Trip to the past and a glimpse of the fu­ture

Hayes & Harlington Gazette - - OPINION - Bm@il Ev­ery week BARBARA FISHER looks at is­sues that af­fect us all – the is­sues that get you talk­ing. You can join in by email­ing bmail­bar­bara@gmail.com

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!

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