You may be forgiven for thinking that these young people are out celebrating New Year’s Eve. Well, It is almost the opposite. Let me explain:
Southampton has a population of nearly 245,000. Of those 43,000 are higher education students (students 18 years-old and over, attending universities and colleges – coincidentally, 18 is the legal age to drink alcohol in Britain). Seniors over the age of 65 years make up a mere 13% of the population. Southampton is a transient and vibrant city that caters well for young people.
I happen to live in a neighbourhood, favoured by students, who pass by my home, every night, seven days a week. If the weather is mild, they just gather outside and gossip until the early hours of the morning. It is often difficult to get a night’s rest. But I can hardly complain, because this is exactly what I did when I was a student, many, many years ago.
However, over the holidays, most of the students return to stay with their parents. Then the number of people in my area decreases, leaving mainly working residents.
Christmas can be a very quiet time and on New Year’s Eve people say it is boring – there is hardly a whisper.
I just love walking along empty seasides in bad weather — for some reason they just fill me with so much happiness.
We took a 40 minute drive along the South-East coast to Bognor Regis on a visit to some returned British friends we made in Spain. This is a very run-down, small town filled with Georgian and Victorian decaying old grandeur — which I adore.
Bognor is one of the oldest recorded Anglo-Saxon place names in Sussex. In a document of 680 AD it is referred to as Bucgan ora meaning Bucge’s (a female Anglo-Saxon name) shore, or landing place. Bognor Regis was originally named just “Bognor,” being a fishing (and smuggling) village. In the 18th century it was converted into a resort by Sir Richard Hotham who tried in vein to rename it Hothampton.
King George V bestowed the suffix “Regis” (“of the King”) on Bognor in 1929 when his physicians recommended he convalesce there to recover from lung surgery. The King, when pestered with petitions for the town while undergoing his treatment, was said to have uttered the line: “Oh! Bugger Bognor!” — which has never been forgotten.
In 1959 Butlins (who ran affordable holiday camps for the British working classes) opened their resort here. It declined in the 70s but started to make a bit of a come-back this decade with the “staycation” trend to holiday at home. It was hoped that these would be a way out of Dismaland (see my blogs on Banksy’s Dismaland). Seaside resorts are not popular with young adults; many have no wonderful childhood memories of them like us oldies — and prefer music festivals, or active holidays such mountaineering or trampolining in disused Welsh mines. Butlins have launched vintage weekend raves which seem to be gaining in popularity though. Recent immigrants to Blighty, have opted to live near cheaper seaside towns like this, in the South’s warmer climes. Polish shops have started opening up next to ye olde rock shoppes, so the fashion of the British seaside is once again changing.
I went to my school’s reunion. It was open to any pupil or teacher from any year and held at the Juniper Berry, an historical pub in the centre of Southampton. The Deanery School was the first multi-culltural school in the South outside London. There are no Sotonians that I know living in my neighbourhood. In fact, I rarely hear people even speak in English during the long summers until some 42,000 students arrive for their autumn term. So it was wonderful to meet up with so many diverse races of people not only speaking my language but with Southampton accents and local slang. Ages ranged from 40 to 80 years of age. We conversed all evening about our school traditions what people are doing now and those that have passed away.
Whole families came to the reunion. Each had attend the school throughout their generation. Because it was small and because we all joined in out-of-school activities we were familiar with each other. Many married their childhood sweet-hearts.
The Deanery concentrated on the Individual, it honed in on our abilities and seemed to bring out the best of each one us, regardless of intelligence or ability to pass exams. The invisible curriculum was just as important to us as the main one. Many ex-pupils run their own businesses or work for companies that take them all over the world, particularly at sea – with so many stories from other countries it must have given us an appetite to travel.
The Deanery School, 1930 -1989
Continue below for the history of the rise and fall of The Deanery School….
The Deanery was a mixed-sex secondary school for the central community; ages 11-16 taught over 5 years. Pupils could leave school at the age of 15 when I attended, but changed to the age of 16 with an option of going on to a Further Education College until the age of 18.
It was the first multi-cultural school in the South outside of London. Southampton, being a port city, has always had variety of diverse communities, all of which are valued and respected, as I have explained in previous posts.
When I attended, white English people were in a minority at the school. In my year, there were a great many Hindus Muslims, some Buddhists and a few Jewish, although the majority were Christian. The biggest cultural group of people were first to third generation Indian, not only from India but from what is now Pakistan, and other parts of Asia including places like Fiji and from Africa (North and South). In my year we also had first to third generations of Polish, Spanish, Italian, Irish, Chinese (from Vietnam and Hong Kong), West Indies: Jamaica, Barbados (white and black), Virgin Islands, Dutch, Cypriots (Turkish and Greek), Hungarians and Maltese. Nearly all could speak English before they started at the school.
Multi-cultural schools are quite normal in cities now, throughout Europe. But at that time they were rare and my school was a great fascination for others, especially for the media, politicians, sociologists and those with ‘melting pot’ theories. We filled out endless surveys and felt as though we were being watched. We had a strict school uniform that included options for turbans and loose leggings (to wear underneath a skirt). There were no hats or other items that covered the head or face as these were rarely seen in the community then and certainly not on children. In the Summer boys could wear shorts (but none did; they weren’t cool) and girls could wear any attire so long as it was red and white and modest.
As the number of educational subject increased, The Deanery expanded to many other sites spread out over central Southampton. The main site was Marsh Lane, next to St Mary’s Church, and was originally built to educate children from the workhouse. It is now a block of flats. As the community grew, the school expanded to the other half of the building that housed Southampton College of Art until 1970 when the art department moved to a new building in East Park (now part of Solent University). The school also took over The Central Boys School building in Argyle Road, Nicholstown, mainly for teaching the 4th and 5th years. Nissan huts were added to the playgrounds. I lived nearer to this site (which is now a Hindu temple). It had a separate dinner hall about a 10 minute walk away in Covelly Road, where, unlike the food at Marsh Lane, lunch time meals were cooked on the premises. Due to the many different religious beliefs regarding meat, there was a lovely choice on the menu. That was rare in England in my day. The meals were some of the best I had ever tried. In the evenings this hall operated as The Boys Club. Opened by famous crooner Frankie Vaughn, who had been an Italian immigrant. He supported boys clubs, which opened up all over England and Wales, to keep boys off the streets and away from gangs.
Another site was Latimer Street off Oxford Street (Now trendy apartments and restaurants). This is where all the domestic science and needlework took place. In my day this was only for girls, while boys did wood and metal work. Many subjects were segregated until the late 1970s. I had my first and only ever fight in the corridor here. My head was thrown against a row of coat pegs by the school bully. It was generally a peaceful school, so this caused an outrage. There was blood everywhere, I’ll never forget it.
There was also Site 4, which was an inner-city farm. Though I never went there and Cross House Hard where I learned not only sailing skills, but how to repair boats and sails.The school had its own launch on the river. We also used the Council swimming pool (now the Grand Harbour Hotel) at the Town Quay, the sports centre north of the town, the cricket pitches in Hoglands Park and The Common for all sorts of sports activities.
It was normal to walk through the city for 2-3 miles between lessons. As traffic increased it became more dangerous. Later the school could not match the range of subjects that the new comprehensive schools could. The Deanery School was forced to close in 1989.
Originally I only wanted to use my blog for “no comment” posts on political issues. But I am feeling more pressure now from other bloggers to speak out before WW3 starts. I am sure I am not the only one confused by the refugee crisis. And why the US is wanting to bomb Syria to help Syria? And wanting to topple Assad instead of supporting him against ISIS? Coming up with that old ‘weapons of mass destruction’ thing, yet again? We fell hook, line and sinker for it the first time – but surely we cannot be fooled again? I spent weeks trying to find out more and realised that there is a much higher agenda, which sadly, my country is also involved in. I am certainly no expert on the situation, but I thought the best way to find out more was to find someone from Syria to explain. So here she is – I found her on WordPress and hope she does not mind me re-blogging her site.
I do not have any political agenda here. The only link I have with Syria is that I won trip for two to go there in a raffle when I worked in Cyprus, near the Green Line in 1989. I was advised to give the tickets away to a Turkish couple as there were no diplomatic relations between Britain and Syria and was informed it might be dangerous for me.
I welcome any sensible comments on this subject, plus suggestions for other sites to visit, as long as they are not abusive, or party political. Please do not confuse this reblogged site with mine in any feedback. Thank you.
UPDATE: Not much of discussion here – however there is a discussion going on the this Sicilian Housewife’s blog – which makes for interesting reading: http://siciliangodmother.com/2015/09/24/the-italian-refugee-crisis-in-numbers/?c=10184
Due to popular demand I am publishing some holiday snaps of my visit to Dismaland.
This is a bemusement park in Weston-super-Mare, England. On until 25th of September 2015. Devised by Banksy, Dismaland consists of an art festival, with works by 57 other contemporary artists; famous, infamous and non-famous. I spent such an enjoyable, thought-provoking day here. There was a mixed crowd of friends and families. I would love to go back in the evening, where DJs and bands such as Pussy Riot, Massive Attack and comedians such as Katherine Ryan perform. I took enough photos to fill a gallery; too many to choose from for here. I plan to make a separate blog-site just to write about some of the contemporary artists. So for now, here is just a taster of the park itself. The photos were so bright that I have actually toned down the colour in some of them.
If you do a web search you will see many more, or look on the Dismaland official website: www.dismaland.co.uk for a list of artists.
The pumpkin coach has just crashed, the horse and Cinderella are dead and paparazzi are shooting snaps. A strong reminder of Princess Diana. Recent worries too about Duchess Kate and our heirs to the throne being in danger from sneaky news reporters. But more significantly, this is about the disillusionment of fairy tales, that do not end up happily ever after – one of the main themes throughout the park…
Above left: Close up of models in one of the pond’s migrant boats. Above right: A reworking of a traditional Punch & Judy puppet show written by Julie Burchill, with additional cast Crocodile, PC. PC and Goddess Kali. Ironically this was the only attraction that was not suitable for children – but then neither is the traditional version. It is about violence and abuse of women and children.
Left and below: Part of a series entitled ‘Childhood Gone Wrong’ by USA artist Darren Cullen. Below is a queue for Pocket Money Loans. A comment on high interest loan shark companies that target innocent people. This is really a souvenir shop. Just have a look at the 5000% interest rate.
Banksy may have been getting lessons from taxidermist Polly Morgan here. With depleted fish stocks gulls have been attacking tourists, especially if they have take-out food. Dismaland staff must have had job descriptions to be as miserable and unhelpful as possible. They were actually very funny.
That’s it for now. I shall update this post when I have time to create a new site about Art. It will contain photos of Damien Hirst’s Pickled Unicorn, Severija Inčirauskaitė-Kriaunevičienė’s embroidered cars, Jessica Harrison’s Tattooed Porcelain Dolls and Jimmy Cauty’s Aftermath Dislocation Principle model village – to name just a few artists featured at Dismaland.