Friday, 28 September 2012

Hang on a minute, though..... what now?

So, the runaways have been found, I see.  Twitter is chirping positively nineteen to the dozen with tweets of joy expressing how relieved all her family and friends are at the prospect of having young Megan Stammers back home again.  Don't get me wrong, I'm glad she's apparently safe and well and hasn't suffered the same fate as countless other teenage runaways: in that respect at least she's been lucky.

The reports however are that the pair were spotted strolling hand-in-hand like any young lovers down a main shopping street in the middle of Bordeaux in broad daylight and the police were tipped off.  Megan was said to be "in floods of tears" when the police separated them.  Which suggests to me that she may perhaps not in fact have actually wanted to come back and be reunited joyfully with her family - or at least not just yet.  Either way, the scenario certainly doesn't bear the hallmark of a kidnap victim, and whatever the legal nicities of it, an "abduction" is not the word I'd use to use to describe it.

Jeremy Forrest the maths teacher is under arrest and if I were he, I'd get myself a good lawyer sharpish: he's going to need one.  His job and marriage I imagine are down the tube, and despite the UK judiciary's propensity for pretty perverse sentencing, he's got to be looking at jail time as being on the cards.

And what's Megan going to make of that, I wonder?  She's had an awful lot of her private life dissected in public this week (if anything on Twitter or Facebook can legitimately be described as "private", that is).  Will she blame her parents and/or the police for the abrupt end to her little escapade and the loss of the guy she loved (or thought she did)?  How will she look back on it in years to come?  What will she make of all the things that have been written about her?  Will she one day end up on the Jeremy Kyle show *shudders*?

We shall probably never know.  Out of the harsh glare of media publicity, some semblance of a normal schoolgirl's life should start to return.  But I doubt somehow that either of them are ever going to be able to just carry on as if none of it had ever happened.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

... and crushes on 'Miss'

"Childhood is a time of innocence" used to be the old saying.  Much or most of what I remember doing as a child was innocent enough, and although I don't particularly recollect having a schoolboy crush on any of my Junior school 'Miss-es' (or anyone else either) it certainly wouldn't have been looked upon as unusual - almost a rite of passage, you might say.  Going to an all-boys secondary school with (until I was in my O-level year) all-male teachers effectively then ruled out crushes anyway.  In fact we never knew anything much of what our teachers did in their private lives - even those whose own sons were at the school: it was regarded as bad etiquette to tittle-tattle or indulge in slanderous gossip.  And in the days when "social networking" was decades into the future, when phones were things on the end of a wire fixed to the wall, and when "grooming" meant nothing more sinister than making yourself look presentable with the aid of a brush and comb, it was all pretty harmless anyway.  The doodles on the cover of your exercise book and the names on the inside of your satchel or pencil-case weren't plastered all over Facebook and Twitter for all the world to see.

So I can't help feeling a little sorry for Megan Stammers and Jeremy Forrest, the story of whose 'crush' and subsequent 'elopement' to France has been plastered all over the papers this week.  I make no judgement on the rights and wrongs of this, save to say that basically tradition has it that the guy always cops the blame, because whichever way you slice it, he's old enough and supposedly mature enough to know better.  There is some probing and much apparent obfuscation over how much the school, the police and the parents knew beforehand about what had been going on, and what they were doing about it - the net result of which is probably going to make it more awkward for the star-struck lovers to return, if that in fact is what they eventually intended to do.

So far, almost a week after they were spotted on a cross-channel ferry to Calais, the couple seem to have disappeared without trace, although they could now be practically anywhere in Europe.  I've seen it reported that the usage of CCTV and ANPR on the continent isn't anywhere near as extensive as it is the 'nosey' UK, and the fact is (a) they're not armed bank robbers being pursued by a manhunt and (b) no-one really knows where to start looking.  In a way the romantic in me hopes it all works out for them, but the harsh reality of life is that it's far more probable to all end in tears.  Compared to all the missing teenage runaways who disappear every day of the week without anyone much even bothering to start looking for them, 15-year old schoolgirl Megan has at least had a bit of a head start at being found.

Monday, 3 September 2012

The onward march of progress

After a hiatus of almost three years, during which my old school lay empty and deserted, the rebuilding work is evidently progressing in earnest.  Today I came across a further set of photos, apparently taken over the weekend.  Although the science block has now been demolished, and everything else is covered in scaffolding, I spotted this photo of my old form room!

Although now stripped of furniture and fittings, Room 12 of Leamington College for Boys is just as unmistakeable as it was nearly fifty years ago.  Our desks were in rows across the room parallel to the beams of sunlight shining through the bay window, facing the blackboard on the wall at the right of this photo. The photographer was standing in the doorway, and I sat on the far side in the front row, probably just this side of where that ceiling beam is.  I was 15, in Form 5A and taking my O levels.

Looking at it now - I'm glad once again of the opportunity to do this bit of reminiscing.  It's something I never expected to see again, and I'm thrilled to have found it - and to have discovered it was all just as I'd remembered it.  It's been quite sad for me seeing the old school steadily crumble and disappear: I have very happy memories of those seven years, and I guess that's why probably why I remember the detail as well as I do - though I never imagined at the time that I'd be sitting here, five decades later, writing all about it!