Its a sunny day and the class of ’66 sits in the hall of Wisewood School looking at the scuffed parquet and through the doors to the yard where Major Kaye taught us manly pursuits like archery.
From the back of the hall a projector flashes images of school life on a screen behind me. End of term is looming for Wisewood (or Wadsley, as it should have been known).
Around the hall are photos and exhibits chronicling the lives and times of often several generations of the same family who wore the yellow and black. Other colours were attached to the school’s houses, Laird, Worrall, Dale, Sutton.
Mine, Laird, was green. We had green footie jerseys, Timpson boots, black pumps and Co-op grey and black, duffle bags - and white aprons for woodwork.
There’s a steady stream of Wisewood folk, often families, mobile phones and cameras in action, looking forward as well as back. For this isn’t a wake and head teacher Diane McKinlay’s no mourner. She and her staff have worked hard putting it together and she’s as excited as if it’s her first prom.
As I meet the class of ’48 I’m no longer the oldest ‘old boy’ because the ‘summer of 42’ is also here. And so’s ‘Hodgy’.
I go to the loo but don’t take a guided tour round the school, even though I get lost and marvel at the cosy quadrangle where we had to chase tennis balls at cricket after school (no risk assessment).
We talk about cane, ruler and slipper and what’s missing today and shake heads. We show old photographs and meet someone who also left in ’66 but I don’t remember her and she doesn’t remember me.
More of ’em look at the old photos , flocking in from Spider Park or the Top field (Toppy, as we called it).
And there’s a book about the school and Diane is going to have the 1801 date stone and plaque transferred into the primary yard. Continuity and community are important.
I leave and marvel how leafy Wisewood School is, more battered than your favourite old jacket or slippers but in 1933 it was a model school. So’s Forge Valley.
Unlike CTS/Ashleigh, dematerialised on the desolate slope of Gleadless Common (all those library books skipped). I remember the Mars Attacks gum card and the Narnia book from Wisewood Library.
Funny but that’s the past and I forge ahead down Hallowmoor Road, to the future…
Ron Clayton, S6