Tuesday, June 14, 2011

1982: Look at mother nature on the run, in the 1970s

As I've mentioned here before, I really, really didn't want to go to boarding school. But I had no choice in the matter. Circumstances dictated that in the autumn of 1982 I would have to go and finish sixth form there.

So at half term in early June, Mum came over from Bahrain and we went to visit the school I would be attending. Most important of all, I'd be dropping off my record player.

We'd seen loads of brochures for schools, and there wasn't one of them that didn't have a picture of a group of rather dull looking youths sitting on the grass in their flares reading books. I was horrified. Was this what my leisure time would entail? Would these people be my friends? Where were the New Romantics?? I would be leaving my semi-urban but to me very modern life and would be incarcerated in the heart of the country among the cast Survivors, and not in a good way.

The school we chose was in the middle of nowhere outside Guildford. It looked like Hogwarts, a rather forbidding Victorian gothic mansion converted from private house to private school and a far cry from a purpose-built Sixties block on the edge of a conurbation. It was all going to be very different.

That day we drove up it was blindingly sunny day, House Of Fun was number one but one song that kept coming on the radio on the drive up was, as I have since discovered, a re-release of a Neil Young song covered by folkies Prelude that for some reason was back in the charts. No one mentioned the F word back then, and this was probably the first real folk record I'd heard outside of The Lightning Tree and Daytrip To Bangor. Folk was square with a capital S, and it was clearly the sort of music that would be beloved by my new school chums. There wasn't a bit of cut-off leisure wear in sight. (These days I'd kill to be lying in the long grass listening to Curved Air or Fairport Convention, but that's another story).

The school was empty, what with it being half-term and as we deposited my record player in the headmaster's office his expression was one of 'you'll never fit in here'. With no students around it was hard to tell what it was really like, and the pictures of them in the corridors just made matters worse. Did no one else have a record player? Did they spend their time at the chess club? I spent the summer not thinking about how awful it was going to be.

Thankfully I couldn't have been more wrong. Not a flair in sight. The best days of my school life were just about to happen. And I love this song.


  1. Hey ho fancy seeing you here Jon, I've just been catching up on your back catalogue. But looking forward to your new editions..

    This song always reminded me of Pilot of the Airwaves..

  2. Hello Mondo! Glad to have you on board.

  3. Gosh, how terrifying. To wander around an empty school building is always a little strange, even if it's one you know well, but to be there with all your fears and worst imaginings aroused must have been horrid. I'm glad it worked out so well for you. And I quite like that song.