Saturday, 14 July 2012

Déjà vu

They say that some of the nicest discoveries are those made unexpectedly.  When in late 2009, I found out what had happened to my old school, the following spring I contacted the developers to whom it had been sold, with a view to taking some photos of the deserted interior as a sort of souvenir of my schooldays there.  Although initially quite receptive to my request, the upshot was that, sadly, they weren't keen on giving me the run of the place, nor conducting a supervised tour, and I therefore resigned myself to just a mental memory of what it had all been like.

Yesterday afternoon, however, I came across three sets of photos - more or less succeeding where I'd failed, or more accurately boldly going where I'd feared to tread.  It made my day!  A virtual tour of Leamington College for Boys, reliving my days as a schoolboy: the stage in the now-deserted hall where I'd looked up every morning at the Head taking assembly; the empty bookcases in the library which I'd helped to run as a sixth-former, the very characteristically 50s-style stairs in the science block, the basins in the boys' toilets where I'd washed my hands at the age of 12 (I'm sure they're the same ones!); the old rusty cast-iron radiators that got treated to odd lick of paint occasionally during our holidays; the long dark wooden benches in the laboratories which were almost new when we sat at them; the gas taps where I'd attached the rubber hose of my bunsen burner in the Chemistry lab and the little sink where I'd washed out flasks and test-tubes when I was taking O level Chemistry - even the dreaded clothes rack in the changing rooms (eek!).  It was just as I'd remembered it all from fifty years previously.

At the same time, I was a little saddened by the desolation of it all.  The buildings have been empty for something like three years now, but that doesn't entirely account for what looked like decades of neglect that appeared in places on some of the photos.  In the thirty years after we'd all left and the sixth-form students took our places, the place had obviously been rewired, as I don't recollect there having been strip lights anywhere.  I'd gathered that alterations had been done to reflect the change of use, but I didn't see much evidence of any apart from an odd noticeboard or two.  Whatever had been done by way of maintenance could hardly be described as "pushing the boat out".  Soon, though, it'll all be gone: the conversion work is apparently going ahead in earnest now.  So I'm grateful to the photographers for their efforts and for providing me with such striking final souvenirs of seven years of my life.   

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