Friday, May 13, 2011
Climbing through the past
Upwards was the clue. If we kept climbing, we arrived first at the top landing under the glass cupola, a space now sadly diminished by a new partition wall and the addition of fluorescent lights round the Parthenon frieze (replica). Beyond that, I knew, was The Attic, where I used to go for sewing classes between 3 - 4pm Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I saw a dingy stair heading up into the gloom and followed it - only to find that we seemed to be in a building site, linked to the rest of the school by a corrugated iron corridor with a wonky floor. We crept carefully along this, and emerged on the Attic landing: it was the fire escape. And of course we'd all have died hideously in the 50s if a fire had happened lower down in the school, as there was only the one exit, down the central stairwell. We never gave it a moment's thought - and neither, presumably, did our parents.
Because of the nature of Hillhead until the mid-70s, the returning FPs of my generation tended to share a pretty recognisable set of characteristics, including self-confidence and articulate self-expression. I was totally amused to meet up over a mass school photo with someone whom I remembered, with increasing clarity, from the 2nd violins of the school orchestra. She'd been in the year below me, along with Alison, and her hair had been very dark. I now realise I also knew her brother - even after we left school. Her pal I knew less well, but remembered her big sister - and their father had been a colleague of my own. She knew several people in my life, including one ABF who comments on this blog. It was all very incestuous and great fun.
I am grateful to the mother of a current pupil, who let me out into the shed apparently closed off because of an unsafe roof - her daughter assured me the pupils still go into it. And I was amused by the closed-in area under the school which used to be the boys' shed, open all down one side and used when it was just too wet for footie in the playground. I don't know how they got on playing footie round the pillars - I imagine it led to increased ball skills.
I was hugely impressed by the amount of work obviously done by the present teachers, and by the quality of the work on display. And I realised early on what a nightmare the building has become, with the cramped conditions imposed by the alterations and the leaking windows and unstable stonework in the attic. I had a vision of some of the classrooms as they had been - large, square, well-lit by tall windows, 40 pupils sitting in rows at desks with flap-down seats attached and the teacher at the front at the high desk - and realised I was in another world.
Take it for all in all, I think I prefer where we are now..
Note: I've had to repost this, as it vanished during Blogger's recent sickness. Hence the wrong date - it belongs, like myself, to yesterday.