The route from Shipston to the hospice in Myton takes you past Warwick School which I attended between eight and eighteen. As I headed back to my father yesterday, having picked up the effects of my step mother and a death certificate, curiosity got the better of me and I swung left into the Car Park of the Junior School which cares for you between 7 and 11.
The place has changed beyond all recognition. It is far smarter and more developed than in my day when three of the classrooms (those of Miss Jagger, Mr Wilkins and Mrs Birt) were portacabins. Some things remain. There are wickets painted in white on the wall of what was "the New Gym" but is now the Sports Centre which faces on the junior school playground. Or what is now the playground, we used to have two. The second, where the violent game of British Bulldog, now I am sure banned, was played is now a car park.
As I looked at the video display on the wall of another new building, I saw pictures of boys on ski trips and school trips to Russia and India. In my day it was Telford Gorge or the Museums in London or maybe just a short walk up to Warwick Castle.
The old outdoor pool has gone, replaced by an indoor facility. Political correctness gone mad! Why should kids today not have to freeze their nuts off as we did? Next thing you know they will be abolishing National Service. Bah humbug. It was in that old pool that i twisted an ankle aged nine catching it between the inner rail and the edge. I screamed with pain then and it has always been a weak ankle since. It was the same ankle that twisted to end my rugby "career" at 32 and it is the same ankle that clicks at night now.
The biggest change at Warwick has been the admission of girls in the sixth form. I know, I know, that political correctness gone mad again. You and I know that girls are the species that went to Kings High up in Warwick Town and who you you might meet in the park by the river at lunchtime for a coffee and a Marlboro Light or too and even a snog, if you got lucky. You might even go for an underage drink in the "boys pub" the Crown in Warwick. But now girsl share class rooms in the sixth form. Well I never, the next thing you know Warwick will be saying that it does not employ the odd sadistic old bastard like Mr Eve who beats up little boys? Well apparently that does not happen any more either. What is the world coming to? Mr Eve throwing my head against the wall aged 10 did not do me much harm, it made the man I am today. Kids in 2016 miss out on so much.
Actually the school, t its credit has acknowledged to me at least, and only after a bit of a nudge, that it failed with old Eve. I raised the matter when I attended an Old Warwickians event day a few years ago and the old bastard was there. I did not dare confront him as I should have done, not just for me but for all the other boys who he assaulted over the years. But I turned my back in a way that he must have noticed and raised the matter with the school afterwards. I was assured that the point was noted and that the old bastard would not be invited to future events. Good. It is a disgrace that staff and others turned a blind eye to him for so long and that, in the end, he was "retired" not fired and reported to the Rozzers.
It was in the junior school at Warwick that I was told of my mother's death just a few weeks after I joined, aged eight, forty years ago this September. I cannot remember who broke the news but I think it was my form teacher Mrs Hobday. As I walked through a school which seems so much smaller than it did when I was a little boy, I think of her, Mrs Fawcett and two headmasters from the lower school, Jack Marshall and Keith Winterbottom, with great fondness.
They were good people as was Mr Robinson, a man in whose classroom was dominated by a cricket bat with a large sign next to it "It is better to give than to receive". Robbo liked folks to think he was hard and occasionally he - and Marshall - did apply corporal punishment with a cricket bat, but he was a really nice guy too. Most of the staff at that school were kind to me at all times and some, notably Mrs Fawcett, Mrs Hobday and Mr Winterbottom, really went the extra mile given my somewhat strange family life.
All the teachers were good. As I speak to the younger generation I note that they are all too often unaware of facts and skills I learned back then especially in maths and history. Back then history was based on how the world was once largely coloured pink as opposed to now when history starts in 1933. Thanks to the Warwick Junior School numbers come easily to me and know why I am British, in the sense of all the Britsih Isles, and what shaped the country I live in or the country of my father's mothers family. It was a good school with, usually, talented staff. Even Mr Eve was a great teacher when he was not being a sadistic old bastard.