Saturday, 30 May 2015

DID YOU EVER RIP A VAN AND THEN DO A WINKLE?



Have you ever been so 'lost in the moment' that you've
been completely oblivious to what was happening around you?
I suppose it may've happened more than once in my own life, but
I can only  recall the one specific instance which I'm now about
to relate to you.

The stage and a glimpse of the classroom behind it

Return with me now to the mid-1960s, to behind the heavy
stage curtains of my primary school's gym and dinner hall.  This
was, in effect, a classroom, in which I remember being instructed
in arithmetic, 'though other subjects were also taught.

The desks faced the wall, which once had a blackboard.
The lectern would've been out on the stage in my day.

Many years later, long after I'd left school altogether, the large
windows which allowed me to gaze out at the sky, lost in daydreams,
were covered over.  However, in my time, pupils could still watch the
chalk dust floating in the rays of the sun which streamed through the
panes on sunny summer afternoons and caught us in their spell.

The wall on the right once had more windows, which were blocked
off or removed sometime in the 1990s or early 2000s

On this particular day, I was reading RIP VAN WINKLE by
WASHINGTON IRVING, 'though it may have been a simplified,
abridged version designed for younger readers of the age I then was.
(Then again, it may not.)  I remember finishing the tale, raising my head
from the book - and being amazed to find the classroom empty.  Vacant
desks met my bewildered stare to the front and sides of me, but when
I turned around, there were my classmates and teacher waiting at the
door to see how long it would take me to realize that the bell had
gone and the lesson was over.

This is a photo from around '86 or '88 of part of the exterior of the
stage classroom.  As you can see, it had a lot of big windows

I gaped at them in embarrassed silence, then gathered my
stuff together and joined them, filing out to another class or play-
time break.  I was amazed that my attention could be engaged to
the extent  of being unaware of what was going on around me, and
that's probably why I've never forgotten the occasion.  I sometimes
wonder if I'd dimly heard the bell, but then become so engrossed
at that point so as to immediately forget it, or it had completely
failed to register on my consciousness.  Who can say?

The wider of the two doors is the one into and out of the room.  The
teacher was standing at the door, with the pupils to the right of it,
watching me with much amusement

Anyway, that little reminiscence permits me the opportunity
of presenting some nice art by ARTHUR RACKHAM, and a
few photos of my old school (which is now demolished), the better
to indulge my wallowing in nostalgia.  It also prompts me to ask the
question of whether you've ever become so 'wrapped up' in a book
or comic as to forget everything and everyone around you?  If so,
spill the beans!  We're all dying to know the details.


Incidentally, I've just re-read the story and much enjoyed
it.  You could do worse than give it a read yourself, so rush
out and buy a copy at the earliest opportunity.

4 comments:

baab said...

I don't remember an instance as entertaining as yours but
when I was a boy I would become so engrossed in my comics that I would not be aware of my surroundings.
My Dad would get angry with me if I did not hear him talking to me,thinking I was ignoring him.
Now I have kids of my own they do the same,as they get lost in their various interests.
I don't get angry though,It just makes me realise why they cant hear me and I remember when I was the same.

I also have a copy of that fine book.

Kid said...

It's funny the associations that always remain with us, Baab. Whenever I hear or read the name Rip Van Winkle, I think of that day in that room behind the stage, not too far off 50 years ago. Or when I look at photos of the stage, I think of Washington Irving's book. The two are inextricably linked in my mind.

DeadSpiderEye said...

I lapse into reverie quite a bit, dunno if that counts. I know others do it, you have to be careful about mentioning though, because those who don't get it, think it's a sign of being a nutter. I know it isn't but the blue pixie with bat wings, that no one else can see might get me in trouble.

Kid said...

So that's where she's got to? I haven't seen her for a day or so.

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