Friday, 10 January 2014


"In the chocolate box of life, the top layer's already gone - and
someone's pinched the orange cream from the bottom."


"There goes yesterday."


Bob Ferris and Terry Collier, The Likely Lads (1976).

Well, it's finally happened.  The demolition team moved in yesterday
and started to tear down my barely 50 year old primary school.  I reckon
it'll only take a few days to complete the task and then yet another part of
my past will be gone forever.  Regular readers will recall me having alluded
to the then-impending prospect a few times over the last couple of years, but
now that the day is finally here, I find myself still not quite able to take it in.
Perhaps when the football pitches and flats which are earmarked for the site
are eventually built, I'll get used to them - but I doubt it.  The area as it was
is so ingrained in my consciousness that, whenever I go there in future, it'll
be akin to visiting an alternate universe where most things are the same,
but with glaring differences which are completely disorientating.

A friend who lives next to the school alerted me to proceedings,
then came and collected me in his car so that I could record the event.
Whilst I was snapping away, a rainbow appeared (see photo), seemingly
forming a Bifrost bridge between the old school building and the new one  -
as if whatever spirits inhabiting the original were now moving to a new abode.
I couldn't snap the other half of the rainbow over the new school because the
pupils were all observing the demolition from the classroom and hall windows,
and, due to the times in which we now live, a stranger pointing a camera in the
direction of an occupied school runs a strong risk of being regarded with some
suspicion.  I therefore contented myself with the object of my attention and
affections - which was all I was really interested in anyway.  However,
the connecting rainbow was a memorable moment - for me at least.

I can remember the day I first started my old school and the day I
left as if they were both fairly recent events.  Yet somehow, paradoxically,
both occasions seem like a hundred years ago at the same time.  Time, eh?
just where the hell does it go to when we're not looking?  I notice a 'refresh'
facility on my computer as I type this - if only our  lives were similarly
imbued with the same option, wouldn't things be grand?

Talking of rainbows reminds me of a play my class put on back
in 1967 or '68.  I no longer recall if I was still in Room 7 or the one
directly above (or maybe even the one above that - they were identical
in every respect), but I still remember one of my lines of dialogue word
for word:  "Such beautiful singing has touched my heart."  The play was
PETER PAN and I played the Red Indian Chief (I refuse to pander to the
PC brigade and type 'native American') and BILLY MONTGOMERY was
CAPTAIN HOOK.  Billy sang 'Never Smile at a Crocodile' and I always
think of him whenever I see the cartoon today.  I can't quite recollect who
sang 'Over the Rainbow' (ELIZABETH FLEMING perhaps), but for
years afterwards I assumed that the song was from the DISNEY film
(which I only watched for the first time back in the late '80s or early
'90s), until I saw THE WIZARD OF OZ on TV one Christmas
when I was in my late teens or early twenties.

The above pics were taken on Thursday afternoon, but I trotted
along to the school today (Saturday) to see how things were going
and took some more.  I'm sure you're all as desperate to see them as
I was to snap them, so without any further ado, here they are.


B Smith said...

Have to admit I'm a little intrigued about your attachment to the place - they could dynamite my old school tomorrow and it wouldn't worry me in the least.

Kid said...

It's simple really, B - the school represents a period from my childhood to which I wish I could return. I suspect that you're also a fair bit younger than I am; you may find yourself thinking more like I do as you get older. Not that I'd wish it on you.

mlp said...

Boy, a meteor could fall on my old school and flatten it, and I wouldn't care.(hopefully nobody would be in the building at the time).
I'm not sure it pays to be too sentimental. My childhood home, the farm my dad had, got turned into a gravel pit, if you can believe it! A gigantic hole in the ground. But if he were alive, he probably make a joke about it, knowing him.
I have to admit, though, when I get deep in my cups, I do tend to get sentimental about absent friends and, ah, girlfriends.
I'm not coping with middle age very well, really. Not as good as he did, that's for sure. I seem to have misplaced my sense of humor.

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

For me its the same Kid, the building is (mostly ) meaningless its just cold feeling-less bricks and mortar, the new building will mean the same to a young kid now in 40 years time etc etc. No for me Its all about ( as you state) what that building represented at a particular time in your life and that, for me is not just a period when I was young and played with toys read cool comics, ran about like a maddy and found everything fresh and fascinating (I don't want to live in the past I like being an old git) but its only really about the family and friends I knew then. I would love to step back to my old primary school days in Rutherglen for a few minutes just to see and be with my mum, dad and brother again (all sadly gone now and missed everyday) when these "bricks and mortar" representations of times past go it can be like a knife in your heart at times as you feel robbed of a bit of your past so I kinda know what you mean - but those memories stay with you its just a pity cant recall what I did yesterday all the same but 40 plus years ago I can recall.

Kid said...

Mlp,you're right - being too sentimental or nostalgic can be a bit of a drawback at times, as one tends always to be looking backwards and never forwards. I've been like this since around the age of five, however, so I guess I'll have to live with it. Provides material for the blog 'though.


Very nicely stated, McScotty. Like you, I can recall what happened many years ago in startling (and tedious) clarity, but ask me what day it is and my mind goes blank. Funny that, eh? Ah, memories.

baab said...

Great photos.
I understand your sentiments Kid.
I know which period of time I would return to and
it's not my schooldays.

Every day I hoped to turn the corner and they were burned to the ground.

I remember the last day I attended school as being one of the greatest days of my life.

Still great photos though.
Maybe its the destruction that does it for me!

Steve W. said...

You have my sympathies, Kid. They knocked my old school (which looked remarkably like yours) down in the late 1980s. I must admit I wasn't that bothered. It's just a shame it was demolished before the days of the internet, which means there's barely any photos of it.

To be honest, I was more bothered about them demolishing the pig farm next to it. I was always sort of charmed by the incongruity of there being a pig farm in the middle of a housing estate.

Kid said...

Baab, my previous primary school was demolished only a few short weeks ago, and my secondary school met its fate around five years back. It just seems like all the reference points of my past are being wiped away and that I'm only a few steps ahead on the list.


Steve, up here, there are housing estates with plenty of pigs - not of the animal variety 'though. You'll probably find that someone, somewhere, has photos of your old school. After all, I can't be the only nostalgic in the world (I hope).

moonmando said...

I'mI had a friend who visited Auschwitz last year and on returning home he remarked about the profound sense of presence he felt amid the ruins of the former death camp, almost as if the very bricks and mortar were radiating out the tortured memories of the attrocites that occured there at that time. If this were true then perhaps buildings and places themselves can act as sponges, able to absorb the events around them, thus providing at a later stage a conduit from which we can access the past, the only criterian necessary as one having the empathy/ability to 'tap' into these memories. I do'nt think it strange then Kid, that as you visit
these places from your past that you are able to tap into these long ago moments and recall with such clarity, the events of yesteryear, especially when those were such happy times. It's therefore sad when these places that hold onto our past, in whichever way they do, are reduced to rubble, leaving us only with less than tangible memories, however ethereal and fleeting they may be.
Canberra was my first school and will always have a strong presence in my mind, indeed the whole area around about it.

Kid said...

Very masterfully put, Moony. The sites where happy or sad experiences once took place themselves become participants in them in some strange (or perhaps not so strange) way. Sometimes, when the people who made up our lives are long departed and happier times long-past, all that remains to remind us of them are the places and things with which we associate them.

tongalad said...

Having had 3 kids who went to Canberra over a period of 15 years it was quite emotional to see it being torn apart, standing there with Les (the janny) as another piece of the past vanishes before our eyes.

tongalad said...

i hope to get some better photos in a day or two, I imagine it'll be down very soon.

Kid said...

Ah, TL, the very man who ran me along on Thursday. Les the Janny seemed like a nice bloke - let us take our photos without any hassle.

Get some more for me when you're taking yours, TL, will you? Ta!

tongalad said...

TL? Please....TG surely?

Kid said...

Depends on whether it's 'Ton-Galad' 'or Tonga-Lad' surely? (All together now - "Don't call me Shirley!")

tongalad said...

I'm definitely not from Tonga!

Kid said...

Hey, the jury's still out on whether you're a lad. Boom-boom.

tongalad said...

You would hardly recognise the school today, just a pile of rubble where the main building stood, the gym hall is still there as is the reception area, but it will all be down by next week I believe.

Kid said...

The end of an era, alas.

Kid said...

'Nostalgic'? I meant 'nostalgist', of course, in one of my above responses.

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