I really enjoyed your blog David, but perhaps your awful cold meant your view of things was slightly jaundiced!
I was in the UK in July – the height of the holiday season – and certainly didn’t feel the place was too crowded. On the contrary, I kept marvelling that 15 minutes out of Sheffield you were on the Moors with hardly another person to be seen. Sure the motorways are packed but we did most of our travelling on B roads and it seemed that once you were out of the towns, the landscape was enchantingly rural and I kept feeling I had strayed into a Merchant Ivory production.
Even in the Lake District, where admittedly the towns and tourists spots are packed, it is still possible to find some out of the way lanes where you can enjoy some wonderful views without too many people around.
We visited a few typical seaside spots and the vast expanses of golden sands seemed to be sparsely occupied. At Great Yarmouth on a sunny day, it certainly proved difficult to find a parking spot, but once we did, we were able to stroll along the long Pleasure Beach promenade without feeling at all crowded and as for the beach itself – well I’ve seen more people at Piha or Cornwallis on a summer weekend. Perhaps everyone was in Spain for their holidays!
Hey David - have just received your book. I meant to keep it for Christmas, but couldn't wait. Beautifully written and a nice mixture of funny and a couple of sad stories. I very much enjoyed it. When are we going to get a book on Mr Bollard? Hope we don't have to wait till next Christmas.
In spite of Glenn's rather scathing remarks about Green Bay High School, I would agree with Bart that it had a lot to offer. Many of students did indeed do very well both academically at university and in other worthwhile occupations. Over the years we have had quite a number of letters from grateful parents whose boys had been very unhappy at a single sex school and who blossomed and regained their confidence in our much more caring and friendly environment - one parent was so delighted with the positive change in their son that they treated the entire staff to morning tea. We now have a uniform because after consulting with the community, that's what they seemed to want. It's very flexible - boys can wear long or short trousers, girls can wear long or short skirts or shorts or trousers if they wish. 7th formers can wear mufti. I think we have kept the best from the past but now have an increased focus on student achievement. And never in its 35 year history has anyone ever been strapped or caned!
I felt vaguely moved to join in the moaning about primary school. I registered, but don't know quite how to post my little effort. Perhaps by your magic you can do it for me. Here it is:
Reading over some of your memories of miserable times at school, I thought I’d add my own, very minor, but irritating injustice.
I was about 10 years old and still had a strong Scottish accent. My new teacher on hearing it remarked witheringly, “The Scots – they’re even more hopeless than the Swiss. At least they managed to invent the cuckoo clock.” Not knowing any better, I remained silent.
Of course subsequently I discovered that the Scots have invented almost everything! I have brooded on this over the years and it’s my fantasy to track that teacher down - if he’s still alive he must be in his 80s - and triumphantly hand him a list of Scottish inventions (television; telephones; penicillin; antiseptics; lawnmowers; microwave ovens; marmalade; computer games; golf; postage stamp; radar; the steam engine; hypodermic syringes; Mackintosh raincoats; Quinine; pneumatic tyres… and many more).
So take that, Mr Flanagan, Laingholm School, 1954!