sailed across the floor,  the boys in holey green singlets and baggy shorts,  the girls in similar (see-through) singlets and green knickers,  and in each others' fairly intimate embrace.  Not a bad lesson at all for a wet Wednesday.  Ballroom was never like this.  In fact,  the whole idea's now been turned on its head.  Ballroom is no longer a social skill,  it's a sport,  and therefore well beyond the pale.

When it wasn't raining,  girls did gym in here while boys did something else (usually cross-country running in my case,  since I was (and am) the worst and most unwilling sportsman in the whole history of the School.  Now,  you see that door at the back?  It leads to a store room,  and there's another door from there onto the playground outside.  So if we could cut short our 'run' (modular map-reading helped here) we could sneak into the store room and peep through a hole in this door to watch the girls, in their strip as above,  doing their graceful athletics. 

Lovely.

And here's the IT room - presumably the home of the School's official website (see our 'links' page).   Impressive - all that cable trunking.  Yes,  of course you can hardly see it,  but it's there.  Very neat.  And the stuff on the walls was quite impressive too.

Not so here.  Are educational standards slipping,  or what?

We're in the Business classroom,  or Economics,  or whatever,  and one of our number is removing a Grocer's Apostrophe that's been slipped into the word 'Quangos' by a teacher!

This is important work.  If the apostrophe should lose its meaning by corruption,  we'll eventually have to go back to putting in the missing letters,  and we won't get that right,  either.

We'll all be talking like Gollumses.

And finally,  the Dining Room.  It's the same shape,  but it's changed a good deal.  In 1954 our Dinner Lady was (Mrs.) Perfect,  but I think today's version improves on perfection. 

There's a snack bar here as well as a servery.  I've no idea of the quality of the food,  of course.  But there's obviously plenty of choice. 

In the Fifties I weighed in at a disgraceful 14 stone.  That's because every day I had a third of a pint of milk,  courtesy of the State,  a nutritious dinner (where we were under some pressure to eat what we were served) and a real Dinner at night - my parents both worked in the family business and had sandwiches for lunch,  so their one main meal was my second. 

When I left school for University,  I took charge of my own diet.  If we'd had choices like this for school lunch I'd have eaten sensibly and I wouldn't have resembled Billy Bunter despite hardly ever visiting the tuck shop. 

Arrival 

And that's the tour - the film ran out here and in the rush to keep up with the rest of the crowd there wasn't time to change it.  But we saw lots more good stuff - there's a series of workshops including one equipped with devices that can 'print' solid objects.  How I'd love one of those by my desktop!  And there's a Drama classroom to die for (theatrically,  of course) set out with lighting,  bits of scenery and props,  but no room for an audience.  The ideal space for someone like me who'd like to act but didn't have the nerve.