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As a fellow product of LEGS, I totally agree with Stephen's post. One other thing that has struck me about ex-LEGS pupils (and perusing the two sites mentioned) is the number of pupils who finished up overseas - notably in the States or Australia. I wonder if the same is true of other schools in the same era?

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As I walked the dejected mile and a smidgeon along Gregory Boulevard to school each morning, I'd run the gauntlet of those lucky blighters who didn't get through the 11-Plus, en route for the bus to P

Once a week, in all weathers, we'd trail in crocodile out of the back entrance of the Manning School, up Stanley Road and left onto Berridge Road Central, en route to Noel Street Swimming Baths. Whoe

In September 1969, my first term at the Manning School, the All Seeing Eye (aka the Headmistress) had very recently been married for the first time to a clergyman. The ASE, approaching retirement and

think you might be surprized how many guys and gels from that era whent abroard in there teens and twenties i certainly know quite a lot from all back gounds and educations know quite a few who went in the forces did realy well and them emigrated to states canada or australia and have done realy well most of them from ordanary secondary schools some who were considered as thick at school too proved to be just the opposit when they got into working situations many developing there own business and doing really well.

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as some of you know my sister kath emigrated to south africa about 5 years ago after she and her husband both retiered her husband wanted to go when they first got married they both love it there and wish they had done it years ago when roy wanted to go says she and the kids would have had a much better standard of life.

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that was part of kaths decision not to go years ago then when both sets of parents died and we and all her own children were living our own lives they went for a couple of holidays and on the second visit 10 years ago brought thier bungalow with the intention of moveingout there when they retired plus kaths medical conditions the warm weather benifited. they still own there house here in nottingham so couldcome home to live if things changed for them. they have been lucky in finding that they have great neighbours and friends out there too which has been a big thing for them, hopefully they should be home for a holiday next monthand will be home for easter and some family birthdays was ment to have come at christmas but due to a sudden illness meaning an op for roy 2 days before they were due to flyso had to be put bacl till now instead.

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During the last (almost) four decades since I excavated a successful tunnel out of The Manning School, I've met many former pupils who endured its rigours long before I was even a twinkle in my Daddy's eye. The moment the realisation hit home, one was aware of a kinship stretching down the years, an unseen bond linking fellow martyrs together: a kind of invisible Bostick of affliction. Most of them assured me that I'd been fortunate: the regime in their day having been far more Draconian than the 'permissive' (eh? must have blinked, cos I didn't see that bit) 60 and 70s.

The reigns of such tyrant All Seeing Eyes as Misses Harding, Lighten and Co were at an end when I arrived but the ASE (whatever her name and era) had always presided like a J Edgar Hoover in twin-set and pearls, atop the pyramid of a shadowy network of nefarious informers which meant a girl could trust no-one. Not unlike living in fear of the local OGPU: on the premises or off, if in uniform, you were being forever watched.

One visible face of this surveillance operation was (as we termed it) 'the Stasi in the Kharzi': to wit, Pickle-Face sniffing out those up to no good in the loos. Even the Pickle couldn't be occupied with gym/hockey/netball/mooning over Ile Nastasi (followed by a cold footbath- the Manning didn't run to showers) all the time, so you'd see her during free periods jogging, trainer-shod, past the quad windows, blue tracksuit, whistle round her neck, en route to flush out those who were lurking in the loos during lesson time.

Personally, I've always felt there was something unsavoury about people who live in tracksuits- and we never saw the Pickle out of one except on Speech Day when she fidgeted defensively in a tweed ensemble feeling inferior, no doubt, to most of the other staff decked out in the academic finery of their black silk-corded gowns, fur-lined hoods and mortar boards. The Pickle perched on the periphery of this cornucopia of sartorial splendour, eyes downcast, like the poor relation in her jumble-sale bargain at a society wedding.

Those who have read of my dampening experience of toilets at Berridge Road Infant School will be aware of my vow never again to 'go' during school hours but, during the first 3 years at Manning we were not allowed to leave the site at all during the school day, so it was a case of revise this strategy or expire of kidney failure. Why anyone wanted to seek sanctuary in the loos eludes me: they weren't exactly inviting: standard 1930s issue, dark, grubby and heavy with the pungent smell of gas (probably leaking from the incinerators at the far end) and often veiled in blue smoke when the 6th form had been around. Even during legitimate visits, Pickle would bang on the door, demanding to know what you were doing in there, at the same time peering under the gap to ascertain how many pairs of feet were involved. Really! This kind of behaviour certainly got my goat. Did we hammer on the portal of the staff lavvie when she was answering the call of nature, insisting on an intimate account of what she was up to and who with? Of course not...but it was typical of the Manning: we couldn't even have a 'tinkle' in peace.

Lunchtimes, unless torrentially wet, meant all were turfed outside and classrooms locked. They reckoned without 'Cranners' who could pick any lock ever invented with only a hairgrip to aid her (no mean feat for a 12 year old girl) but she didn't last long...exiled to Swindon!

Loos, washrooms, cloakrooms...all were regularly flushed out by the Pickle et al and any miscreants sentenced to penal servitude in the games equipment storeroom next to the gym- polisihing hockey sticks and noisily coaxing dubbing into the leather goods. Hide and squeak! What a load of old (net) balls!

The small coppiced area at the far end of the school field received extra-zealous policing by Pickle. This bit of ground was strictly out of bounds to girls due to the screening nature of the trees. Older staff were forever banging on about their concern over 'particular friendships'...hence all the spying. Search me what it meant: I had no wish to be particularly friendly (or even mildly cordial) with any of 'em. The coppice occupied the corner of Gregory Boulevard and Russell Road. Given the 'dirty raincoat brigade's penchant for gathering outside the railings in that area, Pickle may have been at pains to prevent members of the 6th form showing a little initiative by starting their own commercial enterprise, or perhaps it was to obviate the risk of spotty teenaged boys trysting clandestinely with our girls. Anything male was frowned upon, wherever it lurked, spotty or otherwise.

Robespierre (of knickers fame) patrolled the interior corridors searching for rule-flouters. Hair not tied back, short skirt, missing tie, pursebelt, make-up, nail varnish, jewellery (all verboten) and- a favourite- unacceptable footwear.

"Remove those shoes!" she barked at me one morning as I idly dawdled round the quad. Not : "Please..." "Would you be so kind..." Manners maketh the martinet? No chance.

In stockinged feet, idly watching the mica sparkling on the ground beneath them, I watched as Robespierre assessed the inside of the heels with a tape measure. "Two inches," pronounced the permanently pursed lips. "Half an inch too high! See me before assembly tomorrow in rrrregulation heels. Why do French speakers always have to rrrrroll their rrrrrs? Don't they know it makes them look rrrrrrrrrridiculous?"

Then, looking me straight in the eye: "I presume you do have another pair of shoes to your name?"

Seething at the condescension of the woman, I watched her figure receding down the corridor, stifling a yen to kick her derriere all the way to Frrrrench Guiana in hobnail boots...and down the nearest bauxite mine! For the zillionth time, I wished I'd been struck down by beri beri on 11 Plus day!

Serious disruptives (pussycats by today's standards) disappeared overnight, leaving behind only an empty desk and a bemused expression on the form mistress's face when one enquired about their fate. "Who?" A non-person, what's who.

Those found to be 'with child' followed a similar pattern - even with only days to go before sitting O or A level exams. No mercy? No fear!

The less heinous offenders stood perched on the apron of the stage in morning assembly, to be gawped at, pointed out and sniggered about or under the Dome at break/lunchtimes, where every passing stray cat glared stonily at the culrpit: letting the House down, disgracing the uniform. No matter what you'd done or where in the country you'd done it...they always always knew.

Me? I fell into none of these categories. Not a disruptive influence, more your subversive, a Fifth Columnist. They were aware and they didn't like it but they couldn't catch me at it.

Knowing how much I hated the place, my father offered some wise words of advice. A man who could be relied upon to see the funny side of any situation, he urged me to look beyond the immediate misery and find the humour, the rrrridiculousness of our tormentors and their petty rules. "Humour them but refuse to take them seriously," said he. "Laugh at 'em...and they can't hurt you."

He was right...and it worked.

They knew I wrote defamatory odes about them and -often set to the tune of Rule Britannia or The National Anthem- I'd have the whole class singing one of my libellous attacks of a wet breaktime. But they never found anything on paper. I was safe.

Mind you, Daddy dropped me in it on parents' evening toward the end of my time at Manning when the ASE complained to my mother that their daughter didn't seem to be shaping up as required or putting in much effort with a view to passing her forthcoming exams.

"Well," confided my father impishly, "I'm not too worried. If all else fails, she can always become a teacher!"

I surely paid for that remark. Thanks Dad!!

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New Basfordlad, sorry to take so long to get back to you, just catching up with a ton of posts I've missed through being away a lot. The chippy on Berridge Rd, the name Christine doesn't ring a bell. All I know is the owners were Les and Edie Whitlam, my uncle and aunt, and the shop was on a corner. I remember visiting after Goose Fair and seeing machines in the back yard out in the open. One rumbled the spuds, thus knocking off the skins, the other made the whole potato into chips. Fascinated me as a kid. The Whitlam's had 2 boys at home at that time, Jim and Billy.

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did not all lady teachers wear the twin sets and pearls well at least most of them at my all girls school did apart from mirs rex or sexy rexy as we all called her she had just been married drove a sporty converable car and wore all the trendy cloths of the time mini skirts thick black tights in the winter shear tights in the summer always stilleto heels and tight tops she was in charge of the libary and also tought english litriture.always got on quite well as she soon realized i was an avid reader although it took me longer than most girls to get through my books i would be reading stuff much more advanced than most too and she who often bring me in her own books she though i might enjoy

as for mail teachers we only had two in our last year at school mr bonnieface real name but to look at he was very much like his name round face red cheeks and sometimes he would wear glasses he tought us re the other mr arnold tought maths and english this was in 1966 just before schools started to go compihensive apparently they had both worked in a boys school before being seconded to us lady teachers going into boys school to teach.dont remember a lot about mr arnold except i never saw him in anything but tweed jackets black trousers and if he outside trilby hat.... but do remember one desuction about mixed schools i said i was not sure if a good idea or not as some girls very shy around boys and for others it could be big distraction he asked my why i had said that as he was positive i would not be bothered around the boys to wich i replied of course not i got older brother and boys always at our house pluss most of my own good mates were boys, so why would going to school with them have bothered me he then said no but it would have distracted them to which i replied my point exactly, all the class just burst out laughing end of conversation.

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New Basfordlad, sorry to take so long to get back to you, just catching up with a ton of posts I've missed through being away a lot. The chippy on Berridge Rd, the name Christine doesn't ring a bell. All I know is the owners were Les and Edie Whitlam, my uncle and aunt, and the shop was on a corner. I remember visiting after Goose Fair and seeing machines in the back yard out in the open. One rumbled the spuds, thus knocking off the skins, the other made the whole potato into chips. Fascinated me as a kid. The Whitlam's had 2 boys at home at that time, Jim and Billy.

Thanks for the reply obviously a different chippie. The one I am talking about was on the corner Stanley Rd. and was owned by Christine's auntie, Christine was my first serious girlfriend.................. heady days.


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I think I remember Jim Whitlam.

Didn't his mum run the Marsdens grocers on the corner of Russell Rd and Berridge in the mid sixties?

He was a bit of a "Ted" and played guitar in a band that practised in the cellar under the shop.

I lived further down Russell Road and also played in a band (I was 15 at the time) and my mum asked if our band might also use the basement to practise but Jim's mum said the noise Jim's lot made was enough and said no.

I did get a look around the cellar and it was a teenagers dream. The brick walls were painted in bright colours and there was a sofa down there too. Bit like a mini Cavern club.

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Mess, the only other business we can remember our aunt running, was a babywear shop in the area. My brother remembers she got fined once for selling children's nightwear that wasn't flameproof.

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In September 1969, my first term at the Manning School, the All Seeing Eye (aka the Headmistress) had very recently been married for the first time to a clergyman. The ASE, approaching retirement and probably wanting a little companionship in her twilight years, was unusual because marriage and children were not on the agenda of the Manning ethos. That was regarded as a last resort: something you did only if you couldn't do anything else or when the time came to stop doing it.

Holy matrimony with a man in Holy orders seemed to endow the ASE with an almost evangelical zeal for boring us rigid with the Scriptures each morning. We sat in assembly, numb backsides upon the parquet floor, listening to the Epistles of St Paul to the Corinthians: odd choice, given St Paul's rather low opinions of women, that he should be afforded such prominence in a girls' school. He seemed to be just the sort of chap that Manning girls were expected to regard with utter disdain. However, since female contributors to The Good Book are as rare as rocking horse droppings, I suppose St Paul it had to be.

Before her elevation to ASE, Mrs Clergyman had been a maths teacher and, in between practising omniscience from the comfort of her study, she liked to 'keep her hand in', as it were, which meant that each class was treated to one session per week of ASE's maths. In our case, it was 'bearings', that branch of mathematics that concerns itself with protractors, compasses, much frantic rubbing of holes in the page and,,,!

I knew what ball-bearings were but all this was Greek to me: shades of 'The Navy Lark' (Sunday lunchtimes on the radio)...'Steer nor-north-west...about 152 degrees port and, Aye Aye Captain, we've disappeared up our own backside...'

In short, I didn't understand a word but I was wasn't worried because my Daddy had served in the Royal Navy during WW2 so I took the textbook home to show him, confident that he would sort it out for me.

His response: "How should I know? I was a gunner!"

Me, (helplessly): "They didn't teach you to steer the boat?"

Daddy, (with a steely glance): "SHIP!"

No luck there, then.

I don't recall much about bearings but the ASE sticks in my memory due the suit she always wore: a green stripe, chevron-patterned affair that resembled a popular mint-flavoured ice lolly of the time. Its name eludes me...not FAB, MIVI or HEART or even the one I once sent my older sister to Towlsons, our local sweet shop, to buy for me. She came back in a filthy temper: "I said, 'Can I have a Funny Face please?' and Mr Towlson replied: 'Looks to me like you've already got one, love!' " Life's tough for such sensitive souls.

Ordinary (if that is an appropriate word) maths lessons were the domain of Al Gebra and the Pytagoras Tearoom, about which I have written earlier, presided over by a very strange personage from the Emerald Isle whom we'll call Colleen.

Not sure we learned much about maths but we were royally entertained by this woman, whose patent dislike of the English was made obvious at every possible opportunity.

Imagine, if you will, a little leprechaun, clothed entirely in green: green skirt, green jumper, green tights, green scarf knotted around her neck (rumour had it that her head fell off without it!)...all this verdure relieved only by a pair of prosaic brown lace-up Hush Puppy shoes. Sounds like something out of a Val Doonican song, doesn't it?

The routine never varied: after placing a pile of battered maths exercise books on the table, she'd ascend the dais in front of the blackboard, sit down, remove her Hush Puppies, open the middle desk drawer and place her feet in it. There followed a diatribe about the abysmal quality of our homework, the diabolical treatment of the Irish by the English or the rotten-to-the-coreness of Churchill, during which Colleen would gradually maneouvre her chair on its two back legs (something which merited instant detention if we did it!) until the back rail was wedged firmly under the ledge of the blackboard behind her and the chair's front legs were poised in mid-air.

Feet still in the drawer, the lecture was now supplemented by fist-waving gestures or the throwing of chalk missiles in the direction of any girl whose gaze was wandering until- eventually- the back legs of her chair skidded forward under the unequal burden of weight, catapulting Colleen in all her green glory and mid-xenophobic sentence, under the kneehole of the desk with a loud crash, squeals and a mushroom cloud of chalk dust, from which she'd emerge, spectacles askew, greasy hair white with powdered chalk, backside bruised, to pound her fist on the desk and declaim in Revd Paisley-esque tones..."I suppose ye girls think tat's funny!"

All she saw was a forest of raised desk lids, behind which we were writhing in helpless, silent, bladder-splitting laughter, thinly disguised as a frantic search for pencil sharpeners, tears rolling down our faces.

Occasionally, Colleen would while away the lesson by throwing our exercise books at us: her vitriol confined to the utter garbage of the previous week's homework (which most had copied hurriedly, without use of rulers or sharp pencils, from the one girl who understood the question in the two minutes before it had to be handed in). Hence the battered, dog-eared and crumpled state of our books,

If we struggled to understand what Colleen said, trying to decipher her writing was impossible: it resembled the meanderings of a demented, inebriated arachnid after a night out on the tiles, fulled by a surfeit of chateau-bottled red ink!

There'd be at least half a page of it: the only certain element being the ultimate dictum: "See Me!"

We'd rather not, if you don't mind. We're confused enough already!

Dear old Colleen was, basically, the reason why most of us failed our Maths GCE. Those who passed would have done so without any teacher at all, which begs the question of what they were paying Colleen for?

To this day, whenever I hear mention of "seeing through a glass, darkly", (there's St Paul again!), I equate it with Colleen's maths lessons- albeit with a lot more laughs.

Surely, a case of the partially-sighted leading the blind - or more likely, the other way around!

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Well, don't thank me...Fate dictated that I should spend 6 years surrounded by cranks, misfits and utter nutters- the kind of person who, as an elderly relative used to observe: "they let out while they whitewash his room!"

I often used to think that Dickens would have had rich pickings with 'em because some of our pedagogues at the Manning (if that's what they were) were every bit as 'radio rental' as Montague Tigg, Chevy Slyme and WIlkins Micawber. I merely report their antics.

If you can't laugh, you'll go crazy!

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When you run out of material about School, would you give us renditions of Nottingham of the era.

I look forward to hearing your angle on it :)

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Having mentioned Wilkins Micawber recently, I was reminded of Manning's euphemistically titled 'Head of Music': one of its rare male teaching staff. Wilkins, the poor relation of the curriculum, was not just 'Head of the Music Department', he was the Music Department, all artistically-tempered 5' 2" of him, forever hoping that something (in the way of funding) might turn up.

Music was not regarded as an academic subject: a crass decision that only a non-musician could arrive at. The ASE, who should have recognised that music and maths are inextricably linked, to her shame ( between quoting the words of St Paul), had reviewed Wilkins's regular petitions and pronounced the one commandment that no teacher wants to hear: "Thou shalt not have any cash!"

Which is why, when all the Secondary Modern and Bilateral schools in Nottingham were blessed with state of the art (such as it was in the late 60s/early 70s) audio equipment, all Wilkins had was a bare classroom, whiffing of rancid cabbage and last week's ginger pud (it adjoined the kitchens), 30 plus copies of 'Carols For Choirs', an elderly Dansette record player that went 'snap, crackle and pop', a wire rack containing a smattering of battered shellac 78s, a 1900-vintage piano and stool...all presided over by a large plaster bust of Ludwig van Beethoven, glaring down from a dusty shelf as if to say:

"Vilkins...vot are you doink in zis dump? Ist you ein man or ein mouse? Vy don't you stand up for your art? Zey give you no pfenigs! Ve are artists, you und are virth more zan zis!"

Oh, he was quite unnerving was LvB- not to mention opinionated.

Wilkins was Welsh- the only Welshman I've ever met who couldn't sing a note but...Boyo, Boyo, could he play the piano and the church organ!

Like most little people, there lurked within an humungous ego and he also bore the most uncanny likeness to one of the earlier portraits of J S Bach. I pointed this out to him on one occasion and watched, embarrassed, as he bristled with pride. Well, when you're the Cinderella department, any crumbs are gratefully received.

Each morning, in assembly, seated in isolated splendour at the ebony Steinway grand piano in the hall (purchased many years earlier with the proceeds of former pupils' sale of needlework...because funding had always been a problem where music was concerned), Wilkins played anything from Byrd to Brahms while the girls filed in and out again. Should his recital, however, he interrupted by so much as one word spoken by either staff or pupils, he'd stop, slam down the piano lid and storm off with an expression not unlike that of LvB on his dusty shelf.

Now, when you possess the 'drop dead gorgeous' looks of a young Franz Liszt: 6' tall, classical features and dark, flowing locks, with the darlings of Viennese Society swooning at your feet, you can get away with behaviour like that. When you're a one-man-band in an impoverished girls' grammar school, you can't and the general reaction consisted of eyeball rolling, much tutting and : "He's off sulking again!" or "Where's Andre Previn gone to this time?"

Come Speech Day or Christmas, Wilkins was expected to whip the choir into a performance that would not disgrace the Chapel Royal...and he didn't disappoint, but not without vociferous, acerbic observations that it was 'all take and no give'. The ASE demanded a show of choral excellence for the public when it suited her, whilst ignoring his very existence the rest of the time.

LvB nodded gravely on his shelf: "It vas just ze same in my day. Zey ruins everythink...vimmen!"

Any girl studying Music for GCE (which included me) was pressganged into the choir and forced to wear a billowing, burgundy-coloured choir robe. During rehearsals for the 1973 Carol Service at the Baptist Church (end of Gregory Boulevard), I'd finished reading the lesson at the lectern, turned to go back to the choir stalls, tripped over the hem of this ridiculous garment and fell flat on my face up the chancel steps. Did Wilkins care? Just enough to tell me not to bleed on my copy of 'Ceremony of Carols': "It's on loan from the music library BECAUSE I CAN'T AFFORD TO BUY ANY!!!" Yes, I think the ASE heard that.

At Speech Day that year, we'd prepared an all-female-voice version of the Coronation Anthem 'Zadok The Priest'. During the morning rehearsal at Nottingham's Albert Hall, Wilkins himself was presiding at the huge Binns organ, concealed behind plush blue velvet curtains.

Some wag decided it would be a tremendous joke to let him play the half a squillion bars of the introduction and then fail to come in with the lyrics.. "Don't sing...pass it on..." went the whisper around the horsehair matting, accompanied by knowing nods, giggles and winks. On he played, oblivious, building up to the well known crescendo and then...nothing...silence...before he shot out of the organ loft in a white-hot fury. Bach with a bee in his bonnet...I suppose he just couldn't Handel it!

Three hundred girls doubled up with hysteria (and prickled backsides) soon had the smirks wiped off their faces. It wasn't my idea but, for some reason, it was me who got the blame!

Around the end of 1973, there was a change of ASE and Wilkins (no doubt egged on by the urgings of LvB on his dusty shelf) set about ingratiating himself with the new broom (and, believe me, she looked like a woman who could ride one!)

Pitiful, really, the lengths he went to in the hopes of securing a proper Hi-Fi for the music room, with speakers to place either side of LvB on his dusty shelf...or perhaps even a pair of headphones. I thought he'd look good in those. He couldn't hear the old Dansette very well, you know. A bit mutton-jeff.

"Stereo," enthused Wilkins. "That's what we'll have. I'm told she likes music, so it stands to reason we'll be a priority."

Well, you can dream.

In reality, all Wilkins got was more of the same- NOWT- not even a new needle for the old Dansette. Whatever was on the turntable, it still sounded like a bowl of Rice Krispies.

"Music is not an academic subject," declared the new broom.

"She'll regret it come Speech Day," muttered Wilkins, darkly, but he didn't really mean it. His ego wouldn't let him. Occasionally and out of spite, he'd launch into something loud and lively, peppered with black notes, before she'd finished speaking in assembly: pinning the sustaining pedal of the Steinway to the floorboards...and grinning like Machiavelli practising his scales.

As for LvB, who never conversed much with the likes of me, other than to mention his extreme dislike of cabbage and ginger pud, he turned a deaf ear to their feuding- and to the Rice Krispies on the Dansette- but he was occasionally seen to shake the dust from his scowling head and mutter : "Vot a dump!"

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I've avoided, thus far, Manning School's take on the teaching of history. The past is my favourite subject- always has been. My Daddy used to say I emerged from the womb asking awkward questions about my forebears and I've been doing it ever since. I intend to go on doing it: I like it, so why should I stop?

History at primary school (Berridge Road) was well taught: outings to Nottingham Castle and the caves: tales of Isabella and Roger de Mortimer. Museum expeditions, where you could almost smell the past. It became tangible and real, inspiring you to find out more...ask questions, read books and think!

History at the Manning started well. Miss Rayne (her real name!) was an engaging teacher, bringing to life the early civilisations of Sumer, Ur and Ancient Egypt.

Sadly, it did not continue in the same vein.

History was, in 1969, regarded as an academic subject, unlike music, but that didn't mean it got any extra funding. Most of our textbooks were circa WW2 and tatty in the extreme- so we covered them with wallpaper!

Not sure history is an academic subject now...after all, it isn't what it used to be, is it? Some sneaky blighter, terminally affected with political correctness has changed it: covered up the embarrassing bits and even had the sheer effrontery to apologise profusely for what my ancestors (and yours!) got up to in the past.

Blasted cheek, I call it! Now we're supposed to be ashamed of having had an Empire, of being the greatest trading nation in the world, of having amassed the most tremendous and splendid Navy afloat, of having established colonies all over the globe... If you want to Sing 'Rule Britannia/Land Of Hope and Glory' these days, you need to keep your voice down! Well, not me, matey!

Warts and all, History is my greatest love and it's all about people: devious, inspired, stupid, philanthropic, downright evil or benevolent- whose actions created our past. It can't be altered and will stand for all time so DON'T MESS WITH OUR HISTORY and above all DON'T APOLOGISE FOR IT!!

Manning couldn't seem to keep a decent history teacher, which is why we ended up with 'Concorde'- nose-cone taxied into the classroom five minutes before the rest of her.

Concorde must have been in her early 30s and was one of the 'sheer-bone-idle' school of history teachers.

Her most intriguing aspect had nothing to do with the subject she 'taught' (and I use the word very very loosely!) but related to the constantly changing design specification of her 'undercarriage'. After a few weeks, Concorde began to look as though she'd been fitted with a bomb-bay and, as the months, dragged by, we actually considered re-naming her 'Avro Lancaster' (but the nose was all wrong) since she was obviously toting Barnes Wallis's bouncing bomb!

She'd rest the 'explosive' on the desk while she stood, boring us all to death, on the dais and those of us who could see her in profile spent the time trying to compare which projectile was winning: the proboscis or the 'Upkeep'!

By the time Concorde took off on Operation Chastise (or it could have been maternity leave), the damage had been done. We'd all lost interest.

The syllabus required that we study the Industrial Revolution: a fascinating period of British History, filled with such characters as George III, Pitt, Welington, Nelson, Hargreaves, Arkwright, the Luddites, Wilberforce, Elizabeth mention but a few.

What did we have to endure? Concorde droning (at speed) from her notes (presumably made when she was at University). Lists of dates...lists of battles...lists of inventions... It soon degenerated into a speed-writing (dictation) contest. Concorde had no interest whatever in history and shouldn't have been allowed to enter the teaching profession. Oh, Michael Wood...where were you?

History is not about reciting dates by rote...or battles...or Monarchs...or anything else. It's about real people: you and I. Everyone's story is unique, fascinating and worth preserving: a living, breathing picture of the past. NOT SOMETHING YOU BORE PEOPLE TO DEATH WITH!!

Thanks to Concorde, my love of history was almost terminally stifled, but it survived, recovered and is still going strong.

I am constantly dismayed by the number of people who tell me that history, like Shakespeare, is boring. TOMMYROT and BALDERDASH!!!!

How can they be boring when they are about life? Full of humour, tragedy and intrigue.

Methinks, there is too much poor history teaching going on out there. Too much obliteration of the past. Too much knocking down of beautiful old buildings for cheap, ugly, prefabricated modern trash.

What say you?

I'm stepping off my soapbox now for a quick 'warble' (courtesy of James Thomson and Dr Thomas Arne):

When Britain first, at Heaven's command,

Arose from out the azure main...

Can't hear you, Nottstalgians...Sing up!!!

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Dear Jill,

My sister's middle name is Jill. (just saying)

When I was in grade school, our books went from "History" and changed over night to "Social Studies" - to usher in "Socialism" to the American culture. You've heard of the American's only a dream, because you have to be asleep to see it.


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