Going Back - 2002
Rob, I read your piece about going back to Salvo and found it interesting, poignant and true. When I was writing Untorn Tickets, Dave Redmond and I also went back. I wanted to get an idea of what the school was like from the teachers' perspective and so for the first time since the seventies, in we went.
Colin Tufnell was the only teacher still there from our era and was happy to show us around. However, neither of us were any good at wood or metalwork (I'm still a quivering wreck at the very mention of self-assembly furniture). Nether had we ever been in the stage crew or the cricket team, yet he remembered both of us.
Salvo, as a building was horribly disappointing. I wanted it to either be completely unchanged or totally transformed with brand new state of the art facilities but it was neither. Bits of it had been cheaply and shoddily "Modernised" but the whole place looked shabby and under funded (Hardly surprising with a council that spends most of its budget on speed humps).
The hall, however, was exactly the same and actually seemed even bigger than I remembered. That was where the memories did come flooding back. The terror of the "Open Evening" and the joy of experiencing my first ever snog at Salvo disco with a girl from St.Greg's. As I was re-living this moment and making a mental note to look up the old slapper on Friends Reunited, Colin asked if either of us had ever been in the school play. I said that I had once, in Much ado About Nothing about 25 years ago. With that, he went scrabbling away in the sound booth at the back of the hall and came out, pleased as punch with a handful of all photos. Pointing with his little finger at a spotty youth with what looked like a Kevin Keegan perm, he said "That's you, isn't it?" And it was. It caught me by surprise and I really thought I was going to cry. I can't explain why. It didn't make me particularly happy or sad. It was just bizarre.
Like Rob, I went away feeling that Tufnell was a genuinely good man. And I too was delighted to see that he'd got married when it had always seemed that Mother Teresa was more likely to marry than he was.
I was also left with the impression that, despite all its faults, Salvo was a good school. Its pupils may not have turned out to be hugely successful and ambitious (How many ex-salvos are famous? There's only that actor whose name I can never remember). But the school turned out "good blokes" and that's evident by the fact so many of us are always pleased to keep in touch.
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