I was looking through some old photographs the other day, and came across a couple of class group photos, from, I think, the first and third year of secondary school, and then, even earlier from the sunny days of the infants school that I attended.
The secondary school photos were both dour and grey (with a dash of blue as per the strict school uniform rules back then) and everyone’s hair was terrible. Even the teachers, but this was the early eighties so bad hair was considered the norm. The photos were taken in front of the stage in the ground floor hall, or Hall One / the Lower Hall as it was called. This was the main hall, the best one, and was always freshly painted and varnished and was used for the school assemblies. Hall Two was the hall above, the Upper Hall, which was used for the drama class. This hall always needed a lick of paint, but was my favourite of the two halls. We’ve had many murder mysteries, plane crashes, and adventures on desert islands in this hall. I was pelted by an apple on my right cheek in this hall, as I was giving a speech about something or other for the assembly one day. I don’t remember the speech, or the subject for that morning’s assembly, but I remember the apple and the laughter that followed to this day. It never spoiled my good memories of the Upper Hall, however. Maybe this is why I dream of finding a large room upstairs quite a lot of the time?
The infant school photos were completely different. Everyone was wearing brightly coloured clothes, everyone had different coloured hair, everyone was actually outside in the glorious sunshine. Everyone was smiling. A complete contrast to the more recent photos from the upper school. I think this was due to the fact that secondary school was more serious than the infants, when all we did was play. That’s how I remember infants anyway.
Things started to go wrong in primary school, and then in the secondary school some days were like hell on earth. This isn’t the time for that though. And everything was always fine in the Upper Hall.
Back to the photos.
I could recognise my face, but nobody else. Faces looked familiar, but I couldn’t put any names to the faces.
Eventually, some of the names started to filter through to me, from the secondary school photos, but it took a while longer for the names to appear in the infant school ones. And in some cases the people were the same!
My mind baffles me at times. You’d think I’d remember people who I’d spent almost fourteen years with, wouldn’t you, considering I can remember an apple so clearly?
I felt like I was playing the old flip game ‘Guess Who?’ when I was looking at the photos. Only my mind was asking the questions, the answers were clearly in front of me, yet the names were just out of reach.
But I got there in the end, which is all that really matters.