Monday, July 06, 2009

On Blackburn, Baptism, and Being Back in Wengen

It is 5% of my school's history since I left. The preacher at the 500th Anniversary Founders Day Service in Blackburn Cathedral began his sermon with a reference to Henry VIII, who became King in the year QEGS was founded & married Catherine of Aragon within weeks of his succession. "As Henry said to each of his wives, I shan't keep you long."

As an historian (and I do think, given the pedantry of this comment, that articular 'n' is warranted) I sat there thinking, "He kept Catherine 24 years; that's one year less than I've been away from this school! I hope the bishop doesn't intend to preach either that long... or inaccurately..."

After the service (which included Jerusalem, Praise My Soul the King of Heaven and Cwm Rhondda, taking us around Britain but not across the Celtic Sea for an Irish hymn) I had the chance to chat to some former teachers: old headmaster Philip Johnston and his wife Cynthia, Barry Brown who was never a fan of my woodwork but always a good and encouraging man to me, Brian Hardcastle who tried to teach me Geography, and his ex-wife Myra who succeeded in teaching me French.

Myra has MS. She was always glamorous, and the disease has been cruel. I did not recognise her. When I overheard PFJ and Cynthia mention her I was leaving the do, and I went back in to find her - and was glad to have done so. In 82 I took O Level French. I never spoke another word of it until I went to Marseille in 98 for the World Cup - and I discovered I was almost fluent. Good enough to get around without trouble. Even occasionally idiomatic. Myra & Arlette Lindley did that for me. It was lovely to be able to say thank you.

Then it was onto Woodbridge for Seb's baptism - cousin Angie & Simon's boy, who is now my fifth godchild. It is always a complete joy to spend time with Angie & Simon, and with Abi too, Angie's younger sister, and to get to know Matt with her, and to see my Aunty Marie & Maurice, and Uncle Ken. It really is great to have time with them. I loved it.

Lord, bless Seb. I am self-confessedly not a baby person; but help me to be faithful in praying for him; and please be more faithful in protecting them as a family and pour your love upon them daily so they may know the wonder of your presence.

The shortest of sojourns at the wonderfully hospitable Harry and Tracy Latham's (again - too brief - and astoundingly Harry's mother has a springer spaniel who is the spitting image of Matty: really very, very like him; I have never seen a dog more like another) provided a resting place before the plane to Wengen.

Ah! Wengen! Summer in the mountains. (Which means sunshine & showers, but peace & friends all around & a beautiful hotel and this view greeting me as I arrived from my balcony.) Bliss!

1 comment:

Garinda said...

Hi, l must have been in the year above you at QEGS, judging by the year you took your O-levels.
I was just looking through some old photos, then decided to Google my old form mistress's name, Myra Hardcastle. l'm so sorry to read she has MS. She was such a wonderful teacher, and as you said, ultra glamorous. I did ask Regina Arkwright about Myra, when l went back to school to give a talk to her art students, about ten years ago. I have Parkinson's disease, but l cope with that. So very sad to read that such a vibrant person as Myra, who was so extraordinarily kind to me personally, is in such a poor state of health.
Thank you for blogging this information, even though it didn't bring me good news, and Myra, if you ever see this, thank you for all you did for me, and God bless.
Gary Martin, 3Q 1978-79. Mrs Lambert/Hardcastle's form.