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Wigan

Discussion in 'Teaching overseas' started by moscowbore, Feb 12, 2011.

  1. moscowbore

    moscowbore Occasional commenter

    I taught in Wigan for a while. It nearly finished me off. If one of my students wrote that book, it will be a tale of alcohol and drug abuse, glue-sniffing, domestic violence, 3 litre bottles of cheap cider, teenage pregnancy (we had a creche in the playground, I kid you not), rugby league and teacher -baiting. Actually, only one or two of my students could write more than a few lines.
     
  2. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Established commenter

    The luminaries of Amazon, among whom my son is one, have either been most assiduous in flogging the said tome or very much the opposite, as it has been readily available direct from the publisher since it burst upon the unsuspecting literary world in early November 2010.
    I'm fairly sure I wasn't one of your students unless, of course, you taught at Wigan Grammar School 1957-64. Alcohol there was. It included Almond's, Walker's and Boddingtons, though the best of it was Mc Ewan's at the old Market Tavern.
    Being from an up-market alma mater we called it 'master-baiting'.
    You will gather that AWC is the book wot I wrote.


     
  3. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    Ah, of course - my mistake.
    Cancel the last line of my OP.
    The new acquisition will rub shoulders with Melville, Mantel, Mann, Mailer... and McEwen.
     
  4. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    Founded 1597 by Francis Sherrington, Mayor of Wigan and trustee of a useful £30 start-up donation from a Wigan lad who'd made good 'down London way'.
    They already had mission statements back in Shakespeare's time, and here is Big Frankie Sherrington's:
    “…for the better education and bringing-oop of the youth within the said town of Wigan, and to advance learning, whereby true religion, virtue and good manners might be the better placed, increased and advanced.”
    'Learning' was Greek-n-Latin, 'true religion' of course meant Anglican Protestantism (still in favour with Cap'n M.), 'virtue' involved sitting at home conning Cicero by candlelight while your friends the apprentice boys went out drinking, fighting and whoring, and 'good manners' signified deference to those of higher station.
    Even so, 'placed' is the key word - the grammar school, from the beginning, functioning as a means whereby clever boys from humble homes could get themselves 'placed' better than their parents, to their own benefit and England's.
    Alas! This venerable academy only survived the Captain's departure by eight years.
    In 1972 it was turned into a comprehensive school, which itself did not survive to embrace t'twenty-first century.
    We may be certain that Cap'n M. is too astute and clearsighted a writer to have offered the world a dewy-eyed, rose-tinted Hovis-commercial portrait of his home town in the 1950s.
    He's already confessed to boozing and master-baiting, and he may conceivably have puffed (without inhaling) on the exotic cheroots that were known back then as 'joints', although that rite of passage may have had to wait until Uni.
    Certainly he would have absent-mindedly impregnated the odd teenager here and there after a night on the McEwen's, for that was by no means unknown at the time. Merely the droit de seigneur of a University-bound young thruster among the obliging factory lasses.
    However, I fear that the contrast between Mainwaring's narrative and the portrait of the same community, forty years on, by Qatarsoon, will be a stark and depressing one.
    Is it sickeningly reactionary to suggest that the abolition of WGS might have been a Bad Thing?
     
  5. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Established commenter

    By no means a perfect institution, it had a couple of outstandingly brilliant teachers, though I remember it chiefly for the entertaining eccentricity of some of the rest, including my personal fave, 'Pop' Skirrow, who at sixty had the ability to sustain a handspring on his desk while intoning with unconscious irony 'Louis XIV had some peculiar habits'.
    Though our offspring routinely attribute our increasing absent-mindedness to 1960s substance-abuse, self and Mrs M (who knows little of Wiggin, having attended a posh convent school for gels in Birkdale) have never smoked somuch as a Woodbine, so the only joints we've experienced have been shebeens of Bogey's 'gin' variety.
    Indeed it was not. Fortunately Desirée Braithwaite's mama (this, of course, was in the pre Mrs M era) was both cautious and worldly and had ensured, under the disingenuous pretext of regulating the young lady's cycle (no, Clovis, her cycle, not her bike) that her daughter was suitably protected.
    Wiganers in general (and that goes for me too) were never in much favour of the evangelical view. Among its treasures the Parish Church still possesses a Laudian altar frontal and a splendid brass of an early Anglo-Catholic Victorian priest in full Eucharistic fig. And a certain Gerrard Winstanley of Leveller fame was a WGSOB so by no means all of Mayor Sherrington's lads became establishment lackeys. Other alumni include Ian McKellen (Mrs M's Aunty used to dandle him) and my distant relly Sir James Anderton.
    There is a touch of that in the book because the publisher insisted on a 'back home forty years on' chapter, but only a touch as I haven't been more than an occasional visitor since 1969.
     
  6. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    Superb reply, Cap'n, thank you.
    Good policy?
    What do others think?
    My own home patch is five square miles of Bristol, and although the dude-progenitors put in twelve years 'overseas', that was before the era of International Schools so I went to board at a school in the same barrio.
    They returned, and there they still are. Dutifully, more-or-less happily, I visit at least once a year. I know every inch of the territory.
    But old haunts bring less and less pleasure.
    The whole district is under a Betjemanesque conservation bell-jar as Victorian Heritage Country, so only the shop-fronts change, the bricks and mortar are where they were in 1860 and 1970.
    The middle classes and the students, several of the latter ex-TOK-victims of mine, pullulate as they have done for ever and a day.
    Half an hour's brisk walk gets you down to St Paul's, but lo-and-behold, the 1970s bargain-bordellos and heroin-houses and rasta-refuges are on sale for £500k. Bristol Rovers' uniquely revolting 'stadium' has vanished under a Tesco carpark
    The badlands have moved to fringe estates where I've hardly ever been. Colombia, Libya.. but not Knowle West.
    So if I want a real dose of 'change and decay', the best bet is... the mirror.
    Let's open out this thread - what relationship do other international educators 'of a certain age' maintain with the faraway places where they were spawned and schooled themselves?
     
  7. pomunder

    pomunder New commenter

    The folk of Wigan are thin-spavined, knock-kneed inbreds.


    However, they DO know how to make pies (genuflects at the memory of the peerless Pooles' pie shop. Than which there is no better.
     
  8. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Established commenter

    I'd have you know that my knees, like Katisha's left elbow, are a miracle of loveliness.
    Gorner's and Dicky Lee's did pretty well an' all.
     
  9. Dear Mainwaring
    Motivated by this thread I have picked up AWC again to make a concentrated effort to endulge in Wigan (I do love the cover) but as I mentioned on another occasion the size of the print produces eyestrain even with glasses. (I dont want to put tired-eyed people off. My problem is strictly personal.)
    Perhaps I should wait for an electronic version from Amazon. Having said that, the original version will have its merited place on the shelf next to Ian Gibson.
    My town:
    Two weeks ago??? the Murray River broke its banks, inundating the sweeping, lazy streets with mirky water, just like in 1956 thereabouts.
    Would I go back there? Never!
     
  10. errr what's that? I still like lazy streets. And I dont care about the rest....
     
  11. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Established commenter

    Quite right. I'm afraid it was the victim of publisher parsimony and the recession. Mind you, these days I use a magnifying glass for anything less than standard.
    No need to wait for Amazon. PM me with your emaid ID and I'll send you the electronic version which is identical to the print one but can be read on screen at twice or three times the size.
     
  12. I can't remember the page number but my favourite part was a picture...
    Crrrriiiiikey!

     
  13. yasimum

    yasimum New commenter

    Although I still dream of living and working overseas after a recent disastrous stint in the Pacific and not so recent happier experiences in the UK and USA, I fear my lot is now to stay put. I have found a wonderful school for my daughter right under my nose and she is not one of those children for whom upheaval is easy.
    My childhood was spent here in this house as was my mothers'. To be born and die within the same four walls is a rarity these days but I rather suspect it will also be my fate. To be honest, it isn't such a bad spot to moulder away. I took my doggies for a walk this morning after dropping the child at school and strolled along the waterfront with frangipanis and crepe myrtles showering the path with blossom, watched my dogs swimming happily, wandered further around to sit across the water from the fish markets and the city skyline and pondered on the transformation of what was once a mess of lumber yards and mangroves.
    THen we walked back to have coffee in a very pleasant spot before a two minute drive back home. I do feel lucky to have such a lovely place on my doorstep but I also hanker for the years gone by when this area was a working class community. Yes, it looks much prettier now but the sense of solidarity has gone as the money has come in.
    I still have this itch to fly away though. I feel more connected in England and Scotland than I ever have here. Maybe when madam is independent, and I am retired, I may be lucky enough to spend six months there and six months here. I feel very restless at the moment. I am doing a job that is easy but boring and unsatisfying and I long to be in the classroom again but I am still not physically up to it.
    Has anyone had such a long period of feeling like **** after dengue and CMV?
     
  14. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    Thank you, sir. Board meeting tonight, so no junketing.
    That small print sounds challenging for those of us who in Bill Clinton's words, 'now have more yesterdays than tomorrows', but I will wait for AWC to arrive and try it out, before begging you for the online link.
     
  15. Got it! Thanks M. Full screen is a delight [​IMG]. Beautiful big pictures. Goody.
    And Ive uploaded it onto my Kindle.
     
  16. Notfair notyet!
    I'm not the only one and here who likes English to be written correctly and you're not the only one incapable of it.
    Did you get to 'the picture' yet?
     
  17. Not yet.[​IMG]
     
  18. MisterMaker

    MisterMaker Occasional commenter

    [​IMG]
     
  19. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Established commenter

    I doubt it. He's only a pea teacher. [​IMG]
     
  20. Don't get cocky MM. 'Your' capable of the odd *** up.
    Oh, and you can't 'master an ability'.
    Discuss...
     

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