- 2006-02-06: Before Christmas Long Eaton Grammar School, as it was known before I got there (Long Eaton Upper School while I was there (it was a comprehensive school)) gave ex pupils a chance to look around the building before they sell it to its new owner, presumably so they can turn it into luxury flats. The school has a new building. It wasn't a school reunion as such, but others from my year were around .. (pictured from left to right) Chris Wood who remembered me but I had no idea who he was (sorry about that), David Ford who went out with my sister momentarily, and a chap called Booth (?) who when I asked "what do you do?" answered "we make things out of foam" giving me a mental picture of comedy foam caricatures on Castle Donington market until he said "and our turnover last year was £6m". Gulp. OK. He didn't mention his profit though, and I was too polite to ask :-) Nice chaps to a man, perhaps it's the nice people who turn up to these things.
- Now the thing is, I've recently spoken to Mark Grebby who used to be in Splat! and Chris Wood who travelled from somewhere in Norfolk to do this, and both work in the caring professions. But I also met Robert Govier. At school he was one year ahead of me and he went straight to Leeds University too and I stumbled across him there and he invited me to tea. When I got there me and his housemates got around the table and I reached out to take some food and he said "err, hang on, we'll just say Grace". Apart from school, I'd never done that before and it came as rather a shock. I told him that when we met the other day and he laughed. But then he said "how were you, I was worried about you, was everything all right?" Well, yes it was, I was just lonely and Leeds and its university aren't the most friendly of places and essentially because of that I eventually left after my second year. I was unhappy, is all, nothing in particular.
- But how nice is Robert Govier to remember that? We weren't friends. It was twenty five years ago. Why would he remember that, and why would he care? Incredibly nice! But it has to do, partly, with the Long Eaton area. Maybe I'll talk more about that later.
- Anyway, the main school building looks like this:
- Inside, the corridors and stairs seem evocative:
- These stairs are at the sixth form and we'd sit and wait for friends or loves to come up these stairs (I was sure I'd moved my sporran out of the shot):
- It's the small things that fire memories (that's not a urinal, it's a water fountain in the corridor), and that stool is the exact same type we used to have in the science labs more than 25 years ago .. they really lasted that long, and that water jug's lasted too, amazing:
- Somehow the sports area holds many memories too. The green place was where I used to play badminton reasonably well. The wooden gym I remember most as the place where I sat my O levels, during a very long, hot summer. And A levels, come to think of it.
- Then there's this almost art deco entrance:
- Outside and around the back of the school where we used to play ball games forever took me right back. This, though, I think they used to call 'the quadrangle'. Surprisingly I don't remember anyone ending up in that pond.
- Anyway, say goodbye because it's all going.
- The other thing very much worth mentioning is Long Eaton Library. While others were climbing trees, stealing motor bike accessories on foggy nights, experimenting with cigars and getting caught with someone's topless daughter, I was in here until closing time (7pm) most nights. You could take a maximum of fourteen books at any one time, and I did, everything from dry stone walling to sex. It's because of this place I worked out my religious beliefs and discovered nutrition and health. And by the time I had my first sexual experience (about ten years after almost everyone else) I had the female body and sexual response mapped out completely thanks to various Masters and Johnson books (and others) from here. Libraries made me the man I am :-)
- Actually, I remember being embarrassed about taking such books out, but my friend Phil Johnson (no relation) took out the first book but wore a disguise to do so. Imagine how funny that would have looked to the library staff, I don't know how they didn't just snort out laughing and point.
- I can't categorise the architecture of the place, what are it's influences? And Andrew Carnegie gave it to the town. Wow.
- In the school I read a letter of complaint to the council which talked about the scalloped walls which are still outside the library, but used to go all around the school too. They used to have railings of course, but those were taken in the second world war to be melted down and turned into things to throw at the Germans. But yes, the complainant was right, I know budgets are tight but replacing those walls as they did was a travesty.
By John Allsopp
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