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Dead Hyperlinks

All of this material you see on my blog archive has been moved from its original place. This means that whilst I have preserved the old blog, many of the links have been broken. In the course of time, these will be repaired. However, you will most likely be able to find articles that are linked by using the search function – since most of the broken links are internal links to Yorkshire Viking. So if you find, for example, that a link to the logo does not work, write “logo” in the search field. That may be a good temporary fix until the old links can be updated.

Doncaster

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)!

 

The Sun Has Got His Hat On

Well, not quite. However, I couldn’t help but think of that jolly little tune. The end of our polar night is nigh.

Had Adwick, Doncaster been at this latitude when I was growing up, today would have been our first glimpse of the sun. Doncaster doesn’t have our mountains. Nevertheless, although we shall have to wait another two days before we see it ourselves, it was for the first time this year visible on the highest ground. On the horizon yonder a golden fire radiated around the distant peaks that at least for now kept us in the shade.

There is tangible collective optimism when the sun returns. Some people suffer from seasonal affective disorder, and for these the polar night can be a long time. In many communities, like Finnsnes where our competing blog Arctic Organist gets written, they really go overboard with a celebration in the church to which most of the schools come along. Then again, being further North they have good reason: they won’t be able to see the sun for another two weeks!

My apologies for perfectionists like myself. Because I have been taking so many pictures in dark conditions, I had left the ISO-setting at 1600, meaning that the images are a little too grainy for my liking. Nevertheless, in accordance with the policy of this blog stating “Although we reserve the right to use colour photography, black and white shall be preferred…” this is one of the occasions, then, when colour gets to be used.

We shall be getting a new employee in our church here in Lødingen in just over a week. He’ll be living in the apartment immediately over mine. Coming from Örebro in Sweden, he is going to experience huge changes even though he has missed the polar night. When he arrives, the day will only be a few hours long; by the middle of April, the last traces of night will be disappearing! The polar night has of course its counterpart: in the Summer from mid-May to mid July, the sun never goes down, and there really is no night from the last week of April to the first in August.

If anyone wants to experience the midnight sun then the best time to do so is the month of June. If you come in July, it is true that we have it until the middle of the month; but because things change so quickly here, one notices that the shadows are already getting longer with every passing day. If you really want to know what 24 daylight is like, my recommendation is the first two weeks of June. Then not only is the sun out 24 hours a day (if it’s not cloudy or rainy of course) – but it is still getting higher in the sky.

I shall publish some links to places you can stay in Lødingen later on. Right now, it’s bitterly cold. You wouldn’t really want to be here!

Alas O Emerald Queen!

This poem was written as the last bricks of my school were being levelled to the ground. Adwick School is here poetically referred to as “The Emerald Queen”.

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)!

 

Adwick School Update

Big move

Adwick Academy publishes the dates of its big move. I wish them well.

One of my contacts was kind enough to send me this information letter from our successor school, Adwick Academy. If you go to the Academy’s own website, you will see the official countdown to the New Academy – which for those of us who went to Adwick School (NDTC and Percy Jackson) means that that is when our old school is finally disused.

I thought that this were happening over Christmas. Clearly I got that wrong. Nevertheless, I do not intend adding more to the Adwick School section now. If anyone sends me pictures of the demolition in progress, then of course I shall post these – but the game is well over now, and I have drawn a line over it.

Perhaps I’m being a grumpy old man, but I thought it was interesting that Adwick Academy refer to ex pupils of Percy Jackson and the NDTC, but do not mention Adwick School at all! Maybe there is nothing in this, but with some of the negative comments I found on the Internet last year…. it sort of makes me wonder.

Whilst I shall not be adding any further to the Adwick section, you will remember that this blog was temporarily shut down for one day in December. That was when I thought that this big move were beginning. When the academy’s official countdown reaches 0, which by my reckoning is midnight Monday 25th February, this blog shall mark the confirmed end of Adwick School by doing the same as it did in December (GMT).

On Monday 25th February, only one page will show if you come here. There will be one picture of the old Adwick School in black and white, and the blog itself will revert to monochrome. Normal service shall resume midnight Tuesday 26th February.

Please note that the “Adwick School” item on the main menu will also be removed after Easter. No material will be deleted, but you will then have to use the archive to access the Adwick posts. These have already been archived anyway.

“I will drown and nobody shall save me” – reported of someone drowning in a lake. The man, like so many others these days, had not learnt the “shall” and “will” rule!

Finally, you will perhaps have seen that I’m a bit picky about words. I don’t like the modern custom of calling school children “students” – it’s interesting that the academy refers to us oldies as “past pupils”, but calls its own children “students” – but apart from this, I distinguish between “will” and “shall”. You should too. We are losing so many fine distinctions in the English language.

I wonder what will be so special for today’s pupils if they go into higher education, and become students? Yes, I know that this is American usage, but I think that we just end up losing a very fine nuance in English. Now there will be nothing special about one’s status as a student any more.

‘Tis a good thing I emigrated….

The Beginning And The End

The Polar Night in the Arctic - taken at one o'clock in the afternoon. Monday 10th December 2012

The Polar Night in the Arctic – taken at one in the afternoon. Monday 10th December 2012

“I’m going to mark its end, because somebody has to. I’m also going to speak well of the place too for the same reason.” – Adwick Style

I cannot tell you how strange it feels. Yesterday I received photographs from Saturday’s tour of Adwick School, and today I was sent more from a former pupil of the even older Percy Jackson Grammar School. As I meditated upon the beauty of the Polar Night here, I tried to take in these wistful reminders of my childhood whilst juxtaposing the thought that EXACTLY thirty-three years ago, I was starting my very first day there.

Old Adwick School now. 33 years ago, Monday 10th December 1979 this was where I was starting a new school.

Old Adwick School now. 33 years ago, Monday 10th December 1979 this was where I was starting a new school. Now these buildings are worn out and coming down in the New Year.

In fact this is more than juxtaposition in time. I’m now over here in Norway, and these events – both then and now – are way over the sea in England. Nevertheless I also feel a strange satisfaction in doing what I am. I have read many a spiteful comment about Adwick this last year, and feel that someone ought to point out that whatever its difficulties at its end, it was once highly respected. Someone has got to cover its end in a fitting way.

So my blog and I are like a kind of satellite, now with very little connection to the land that originally launched it, orbiting above and separated by a huge distance – yet transmitting a message that more should broadcast terrestrially. Fortunately I know that I am not entirely alone, though. After all none of the pictures I have of Adwick School these last days were taken by me! It may be ironic that a blog based in Norway has taken on this task (for that no one else has done so), but it is fitting that that very irony demonstrates the once great name our school once had.

Indeed there are former pupils living all over the world. One should also include those who went to the Percy Jackson Grammar School that preceded Adwick School. These people have been very active with reunions, and are a truly international bunch. We have perhaps differing views about the demolition of our former school, and the rebuild; but we are nevertheless united by our respect for where we grew up. Whatever our personal views, we do not rejoice at our school’s demise.

What has saddened me in the last year, then, has been to hear what I can only describe as contempt, on the part of certain people who still live in the vicinity, for what is and always will be a part of their own history. It saddens me that for these, it is also incredible that anyone should wish to mark the end…. yet in truth, they have never appreciated the worth of what now is lost.

I would rather not end this on a negative note. Therefore let me leave my point concerning those who have come with harsh words with the following observation. With the exception of one person whom I know personally, and who had a very difficult time at school, most of the comments I have read – on Facebook and similar sites on the Internet – come from relatively younger people. We are all aware of the problems the school faced in its final decade, before ceasing to be Adwick School. Yet let not that generation speak for mine!

Paying their last respects. Former pupils of the Percy Jackson Grammar School and Adwick School outside the historic main building this Saturday. Thanks to Janet

United in a wish to honour the past, and paying their last respects to our old school. Former pupils of the Percy Jackson Grammar School and Adwick School outside its historic main building this Saturday. A great thank you to Janet Roberts for sending the group photograph.

So now we enter the very last days for what was our school, what was our childhood, and indeed what we for some time have been mentally preparing ourselves for. Seeing the photographs my friends have sent – I shall publish more (I already have permission for most of them) – I nevertheless can see that our old lady has become tired. The buildings, especially the old senior wing further down from the Percy Jackson building photographed here, show their age;  and a certain melancholy pervades all the pictures I have seen.

Thank you everybody who has sent pictures to me. I wish especially to thank Janet Roberts for this wonderful group photograph. I have taken the liberty of posting it, but naturally I shall withdraw it if you would rather I do so. Adwick, there are many who have not forgotten thee!

Bitter Sweet

or If These Walls Could Talk

Yesterday I felt a bit like someone working at a space agency. They’ll spend a fortune on electronic wizardry, send this up to some distant world – and then on the day that it arrives wait with increasing tension for the first pictures.

Yesterday two of my school friends returned to Adwick School. They had promised to take a lot of pictures, and to send them to me. Here at mission control (cleverly disguised as a three year old laptop) I awaited the first pictures from my school. I was not disappointed.

Yet it was a “bitter sweet” confirmation of what I have been writing about. One of my school friends had earlier remarked “if those walls could talk” when hearing about the decision to demolish our school. Thanks to Deborah Grace and Jill Jenkins, I was able to see places that I last saw over thirty one years ago at the age of sixteen. For all that I love the power of language, nothing can prepare you for seeing such images. As precious as I found them, they were equally unsettling.

The Corridor
This really freaked me out. The last time I stood here was in 1981, when I was sixteen years of age.

This really freaked me out. The last time I stood here was in 1981, when I was sixteen years of age.

The image that really sent shivers down my spine was this one. It is of a corridor on the top floor of the main school building. Looking at this is really “bitter sweet”.

The picture firstly disturbs me because this is not the childhood world that (we are feeling that) we have lost and are looking back upon when we visit the school. As I tried to say in my first poem, and article about the demolition of our school, that is lost in time and not in space. Therefore though you could “return”, you can never return, even if you stand in the exact place you left. This picture is therefore a little unsettling.

Then there is a pervading “darkness” to the image that I am not alone in sensing. Once again that is not something that I remember, nor would want to remember my school days for. Phillip Larkin expresses something of what I feel in his poem “Home Is So Sad“. Undoubtedly this is part of the story, but methinks there is something more. I say so precisely because I know that I am not alone in picking this up. The walls just might indeed be “talking”…

Foreboding

To me there is a sinister sense of foreboding to all the images. This is not my childhood world - it is its empty shell.

There is a sinister foreboding to all the images. This is not my childhood world – it is its empty shell.

The picture above is nothing like, and yet exactly like my walk into school early in the morning. In those days you would come in from Windmill Balk Lane, and you would walk pass this point. Yet that was then. This is different – somehow. I am sorry if that sounds a bit like the “Saphire and Steel” science fiction series of the late seventies and eighties (I watched that as a schoolboy), but there is something quite spooky about the old school.

In an earlier generation, people would use one word beginning with “h” for what I am describing. Now that would be regarded as superstitious. So let it suffice to say that there is a certain oppressiveness to the place that cannot be conducive to education.

You certainly don’t need to look to the supernatural to explain it. The architecture of the school represents a different time as well, and expresses different ideals about society. Thus while my late father commented in 2001, that that place could not have had a coat of paint on it since I was at school, the “corridor” illustrates there is a limit to what you can do even if you had have spent a lot of money on it. It would still be that (by today’s standards) claustrophobic passage, and the classrooms would still fundamentally be those designed for the “top – down” approach to education where everybody passively sat in neat rows. This of course is a strong argument in favour of the rebuild.

On the other hand perhaps an objective explanation for the “dark” feeling cannot be found, and I have no intention here on speculating what else might lay behind it. For me it is enough that this is only the shell of where I spent my childhood. I want to remember my Adwick School as a very different place. Seeing it as it is now makes me feel that perhaps it is best for everybody that our alma mater now rest in peace.

The Place Is Different

This was where we waited for the school bus home at the end of school. It used open out on to a field. Now it is boxed in.

This was where we waited for the bus home at the end of school. It used to open out on to a field. Now it is boxed in.

Thirty-three years ago EXACTLY, on Sunday 9th December 1979, I was all exited and ready to go into Adwick School for my very first school day. At the end of that day, on Monday 10th December 1979, we queued up in this playground – which then opened up on to a wide field. Now it is completely “boxed in” by the new school buildings. Then I was happy and exited to be at my new place of education; now it is different, and whilst I still could have wished I could have attended yesterday’s tour, I think meeting my old friends would have been the high point. This place pictured is just “different”.

Since it is the anniversary day tomorrow, I’ll end this fairly long post here, and continue on the same theme for my next post. Thank you for the photographs Jill and Deborah.

Daily Picture: December Gloom

At the very time my friends were revisiting Adwick School, I took a stroll on the beach at Vestbygd (December 8th 2012 - 1pm Norwegian Time)

At the very time my friends were revisiting Adwick School, I took a stroll on the beach at Vestbygd (December 8th 2012 – 1.30 pm Norwegian Time)

Of course Adwick School was firmly on my mind today. My friends from school would be paying their last respects, and just as their tour of the condemned buildings began I took myself out on to the beach at Vestbygd.

A year ago, I had photographed brilliant colours coming to this place. This year there was so much cloud that black and white had to do. Perhaps the weather only reflected the sombreness of the occasion in England. Norwegian Time is one hour ahead of English time, so this picture was taken while the tour of my school was going on.

It is an odd thing that – of all the places – I should end up back here. Vestbygd School, which is itself threatened with demolition, is the one school in Norway with a connection to Adwick School. Back in 1997, when I worked in this municipality before, I had travelled to Adwick School with two of the pupils from Vestbygd. They had enrolled half a day there, and one of them even used my old school tie!

The darkness is upon us. The Polar Night has come.

Adwick Style

me

Me – In Adwick Uniform! This blog now uses the same colour scheme.

For all that our school has been disparaged (mainly by those who went there after I did), and for all that its former uniform was so poorly regarded that it was already mainly lost by the time it was abolished, someone clearly is impressed with the new look of this blog. If WordPress statistics are accurate, there has been a huge leap in my popularity.

I have never had the hundreds reported by my colleague Jon Blamire, but this blog has been doing a lot better since its re-brand this Autumn. It is not unusual now for me to have two or three “likes” a day – and since I changed the style sheet last night, barring anything other than my school colours in the main body of text, I have not only had six likes – but five people have followed me! This is in the space of 24 hours! More importantly, the site is pulling about 25-30 views a day, and the trend is going up. So I’m more than happy.

I have made no secret of the symbolism being used on this re-branded blog, so someone clearly likes the (school uniform) green, white, and black colour scheme (grey was an option for girls at Adwick). However shoddy some may have thought it, in my day it was smart. Those liking this blog must think the same of it now, reused for the colours you see here.

AS for you that don’t… I have already warned everybody that I will unashamedly be bringing Adwick School to the fore at this rather poignant time. I’m going to mark its end, because somebody has to. I’m also going to speak well of the place too for the same reason. I suggest you come back sometime next year!

Time Bubble (Account of Wednesday 5th December 1979)

Contemplation (Daily Photo) on Wednesday 5th December. With beauty like this, I reflected upon what I was doing exactly thirty three years ago on this day.

Contemplation (Daily Photo) on Wednesday 5th December. With beauty like this, I reflected upon what I was doing exactly thirty three years ago on this day.

Yesterday (4th December) had been an exciting day. I was going to Adwick!

We had won our fight against the school authorities. For a whole month, my parents had pulled me out of Don Valley High School – as they had over a year previously. Then they had failed to get me transferred to Adwick School. Now they had succeeded.

My uniform, which we had bought after our meeting with the headmaster, now lay ready downstairs in the dining room. I could not wait to put it on. Yet my first day wasn’t until Monday. In the meantime tonight was choir practice at Woodlands Church, as it was every Wednesday.

Just before I went there – I just had to celebrate and show them! – I sneaked on my Adwick School tie, and left the house for the church. And notice! Yes they did. I was now going to the same school those singing in the choir went to. I was now also one of them!

Final Countdown

The end is finally nearing for our school. It has been condemned now for over a year.

The end is finally nearing for our school. It has been condemned now for over a year. Many have mixed feelings about the place, but it is something few of us will ever really be finished with. That is why I have called it “our personal Titanic”…

We who went to Adwick School, and its predecessor the Percy Jackson Grammar School, must now brace ourselves for the inevitable. For a whole year now, we have known that our school has been condemned, and that when the new school is built what was ours will be demolished.

Everything apart from one solitary building in the  old North wing (which was a science block in my day), nearest Tenter Balk Lane, and is now neighbour to the new Community School – will be completely demolished. What used to be our old Junior wing will be gone. What used to be our old Senior wing will also be gone. The covered way, the music block, the gym and everything that was our world – gone! *see correction

To mark this event, the Yorkshire Viking has now a countdown showing the number of days that our old school will continue to function as a school. After the Christmas holidays, the new academy will move out of its buildings, and into the new facilities. In other words, the countdown isn’t exactly a countdown to the demolition – but since that is expected shortly afterwards, it won’t be far off.

You will find the countdown to the left of the pages of this blog. Since I do not know the exact times of the school day, I have set the timer’s “zero hour” to three o’clock in the afternoon.