My petite mother and I heaved
the heavy trunk, patterned with studs,
thick leather handles almost cleaved
soft-skinned palms but drew no blood.
Goods carriage, down platform tiled,
left the labelled, elephantine case –
no parting kiss, window waves, smiled
farewells shone on boy boarder’s face.
Rowdy rail carriage, specially booked,
male-female friendships quickly made;
this loner quite content, if overlooked:
individualist and not in the least afraid.
Dark outlined fields, lamp-lit towns
outside train window quickly passed,
(old Scout Cub friend in carriage found)
- later all arrived, Waterford at last.
Impatiently the school-bus boarded,
I remember chanted school songs;
snap-shots, mental camera recorded,
first impressions still quite strong.
Estate gates entered, the bus trundled
up the drive, past pitches (soon hated)
- driver stopped, out teenagers tumbled
– but where was my dorm block located?
Friendly gang engaged me, enquired,
then accompanied to ‘Farm Block’ dorm
bed-time now for these travellers tired,
(some became friends in first form).
At lights-out some discreetly wept –
(but not this boy!) a boarder by choice;
many memories revered, treasure-kept:
this old scholar’s song sung in quavery voice.
Between Autumn term 1969 and Summer term 1972, I happily attended Newtown School in Waterford. Regardless of having been beaten up by a teacher, I still have deep and fond memories of that boarding school. It provided me with an “ark”, in the midst of a chaotic and crumbling family…