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Hello!! Thank you so much for writing to me - it is such a delight to hear from my father's students - he was a special man - a great teacher and possessing wonderful humour and kindness. For him, everyone and everything had a story to tell and was worthy of being heard and treated with respect.

 

Zainal Arshed shared this lovely story with me when he contacted me in March - I thought you might like it too. I don't think he would mind me putting it here!

 

"Your dad invited questions on Geography during one of the option classes.  I am also a person who loves humour.  So I took out a newspaper cutting and read out to him a report that a mountain range in the Himalayas was seen to have moved a few inches.  I asked him for a geographical explanation to this phenomenon.  He pondered for a few seconds and said, "Well Zainal, it was a simple case of, if Mohammed cannot go to the mountain, the mountain must come to Mohammed." We all roared with laughter."

 

Zainal also sent me a photo - perhaps some of you are in it? Zainal is the third one (from left) back row.

 

 

There was a special warmth and willingness to share about so many of the lecturers in Kirkby - maybe it had to do with the war. They had a humanity and generosity of spirit which I don't think my generation has in such abundance.

 

40 years after leaving Kirkby as a child, the experience is still with me - still affecting me in a positive way. I would love to think of Malaysia as a large version of 'Kampong Kirkby', 'though I don't know if it is or not! I think students arrived as Indians, Chinese, Malays all with their own religions, but went back united as Malaysians. Kirkby was special - a mix that I don't think could happen again in this harsher time. But at least we know that it DID work once and that it continues to spread a little magic even now.

 

My early childhood was filled with colour and my fairy tales were not just the Brothers Grimm. I had Chinese dragons and djinns to contend with too!

 

Mum never knew if I would wander in wearing a very small sari - or perhaps a beautiful Cheongsam - especially made to fit a 6 year old!!

 

I  Christmas,  Divali and Chinese New Year, Easter and Dragon day and the candle dance. My first taste of Shakespeare was 'Hamlet' done in the Hall by Kirkby students and the first shivers down my spine was watching 'The Monkey's Paw' on stage - tho I was also fascinated by the appearance of half our furniture and mum's dressing gown in the play !!

 

I remember wandering in to see daddy while he was working - he never minded and while he taught I would sit on his big desk at the front or play with the little house on stilts or look at the contour models - all wonderful to my eyes!

 

I remember hiding in students rooms when a new batch of students arrived  - we would all put our heads through the window and scream 'Fresher!!' at some poor new comer - it was a while before I actually asked why we were doing that! It just seemed like the thing to do as everyone else was having such fun doing it!

 

Then there were the tennis courts -  I was too young to play but would tag along with my sister, Fran and the older Moorheads. So often the ball would end up on the flat roof that ran at right angles to what must have been the staff common room - and we all risked life and limb on those tarry ladders to get to the flat roof and find the balls!

 

I remember Karl the gardener who always had time to talk to us, and the boiler house men who always seemed to have kittens growing in the warmth with their stray mother. Once, I very much wanted a swing but daddy said no. I nagged and he said if I could get the rope and the wood he would put one up for me. Well I went off and told the boiler house men and arrived at flat 2 with rope and wood - it even had the holes ready drilled in it. Daddy had no choice but to suspend it on the cross bars of the vast central heating pipes that swarmed the college and I spent many happy hours swaying on that old swing!.

 

And snowmen!! Kirkby is the farthest north I have lived in Britain - and I have never had quite such snowy winters as we had there. We built snowmen and snow houses and the snowball fights were many and often.....

 

My first awareness of Scouts and Guides was sitting with the scouts around a big bonfire singing 'Ging gang gooly' on a warm summer evening.

 

I presented bouquets to dignitaries and met princes from a far off land, spent hours under the stage making the wind machine shriek or whisper - asked Sikhs why they wore a turban, Moslems why they fasted and no one took offence at my curiosity - what a life for a child!! SO few of us had such a privileged growing up time.....

 

I was only 1 when we moved to Kirkby and 9 when we left - but what a way to grow up! If only the world could be more like Kirkby was - a rich mix of cultures, religions and  races who spent time together in harmony to learn and share..... The world could learn a lot from old Kirkby students, teachers and children!

 

I would be so pleased if this e mail could be sent on to anyone who might like it - or posted anywhere it might be read - let's keep reaching out and talking!

 

I would so love to be at next year's reunion - possibly with some of my family - if anyone has details or knows the cheapest flights - do let me know!

 

Very warmest wishes to all Kirbyites.

Helen Livesey-Jones