Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Ghosts of Hockey Sticks Past

A couple of days ago, I took a photo of the pitch where I used to play hockey when I were a lass. It's less than half a mile from where I lived then - - and where I live now, in the same house.

So, Roundhay High School's hockey pitch. How I loved hockey. Not. Nobody ever taught us the rules for a start - - or if they did, I didn't understand them. Oh, all right, I probably wasn't listening. I'd be away in a daydream on a beach somewhere, which is where I used to spend a lot of time in dull lessons at school.

("Daphne! What are you doing?" shouted our scary Latin teacher once. "Pretending I'm at the seaside, Miss." - -- She'd never heard that one before.)

I usually contrived to be Goal Defence in our hockey lessons, on the better of the two teams. The other girls kindly let me do this, because they quite liked me, but they knew that hockey was not, nor would it ever be, part of my world. I was all specs and books in those days.

So, there I was, Goal Defence, on the team where a girl called Hilary was playing, and she was superb and spent the whole time hitting the ball into the goal at the other end of the pitch, with the result that the ball never came near me. Grand. I spent the whole lesson chatting to my friend who had used a similar thought process to get to be Goal Keeper or whatever you call it in hockey.

It was always freezing cold. Always. And one year, when they didn't put the clocks back but left it as British Summertime all winter, it was dark too, because hockey was first lesson, and the sun had not risen yet.

It was not until many years later, watching the England team on television, that I saw how hockey should be played, and realised that, if you could do it, it might be rather fun. Meanwhile, I continued to be a big let-down to my mother, who had, in her day, been captain of the University of Leeds Hockey Team.

Anyway, here's the pitch where we played.

Yes, they've built on it. No blue plaque anywhere - "Daphne Suffered Here" that I could see. Instead we have Kerr Mackie Primary School.

When Olli was little we considered this primary school and went and had a look round it.

It was open plan. What this meant, in essence, was that there were no walls between classrooms. You had two classes sitting adjoining each other, each trying to have different lessons, with two teachers talking to them about different things, and lots and lots and lots of noise. This was some educationalist's brilliant theory, though quite of what I don't know. He thought that children might learn better in the middle of an incredible racket, perhaps.

"And this," they said, "is the cookery department. But unfortunately we can't use the ovens because Health and Safety inspected the area and decided it couldn't be properly supervised."

Yes, another brilliant architectural design, presumably done by someone who'd never met an actual living child.

We didn't choose that school for Olli.

The crab-apple trees are still there, around the school on what used to be our hockey pitch. In the autumn we would pick the crab-apples and make them into crab-apple jelly and sell it to raise money for the School Fund.

So, hidden in time beneath the shrieking of the primary school children, are forever the memories of teenage hockey players, flitting about in our white socks and gossiping by the goalposts about Marc Bolan, T Rex, The Osmonds and David Cassidy.

7 Comments:

Blogger Jennyta said...

I had very similar thoughts and feelings about hockey, Daphne, but in my case, I always made sure I got picked as goal keeper. Trouble was, I would stand there daydreaming and the ball would go straight in - so I was NOT popular, not among the hockey fanatics, anyway.

8:13 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you may have been one of the Backs (either left - my position, for roughly the same reasons - or right). Goal Defence is netball.

Julie paradox

10:14 pm  
Blogger David said...

I sympathise with you, there should be blue plaques all over my old school & hometown for the suffering I endured there

1:50 am  
Blogger rhymeswithplague said...

I always enjoy your posts and enjoy learning about your little corner of the world, but I am often at a loss when it comes to leaving an appropriate response.

But just because I don't leave copious witty comments doesn't mean I'm not reading and enjoying your posts.

Just thought you should know. And that's no April Fool's joke.

2:22 pm  
Blogger Daphne said...

Jenny - ahh yes, goal keeper would have done too, on the best team - - though I couldn't be bothered with all those shinpads.
Julie - you're right - - Left Back - - I'd forgotten all about it. Shows how much I wasn't listening to the PE teacher!
David - sadly many schools should be covered in such blue plaques.
RWP - thank you, much appreciated.

6:11 pm  
Blogger Oliver A. FP said...

Just the phrase... "hockey was first lesson" brings back so many hideous memories!

I used to have minor epiphanies in hockey games... bruised in places I never knew I had, nose fallen off from frostbite, resembling a swamp monster with all the mud, being shouted at by some shouty person wearing the long trousers and sweater we weren't allowed, spending an hour hitting something with another thing... actually failing to hit anything but my own shins... in the company of vile children who caused me to count the days until I reached 16 and didn't have to associate with them any more...

I'd suddenly wonder "Actually, why AM I doing this? Life can be good! The leaves on the trees are so beautiful!" drop the hockey stick and wander off. I had a friend who used to do the same thing.

Now I've got my diagnosis, I realise one of the problems was sensory overload - I couldn't process and combine the verbal and visual information quickly enough to react. So I gave up.

However, I'd argue that the main problem (that school sport is a freezing pointless heap o'violence) still stands.

7:35 pm  
Blogger Daphne said...

Olli - yes, I agree about the school sport. Which is a pity, because sport - and exercise - can actually be enjoyable if you're not forced to do it. Quite why we think that exercise for schoolchildren has to take the form of competitive sport, I really don't know.

8:28 pm  

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