Not much of a post this week due to boring organizational reasons. But I want to share one of my favourite old photos from the time Marjon campus was brand new. I really like the composition, there is something nicely dynamic about it. Notice how the library still lacks the third floor.
Monthly Archives: May 2016
In literature as well as in real life, geography has a great influence on people. And the reason I am talking about it now is the thoughts of alumni that visited the archives recently. They were the ones who started studying in Chelsea and underwent the transition to Plymouth.
Imagine you signed up for this:
And it turned into this:
Imagine leaving the place you know one summer and returning to it in autumn. Only to realize that it changed looks and location. You’re no longer walking the grounds that were there since Coleridge had his ‘crazy’ ideas about educating the poor. No more stories of Lady Stanley’s ghost and no more walls to jump.
Instead there is a site under construction, brand new buildings built in modern fashion and a whole lot of space surrounding the place. Imagine you joined one of the oldest schools in England, with the buildings to prove it, only to have it completely changed, seemingly overnight. The college had ran the course of history, the old gave way to the new.
But it doesn’t meant that the old is gone. The new Marjon site was designed to remind us where we came from. Behold the cloisters, old and new:
The old library and former training school with our legacy building- the chaplaincy centre:
As for the ghosts…well, they say that the third floor of the library is haunted and some people would not go there alone. Although I never felt anything otherworldly over there. Maybe some day…
So, as I mentioned before, William Finch’s The Sea In My Blood is a story from his youth about his life among the smack-sailing fishermen of Lowesoft.
He went for his first fishing trip at age nine, having finally convinced his father to take him. He tells about that certain ‘something’ that made him do it, the same thing that binds lives to it. And I myself can attest that there is truth to it, being a daughter and grand-daughter to seamen.
It might seem strange to us that a child of nine would be taken along the fishing trip, but back then a boy as young as twelve would be ready to take on job on a smack. Starting from a position of a cook he would learn the trade from the adults. And he had to learn fast, avoiding the mistakes that might cost them their lives.
What I love about the book the most is the sea stories. The stories of ships and how they have whims and personalities of their own. Of storms and narrow escapes. Of good times and bad times for the fishing folk. There are stories of skeletons found in the fishing nets bad accidents and mysterious circumstances. And the best part is they are all true.
And I cannot omit the smack-men’s humour: ‘Cooky served corn beef, the first I have ever seen or tasted. ‘’Look out f’r bits a fur. They make it fr’m cats’’.:-)
The book is not only full of salty stories, but also of beautiful drawings he made himself. He illustrated the technical aspects of smack-sailing, such as equipment, sails, manoeuvring but also captured scenes from daily life, and what’s the most important, the likeness of people who lead this kind of life and the times when the sea was even more dangerous than it is today.
Previously I said I found something while filing, but that’s not exactly true. I found two things. First is a book by William Finch, The Sea in My Blood. It is his account of life of smack fishermen. But before I start talking about the book and why I found it interesting, I want to talk about the other thing I found. And it is a letter from Finch to Principal Anderson, who fulfilled this role when Finch was at Marjon. The book was a gift to Anderson when it was published.
Suddenly I felt like I’m eavesdropping on a conversation that took place in the past. Between two men that never met. And they never will as both are no longer among the living. That is the experience that only the archives are able to provide.
Finch was not only a Marjon. He was an original Marjon, the first year that graduated after the colleges merged. I n his letter he recollects the move: ‘…after a year at Battersea into the luxury of Marks Chelsea (by the 20’s standards)’. And the rules: ‘…and woe betide this miscreant caught stubbing his fag on the school gate post.’ Both of these sentiments I have found before in the memories of other students, and now I feel like I am in on a joke.
After Marjon, Finch went on to become a great teacher, educator artist and writer. He was an inspiration to many and somebody I would love to have known. But at this point, I am contented to listen to him speaking from the past.