Saturday, April 25, 2009

Plus ça change ...........

.......... plus c'est la même chose!

Almost thirty years it might be since we all left school, but the years rolled back and we were all transported back to the years 1974 - 1980 via partially forgotten stories of derring-do in Maths, English, Latin, Physics, Engineering Drawing, French, Religious Education, Geography and other subjects, and involving frisbees, broken light bulbs, corporal punishment (the belt!), playground football, human pyramids (our speciality!), spoons, the sexual awakenings of adolescent boys when confronted by attractive female teachers, the fantasies caused by that last one, teachers who were there in 1974 and are still teaching the offspring of my contemporaries (not the sexy teachers though!), broken ribs, and lost fingertips.

In particular, a fair number of us at the school reunion last night started at Dalziel High School in 1974 in the class called "The Defenders". The norm at that time was to split the year's intake into classes of around 30 pupils for the first couple of years at secondary school, and give each class a name. There was officially no hierarchy, but it soon became apparent that we had been split according to perceived academic ability when coming from our primary schools, and the de facto pecking order was no secret. Due to an obvious clerical error I was in The Defenders, which was the top class (yes really!). One of the obvious and superficial differences was that The Defenders were taught Latin, whilst all the other classes received tuition in Classical Studies (which involved studying the social aspects of Rome rather than the language itself).

But I don't want to give the impression that we were in any way up ourselves. No, not at all. I remember taking a perverse pleasure in 1980 at a presentation to a teacher who was moving on to another job. At that time I was in 6th year, the final year at school although one could leave after completing 4 years, and was around 17-18 years old. The 4th year pupils at that time were a nasty bunch, into breaking windows, and carrying golf clubs to school supposedly as sports kit, but really as implied weapons, and they thought themselves pretty disruptive and tough. The English teacher who was leaving, as an aside the daughter of another English teacher at Dalziel, Wilson Humphries, who happened to be an ex professional footballer, made a speech after she was presented with flowers etc. To my surprise she told everyone present that although the present 4th year thought themselves something special in the bad boy stakes, in fact when she started as a teacher she taught a class called The Defenders, and after every lesson she went back to the staffroom and cried because of the behaviour of that class. She also said that having taught The Defenders, she could handle anything after that! As I said, I took some perverse pleasure in being singled out to these nasty little 4th years as previously being involved in disruption beyond what they were capable of.

I should explain that our disruption and bad behaviour wasn't of the brutal variety. No, we put some effort into it, and amongst other things it involved waiting until the teacher turned his/her back to write on the blackboard (and it was a blackboard at the time, no political correctness or modern technology for us!) and we then swapped seats with each other, more or less silently. We were in desks of two people next to each other. There was usually a slight look of puzzlement on the teacher's face when they turned round again, but we only got caught once, when one Latin teacher turned to the blackboard but spun round again two seconds later, leaving three people in one pair of desks and one person in the pair behind! OK, you had to be there!

So anyway, last night was tremendous and was far better than I'd hoped. There were around 17 of us, male and female, and we hit it off with each other (again) very quickly, so really nothing has changed.

I can summarise it easily by pointing out that it's a long time since I've literally cried laughing. But I did last night.

There are plans afoot to repeat this reunion every year from now on, and this morning I trawled the Friends Reunited Website to contact others from our year to get contact details for next year.

Happy days.

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