3 June 2012


June 1965 - that's a long time ago - forty seven years in fact. Every summer older children in my village primary school looked forward to the annual "school trip". It wasn't entirely a carefree merry jaunt for there was always preparatory learning and later there were projects to complete. Setting off early, we'd tootle along in one of Frankishs' coaches for what seemed like an eternity.

I remember we went to Malham, York, Kirkham Priory and in my very last year - Junior 4 - to one of my favourite places in the entire people's republic of Yorkshire - Whitby. Above you can see me sitting  front left next to Les Watson. Between us there's red-haired Malcolm Barrass and behind him Graham Smith, then a boy I can't remember, then Dave Hartley, Peter Turpin and Richard Horsfall. The backdrop is Whitby Abbey. That summer I was the only kid in the school who passed the life-changing eleven plus exam so in September of that year I was to board the bus to school in Hull while they all went to the secondary modern school in Hornsea.

Below we're on Whitby's famous 199 steps that take you up from the harbourside to the abbey:-
Before going home we had a meal in one of Whitby's famous fish and chip restaurants. I'm back right posing for the photographer who was most certainly my father, the village school's headmaster:-
Last week on ITV they screened "56 Up", a groundbreaking TV series that has followed several English lives since the "stars" were seven years old back in 1963 - when the programme was called "7 Up". I look at those Whitby pictures now and like the ageing folk in "56 Up", I think how much the world has changed and wonder about that boy I can see - the boy who once was me. What were his dreams and if he could have looked into the future, would he have been satisfied with the twisting forty seven year long journey he was about to travel? 


  1. Ah Whitby is on my list for my nexy visit. Children in the UK are so lucky with their school excursions. All those fantastic places to make your history come alive. We once even saw a group of school children disappearing down a pothole on Blea Moor in the Yorkshire Dales - how exciting would that be for a kid? All we can do here is look where explorers carved a notch in a tree before they went off to die in the desert or the termite infested ruin of some 100 year old settler's house.
    Hope you are enjoying the Jubilee holidays. We are getting great coverage of the events here.

  2. Well there is a shared memory. We too visited Malham on a geography field trip, with its tarn. limestone pavements, glacial moraine's etc.

    I've also had a hankering to visit Whitby after reading Caedmon's Song by Peter Robinson which is largely set in the town in 1987. I recommend it if you enjoy your thrillers psychological.

  3. HELEN When you visit Whitby I'm guessing you might also be staying there a few days. Buy some jet jewellery. See the Captain Cook statue. Eat at The Magpie Cafe - best fish and chips in the world. Climb the 199 steps. Visit the abbey. Visit Robin Hood's Bay and Staithes. Sing "Waltzing Matilda" with Tony on a street corner with a hat in front of you for donations.
    SHOOTING PEE Been to Vegas and Cape Town but not been to Whitby? Shame on you! But pick dry weather and avoid summer weekends if you can. It is a unique place in my humble view. And thanks for the Caedmon's Song tip.

  4. Do you think your father's being headmaster of the village school had anything to do with your passing of the eleven-plus exam? Not that you couldn't do it on your own, of course. That's not what I meant at all.

    It's a shame that you lost all of your boyhood chums in one fell swoop, though. How traumatic was that?

  5. RHYMES WITH You may be right. My father did coach me a little but I was a clever little so-and-so anyway. And you're right - I do look back on that unnatural division with memories of the unexpressed hurt and confusion I felt at the time. My old friends shared a different school life from the one I endured - surrounded by rich boys from the city of Hull's western suburbs.

  6. I went to Whitby and caught crabs!

  7. Great advice... except for the busking.


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