Sunday, January 30, 2011

The King's Speech

Just over 6 months ago, on the penultimate day of my big walk from the Pyrenees to Northern England, I walked past my old school, Baines’ Grammar. Of course this provoked many memories.

“Yappy” Yates was the Canadian who took us for PT and Hygiene. On February 6th, 1952, we had just finished a PT lesson. We were all in the changing room at the gym, in various stages of undress, some boys still in the shower. The school secretary, Mr Kirwin, came in and had a quiet word with Yappy (who was of course still dressed, in his white cricket trousers and a white t-shirt – the only t-shirt, at the time, that I had ever seen). They both looked shocked. Mr Kirwin then scurried off to pass the news on to another teacher. Yappy said, “Pay attention, boys. The news has just been announced that King George the Sixth passed away during the night. The King is dead, long live the Queen! You will all now stand to attention, and there will be two minutes silence.” Picture the sight of all these eleven and twelve year old boys, standing stock still, some dressed only in their socks; some still naked and shivering under the showers, which had of course been switched off as a sign of respect; some fully or almost dressed. And Yappy, dressed in the pseudo-athletic kit which he donned to watch others take exercise, rigidly at attention and holding in his stomach. Kings and Queens were still taken very seriously in those days.

The other day Gay and I went to see the film “The King’s Speech”, about the same king and his inability to speak in public. We came out of the cinema amazed at all the hype and the fact that this film has been nominated for numerous Oscars. It is a very average film. In the old days it would have been a “B” movie. In these days it should have gone straight to video. Save your money.

Last night we went to the wonderful small cinema at Akaroa here in New Zealand. The film was “The Ghost Writer”. We hadn’t heard much about this one but it was excellent. Much better than the other one. And the really good news is that Piers Brosnan was shot – something which should have happened when he tried to sing in “Mama Mia”.

1 comment:

Ken Critchley said...

Vic I also remember the day that the King died. I was nearly ten at the time, and so still at primary school. Approaching our house, I saw my mum looking upset, with tears in her eyes. I asked her what was wrong, and she told me the news of the King's death. I must have been political even then, because I came back immediately with 'Why are you crying, what has he ever done for us ?'

Needless to say I grew up with left wing tendencies, and even joined the Labour Party in my middle age.

Coincidentally, I had a pretty bad stammer in those days too.