Thursday 19th March
I'm sat in the hall at the secondary school I used to go to in the 1990's. I'm next to Chris on specially reserved seats at the front. The play we're watching is called The History Boys. I never considered myself the sort to watch a play. I came along because Chris had a spare ticket, he invited me because we were friends at school.
It's a very good play, really well done. The story features and older teacher who encourages enthusiasm for learning, and a younger teacher who is all about targets and writing essays in a certain way to get the most marks. In between some of the acts there's a projector screen where they have a 1 minute video clip to music linking the acts together. This feature really adds to the enjoyment. There's lots of comedy in the story too.
At the interval we go for drinks and biscuits, then me and Chris look at the 1996 school photo to find where we are.
The play finishes and we had a really good time watching it. I'm considering visiting the theatre from now on.
On the way out of the hall the teachers are being very nice to Chris. It's because he's a reporter for the local paper and has written a story promoting the play. That's why we got reserved seats at the front and I'm grateful for being invited by Chris.
The teachers are being really nice to Chris but aren't bothering talking to me. It's because he's giving the school publicity. These are teachers who taught me but didn't teach Chris! It's kind of funny that this is happening.
Me: "People are like that now. It's like many people nowadays are nice to me only because I'm a success or useful to them. If they were nice to me in the first place before I was a success I'd have achieved double by now."
Chris: "Ian Brown has sent his children to the school. I bet they get a lot of respect." (Ian Brown is a singer who used to be in the Stone Roses).
I find that most of the older generation of teachers in their 50's and 60's are nice to all the past students. It's the younger generation in their 30's and 40's that are nice when you're well known or useful and can't be bothered if you've got an average job. I remember when we were at school a headmaster was really nice to one student who was planning on going to Oxford. The student missed it by one grade and the headmaster couldn't be bothered with him anymore! This is a school which has a special dinner put on exclusively for Oxford and Cambridge graduates! I miss the older generation, they cared more and were more about reaching your potential. They saw students as people with different skills, qualities and situations.
We've left the school now and we're driving to my place. Chris is giving me a lift in his Volkswagen Polo.
Chris: "It was funny when they said one student in the story became a journalist and keeps threatening to leave his job to do some real writing!"
We laugh. Chris is a journalist and journalists often say that.
Chris: "Did you notice how all the songs in the play were the ones that were played when we used to go to clubs."
The songs included New Order and Stone Roses tracks.
Me: "Yes and the lady who played a teacher in the play looked like my girlfriend when we were at school."
Chris: "I noticed that."
Me: "You couldn't have got her to look anymore like her if you tried."
Chris: "You're right."
Me: "She had the same hair, same shaped face, same figure."
Chris: "The only difference was your girlfriend was taller."
Me: "She even had the same glasses."
Chris: "Yes….They really were similar."
It was strange how we go to our old school to watch a play and they're playing music me and Chris used to go nightclubbing to, and the lady in the play looks almost identical to my girlfriend at the time I was at school. To top it all the play was about the older generation of teachers who teach for knowledge, and the younger generation who are only about targets.
The message in the play was to ‘pass it on' – the knowledge and enthusiasm for learning. It's something I think about a lot because I was the last generation at school before it became very target driven. When I was at school in the early 90's targets mattered but it was a given that we'd cover the work to achieve them. Then it felt like we were learning on top of our targets to enjoy knowing more about the world and sharing experiences.
Towards the end of secondary school targets and league tables were becoming increasingly important. It was a battle to get marks by playing to examiners and what will come up in exams. There wasn't the feeling of learning to better yourself.
The play had a very camp character that was the centre of some of the comedy and who comes across like that guy from carry on films. It's a positive thing the schools are more tolerant now. In my day the gay guys were encouraged to leave school by a few teachers! One of the teachers who asked a gay guy to leave in 6th form was in the foyer after the play saying how good it was. I'm not into giving minorities preference over everyone although there's no need to be against them.
It was nice watching a play and I'd recommend if you've never been to the theatre to find a play you might like and try it.
There was a real atmosphere in the school with the students proud to put on a play they've worked hard at. It's families, friends and relatives all getting on and being kind. It's something you can almost forget in the city.
Summary and venue reviews: Thursday 19th March
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Altrincham Grammar School
Notes: Students do an excellent job of putting on a play.
Altrincham Grammar School for Boys