Thursday, 19 November 2020

Playing fields of dreams

Time for a little nostalgia. I like to walk, it helps me clear my head. One of the nearby locations in Erdington that i like to walk around sometimes are the Spring Lane playing fields. Its a popular spot for dog walkers too, though i go to walk myself. Its a special place for me as the first school that i went to backs onto the playing fields and indeed back in my youth, in the late 1970s and early 1980s the playing fields was where we went and played various kinds of sports and the odd nature trail.

That school in question is St Barnabas Primary School which these days has a good name. I don't really know how good its name was back in the day, i recall my parents forever moaning about it but i don't think i turned out that badly. The school is a typical example of late 1960s architecture which i personally like to be honest. The below photo i took in 2008 and, apart from a few additions in the play ground, the school hasn't changed a great deal. It probably has changed a lot more inside.

I went to the school from the ages of 5 to 11 (there was no nursery class back then though one did form after i started school). The only thing i remember about my first day was that my Mum gave me a banana for lunch. Like most of your memories though they tend to be a blur (as the mundane is easily forgotten). I do remember when Concorde came to Birmingham Airport though, as the approach flightpath went right over our school. We all waited in the play ground and watched it fly over. A truly wonderful sight. Later on the Space Shuttle (atop a 747) made a flyover Birmingham though unfortunately it was a cloudy day and we never got to see anything.

One thing i do remember about school are the various events and shows put on. Often i was in the choir with my angelic voice. I was in the choir in one production of Rumplestiltskin (my Mum kept the programme - my memories of this are vague), one of the older girls was dressed in green including green skin paint. I think that was my first crush. Nicola Carter what are you doing now? Hopefully you are not still green.

I also remember having to sing "The Rainbow Song" on stage at some sort of end of year gala. I was one of a number of classmates who sang the song, each of us represented one colour of the rainbow and had to dress head to toe in that colour. Luckily i was "Blue" which was easy to achieve.

The below photo shows one of the shows my class put on at the school, telling a story by the medium of Chinese dragon dance (or a kind of approximation anyway). The class was split into two groups representing the two factions in the story : a dragon and a panda. I was on Team Panda, i am the one right behind the panda mask carrier in the photo. I've always been tall. I don't actually remember this event apart from a vague memory of creating my mask. A horrible task involving glue and fake fur.

But one day it was all over. The below photo was taken on my last day and shows my last form teacher (and the best teacher i ever had at school) Mr Saunders and the headmaster Mr Bennett. The last year at the school was great. Mr Saunders let us spend most of the year on individual (and barely monitored) projects. One reason for this was that he was rather busy and had many things to do, including planing some new wardrobe doors he had got actually in the classroom in front of us.

Not that i am complaining, this opportunity for personal research i probably found the most valuable of lessons at primary school even if i did spend most of the time filling book after book with pictures of airliners. Most kids completed a book over the course of a year, i filled seventeen. I have always been prolific. School books then, blogs now. 

Even back then i have been nostalgic for the past and melancholic about change. I remember the last Summer at that school very fondly. Often on that playing field, hoping the term would never end and the horrors of big school would never materialise...