My day at New Hall
After being made redundant and spending so many years in the UK and to be honest, a bit lost, I decided to call my school and see if there was an opportunity to go work there and if not, could I just visit it. Turns out there was a role available, but they were also willing to have a look at my CV and see if they could connect me to some jobs closer in to London.
Now my old school is trying to establish it’s “Boys Network” only after 375 years after its foundation; but, the network of Old Fish (I refuse to use the other name, it’s so wannabe-esque) is very loose.
…love, love of God and our neighbourThe Saint Augustine Rule
Now it’s no secret why I chose to go to New Hall. I decided that this was my school, because of the Avenue. The Avenue is the historic driveway to the school which has trees either side of it. Why does my school have this amazing road? It’s only a former palace for King Henry VIII. So, as I drove into the school, I noticed that no one was behind and decided to jump out of the car, engine still running and grab a picture. Why? Mate, I LOVE that drive. I always smile when I remember Nuno sliding on the ice and falling over with Antoine & Harry losing their minds laughing as we made a dash to Sainsbury’s in the snow. Or taking a walk in autumn when leaves change colour. Or in the Spring walking and smelling the flowers while avoiding revision for exams. Or in the summer, when Alex and I grabbed some cider and had a walk down the drive just chatting about life and what was to come when our exam results rolled in.
Now the school has a special place in my heart for another reason. It was my home for the longest period of time in the UK (if we exclude my Ba’s address). It’s were I met my best friends, had some of my best memories and did a whole lot stupid shit (most which I dare not repeat online).
It was weird entering the school and needing to wait for Dom Walmsley, a kid a couple of years below me in the boarding house, as I needed a guide to show me around because I don’t have a background check. It was odd, because a few things had been moved around the Ambilake Room (sp definitely needs to be checked, but that’s how it’s sounds spelt out. Fun fact, the room prior to be reception was used to walk around in the winter for exercise). The Griffin/Dragon (an ongoing debate, though I’m on team dragon at the moment. It makes more sense because of Henry VIII’s Coat of Arms) has been moved indoors.
I saw Dom, so instantly I told him to put his hands away and gave him a hug. You see, growing up in Campion meant even if you weren’t great friends or even friends at all, there is a strong sense of trust between all of us. There aren’t many people I wouldn’t want to see again or catch up with, I grew up with them. Everyone is like a relative.
So we started off with a quick chat about the role, spent most of the time looking at my CV, plus Dom had scoured the Almuni network and found some people for me to get in touch with. With the formalities over and done with, we moved onto the more exciting part. Lunch! Now, my school had a decent lunch when I went there, it got boring after a while; there was enough choice to be satisfied.
A tour! (even if I pretty much know the school inside-out: tends to happen after living there for four years).
I found out that the willow tree I planted has been moved, instead they have planted more trees in the area and there’s now a farm. A fucking farm. I went to a posh school, a privilege that I am thankful to my parents for, but the concept of a farm is what I would call peak New Hall. I mean, it’s a farm. There are chickens, geese, ducks, peacocks, goats, sheep and pigs! In the Campion House I grew up in, I willing to bet any money someone would have been attacked by a goose.
We then wondered around the back of the pitches where I will never forget some of the most gruesome training I had to deal with Mr Briggs or playing matches in the fog/rain/sleet. The standout one, was doing three laps of the pitches with a partner carrying a 15kg bag at the end of training. Not the worst, until Mr Briggs saw Kelvin walking and ordered all of us to continue running and complete an extra lap!
Pass the Sixth Former’s café (I know, a café!), we went into the Sixth Form centre where I got to catch up with Mr Alderson and Mrs Innes; whom upon meeting me asked me the most important question: who am I dating and if not, why not? You see Mrs Innes, knows me and the rest of the family far too well sometimes. However, the reason I still have affinity to the school is due to connections like this across the school. We discussed other things as well, but that’s for us to know and you to speculate (honestly, nothing to interesting, just a regular catch up).
We then headed to Radcliffe to see if Mrs McGlynn was around, she wasn’t but Mr Crosby was around! Mr Crosby is my old Year 11 tutor, who I will say my class constantly harass. I mean we were teenage boys who had a bit too much fun! In Year 10, we hid Mr Parkinson’s laptop! We weren’t exactly the best set of behaving children. Mr Crosby had a meeting to attend, thus I agreed to come back and give a speech at registration to his current class.
We then had a walk towards the Chapel where we bumped into Dr Thomas, my old physics & astronomy teacher, then into the new historical/heritage room. There is still no Chaplaincy board… I digress, but that is where I bumped into Mrs McGlynn and we had a lovely little chat before she returned to the Year 7’s who were going to get an etiquette lesson (I actually still remember getting some etiquette lessons, something I use when I need to look posh). We then headed into the archives, which while not fully open, was one of the few areas of the school I had never been to, might be worth going back if I can full access.
We then headed back to see Mr Crosby’s class and gave them an impromptu speech about my time at school and all the dumb things I did, what the reality of the future may be and remember to have some fun; the opportunities to muck about and make mistakes will be easier to fix now than several years down the line. Also told them to listen to Mr Crosby, but prior to him coming into the room, I told the class all the pranks we pulled! Sorry Mr Crosby?
We then headed to catch Mr Bickersteth and ended up bumping into Mr Sidwell, my old housemaster. We had a little catch up before needing to part ways as Mr Sidwell had a meeting to attend.
Dom took me to the astro where the Campion legends of Thursday night football were made. Unfortunately, there were no opportunities to recreate some old memories. We then headed to the nursery which is a brand new part of the school, but not much to see to be honest.
Finally, we went to the Nun’s graveyard, because it’s one of the best little hideouts in the school. It’s important to remember that we are indebt to those who came before us and that simple message of the St. Augustine which is the basis of the school ethos: “…love, love of God and our neighbour”.
After a quick prayer, we headed back and had a chat and said my goodbyes to Dom. On the way out I got a bit emotional, as the school has provided me with so much to be grateful. Did I have the best start in life? It’s hard to know, but I’m sure it’s pretty damn close to being it.