Trip to the past and a glimpse of the future
I’VE just returned from visiting my home town which included a trip to my old school. It is no longer a grammar school, but little else has changed. Well, apart from the fact that there are now boys roaming the corridors and classrooms.
We girls were always kept well away from our ‘brother’ school and the males who inhabited it, even though it was on the same campus.
It was a wonderful but weird experience to be taken round by the head to see the rooms where I first studied, the hall where I sang in the choir and the chemistry lab where I was sent most Mondays to remove my nail varnish with acetone.
(After the weekend I forgot. OK?)
There were the stairs where I tripped and sprained my ankle and ended up at the Birmingham Accident hospital; the Sun Corridor where you still have to keep to the left, and the sports hall where the dreaded ropes hung from the ceiling. I so longed to reach the top, but, in spite of all the pushing and pulling, I can’t remember my feet ever leaving the ground.
My first published writing in the school magazine – a review of a Shakespeare play at Stratford Upon Avon – made me also remember seeing ‘old boy’ Ian Lavender (Pike in Dad’s Army) in a school performance of Pygmalion. Apparently he is still a regular visitor to the school, much to the pupils’ delight when he was appearing in EastEnders.
I then joined Mr F at a Premier Inn in Longbridge, the area where Austin cars were made. Where factories once stood, there are now outlets where Costa coffees and Greggs sausage rolls can be enjoyed – a far cry from the noisy production lines where thousands of proud, skilled workers helped keep our economy afloat.
The next day we visited friends of my parents who have moved into a retirement village, also in Bourneville. It was reminiscent of the best hotels. Their flat was comfortable, well-designed and secure; the gardens were landscaped, and there was a state-of –the-art gym, cinema, bar and various spaces for talks and entertainment. We had lunch with them in the bistro.
Best of all, we saw a building still being constructed which is going to be a medical centre so they need never worry about health problems, even if dementia strikes.
Is this the future? Mr F and I hope so!