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.
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.
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
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 choir of St. Thomas Church in Leipzig is one I definitely want to hear. I’ve almost decided now – whether or not I think my budget is where it should be – that next year I really am going to have to go there before I turn fifty.
A week or so ago I found this wonderful YouTube clip. There’s a whole concert indeed (a rarity on YouTube), and given that Google has sold out to the Performing Rights’ people, and YouTube videos will shortly be going behind paywalls and those uploading them will have to “clear” them automatically before the upload (“clear” being these people’s euphemism for “pay”) I think you had better enjoy this while you can.
The Wachet Auf Cantata by J.S Bach BWV 140 has a special significance for me. I have one of those memories that is in the “read only” section of my brain. On Monday 10th December 1979, I was transferred to the former Adwick School, just before my fifteenth birthday. My first music lesson began at 1.20 pm and lasted until school ended at 3.20 pm. I even remember that this lesson was in the school’s “periods” five, six and seven. This was the work our teacher, Mr Ketley was teaching. Every single time I now hear Wachet Auf my mind goes through a mental wormhole – and I find myself transported back in time to his class that very day!
It is an association that hasn’t just appeared this year now that our poor school has been razed to the ground. When I went to the former Polytechnic in Huddersfield, I would make references to it in my compositions. In 1989, at the end of my first year, we had to write string quartets, and the Music Department brought in professional players to have them performed. I placed my Wachet Auf reference bang in the middle of mine; or more accurately, I put my Adwick reference there, since that is what it has become for me.
This is a lovely video, but I do fear that the new rules will mean we shall get less of them. So enjoy it while you can!
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.
It is really hard to express my feelings right now. This was the view of what used to be my school last week. Its buildings are now vacated – and coming down. By May there will be only playing fields here.
At the same time as the pupils have now moved into their new school (one of the many so-called academies), Yorkshire Viking Norway has moved into its new home on the main CQD server in Norway. One main reason, sadly, is the need to have stricter security measures to protect my privacy.
Many of the older posts imported into this new blog will not display correctly. This is due to how the pictures are formatted. This will be corrected in due course.
I shall not go into the extra security measures I have taken, but suffice it to say that all access to this blog is logged. Some people may find that they need to be registered in order to view these pages – others will not. I shall constantly evaluate the systems in place, and shall take a new look at security in a few months after trying them out.
Both CQD and Yorkshire Viking Norway use the colour scheme of the former Adwick School uniform. My school was taken over by the successor school, Doncaster North Technology College back in 2002 – and consequently neither the uniform nor Adwick School have existed now for over ten years. That successor school has itself been taken over by one of the many so-called academies now sprouting up all over the United Kingdom.
For the record Yorkshire Viking Norway supports the Anti Academies Alliance, and believes in comprehensive education. However, since I no longer live in the United Kingdom, this will not become a major issue in my blog.
However we feel about it, the time is now upon us. Adwick School – or what was Adwick School – will not be with us much longer.
This has become the main story in this blog. Ever since the news broke last year, I have been covering it. In order to make it easier to load, I have now organised the posts about Adwick into three separate categories. Because this really is the final curtain for Adwick, I am now allowing the story to dominate the menu line. Those of you who want the ordinary categories can access these at the left column.
Earlier today the Norwegian sister blog dropped its use of the retro favicon (derived from the old school logo). It is now using the same symbol as this blog.
Nevertheless that older logo lives on in the new, and as I pointed out in an earlier post today you will look hard to find a more living expression of the classic Adwick School uniform – than what you are now seeing here. That is my intention.
The countdown to the disuse of what was Adwick School has a zero hour of 1500 hrs, 20th December. That is because I do not know the exact end of the school day. Nevertheless, I do know that that is the end of term, and that pupils will not be returning in the New Year.
“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 wish every one of you attending Adwick School tomorrow all the best. I should have liked to have been with you, but I am afraid that that was impossible because of distance, expense, and other commitments.
I really miss my mum. In true Yorkshire style, if she said “no” she meant just that. That didn’t mean “later”, “after negotiation”, or anything other than those two letters put together. It meant “no”!
For a whole year this blog has been covering the rebuild of Adwick School, or “Academy” as they now like to call it. From the outset I was clear that I could not support the campaign to save my old school simply for the sake of it. Moreover whilst I of course have a certain wistfulness over its demise, I have praised the design of the new place because I think it is very impressive, as well as better suited to the needs of those who live there today. Nevertheless certain conditions were stipulated for the project to proceed. That these have now been dispensed with shows that for some people a “no” clearly doesn’t mean a “no”….
It has recently been reported in the Doncaster Star that the school no longer needs to reinstate its playing fields. A lot of people are quite angry about this. The argument seems to be that the facilities of the new academy are so good that compared to the old school, with its two playing fields, that what is on offer will be “better by far”. However, this misses an essential point.
Firstly no one is denying that the area of open green playing field has, and will be reduced. For one the new academy, parking, and gymnasium are all built on one of the old fields – as indeed is the new community school too. Now they are going to build a teacher training college by the side of the new academy as well, making still less green space. Yet we read from the above article that the academy isn’t going to be using the area where our demolished school once stood (and by implication) the second lower field.
This raises some very disturbing questions. For my part, I am very glad that I no longer live there. Open space is hardly a problem here in Norway. However, when I was growing up in England, and navigated daily through the maze of streets and housing estates, it was something of a relief to see the expanse of open space either side of my school. Whichever way you approached it, it was bang in the middle of two open fields. I don’t think many consider how important this is for people who do not live in the country as we are fortunate to do over here.
Already then, this space has been reduced, and it is going to be further reduced. Yet we are told that the grounds are not going to be reinstated as playing fields. That begs the question what they are going to be used for. When I read that the planning committee accepted that the grounds could be reinstated at a later date, this seems also to open the possibility that they might not. Even if no-one has any plans to redevelop the area for housing today, if the area is allowed to grow wild it will become unsightly and perhaps that will be the next proposal.
Following the English news by radio, I know that the selling of school fields for redevelopment has been an issue – not in this case but generally. So if one screws the clock back a year, to the time when permission was first being sought for the project, the question is whether people might have objected if they had been told that the area of playing fields would be taken away or very much reduced. To put that another way, if this stipulation had not been given, whether people would at all have put up with what was being proposed.
I think that the answer is “no”. Now the new buildings are almost in place, somebody wants to change the goal posts. There must be a lot of people who feel that the academy got the go-ahead on false pretences. That is why a “no” should mean “no”, not “perhaps” or “later”…
I am glad I no longer live in the Adwick area. It seems that the values I was brought up with have changed a little.
Since my Norwegian blog was launched last year, I have maintained a twin blog system. I have one blog for English, another for Norwegian.
I intend continuing thus. The system has served my blogging needs very well, and further allowed me to be much more radical in my Norwegian (since May this year I have favoured Nynorsk over the more usual Bokmål). Nevertheless the matter relating to my former school merits coverage in both blogs. Because of this, I have also made an exception in just this case alone, and you will find an English translation of the original Norwegian post on the Norwegian blog itself.
The translation is but that, and is therefore on a separate page. The alternative would have been to put the translation on this blog, as I have before. However, in this case both blogs will be covering what effectively is the end of an important part of my formative years. That is why I feel I have to cover these developments on my personal blogs. It is “front page” stuff in a sense.
Both blogs will therefore continue with their own separate identities, but the Norwegian one will also cover this story from its own angle.
English has always been changing. Its adaptability made it a global language. However, not everything is a plus.
Since I emigrated from England, schools there have begun calling children “students”. The traditional term “pupil” is still used, but there is no denying a trend towards its complete replacement. This is especially true in the so-called “academies” (another “newsspeak” from the Blair government).
The switch to “student” instead of “pupil” seems to be deliberate. I ascertain as much from correspondence I had last year with someone in the teaching profession. Those using it have without doubt good intentions, feeling that the word better conveys respect for the children in their care than does “pupil”. However, it is a mistake that impoverishes the language – as well as the very pupils it seeks to benefit.
What this does is to demean the word “student”. The distinction between a pupil and a student is vanishing. Now if school leavers are lucky enough to go into higher education – which is what educators ought to be concentrating on – there will be no special word to describe their new status as students.
Giving schoolchildren the same word as students at a university or college is like giving your teenage son or daughter all of their inheritance now before they have grown up. Once the money is gone, it is gone!
So yes “pupil” does denote a slightly different status than “student”, and since music students have always been the pupils of their instrumental tutors this term is by no means demeaning. Yet being a “student” implies equality in the relationship to the teacher; and it is actually disrespectful to those who are not equal in a teaching relationship (I am thinking of the children and not the teachers here) to use terms and words that disingenuously imply otherwise. If it were not this equality one were seeking to convey, then why is the word “student” now so trendy?
While individual teachers are undoubtedly both professional and well meaning, there is something systematically dishonest about the whole change to calling schools “academies”.
The language is a deceptive “newspeak” worthy of George Orwell! By changing the word, just as with the word “student”, many educators seem to be taken in by their own sense of importance – and we have now arrived at the farcical situation where principles and their staff that ought to be setting an example have by their consistency rewritten what is right and wrong about capitalisation!
Of course the word “academy” does not require a capital letter any more than the words “university”, or “school”. Yet such is the delusion of grandeur the word has bestowed, that hardly anyone seems to have noticed the fact! Had I once written so many capitals as are to be seen on the web pages and periodicals from England’s new academies my teachers would have spent many an hour ringing them all in red ink.
This capital punishment, lingual dishonesty, and political correctness is therefore flawed. That is not to say failing schools cannot be made better, but it is at the expense of the language. What is worse, any real attainments will therefore be devalued by this very pretence in the demeaned terms with which one can communicate one’s achievement to others.