Thursday, 11 November 2010

The Bishop Kirk Reunion...


Alright, so I didn't win the Tesco Biography of the Year (Stephen Fry triumphed) but I did get to meet Ben Macintyre, the brilliant author of Operation Mincemeat, who was also nominated in another category for the Galaxy book awards. The bad news is that Ben didn't win, either, but the good news is that we had a chance to catch up on our shared past at Bishop Kirk school in Oxford, where Philip Pullman used to teach English. The school is now gone, and its grass playing fields where we played rounders built over with an estate of smart new houses, but talking to Ben made me happily nostalgic... I remember eating the beech nuts that fell to the ground in autumn, and making a Roman villa out of a shoebox for our teacher, Mr Hood, and singing 'Hearts of Oak' in school assembly... oddly, it never ever seemed to rain there, once upon a time in Summertown...

17 comments:

silverpebble said...

I used to eat beech nuts at the bottom of my school field, which was also turned into a housing estate. It's funny how school memories can be so rosy.

As a jeweller my eyes are always drawn to people's necklaces - I've noticed the one you're wearing in a couple of photos. Is it vintage mother-of pearl leaves? How lovely.

Justine Picardie said...

How lovely to discover that I'm not the only person who remembers eating beech nuts in the sunshine of a school playing field... perhaps ghosts of our childhood selves still inhabit the field where the houses are now standing.
And yes, you're quite right, the necklace is vintage mother of pearl leaves. I bought it at a secondhand stall in Woodstock market in Oxfordshire. Now I'm off to look at your jewelry...

Justine Picardie said...

Silverpebble: Just tried to comment on your new blog, which is lovely, as is your jewelry. Apparently my comment is 'awaiting approval'. Anyway, just in case of a technical glitch, I wanted to say good luck...

kairu said...

I never ate beechnuts but I jumped up and down on the crab-apples that rained down on our driveway and made dioramas of Early American homes out of shoeboxes and craft paper...

In the closet the other day I found a coarse burlap pillow embroidered with my name inside a ring of crookedly-sewn hearts, in pink and purple yarn. I can just remember doggedly wielding a blunt needle threaded with yarn...it took a very long time.

jaywalker said...

Sorry you didn't win but pleased you had a memorable evening with an old friend. Awards come and go but old friends should go on forever.

Young at Heart said...

how happy you both look, sometime the past is not such a foreign country .......I don't think we ate beech nuts but we did hang out in the long grass smoking cigaretts, talking about all the fabulous boys we would love (who knew.....)I believe it is now a business park!!

enid said...

You look great. For all your bloggers you are a winner forget Mr Fry. We ate pine kernels known locally as dannepips at the bottom of our school playground. You needed a big stone to crack them but they were delicious and plentiful. Now you have to pay a fortune to buy them

Justine Picardie said...

Lovely to read everyone's comments about childhood... the borders into another country seem to have vanished here...

Joanna said...

Tesco prize perhaps a little downmarket for you and Coco? ;)

Justine Picardie said...

That's what I'm telling myself, as consolation prize!

FashionBiatch said...

No matter what prizes you win or do not win - your book about Coco Chanel is a great piece of worlk and by far my favourite.I have truly enjoyed every word of it. Thank you for writing so beautifully.

jericho said...

I remember the beech nuts and lovely Mr Hood reading White Fang to us. Do you recall being warned by Mr Appleton about deadly white berries growing in the school hedgerow?
The peaceful blossomy balmy calm of Summertown in the seventies often flits through my dreams.
Wish I could chat to Ruth about some of our old classmates.
Congratulations on the success of your recent book. Hope Bath was fun.

Francesco Cassese said...

Memories are fading, but somehow they are still in my mind. I've been at BK in 1979, I was a 11yo little kid coming from Florence, Italy. I've stayed there only a few months, although I came back to Oxford several times before, and that is one of the best periods of my "late childhood". The only name I came accross in a post above, that I can recognize, is the one of Mr. Appleton, the headmaster, a very good man who has been so kind with me, considering all my problems of language, in the period of that exciting experience! I am so sad that everything has been flattened: I'll have then to rely on my best memories. Thank you all.

Anna Barnett said...

Hello Justine,
and hello other fellow students from Bishop Kirk School! I was at the school from the day it opened in September 1965 to July 1970. I am looking for class mates, but as the school no longer exists there appears to be nobody looking after an alumni list.
I wondered how you had gone about finding fellow students when you had a Bishop Kirk reunion - or was it not a formal one? We are trying to meet up to celebrate one of our teachers' 100th birthday in January, and there are many pupils I cannot trace.

Anna Barnett

jericho said...

Hi Anna

I guess you have scrutinized the list of names and dates on the Friends Reunited website. It is a shame there isn't an alumni list. I visit Oxford now and then and still feel nostalgic and a slight sense of outrage that there should be upmarket houses all over the Bishop Kirk site.
Who is the teacher that has a birthday in January?
By the way, I was at the school roughly 1971/2 until 1976/7.

Mary Potter

Anna Barnett said...

Hello Mary,
thanks so much for your message! I am so excited to find this blog is active!
I don't know about Friends Reunited. Can you possibly advise me how to get into it and what to put for Bishop Kirk?
It's Mrs Harvey who will be 100 in January.
all the best,
Anna

Debbie novak said...

I was at bishop Kirk from probably 1965 until 1971 I too remember Mr hood and Mrs Harvey from Debbie Novak was magnani my sister warrant magnani was also a pupil