Written by SE1blue on Thursday, 2nd Aug 2018 11:39
“Make your lives extraordinary”’ - John Keating, Dead Poets Society.
In contrast to this summer, with its endless golden, sun-kissed days, the summer of 1989 went by all too quickly for me, as dark clouds loomed over my impending GCSE results.
After six years attending the same uninspiring, grey cuboid institution day after day, I had well and truly fallen out of love with education. The exams I had sat before the holidays were just the death throes of a one-sided affair.
It was a drizzly August morning when I trudged up the steps to the office, knowing the establishment was about to serve me a piece of paper revealing how little I had put into our turgid relationship. If there had been an exam asking me to ‘Describe an imaginary date with Sophie Lewis from 6D at a Wimpy of your choice’ I might have stood a chance, but this was reality biting.
“Five Cs! Where are the rest?” shouted dad. He gave me some more ‘C's that afternoon, plus a few ‘F's, and I think there was possibly a ‘W’, but the blood was bubbling too loudly in my ears with the all-too-familiar tune of What Have I Done? to hear most of his rage.
Lying on my bed, I reflected on six years of the same, characterless, tweed-clad teachers and lessons filled with unmemorable moments. Days with no peaks, no troughs, just a journey without a destination. I was ready to give up on school and see what adventures life could provide outside of the classroom.
It was a Tuesday night in March, as Hull scored their third, and all the same feelings came rolling back over me. This time I wasn’t staring out of a classroom window, I was examining the moss growing on the stand, observing the steam floating up from my Bovril, contemplating whether anyone had made gloves that could clap loudly and trying desperately to remember when Ipswich last scored at home. A league campaign without a destination.
I was ready to give up on Ipswich and see what adventures life could provide outside of Portman Road. Some things have to change.
In August 1989, my parents enrolled me at a new school, with the hope that a change of scene would bring a change in results. The box office hit Dead Poets Society was selling out cinemas, with an unorthodox teacher, Mr Keating (played by Robin Williams), educating a group of elite prep school boys with unusual teaching methods.
In a very welcomed parallel, my Mr Keating came in the form of Mr Watts at Great Cornard Upper School. A young, ex-army officer, who had spent time in Northern Ireland. He didn’t wear tweed, choosing instead to push the outdated boundaries with shirts that went an extra button unbuttoned, striding around the room in wine-coloured corduroy trousers and ‘shoes’ that were clearly trainers.
He never got us to stand on our chairs and see life from a different angle, but he did burst into the classroom every single day with a passion for the past and a tale about each historical figure that usually involved a risque misdemeanor that caught the imagination of a group of hormonal students and kept us interested. He loved his role and he loved pleasing his audience with the lessons he delivered. At the end of the day, learning is a two-way thing.
In August 2018, we have Paul Hurst ripping out the opening pages of the Mick McCarthy book on football and encouraging players to play. At 43, Hurst seems a million years (some would say a Jurassic period) younger than the previous manager, and within a few months appears to have freshened up the squad and atmosphere around the club.
In the same way Mr Keating encouraged the boys at Welton Academy to create their own style, so Hurst is encouraging the team to come out of their defensive shells and add creativity to their performances. The ball is being played on the floor and we now attack with pace.
After years of unromantic football, this sexy new style is enough to make you cry out “O Captain! My captain!” As our summer love grows, it’s enhanced by the pillow talk. Hurst is speaking to the supporters and sharing the positives and the negatives of management. This rekindled communication has made us feel part of the day-to-day again, and we like it! At the end of the day, football is a two-way thing.
Who knows how long this new relationship will last, or where it will go, but having been told to “be careful what we wish for”, we don’t need wishes, we have hope, and we are ready to Carpe Team!
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