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Welcome to the world of the Vincent D'Onofrio obsessed - and a bit of real life thrown in.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Remembrance of Things Past

 Back in 1606, a shipwright in Deptford in south east London called John Addey died and left in his will £200 towards "the relief of the poor people of Deptford to last forever". So says the tablet to his memory in the churchyard of St Nicholas', where both he and the murdered playwright Christopher Marlowe were buried.

How do you make £200 last forever? Well, the executors invested it in some land, and later the funds were used to open a school a school was for the children of the poor in the area.

In 1715 Dean George Stanhope, chaplain to Queen Anne, also founded a school for the poor children of Deptford. In the 19th century this building was opened in Deptford High Street:

You can see the boy and girl statues over the central window.

Towards the end of the 19th century the two schools amalgamated to form Addey and Stanhope school. Eventually it became a grammar school, which means pupils were selected on the basis of an exam at age 11. Eventually the education system changed again and the school, while maintaining its small size, became a comprehensive. Although it is publicly funded, it still has funds from the original endowments with which it can fund developments. It still owns the very small plot on which it now stands (not the original or secondary site) and has recently expanded by demolishing buildings on adjacent land that it also owns, and built a very modern extension.

The oldest part of the current building dates to 1899:

The modern addition is very futuristic:

This is where the old post office used to stand.

The top floor of the blue stripy building is the new sports hall.
The tarmac you can see is the only outside space the school has.
So why am I telling you this? Well, from 1964-1971 I was an Addeyan. As a representative of the poor children of Deptford, I was just the sort of pupil they liked to have. I loved it, and they did me proud. I was even Head Girl in 1970-1, and I appear on three Honours Boards.
Yesterday my agency sent me for an interview for a temporary post there. They wanted a full-timer, and I was supposed to have a job-sharer, but she pulled out at the last minute. But they still interviewed me as well as a full-time prospect. They appointed her for the interim post, but didn't want to lose me, so they've decided they can afford to employ me for two days a week for at least 6 weeks. This suits me fine!
It's the kind of school people stay loyal to, and many ex-pupils have always returned to teach there. When I was a child, the Geography teacher was a former pupil. He stayed for his whole career, only retiring a relatively short time ago, having risen to the post of Deputy Headteacher. He married an ex-pupil briefly, and later was romantically involved with two or three members of staff. Another pupil came back to teach PE, having always had a crush on the History teacher, and she snagged him!
The boy statue was lost many years ago - perhaps more than a century - but the girl still has pride of place, standing today in the entrance of the new building.

Monday, December 16, 2013

How did he make it to 81?

I was saddened but not surprised to hear yesterday of the death on Saturday of Peter O'Toole. It says much of the man's stature that he was top of the news broadcast on the BBC's most serious radio station, Radio 4.

I was not even 10 when Lawrence of Arabia came out, but I saw it when I was very young, and was bowled over. At some point I even requested T. E. Lawrence's book, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, as a school prize.

His performance as King Henry II in the film Becket, with fellow hellraiser Richard Burton in the title role, just confirmed my admiration for the man. When he reprised the role in The Lion in Winter, the only thing that made me cringe was the appalling Katherine Hepburn as Eleanor of Aquitaine (though on the plus side, the identity of that Queen's spouse was the £1 million answer the first time the quiz Who Wants to be a Millionaire was won, and so I knew the answer. Sadly not me answering though, someone else got the £1 million). O'Toole was wonderful.

In my young days the horn player from the English National Opera's orchestra (I was a regular attendee) became a friend. We even shared a birthday, and at his 50th anniversary party the cake had a corner for my 29th. Later that year he was going to his old mate Peter O'Toole's 50th birthday party. He was considering inviting me, and made the mistake of telling me this while giving me a lift home on the night itself. But he was too protective, and didn't want to subject me to the kind of rave-up his pal would be having, so my begging was in vain. Grrrr!

Given the life he lived, it's miraculous that O'Toole made it to 81.

Another film star has also died this weekend aged 96. Joan Fontaine didn't feature on my list of famous faces I could put names to, but her estranged big sister, Olivia De Havilland (the great wartime aircraft...) was always a favourite. And she is still around aged 97.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Ahead of their time

I half heard an interview with someone who helped arrange the 1988 Nelson Mandela 70th anniversary concert. Apparently Paul McCartney was upset he hadn't been invited to perform, and said The Beatles had offered to do a Mandela concert in 1965.

The interviewee said he thought this was just an empty boast. After all, who'd really heard of Mandela in 1965? He'd only been in jail for a year.

Well, the guy later found that the people The Beatles had made the offer to had rejected it because he had not heard of them! I mean, who had?

In 1965? Only everyone else in the world!

I must say that this story made me happy to be a lifelong fan of the band.

Today was Mandela's funeral, and for some reason one of my old poems came back to my mind. I wrote it in 1972, and it was written from the point of view of an oppressed black person in a place like South Africa. It ended with a dream of future freedom. The poem may still exist in a box somewhere, but all I recall is the last two lines:

Then shall we say that white men have brains of dust,
Or let them hold their heads high, as we must?

Gosh, Truth and Reconciliation ahead of its time! I hadn't realised how forward-thinking I was age 19!

Ill Bred

Not a favourite episode, but my, how hot is he?

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