Old Scholar’s Song  (Newtown,Waterford)

Illustrations: KatyaZhu.com


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…


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