KBGS Old Boys' Forum

A place to discuss Keighley Boys' Grammar School. 

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Some memories

I am now well and truly retired, having made my living teaching and teaching teachers to teach both here and in the Solomon Islands for VSO, finishing at the BICC in Bradford teaching Mathematical Education.
Happily retired I now moderate an Internet Poetry site, Pennine Poets, and contribute to similar sites all over the world.
Here are a couple of poems that remember my early years at KBGS.

Memories from KBGS

Early Lessons

Bum-banging satchel belaboured me
running the long street to school.

The mason, hand bunched thick
round the stock of a flat chisel,
watching me through glasses
frosted by a million flying shards,
returned to peck at that day’s shape.
Strange curves emerged
from a peck, peck, pecking,
patient as dripping water,
that discovered bits of houses
in the bones of earth.

The oily shed, home to an old tank engine
that seethed like a great black kettle on a hob
steam flowering from sprung seams.
I knew the sear of that coal-gulping maw
and the sudden vent of dragon breath
that filled the yard with scalding vapours
and belches of sulphur that engorged a sky
bannered with the smoke of a town girded for war.

The farrier’s hearth,
a hoop glowed in its golden nest of coke
bellowed to a heat I felt feet away.
Mightily ringing the anvil with his bouncing hammer,
fettling the sparking iron and plunging it back
into the belly of fire, swarthy and grimed,
he chimed from the heart of a Vulcan reek
of quenched iron and burnt hoof.

Late as usual, I left to chase
into the place of hard desks
chalk and the long slow plod of hours;
a place where good French seemed a logical impossibility
and geometry was a foreign language.

The Unfinished Mile: 1944

In borrowed pumps I toed the line,
seduced to that reckoning by comic books
and fables of sudden glory.

I was Wilson from the wild moors;
Wonder Man. I would astonish them all.
I was eleven.

Around me towered the truth; the stiffened sinews
and summoned blood of sixth formers,
sash-haired heroes of their House.

Their disdain questioned my existence.
The reek and sheen of their embrocation defeated me.
I did not even smell like a hero.

The shimmering air was rich
with the balm of cut meadows as I was humiliated
that hot evening, watched by the whole school

that bayed like hounds, chased
my narrow back and fluttering number
round and round the ground.

I padded down corridors of grass
to trail my shattered fantasies
into that last long curve of shame

but stepped from the gauntlet of their taunts
and hid behind the wooden stand
belittled by their belling, comforted by nettles
and the mollifications of yarrow.

Current location (optional) Keighley

Re: Some memories

Wonderfully evocative stuff Arthur; many thanks for the memories. It appears that those pertinent to the school itself changed little between your era and my own, some 14 years later.
May I add how refreshing it is to read the recollections of a "new" contributor - there must be hundreds of you out there who have yet to take the plunge, judging from the number of "hits" on some of the threads. Please do - we want to hear from you!

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 58 -65

Re: Some memories

Just to echo Brian's sentiments. Great to hear form you, Arthur. And all you other lurkers: de-lurk! The unfinished mile struck a chord with me...I'm still running, and can feel the threat of Frankie Wellock's pump with every step...