From August 1988, Lendrick Muir will try to survive in the private sector and it is to be hoped that what follows is a review at the end of a chapter and not the whole book. If we succeed in attracting private pupils then we will have in a sense come full circle. Perhaps our recent pupils will object to ?snobs' being associated with their Lendrick Muir and we will have to change the name again. 

Here, in no particular order are your thoughts and memories of the past forty years at Lendrick Muir. After reading through all your contributions, I detect two factors common to them all; first, an affection for the place and second, that Lendrick did not improve your handwriting.

My thanks to all contributors for your efforts and to Sheila and Gill for laboriously transcribing them. Any errors, spelling or punctuation mistakes are of course entirely their fault.

DAVID SIMMONS
Lendrick Muir, June 1988

LIFE, THE UNIVERSE AND LENDRICK

Quite recently a man strapped two small canoes to his feet and attempted, unsuccessfully, to walk across the Atlantic. However much one might admire the courage and endurance displayed in this enterprise, one might yet question its purpose and value. I have a friend who has a comparable attitude to Lendrick Muir School. He asks searching questions about strategies for optimising input, capital to earnings ratios and success criteria. I think what he is trying to ask is, "is what you accomplish worth the effort?"

One answer to that sort of question is '42'. My own is "Probably not, but am not clever enough to be sure?.

Effort it certainly was, especially in early Lendrick years when my many shortcomings contrasted painfully with the classroom expertise and seemingly effortless control of Jim Haig, Howard, Joe, Bob and the like. The classrooms are quiet and empty now, but my blood and sweat still stain the floor and it is quite easy to bring back how excruciatingly, mind bogglingly awful it could be.........

 ......FADE OUT ?.             TIME TRAVEL MUSIC

...A Friday in November 1975 ; it is breaktime and I am contemplating a duty weekend and period 4 next , with the awful Form 2 . There are 105? hours to go until Tuesday 8.30 p.m. , when my next break begins (oh those blessed Wednesdays off ! ).  As a class Form 2 are normally quite hellish, but on Fridays, they are not as good as that. I tend to get a bit tense during Friday breaks . This week I have made a special effort and prepared a REALLY GOOD LESSON. I am planning to teach some climate via the story of the Titanic ? gory details, work sheets, maps ? great stuff ! Why I?m almost interested in it myself. Eleven o'clock Damn ! A sudden inner turmoil and loosening necessitates an urgent visit to the lavatory, using up the time I need to get ready in the classroom. The bell is ringing as I leave the house and run down to the school. "It's not you we got ?" Someone asks incredulously as though amazed that I am coming back for more.

?Great !" Someone else says with a sort of evil relish. As I move towards the locked classroom door I make an awful discovery.

?Oh God, let them be in the other pocket ! The keys ! where have I left the keys !"

With a hopeful, ?Wait there? , I run back to the house and conduct a flustered search of all the usual places. The minutes tick by and eventually I think of looking in the bathroom. Back at school, heart pounding after three fast laps, I find a quiet, orderly class sitting at their desks. D.T. gets up and leaves without comment , apart from a glance at his watch and I begin my R.G.L. All goes well for about two minutes, right up to the point where I try to hand out the first worksheets which are, I remember with a chill of horror, where I put them, when I started looking for the keys - on the dining room table.

Ten minutes later I am in deep trouble. The most trustworthy boy has been sent to fetch the worksheets. He has not returned, but I suspect that it is he I can just see climbing tree in the distance. I dispatch the second most trustworthy boy and soon I note that there now appear  to be two boys in the tree. I next decide to try to reproduce the worksheet on the blackboard  but unfortunately this involves a lengthy period with my back to the class. Books are thrown, desks are knocked over and a third boy joins the tree climbers via the window. They have  really got me on the ropes. My mouth is completely dry with a strange taste of brass on the tongue. My face and scalp are tingling. I can feel my heart beating and hear the swoosh....swoosh of the blood being forced through the veins in my head. Through the red mist I look at my watch for the twentieth time and see that there are only twenty-five minutes to go....

 ???.. FADE OUT          . ?..TIME TRAVEL MUSIC . . . 

 Probably not !

But they do come back, some of them  respectable young persons who are difficult to relate to the young tearaways we last saw. Occasionally one of them will remind me of something I did or said. It would be nice if I had inadvertently influenced someone like a certain Seventeenth Century Frenchman did in a famous example ;

It happened as guests were assembling for Christmas dinner - they were to go to a midnight mass together and then return to eat. Madame had set out the food before hand and when Monsieur noticed his friend Descartes sneaking a few vol-au-vents off the sideboard he said sharply, " I think they're for 1 a.m. !"

In the end, the answer to the question is what you choose it to be.

After thousands of manhours of work, Jim Haig and a group of boys designed and built an observatory. It was magnificent; an amazing achievement ! Then after being damaged by a gale it was gradually demolished. Today only the foundations are left, I pass them nearly every day with Moja and sometimes I can think only of the waste and the mindless little vandals who are good for nothing but wrecking things. On another day I reflect upon what sort of institution could have produced so much from the same children and the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction they would have derived from their part in it. Just to have carried it through is enough.

As with the observatory, so also with Lendrick. Since there is no objective way of measuring the worth or success of anything we do, we can only be judged by what we try. If this country ever loses its veneer of civilised caring, our difficult to love and most vulnerable clients, with their low return on money invested, will be among the first to be abandoned. That there are places like Lendrick; which try to give them a little affection and stability is not everything, but it is a lot and it may be enough, although I am still not clever enough to be sure.

Finally, an embarrassingly tasteless anecdote ; because (a) it does concern 'endings', and (b) whatever else, there was always lots of laughter.

This sad story occurred on a new housing estate in Hull and it revolved around Husband A discovering Husband B and Wife A pretty well flagrante if not yet exactly delicto. Things were pretty sticky for a while but they were sensible people and they talked it through, summoned Wife B and they all ended up having beefburgers for supper. Which just goes to show how often it is that things end, not with a bang, but a wimpy !

DAVID SIMMONS

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