Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Visual Vignettes

A mix of recently sent material from Charles Joyce and Keith Ison and a bit more...

And from Charles Joyce - c 1966 / 7
Rugby - Mr. Chopin’s ref “ up and under”.

Basketball 1969 - From Keith Ison

The autographs..

Keith's Coat hanger with his house No on - Your house No had to be on everything..

Cleobury in the snow - above and not int he snow below!

Cleobury truck driver

Hobbies:  “ Panic, model boat pollutes swimming with diesel fuel on her maiden voyage " Charles Joyce

LAZING ON A SUNNY AFTERNOON - photos Charles Joyce

Sunny Afternoon - the kinks from 1966 but it doesn't look too sunny where they are filming!!

And photos from c 1966 /7 from Charles Joyce

Cycling , “ on the way back from Cleobury, stopped off Cherry Orchard , the field is full of trees now, 44 years on, still have the bike, Pollard 21” built in Coventry, shop was on the 
Binley Rd. 1964.

Woodwork by G Clamp.

Another contribution by Charles Joyce. Photos are (except where stated) not from the school but simulate the kind of 60's equipment used.

School Woodwork shop Now with 60's equipment - photo Keith Ison
Photo Keith Ison 2011

“ Many hours spent in the woodwork room, still can Identify the different wood grain characteristics “

“an echo from the past, stop what you’re doing and gather round , while Mr. Place planes a piece of wood with iron smoothing plane, face side, face edge, width and thickness in that Lancashire accent, you can smell that wood scent."

Learning Curves 2

Learning Curves 2 - Trev Teasdel

After moving into the 'New Block' in 1966, we had The Rev (Jack) Williams for English and Current Affairs in the classroom in that block.

Learning Curve A
Current Affairs
Skellern Farm
One of my memories of the Current Affairs lessons was staring out of the window at a tractor peacefully ploughing the field beyond the Rugby pitch while Jack discussed the latest atrocities on the world stage and the napalming of the Vietnamese. By comparison, our little world was peaceful, in spite of the bullying and corporal punishment and I felt thankful for that at least. The adult world out there seemed a mix of optimism and creativity coming from the music put out by the Pirate radio stations and the youth movement campaigning for a better world and the atrocities of war zones like Vietnam and the racism of apartheid. There seemed to be an optimism back then that the youth movement would change things for the better, inspired by songs like Dylan's The Times they are a Changing and the Beatles All You Need is Love. Lots of things changed of course but overall, in the final analysis, it's even worse now. By 1965, thanks to the pirates, you could get your current affairs awareness from pop music as illustrated by Barry McGuire's Eve of Destruction.

According to Wikipedia  " Eve of Destruction is a protest song written by P. F. Sloan in 1965. The best-known recording was by Barry McGuire. The song is a grave warning of imminent apocalypse, and considered to be the epitome of a protest song. It expressed the frustrations and fears of young people in the age of the Cold War, Vietnam, the nuclear arms race, and the civil rights movement. The song had initially been presented to The Byrds as a Dylanesque potential single, but they rejected it. The vocal track was thrown on as a rough mix and was not intended to be the final version, but a copy of the recording "leaked" out to a DJ, who began playing it. The song was an instant hit and as a result the more polished vocal track that was at first envisioned was never recorded."


Learning Curve B

Shakespeare and All That..

Of course, in English we studied the immortal bard. Romeo and Juliet with Mr Harper and Macbeth with 'Jack' Williams. 

'Jack' would dictate endless notes on the play which we would write down, stopping every now and then while he told us a moral story from his life experience and which gave our wrists a welcome break. We'd do a synopsis of the play, act by act and character studies, analysing their motives, social and moral psychology as can be seen in these surviving pages from my school notebooks. In 1990, we went up to the Black Isle in Scotland as my (then) partner's father came from there and took the time to visit Cawdor Castle, only find, after doing the tour, that it had nothing much to do with the 'Historic' Macbeth, only the Shakespearian character.

Cawdor Castle

'Jack' delivered his lectures in his commanding, no nonsense, Welsh voice. Once, going into the classroom early after lunch, Jack had written on the board "What are the people from Greece called?" for a previous class. I wrote on the board "Greasers" thinking he would appreciate my wit. That evening I waited outside his room for six of his best!

Vocabulary Books
Jack encouraged us to keep a vocabulary book and I worked hard at this, even writing down words I'd heard in pop songs like 'Subterranean' from Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues . Sometimes we had to write mock letters and I'd use my wit to create spoof and witty names and addresses for which I managed not to get the slipper! About then, in 1966, I wrote my first song lyric at 15. I used to buy Record Song Book which had the lyrics to current pop songs. In one issue they juxtaposed The Dangling Conversation by Paul Simon next to "With a Girl Like You' by the Troggs. Simon's lyric was an amazingly eloquent poem, working on several levels of meaning, while every other line of the Trogg's hit (although i loved it too), was bab a ba ba ba... I figured a sheep could have written that and although I didn't think I could match the eloquence of the Simon song, thought i could do better than the Troggs (notwithstanding that Reg Presley later came up with the poetic Night of the Long Grass a bit later on. I'd internalised the various structures of pop songs by regularly reading Record Song Book and wanted to test my wit to see if I could come up with a lyric. It was just an experiment. My first effort was influenced by a current Walker brothers hit and was called Baby I Can Tell, I wasn't trying emulate Simon, just create a basic pop song lyric but I did nick "Superficial sighs' from Simon! It wasn't a lyric I ever used but just to see if i could do it. It came out of the creativity i had employed in writing spoof letters in English! I didn't take up lyric writing regularly until I left school, one of my first being set to music by Pete Waterman in long before he was famous and somewhat more poetic than the dance hits he later produced. I did write a good dozen at school, one called Lonely Valley, one night camping in the middle nowhere in Wales while on the Initiative test, another called Revolution, written in 1966 in Prep after reading about the Industrial Revolution but with a more modern twist on the down side of technology and in the style of Spencer Davis Group. A little while later the Beatles came up with a song of the same title which i considered much better than my effort, but it was all grist to the mill and another learning curve that would later lead to me teaching Creative Writing and developing an infrastructure for local budding writers in county Cleveland. And yes, I have used the dangling conversation lyric in classes sometimes in classes. Amazing how students always discover something new in the lyric - each verse takes a different art form, the images reinforce the superficiality and shallowness and the passing of time inherent in the relationship described etc. 'Still  life water colour', 'shadows wash the room'...

The Dangling Conversation - Written by Paul Simon
It's a still life water color,
Of a now late afternoon,
As the sun shines through the curtained lace
And shadows wash the room.
And we sit and drink our coffee
Couched in our indifference,
Like shells upon the shore
You can hear the ocean roar
In the dangling conversation
And the superficial sighs,
The borders of our lives.

And you read your Emily Dickinson,
And I my Robert Frost,
And we note our place with bookmarkers
That measure what we've lost.
Like a poem poorly written
We are verses out of rhythm,
Couplets out of rhyme,
In syncopated time
And the dangled conversation
And the superficial sighs,
Are the borders of our lives.

Yes, we speak of things that matter,
With words that must be said,
"Can analysis be worthwhile?"
"Is the theater really dead?"
And how the room is softly faded
And I only kiss your shadow,
I cannot feel your hand,
You're a stranger now unto me
Lost in the dangling conversation.
And the superficial sighs,
In the borders of our lives.

Paul Simon's song was influenced by the 1944 Saul Bellow novel Dangling Man
"Written in diary format, the story centers on the life of an unemployed young man named Joseph, his relationships with his wife and friends, and his frustrations with life. Living in Chicago and waiting to be drafted, the diary acts as a philosophical confessional for his musings. It ends with his entrance into the army during World War II, and a hope that the regimentation of army life will relieve his suffering. Along with Bellow's second novel The Victim, it is considered his "apprentice" work."

Learning Curves 1

Learning Curves by Trev Teasdel

Gottlieb Daimler

While at the school in the 60's I did a lot of exploring on my bike of the local Cleobury area and with my parents by car during school holidays. It might be in the Midlands on a Sunday jaunt or down in Devonshire int he summer or in Norfolk (where my father's family came from) in the Easter. My father encouraged my interest in history early by getting me to read Coventry's Heritage. Through being a school librarian for the Rev Williams, I read the the histories of many of the innovative car manufacturers (Coventry being a car city), Gottlieb Daimler, Henry Ford and many more. I could tell you every car on the road at that time (not so now - I don't drive!).

While driving around or on holiday, my father encouraged me to spot buildings. I got a book how to recognise buildings and one on Place names and another on welsh place names from a second hand shop and it kept me quiet on long journeys and something to explore when cycling.

Interestingly the above book on place names says of Shropshire

"To understand the vagaries of  place-name nomenclature in Shropshire, it has to be appreciated that the county is a land of lost villages, which only emerged as an administrative unit early in 11th century and of the villages that appear in the Domesday book, many appear as farms or small hamlets today. Of 61 hamlets recorded in the Domesday survey 8 have been deserted and 35 survive as isolated farms. As a densely wooded region on the edge of the welsh mountains. its attraction to those who wanted to get their living from the soil was small.

The settlement of this largest of all inland counties was from the rivers, which is normal; but to a greater degree than most it was from the Ridgeways . the most important which was Clun-Clee. Clun, Clunbury, Clungunford, and Clunton all take their name from the river Clun, a British name that has the same origin as the River Colne in Essex. Clee, meaning Clay, is a range of hills that gave rise to even more place names such as Clee St. Margaret, Clee Stanton, Cleobury Mortimer and North Cleobury......

Neen Sollars, Neen Savage start with a British river name identical with Nene to which the names of their Norman owners were added."


Learning Curve 2

In the summer of 1965 when I was about 15, my family and aunt, uncle and cousins toured the continent for two weeks by car, camping in Continental tents (what else!). We crossed northern France to Brussels and then to Luxembourg (listening to Radio Luxembourg while actually there was exciting) and spending most of the time in Switzerland before travelling back through Germany, Holland and Belgium, through France to the ferry.

Although an avid Elvis fan at the time and in spitre of Elvis being No 1 in the charts with a gospel tune, Crying in the Chapel, recorded 4 years before, I loved a lot of the new music, encouraged further by my cousin and her friend who were a bit older, 18. We listened to the pirate stations as we traveled up the Alps, Radio London, Radio Caroline. Bob Dylan was touring France, French magazines were full of the stories with Fran├žoise Hardy and Nico. I bought the magazines in France and picked up the excitement even though I couldn't understand a word of French. Mr Tambourine Man was a new jingle jangle sound with amazing lyrics by Dylan. It's not just nostalgia to love the music of those years, there was real innovation and experimentation going on and all the more exciting as it was promoted by off shore pirate radio stations that the power that be couldn't wait to shut down. It was our music, a statement in itself against the stuffy status quo. Folk was mixed with rock, guitar riffs jangled with life and colour, poetry was delivered with harmony and often social protest, R & B was moody and soulful and Talma Motown beginning.

Often, while winding up and down the Alps they'd play Ticket to Ride. We half expected the Beatles to come hurtling down on skies over our heads.

Switzerland inspired me. we spent a whole week there around lake Lucerne, going out each day in the car touring in all directions. While there I collected booklets on Switzerland, its history and sociology. I found it a fascinating country, its political, financial and social structure.

On returning to school in the autumn, I listened more to the pirate stations, listened to the lyrics more, bought record songbook so I had the words and gained a sense of structure, eventually writing my own later in 1966 during prep!

Ken Williams, deputy head and our history teacher, introduced a new subject into our curriculum - Social Studies. We were tasked with doing a self-chosen study project on a social topic. I knew straight away what I wanted to do and I was motivated in way I had never been before. Switzerland - I wanted to study and write about Switzerland - the timing was bang on! I got a 1st for it and when housemaster - Tanky Thorn tasked us to each give a talk to the house one night, I got rare praise from him for delivering a talk, with out props, on Switzerland, despite my shyness. Something I remembered when summoning up the confidence to start teaching creative Writing many years later.

The next year I did another self study project for history - this time on Bewdley, which allowed me to go out of school during the week to do research in the town. It was noted that self-study appealed to me and I repeated the success when it came to doing my BA dissertation - another first - much higher than i got in class taught subjects. there were many subjects I was lousy at, especially anything practical like Woodwork or TD but these subjects motivated me.

(The hand writing on the Switzerland book cover says (upside down) "Reserved for Hudson and Graham" -proof that books can multi-task!)


Friday, November 25, 2011

"Hello Muddah, hello Faddah Here I am at camp Grenada" Letters Home

Another Charles Joyce special - his theme this time is "Letters we sent and letters we received"

One of the popular songs in 1963, which we all sang in the Dorms at the time was Allan Sherman's

Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah (A Letter from Camp)

[Music from Ponchielli's "Dance of the Hours" from La Gioconda]

Hello Muddah, hello Faddah
Here I am at camp Grenada
Camp is very entertaining
And they say we'll have some fun if it stops raining

I went hiking with Joe Spivey
He developed poison ivy
You remember Leonard Skinner
He got ptomaine poisoning last night after dinner

All the counselors hate the waiters
And the lake has alligators
And the head coach wants no sissies
So he reads to us from something called Ulysses

Now I don't want this should scare ya'
But my bunkmate has malaria
You remember Jeffery Hardy
They're about to organize a searching party

Take me home, oh Muddah, Faddah
Take me home, I hate Grenada
Don't leave me out in the forest where
I might get eaten by a bear

Take me home, I promise I will
Not make noise, or mess the house with
Other boys, oh please don't make me stay
I've been here one whole day

Dearest Fadduh, Darling Muddah
How's my precious little bruddah
Let me come home if you miss me
I would even let Aunt Bertha hug and kiss me

Wait a minute, it's stopped hailing
Guys are swimming, guys are sailing
Playing baseball, gee that's bettah
Muddah, Faddah kindly disregard this letter.

Photo - Charles Joyce

Ralph Aldhous There was an incident early on when my parents sent me a tuck parcel. I don't remember the exact circumstances. My dad used to make these little parcels with a lot of tape and put sweets and stuff in. I got one about once a term. They were not excessive by most standards. A bit like red cross parcels I suppose. For some reason it had come to Mr Rowland's attention and he was surprised at the amount of sweets I was being sent by my parents and I was sent to his office. It was at the end of the assembly hall behind the stage. I can't remember, possibly because I couldn't understand at the time, what he was on about. Anyway, Dilys Place intervened on my behalf. She knew there were some boys who had massive amounts of tuck sent. There was a boy called Ellison I think whose dad owned a shop and who had a huge stash. He had white hair.

Rosemary Webb Rehill The tuck shop room moved all over the place. Wasn't it in that funny building to the right of the staff room in the back, at one stage? I know that became a gym later. I think? it was up all the way at the top of the dormitory block too. That became the art room later.

Trev Teasdel - By 1965 it was in the entrance to the old science lab and according to David Partridge in the dining hall block in a room near the Bursar's office. You looked forward to the tuck parcels - the staff gave them out after morning inspection. It helped your day go better if you got one or a letter from home.

Photo - Charles Joyce

Ralph Aldhous Of course, letters were censored. I think we had to hand them in unsealed. If we wrote stuff deemed unsuitable we were told to rewrite them. In my first term I was awfully homesick and I wrote great long missives which I had to rewrite. By the third year I was hard pushed to write anything. A typical letter home was something like:
Dear Mum
It's raining. Send me Some money.

Trev Teasdel I don't remember that they were censored - maybe I've forgotten - I thought we just wrote them and sent them.

Ralph Aldhous Maybe they changed it. It seems strange now, but I think then we just accepted it. Would be interested to see if anyone else remembers.

Trev Teasdel Yeah - I'm thinking now, but I think I would have found it embarrassing - letters to parents are personal by nature - you just wouldn't bother if they were being censored.

Ralph Aldhous Well you didn't. Bother I mean. You couldn't say much in a letter anyway. And my parents had worked hard for me to be there and didn't relly want to know that I had been punched 
in the face by a third year. Tank was right.

Paul Williamson  Ralph is quite right - I remember my letters being censored, and being told to re-write them if they contained any hint of criticism. As I have mentioned before we didn't complain because it had always bene done in the past.

Photo - Charles Joyce

This Photo by Michael Billings

"I gave a letter to the postman, he put it in his sack, mighty early next morning he brought my letter back" (Elvis)
Return to Sender was top of the charts at the end of 1962 after my year had completed their first term of our first year.  It was for many of us the hardest term - you were 11 and being away from home for the first time in very tough environment took some getting used to. You were most likely to be homesick in the first term. Return to Sender, a hit a few months before the Beatles took over, was a good song to contemplate getting the coach home.

Photo - Charles Joyce

Photo - Charles Joyce

Photo - Charles Joyce

By the summer term of 1966 our year were about to enter into their fifth and final form. Soon we'd have to think about a different kind of 'reality', freedom on the one hand - but the world of work on the other hand. We'd soon be writing letters to potential employers. I never did know what I wanted to do. I had started to write song lyrics and Charles Joyce taught me a few chords on guitar - Colours by Donovan. The careers officer wasn't impressed when I said i wanted to be a songwriter - he asked me what my dad did - he had his own electrical business repairing Hoovers and washing machines - ok he said - Electrical Apprenticeship. Ultimately it didn't work out - later i got involved with the Coventry music scene and later still taught creative writing for 15 years for Workers educational Association  and Leeds University Adult Education.

About that time in 1966 the Beatles had a letter song about wanting to be a writer - the sound of their multi-tracked voices and the phasing and that guitar riff blew me away - it was a new sound - I first heard it on Alan Freeman's Pick of the Pops one Sunday at home during the school hols 1966 - it immediately grabbed me!

By the fifth form, if not before, other types of letters may have been on the agenda for some of the boys - absent girlfriends, wannabe girlfriends, wannabe boyfriends. In 1966, although I also liked much of the other music that was coming out at the time, I was still an Elvis fan. Charles Joyce turned up his radio one night for me - Elvis was on with a new single - the old Ketty Lester no - Love Letters - it wasn't in the current vogue but at least a new recording at a time when Presley coasting along on film songs while the Beatles held court.

Love was in the air for teenagers and the Summer of Love was only a blink away in 1967 when we would watch the Beatles record All You Need is Love on a black white set in the recreation room.