A la récherche de quelque chose

I left school (here) 23 years ago, and the neighbouring sixth form college two years after. My house was just over the road and, to go to school, I had a fairly relaxed five minute stroll of a morning, when I wasn’t rushing because I was late, that is.

Today I had to go to the dentist to get some work finished off: a root canal filling as it happens – yet another sign of increasing age. And as the bus passed the school buildings on Marton Road I looked out of the window and noticed they simply weren’t there any more. They’re being demolished and all that sits there at the moment are several huge piles of building rubble and a lot of fencing. So after my filling was done, on the way back into Middlesbrough, I decided to jump off the bus back into town for a few minutes and get a couple of quick snaps of where my old alma mater used to be. I’ve put them all in a facebook album. Pretty much the only bit of the school left is where the old art block used to be. I spent quite a lot of fairly entertaining art lessons with Derek Boyle here, including when Neil Flint brought in his Grandmaster Flash records and where I heard The Message and White Lines properly for the first time. It was here also I was first made aware of the considerable charms of Mandi Piper, the girl with what surely was the world’s most beautiful bottom (and the world’s filthiest laugh). 😀

Perhaps it’s a sign of my onrushing old age but it feels slightly odd to have such a large part of one’s youth pulled away like this. It was, after all, the site of numerous wheezing and wintry cross-country runs; of seeing Barry Waines break his arm when putting up a trampoline wrong and occasionally finding scuzzy-looking grumble mags in the bushes surrounding the school (usually with pages stuck together). It was the site of a locally notorious period of race riots and legendary inter-school fights; I didn’t say it was Eton, did I?

It was the place where I met people who are still friends to this day (and some people who I’m glad are not). It was the place where the first teenage hormones stirred and you started to notice how girls (and one of the girls’ PE teachers) looked. It was the home of the tapered wedge, odd-coloured dayglo socks, the Patrick rainjacket and Adidas Samba trainers, of Duranies and Smiths fans; the place where Mr Green’s whip lived and where you could get Mr Atkinson to go off into a Malayan reverie at the drop of a hat if the lesson didn’t interest you.

It was where one of the maths teachers looked like he’d starred in the Evil Dead – this was Mr Mellor, variously known as Mr Mellor the Frog Eyed Fella or just Zombie Mellor. It was where you saw Mr Clark the PE teacher knock out a violent trouble causer with one punch. It was the place where the history teacher sounded like Zippy and looked like Rod Stewart after a really bad night, and where you spent one memorable day ‘reconfiguring’ her classroom when everyone else had gone on a trip to Blackpool. If she noticed that every poster in the room had been turned upside down and all the door handles had been turned around, she didn’t say a thing.

When it closed in 2003, the few pupils remaining were ferried off to The King’s Academy, run by a bunch of happy-clappy God freaks. Where’s the fun in that? The site itself seems to be currently being used as a overflow car park for the James Cook University Hospital next door.

It was the place where I fitted in, and where I didn’t.

And now it’s gone. All things must pass.

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