Sunday, November 01, 2015

Facts Being Converted Into Nostalgia

It is the 1st of November. It is looking a little damp outside and there is nothing good on the telly. So let's go back in time.

For no particular reason, let us travel back sixty years to the 1st of November 1955. The big news of the day was the decision by Princess Margaret to give up the man she claimed to have loved - war hero Group Captain Peter Townsend - because he was divorced. Re-reading this story sixty years after the events you marvel at the inappropriateness of the social mores of the time. For a certain section of society it was perfectly acceptable to have affairs, but quite unacceptable to marry then person you loved if that person had been divorced. And just as hypocritical as the actions of the various parties in the affair are the responses of the media and political and religious leaders. The newspapers of the day are full of praise for the "brave decision" of the Princess to give up the man she claims to have loved for the sake of something which is never quite explained. The 1950s really was the height of the age of hypocrisy.

On a more personal note, I was seven and a bit years old in November 1955. I don't have an exact date for this photograph, but it seems to have been from around this period. It shows me in the garden of our house in Northowram, a house we had moved into from Bradford two years earlier. There I lived with my mother and father and my brother Roger. Roger was attending Secondary School in Halifax, whilst I was at the local Primary School in the village.

My memories of that time seem to coalesce around school. I will have been in the third year, one of the two classes that were taught in the outbuildings at the back of the main school. The school has a tarmac playground with a couple of shelters for when it was raining (one for boys and one for girls). It also had a large field which we could play in and within the field was an old air raid shelter which had been covered in soil and turf; an idea location for playing games such as "I'm The King Of The Castle". 

Each day I would walk to school from our house which was on the other side of the village. It was a walk that I can still remember to this day: the little stone houses, the village shops, the bus taking folk into town. And at the top of the street would be the school building; a proud monument to the nineteenth century belief in universal education. The building is still there although it has now been converted into apartments. The memories are still there although the facts have probably already been converted into nostalgia.


8 comments:

  1. I wonder if poor old Princess Margaret pondered changing her name and running away to the Yukon to be happy. But perhaps Group Captain Peter didn't fancy that sort of thing.

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  2. I agree that there was inappropriateness but we still have many things today that are inappropriate. They've been swept under the rug for ages.

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  3. Facts and memories endure, but at different rates of time, I think. Some "great" events have a half-life of hours in our collective memory, while other seemingly trivial moments of personal life persist intact without diminishing.

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  4. I’d forgotten about rain shelters; these days, at the first spot of rain, the whistle is blown and it’s everyone inside for ‘wet play’.

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  5. Ah yes, those wet winter days, and an assortment of shoes gently steaming, around a coke stove...in the classroom!

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  6. I remember my walks to and from school fondly too and regret that my grandchildren don't walk much of anywhere. I remember walking to and from in the rain, sleet, snow and whatever, 4 times a day because we went home for lunch.

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  7. Those were the days! I never walked to school I took a bus from the end of my driveway. I bet you can recall every bump in the road:)

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  8. I can't help wondering whether Princess Margaret would have had a happier time if she had 'been allowed' to follow hear heart. But maybe she did; we'll probably never know. Strange that events that, really, are relatively recent seem to have taken place almost in another world. Nostalgia isn't what it used to be. You also evoke memories of walking in shorts and blazer to a similar looking school in a city far to the south of yours - though we did not have access to open spaces beyond the hard tarmac playground.

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