Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Past That Was Before Our Present. . .

I went to a reunion a few years ago, to my own former college. I was there back in the 1970's from when I was 16 until I was 19. Wray Castle, near Ambleside in the Lake District, is, well was, a Radio Training College for Merchant Navy Radio Officers.
Wray Castle nr Ambleside, Lake District
It was a boarding college. The whole ethos of the place was naval. The dormatories were called 'decks' and we had 'defaulters', punishment for the wild one's amongst us; cleaning the toilets, cleaning up the grounds, scrubbing the showers etc etc. All kinds of dreadful sanctions to help us reflect upon our behaviour! (Never me of course! - Oops, I just bumped my nose against the keyboard). So what was life like before Hope?

Anton's Pool Party!At the reunion this year I was able to meet many of the former students (now grumpy old men and women!) of S.Katherines, Notre Dame, LIHE etc (I suppose that makes me a grumpy old man of Hope then?) All of those dreadful days of discipline and punishment, now descended into their memories as the 'good old days'. One cannot help reflecting that they had that sense of community we so bemoan the passing of in today's world.

There was love in the relationships I witnessed at the reunion. This love has somehow survived the years and the travails of their lives. Those bonds have never weakened nor broken and I was honoured to be able to witness them; Bonds as fresh it seems today as they were in the days they were formed all those years ago; in those days before internet or email were even dreamt of.

Christ's Class of 1965

So what did they have that was so special and what did they create back then? Perhaps they can tell us so that we too can create it anew and experience it for ourselves in our years to come...


At 00:36, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Comradeship is not an 'enduring' emotion if you think about it, it can't be considering how much everyone changes over the years, but what you experienced when you were there was a group emotion in remembering how things were. It's pretty much the same for everyone, so everyone feels close to one another. It makes us feel comfortable, less alone and insecure. So we manufacture the illusion of 'bonds that endure' to give the emotion of togetherness a tangible base. You stopped being comrades the second you walked away from them. But you all remembered the wooden hallways, the tutors, and it gives the past a solid feeling, secure.

Anytime you recount memories, especially in importantly decisive parts of your life, and even more so when you're regarding parts of your life when you were young and impressionable, you feel, or want to feel, close to those who experienced it as well. Just like talking about music when two seperate people articulate the experience the same way. You feel like you know each other!

At 15:24, Blogger Ray Mutch said...

I posted this up in response to a comment by someone who said that perhaps the older alumni (and we have them going back to the 1940's remember) may feel a little unconnected, unrelated to the Liverpool Hope of today. Hope, in its guise as Hope University College, i.e. before it officially became a university last year, was itself originally formed out of a merger of four earlier colleges, the oldest of which was founded in 1844, S. Katherines. I wanted to try and tap into that greater sense of community (and I firmly believe that it was stronger back then) that the older alumni would have experienced during their time at their particular college.

While I was writing this by the way Pat mentioned about the social climate around those earlier times. These were very often times of adversity, wars (two on a world-wide scale) that involved all levels of society; The run-on effect that this had during the intervening years and the types of relationships between people and between people and society as a whole that resulted.

There are many other factors I'm sure that determined the strength of community spirit that existed in the so-called 'good old days'. I would love to hear from those who lived these times, how they reflect upon them and find out how they compare them to life as it is today.


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