Former East Lobby

Philosophical

Soured Memories of Sweet Sixteen

This post is in response to a writing challenge on The Daily Post. You can see this here http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/only-sixteen. It also marks the first anniversary of Adwick School’s demolition. The post refers exclusively to Adwick School, and (save for the poetic reference to others taking the throne) not to the two institutions that subsequently succeeded it.

That last seat of childhood authority is no more. One year on, I still struggle believing it! That our prestigious institution could so unceremoniously fall to the dust beggars belief.

Sweet Sixteen - in school uniform

Sweet Sixteen – in school uniform

For in truth our Emerald Queen was gone long before her ruined courts were razed. And I find that so hard to comprehend. What in my day was revered if though in dread, these days is scarcely remembered save in contempt. Therefore though those buildings be but newly gone, our world therein is much that longer lost.

While these ruins of our youth remained, they were defamed by those that came after us. A generation that had not seen the glories of our day, remembered them for other things. I too saw her slow decline, I watched her uniform in decay, and I heard of the infamy of her latter day. I still sighed when others took her throne. It was over then, not years later when the buildings went.

Ruins of Adwick School

My childhood world in ruins. Photo: Gerald Sables.

Those that scorn the memory of the Emerald Queen could not have known how once it was, and verily I remember her latter crew. They wore the uniform but as they did please; we were never once given the choice! Yet for all that we rebelled, secretly we admired the place – that final seat of absolute authority over the devices and desires of our own hearts! This is the greatest difference between us and them, and now and then!

That it should have ended the way it did feels so unreal. In my day the uniform was not for negotiation, and whatever I said I loved its distinctive colours of green, and white, and black. I said otherwise when I was a pubescent sixteen year old. Like my protestations against wearing a uniform, I celebrated my (so-called) independence the day I finally left – in both cases an attempt to assert myself in the adult world I entered, yet neither were seriously really meant.

Then came those after us, and they did mean those things they said. Among them those that said they would willingly press the button, that day our school came down. Then my foolish words came back to haunt me. The Emerald Queen was dead.

The Emerald Queen is my poetic name for our demolished school

The Emerald Queen

Alas thou mine emerald queen, whose royal robes were black, and white and green – whose Courts of great austerity were in those fields between, and wast of all with reverence seen, of whomsoever thine had been!

Alas! How thou art brought unto the ground, our palace ruined, thy name renowned! and nought is left of all we had: all is gone and where is found, that love, and fear, and awesome dread?

Alas, thou art gone, and thou art dead, despised of those who never knew thee then (nor us for whom thou wast our head)!

 

Propria & Tie to Germany

Thomanerchor

This year I am travelling to Leipzig to hear the Thomanerchor!

Newsflash! The Yorkshire Viking Norway is going to Germany!

Last year it was unfortunately not possible to carry out the planned holiday, announced in this blog. God willing that will be different this year. Yesterday I was able to buy one of the last tickets to the grand opening of the Bach Festival in Leipzig.

I’ll write a little more on the coming German Tour this weekend. In the meantime, I shall be changing my own rules a little.

With respect the propria and (school) tie, the propria were designed to spare the latter in order to keep it in good condition. The German Tour will however see both in use.

For a variety of personal reasons, it seems very fitting to me to use propria for this particular trip, and for those same it must therefore be even more so to use the real thing for the opening concert itself. Going to Germany is yet another irony in my life history, for those who remember me from my childhood. It is for that reason I mention this here. If you’re one of those, do get in touch!

More on this later. Watch this space.

Language Change on Radio Sheffield

Radio Sheffield

Video Didn’t Kill the Radio Star – listening to Radio Sheffield in Norway!

Andy Crane has just been talking about language on Radio Sheffield. More specifically, those expressions that “really get one’s goat”.

I don’t buy the linguists’ reassurances. He had one of these on his program. The English language is getting simpler. That isn’t in dispute. As it does so, however, my opinion is that it is losing nuances. Having more and more new words, which linguists like to mention supporting the idea of language growth, is a red herring. When I broke a set of china that I had inherited (during moving house), I had many more pieces of china than I had had before – but it certainly wasn’t worth the same.

Having now been away from England for a quarter of a century (!), I am sensitive to quite a lot of the changes. The wonders of the internet have allowed me to listen to Radio Sheffield, and it is a surreal experience listening to what I used to listen to as a schoolboy from my DAB/FM/and Internet radio here in Norway. I notice the language immediately, and when Andy Crane decided to talk about this – I couldn’t resist writing.

One of my pet gripes is the loss of the word “pupil”. Right from primary school, children are now called “students”. I know from correspondence with teachers this is done deliberately. “Student” is felt to be more respectful, or as the Outwood empire of schools based at Wakefield puts it “Students First” (yes, I know they are “academies” now, but I don’t have time to moan about that here). Yet this is firstly a loss of an important distinction, and secondly disingenuous in my opinion.

Firstly, a word about “in my opinion” though. That has to be the last time I write this. I remember when I went to the former Polytechnic of Huddersfield, we were told by our lecturer David Lennox that we should have the confidence to write what we thought. It should, he said, be obvious that it was our opinion; and now that we had got a place in higher education we should have that confidence about our own competency on the subjects we were writing about. I mention this because I can almost hear somebody thinking already, “well, that’s only your opinion”. Yes indeed it is my opinion, and that is why I write a blog about it!

By calling children “students” one is being disingenuous. Contrary to what you would think from an age with corporal punishment, schools were less autocratic when I was brought up. Looking at the “discipline policies” anyone can read for themselves on most schools’ websites, it seems to me that instead of calling it “a rule” one calls it now “a policy” – and somehow “policies” seems much nicer. My impression of the “student” life at school is that it is just as controlled as mine ever was as a pupil, if indeed not more so. Now these same policies for “students” are regulating their life even outside the school gates.

Yet there is another problem with “student”, which really comes back in the face of teachers thinking they are showing them respect. Let us say these teachers are successful in sending these “students” into higher education, there will now not be anything special about their new status – as students.  Being a student formerly implied a greater degree of autonomy. If this were not so, then there would be no argument either for abandoning the term “pupil”: as we have seen, “student” is thought to be more respectful. Yet now this word “student” has become devalued and one denies today’s youngsters this later status.

I have already written about how language can sometimes do one’s thinking for a person, instead of the other way round. That English is simplifying (acknowledged by the linguists) means that everything we say today, Shakespeare could have said – but the opposite is not true. No Shakespeare didn’t know about computers, but he like we would have been able to invent a new word for something he hadn’t seen before. That is because in addition to words, as in the above example, we also have grammar. It is the grammar – not words – that is simplifying. In one respect, the argument that modern translations of the bible are more accurate is patently false: the English language can no longer distinguish between the singular and plural address. Given that biblical texts constantly alternate between “thou” and “you” within one sentence just like we alternate even today between “I” and “we”, there is no way that the paraphrasing into Modern English can be more accurate.

In 2004 I wrote a deliberately provocative essay on just that. It is called “Your Body Is NOT the Temple of the Holy Spirit”. Most churches in England and America are completely wrong on this. You can read why here. http://www.scribd.com/doc/49207268/Your-Body-Is-Not-The-Temple-of-The-Holy-Spirit

The distinction between “you” (singular) and “you” (plural) always used to be a problem for me when I lived in England. Once you grasp this, and start thinking it, then it can become a constant irritation for you. The model of communication is supposed to be TX (transmitter, ie speaker/writer), medium, and RX (receiver, ie hearer/reader). If I am transmitting “you” (plural) but in my receiver’s brain “you” (singular) pops out…. there is a real problem.

There is a problem.  Most of you cannot see this, and if you do then chances are you have another language. It was only because fate brought me to a country where this distinction is a day to day part of my language that I escaped this.

So yes language is changing. That does not mean that this is necessarily progress, if that word is only understood to mean something good. I think the English language is much poorer today. One reason may well be that it is a victim of its own success. In order to become an international world language, it has had to adapt and simplify. Yet that has come at some cost.

School Graveyard

Senior Wing

A beautifully calm, yet hauntingly eerie picture of where my school once stood! Picture Janet Roberts

Some photographs capture something “more”. On the face of it, this is but a picture of some trees. For us who went there, however, it is the grave of Adwick School. Here stood our senior wing.

There is a wistfull atmosphere. Black and white amplifies this. That maybe entirely subjective, but I am not the only one to pick up on it. There is something “more” to this picture than meets the eye.

Trying to define this something “more” is like chasing a rainbow. The moment you approach it, it moves further away from you. Yet I am not speaking of associations that only we who came here can know about; there is something more, that makes even those who didn’t, to describe it as “haunting”.

For me (qualifying therefore what I write precisely with feedback on my earlier post both from people who did know what used be here and those who have absolutely no personal association with the place) this is both unsettling and very beautiful all at the same time. “Haunting” would therefore be a fitting description.

I have recently received some pictures not only of what used to be here (and off camera in the likewise demolished main building further up to the right), but from our world and time that long have passed. Unfortunately I cannot post these, because they are not for further publication. However, I can tell you they are no less poignant.

Most of these pictures are in black and white. Yet that seems to highlight any associations one actually might have. I do not even notice the absense of colour: that something “more” seems to allow my brain to “see” what is not there!

I find myself transported backwards in time. Once our uniform was very smart and characteristic. Before its lamentable decline in the nineties it was very strictly enforced. As I see my uniform thus again, it is as though I am standing there among those pictured. It is so incredibly “virtual” an experience – to use a modern expression. Yet again the black and white picture but re-enforces this experience!

I am utterly captivated by the photography. This was the world I knew! Yet I cannot bear it too long. That something “more” is unsettling as well. It is a world that has forever gone.

With respect to the hauntingly beautiful, yet eerie picture shown above, we are looking at a graveyard. What now is but some trees and grass, was once our childhood world alas!

 

Queen Spring

An allegoric poem from 1984, with some revisions. It is set to music. I shall publish the melody shortly after making some revisions to that.
demolished

Our demolished school

King Summer now doth take Spring’s Throne
For years we longed to see this day!
And yet, as our Queen now retireth alone,
I beg that she do not go away!

Ye thought my rule so hard and cruel,
Yet now thou pleadest me to stay,
Despising my Laws whilst under my rule….
What wonder is this, good friend, I pray?

And now I go, nor can I stop!
King Summer reign must many years:
Yet hearken thee this – when the leaves start to drop,
Your Queen shall return to wipe thy tears!

What toil hath been to us since then,
When Spring so took retirement,
God speed her return to our land once again*,
In Wonders across His firmament.

*pronounced “a – genn”. This was written in Doncaster, and is one of the few demonstrable cases were that particular dialect can be seen in what I write.

The Enemy (1986)

Poetical Writing from My Unemployment

In Norway we have a saying. “Ingenting er så galt at det ikke er godt for noe“. It means “Nothing is so bad that there is nothing good about it”.  I thought about that last night when I found something I thought had been lost forever.

Home

My late parents from about the time I wrote “The Enemy”.

Back in 1986 I was still living at home with my parents. It was a difficult time. I was no longer in full time education, and I was unemployed. At the age of 21, this was no good situation. With the benefit of hindsight, I can now see how remaining at home so late was extremely destructive to our relationships, but because of my unemployment I simply did not have the means to do anything about this. This resulted in a dysfunctional situation that arguably re-enforced itself in a vicious circle, both with respects to life at home and my prospects for getting out of the unemployment queue.

Because of these circumstances, I went through a crisis mentally. The carefree world I had known in childhood, with its security and comfort was now gone, and I met each day with foreboding and uncertainty. Now thank God – after an influential person who has sadly left this world gave me a reference – I was ultimately successful in getting back into education, and I did leave that queue. Nevertheless it was from this time that I first started putting my thoughts to paper.

“The Enemy” is something I thought had been lost in 2010. I had a flood in the cellar of where I then was living here in Norway, and the original paper containing this got destroyed. Although I had made a copy on my harddisk, I have never been able to find it – until now.

A few weeks ago, I had a devastating harddisk crash, and my friend Jon Blamire in Finnsnes was very kind in telling me exactly how I might rescue my data. After having placed my damaged disk in an enclosure, and being successful in rescuing it, I have been applying the same technique on another yet older disk I have. And sure enough, what do I  find today, if not that poetical writing from 1986 that I thought I had lost!

If there is anything that really is interesting, taken as it is from the year 1986 (when I spoke only English), it shows how sensitive I was even then to the distinction between “you” (singular) and “you” (plural). That is something that constantly bothered me, and in many respects still does when I am using English, because I actually think it and am frustrated in trying to communicate it. It is interesting because it shows how different I really must have been given that this is not a feature of the culture I was born in.

The Enemy

 
Be as nasty as you may; you all shall fail. You shall not trouble nor defeat me. I have overcome the lot of you. Your strength is in deception, craftily planned; my strength is in the LORD, whose seal is truth.
 
You are nothing. You are false and empty of all reason. Which of you has any truth? Yet you would dare still to trouble me – and many others too. You are children of deception, the breath of falsehood!
 
Many lives you have laid waste. The ones you hurt are out of sight, rotting in a mental knacker’s yard. They cry aloud, but are not heard. Your crimes go unreported to the world. And so it goes for forever on: each day another joins their ranks.
 
You are the enemy. Like raiders of long ago, you come hoard upon hoard against us, invading the peace and the tranquillity of our minds. How many of you there are! But cowards – all of you! Not to the strong, but to the weak your deadly army goes. Destruction of the self follows you; you leave nothing for our salvaging. Yes you – you are the enemy!
 
These are the ones who have brought us to despair. We were fooled by their crafty game. Haunting us has been their play. We are humans; phantoms they.
 
These ghosts are nothing but good trickery. They should not cause us further fear. Can you not [1]see their emptiness yourself? Shine a light; they disappear! They are shadows in your mind! Ignore them; they can do no harm.
 
You shall live again, and you shall give them nothing for their meal. You shall live in liberty, fearing but Almighty God. Mark my words and have no fear! Unpleasant things will still cross your path. Fear the LORD and worry not! He brings goodness out of ill. Wait for Him and for His will. That is the only thing of any great importance. He is your saviour and your Lord!
 
And if there yet remain some bad thing within your life – then, friend, take this advice. You lead a new life, free of fear and following God; so you be a good Christian, and remember it is more blessed to give than to receive – give it to the enemy.  

[1] The original was “Can you yourself see their emptiness”

The above text, with few alterations, was written by me in 1986. The “enemy” was all the troubled thoughts I had at that time, which I looking back upon see as particularly critical.

During that time my thoughts became, as I recall myself thinking of them, “noisy”. However – and thanks be to God – I did not ever think of them as anything other than troublesome thoughts. That is to say, that I remained at all times conscious of what was real and what was not. This critical period lasted until the very early nineties, when I gradually became less troubled by things. I cannot remember any exact date when I realised I no longer had a problem, but I guess it must again have been at some point in the early nineties shortly after I had arrived in Norway.

Not being a psychologist, and never having been to one, I can only suggest the causes of this internal personal crisis. I believe that it was caused in part by long term unemployment, coupled with my related inability to move out of the nest, and away from my parents. Certain people spoke of me as a parasite for that reason. I would “muse” on the meaning of life, that seemed to have disappeared with the end of my school days. It is now my belief that I thought about things a little too much.

In terms of my literary output, this period was quite constructive. I wrote poems and other short pieces of writing. It is not untrue to say that I developed my own special form of English. Of particular interest as mentioned above was my concern to distinguish between “you” in the singular and “you” as the pure plural.

Now that all this lies in the past, I find it much easier to speak about. I put it out on my Site, hoping that it will serve as encouragement for others.

Now Is Time

Vestbygd

Philosophical Reflections

 Truth is not afraid of shedding tears,
And those who will not lament past regrets,
Must face by far their greatest fears;
Laden so by many debts,
from youth misspent, and sins before,
These cry too late, and God implore,
Who now would not, and Him ignore,
So do not live but for this now:
As much your nature will allow,
Repent that wrong done in the past,
knowing they most surely lie,
deceive themselves who will not cry,
And lose in lies their lives at last.

 

Radio Revenge

Radio Sheffield

Video Didn’t Kill the Radio Star – listening to Radio Sheffield in Norway!

Remember the song Video Killed the Radio Star? The tables seemed to have turned. Today radio is making its comeback.

With me the catalyst was the Texan radio presenter Alex Jones. I’ve been listening to him regularly since 2006, apart from small breaks when he provokes even me. I still come back to listening though, after my sulks.

Of course mainstream media would have you believe that Alex Jones is simply a conspiracy nut. Whatever else you might think of him, he’s certainly no nut. The program is well researched, and nearer the truth than comfort. Nevertheless, I’m not writing about the merits of his program here. The one thing Alex Jones has done is to radically change my media habits.

Had you told me back in 2006 that not only should I listen to this program when it is live – peak TV viewing hours here in Norway – I should never have believed you. Had you told me that I should go days on end without ever watching a TV, I should simply have laughed. Yet the fact is that the TV is now so negligible in my life that I seriously considered sending my notice in to the licensing authorities that I no longer had one in use. My TV has been in storage since I moved to my apartment in April. I haven’t missed it, either.

Alex Jones must take a lot of the credit for this. In addition to his more controversial topics, he has spoken about how much better it is (intellectually) to listen or read. TV presents you with pictures of short duration; in radio the mind must make the pictures itself. I remember one program when Alex described this in detail. His vivid description of a pretty woman, and a situation she was in – was all the TV I needed in my own head! Alex Jones convinced me then that TV atrophies the grey matter.

Since 2006 the Internet has really come into its own. I know that many listen to radio online. In the case of the TV, there is a plethora of channels to choose from, but their interest and quality seem to be inversely proportional to their ever increasing multitude; in the case of radio, the opposite seems to be the case. The greater the choice, the more relevant a factor radio seems to be.

Pictured above is my new DAB-radio. In addition to the DAB channels that have just come on air where I live, which give me a rich choice, I can also listen to conventional FM (until this is turned off in 2017), or as I did today to Internet Radio. You can choose precisely the programming you yourself are interested in, and a lot of people are doing just that! Today there was a surreal feeling when I tuned in to BBC Radio Sheffield, broadcasting from the country I grew up in. My radio has a retro design as it is, and hearing Sheffield coming through its speakers, and listening to the news felt very strange indeed. The world has become a much smaller place.

There is sadly one threat to this new technology. I refer to greedy lawyers in various performing rights’ organisations. More and more stations are “geo-blocked” because of licensing issues. This defeats the whole point of buying an internet radio! The internet radio is the modern equivalent of those old fashioned short wave radios on which you could listen to the radio stations of the whole world. Like mine, some even look like them. If however, it becomes impossible to listen to radio stations outside your own country, you might as well not ever bother buying one.

As for my TV, I decided not to send in that notice. Since that meant that the licensing authority automatically deducted a lot of money for my license this week, I took the TV out of its hiding yesterday. I watched the evening news from the state broadcaster. I think there are three channels I can view (you can see how interested I am given I don’t know!), because I don’t have any subscriptions for the digital terrestrial network. The decoder has a lot of radio channels though!

When I was growing up I listened a lot to BBC Radio Sheffield. Undoubtedly, I should have heard them play Video Killed the Radio Star. As I placed myself today into surreality by listening again from Norway, I could not help but think that radio has finally taken revenge.

The Void

Senior Wing

This was where the senior wing of my school once stood. Photo J. Roberts

 

Today I was sent some pictures of where my school once stood. It is completely gone!

The photograph above was where our senior wing used to be. Here the buildings were in the worst condition. They were also very last to come down, and I have it on good authority that once they began to demolish the main building of this particular wing, it then collapsed of its own accord.

Today this is all that is left of our bustling school world. In the autumn of my life I am looking at the grave of my youth!

It is important to point out that even had the campaign to save our school’s main building succeeded (what in my time was the junior wing at the other end of the school complex), these buildings were too far gone to be saved. Nobody seriously had suggested saving them. Since we had differing opinions though about that campaign, I am glad that I have been sent this particular photograph. It has all the peacefulness of the graveyard it has become.

It is undoubtedly an improvement aesthetically – at least as long as the developers don’t now decide to build yet another housing estate upon it; but for those of us who grew up here it is an empty, aching void. The silence, to use the cliché, is deafening.

A Parallel World

Reality

Yorkshire Viking Norway – A Parallel World

None of you might have read this. My English blog was set for retirement just a year ago. I was already blogging in Norwegian.

Thanks to competition from Arctic Organist  I chose instead to redesign my oldest blog. That rebuild sat an indelible mark not just upon this, but also upon the newer Norwegian blog. A “duality” became central to the new twin blog design:  the two blogs are both separate, and yet joined.

Those of you who share my Adwick past will for example recognise the colour scheme. Perhaps for you it is somewhat backward looking; I however am proud to re-employ it as a badge of identity. Yet these associations mean nothing to my Norwegian readers. Because of the “duality” where the design of one blog shows up in the other, it is perfectly truthful to claim this colour scheme (in our context) as just an original blog design – and a highly original one at that, for which I have already received a lot of praise.

Conversely, those of us living over here will also see something straight away. This is likewise meaningless to you back there. Just as the blog has a set colour scheme, so it employs a set language code. I do not pretend to be doing anything less than cultivating certain forms of speech, often elevated for poetic reasons: the Norwegian twin is crafted not in the most commonly used form of Norwegian, but in the Nynorsk standard I learnt to love in my time at Arna (from 1998 to 2005). In that sense, that blog is also “backward” looking, though again I am proud to re-employ its language as a badge of my identity. In a much deeper sense this rubs off on this English blog, since there are close parallels between the Nynorsk way of thinking and English.

World

Another world looms over the town

Make no mistake, just as photography is not reality but an expression or an interpretation of reality, so is the blog you now are reading. I was one of you. Mine was a reality of towns and shopping. Yet over those shopping centres loomed God’s mountains of providence. They can for each of you as well.

Yorkshire Viking Norway is my parallel world, an interpretation of old and new, where both combine. My world is both yours and ours at the selfsame time!

City

Town and Mountain Meet