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The Hundred Of Hoo School 25 years ago
I have come to realise that life is one of those magical rides that you appreciate more when you reminisce, and today my nostalgic daydream is with my school years at the Hundred of Hoo School in Medway.
The Iconic Mr Poole
Who cannot now raise a smile at the then hugely scary Mr Poole, whose thick rimmed classes and trademark red beard made him an iconic teacher that anyone whom went to this school would remember. On a daily basis you would hear his cries bellowing down the narrow corridors with his trade mark ‘You Boy!’ Interesting that it was never a girl he’d shout at – or at least that was my memory. An advertising campaign in the UK about a decade ago to attract new teachers did so on the premise that ‘Kids always remember their best teacher’ – now I am not quite sure his demeanour would have been the teacher intended here.
Back in the Nineties, the school did not need to lock out unsavoury characters like it does now with its prison looking gates, nor did it set out to lock in its pupils; oh how the local newsagents cigarette sales must have plummeted since then. I guess now kids are on the e-cigs.
Fringe Benefits of the School Bus Pass
Back in our day it was easy to take a ‘skive’. I even remember arriving at the school gates and meeting my mates to decide that we’d rather go to London for the day. Our school bus pass, if we were quick to show it when getting onto the public buses, was always good for a free lift into Strood. I even remember a few of us put pictures of celebrities over our faces on the bus pass, my friend had Arnold Schwarzenegger and I had, the then My Olympia top dog, Lee Haney (who was black and I am white). The bus driver didn’t even check and I always got my free bus ride as a body building, black 30-something Mr Olympian champion.
Boyhood shenanigans was a daily treat, don’t ask me why the following sticks but it does. In a Geography lesson, the young teacher fresh from University called Mr Lee asked the class ‘What does aspect mean’? Only for one pupil, who I remember was called ‘Paddy’, put his hand up and replied, ‘I aspect you know the answer sir?’ Mr Lee laughed. Priceless moments.
The School Prom and Getting Drunk
I remember the school prom, which represented a time to get plastered at the Five Bells pub before turning up. We didn’t have dashing dates on our arms then, we were ‘lads’. The lasting memory I still cherish was when we all turned up at the school drunk and ready to enter the prom. A quieter school chum was questioned at the door, ‘Boy, have you been drinking?’ His retort, and this was so out of character, ‘Why don’t you go f#ck yourself’. I am not condoning this appalling behaviour; it was more that this pupil never said boo to a goose. Nobody saw that coming and for that reason alone it was, again, priceless. He was suspended for the remaining few days of term time.
Another Geography teacher, Mr Hutton, would sit casually on the edge of a school desk, sporting his Freddie Mercury moustache, and tell us about how his wife proposed to him on Valentines Day. Now he was a smooth guy, a good teacher too if I remember correctly.
The new head teacher that came on-board during my time here was the cool, forward thinking ‘Ray Robinson’. I liked him and saw him as somewhat of a go-getter. I wonder what I would have thought about him now as a 40-year-old cynic?
Every generation must question whether schools now are as good, I certainly hear lots of complaints about the Hundred of Hoo School now which, if true, is a shame for the Hoo peninsulas next generation. I wonder though in school assemblies today if the girls still get to sit on benches and the boys have to sit on the floor?
And that ladies and gentlemen are some of my brief memories of the Hundred of Hoo School back in the ‘good old days’. I am sure for fellow pupils reading this you will have your own take on the experience.
It does remind me though that these moments are to treasure and, for me at least, it also shows you how fleeting our time on this planet is. These memories are from 25 years ago, now fast-forward 25 years and I will be 65. Ouch!
Life can be so magical and yet so tragic in the same breath.