Monday, 12 December 2016
RAMBLING REPOST: WHERE WERE YOU IN SEPTEMBER 1967?
"Looking back to those days of old ere the gate shut to behind me..."
From 'The Golden Age' by Kenneth Grahame.
The above photo was taken in September 1967 by departing teacher
Mrs. TIGHE (not sure about the spelling, to be honest), in front of the
annexed huts in the grounds of my primary school. I can actually recall
the photo being taken, and can only assume that Mrs. Tighe wanted a
memento of her 'angelic' pupils to look back on in later years. Maybe
she was just trying out for a career as a photographer though, as she
made copies available (at a price) to those of us who wanted one.
The image is off-centre, as you can see, but I decided to leave it un-
cropped in order to make an ego-feeding speculation. The exact middle
of the photo lies between myself (I'm wearing my blue jumper, but that
wasn't the day I was at the zoo with DOUGAL and FATHER TED) and
DAVID DRUMMOND (on my left), and I can't help but think that Mrs.
Tighe naturally gravitated towards me as the most obvious centre of
attention. (I know what you're thinking, but I prefer my version.)
The boy on crutches further along in the same row is GAVIN REID,
alas now sadly deceased. He had his right leg strapped up behind him
all through primary school (due to some medical condition), and it came
as a surprise when I later saw him in secondary school walking normally
without the crutches. He started secondary the year after me, so he may
have discarded the crutches in his last year at primary, or in the school
holidays between changing schools. He was killed in a motorbike
accident, aged only about 18 or 19, I think, in the late '70s.
Not long before he died, my parents told me that someone had asked
them if they were "Gordon Robson's mum and dad" as they waited at a
bus stop, and when they confirmed that they were, asked them to pass on
his regards. "Gavin Reid was his name" they said, recounting the incident
to me when they got home that night. Poor Gavin. To endure a childhood
infirmity for so long, and then be cut short in his prime. He used to play
football in the playground, using his crutches for support as he kicked the
ball around, or sometimes using one of them to blooter the ball between
the 'goalpost jumpers'. I can still see him in my mind's eye to this
day, hopping around as fast as any jackrabbit ever could.
Returning to David Drummond, he used to trot along to my house on
November 5th for two (maybe three) years in a row, in order to partake
in our 'Bonfire Night' celebrations. Lest you think we indulged on a grand
scale, let me disabuse you of any such notion by revealing that it consisted
mainly of waving sparklers around and setting off a couple or so bangers,
with a handful of rockets from the smallest box of fireworks available.
Nothing grand by any means, but David's parents didn't observe the
'Fawkes festivities', so he shared in our meagre show held within
the perimeters of our back garden.
Three along from me on my right is RAYMOND BENNY (or Bennie,
not quite sure), who emigrated to Australia around '68 or '69. I haven't
seen him since and sometimes wonder what happened to him and whether
he's ever been back to visit. On the only occasion I was ever in his house,
he gave me a stuffed Santa (which may have been a cat's toy) and I have
fond memories of me and my brother playing 'dodge it' as we tried to
hit each other with poor ol' Mr. Claus from opposite sides of our
bedroom on Saturday or Sunday mornings.
At least two other people in the photo (LOUISE HAMILTON and
GORDON FAIRBAIRN) also emigrated Down Under in later years,
Louise around 1983, and Gordon in '88 or '89. I know Australia's a big
place, but I'd like to think that they run into each other on occasion and
reminisce about happy days gone by. Just imagine that, in the fullness
of time, everyone in the photo (apart from myself) were to emigrate
over there - I wonder if they'd even remember me?
Ah, so many familiar faces, so many meandering memories.
Funny how events from nearly 50 years ago can sometimes seem
as fresh and as close as what happened only yesterday.
30 years ago, I returned to the playground with a framed copy of
the class photo from 19 years before, and snapped myself beside it on
the same spot. The annexed huts had been gone for some years by then.
The school will follow them into oblivion in a few months from now.
(Update: The building was demolished nearly three years ago.)
Posted by Kid at Monday, December 12, 2016