Broad Street Wrington Website:
Trevor Wedlake's Writings
Spring Ghosts

First published in the Village Journal October, 1979

Now, in early autumn, it is hard to remember what two of the three elections of last spring were all about. This citizen recalls better the happy encounter he had at the polling station with the numerous interesting V.I.Ps he met here after many years without their acquaintance. These were the phantom figures of Wrington School past. Just Ghosts.

First and most substantial ghost to come by was Mr Bisgrove's, headmaster for 10 years before the war - Leonard Walter Bisgrove, old L.W.B. There he was, large and imposing as ever, immaculately dressed (and with big shiny brown shoes that never wore out).

He controlled the school with a look and a word. Even in these less deferen-tial days it is hard to imagine that he would be less than in complete control. He knew that the future was black for the older boys in the '3Os and was concerned by the lack of opportunity for them locally.

"If you want to get on", he said, "get away from your native village and be accepted at your face value; even Christ" , he said, “had it said of Him in Nazareth, 'who does he think he is. He's only
old Joseph the carpenter's son.'”

Then from the infant school appeared the ghost of a teacher, truly Dickensian. Stocky, and with close cropped hair and bow legs, she was a harsh old mistress. Short-tempered and spiteful, she had taught two or three generations of Wrington infants, and fun was something she would not allow 5 year-olds by the Christmas Tree.

Then more happily came into view one Bumper Baines. "How does the varying rainfall affect the pattern of agricul ture in England, Baines? " , asked Mr Arthur Turner, assistant master. Baines looked hard at his desk. “Come on Baines, what about this rain”, persisted the teacher. “Well Sir,” said Baines at last, “Well Sir, it is very, very wet.”

Close behind Baines came Nigger Dark. His main claim to distinction was that he could play a kind of tune on his nose when he blew it. And on a day when he was pushed into speculating on our problems if the North American grain harvests failed, he comforted himself, deflated the lady teacher and demolished the lesson by insisting that there would always be toast.

Next appeared the ghost of a girl. A girl in glasses with very short nails and very long hair. So long that the plaits could be tied to her chair by some boy from behind. Following her unmistakably was a small fair-haired girl; the very first girl for whom the feelings of the writer were not 'brotherly'. A blight would be cast over his day if she as much as smiled at another 12 year-old. It must be said she never learned of this silent devotion.

Next to appear was Charlie. Charlie who was always late because he couldn't find his braces in the morning. He had a permanently running nose and was as thick as Somerset mud. He it was who would dispense to unbelieving ears all the facts of reproduction and was the first to know with certainty that Father Christmas did not exist.

Finally there was the ghost whose gaze the writer found it hardest to meet - the ghost of himself. With him, a boy with red knees and nose of a hardy cyclist, from whom he was seldom apart for years. These two had their sound subjects, but woodworking was not among these and they were surprised to be invited to make a processional cross for the Parish Church. More surprisingly, it is still there.

Surrounded by these and many more youthful ghosts it was amusing to reflect that probably none of them knew what a mortgage or an overdraft was. That of pension funds and tax-collectors they were blissfully unaware. The postman had never brought but good tidings. The world was new and promise had not yet encountered reality. Death, though alien, could be approved of from afar. Such were the ghosts from that brief spring that will not come again.