Sunday, September 23, 2007

Deja vu...

I accidentally revisited my past yesterday.

Leeds Met University Freshers Family Day on the Headingley campus was the place, otherwise and formally known to me as Beckett Park campus, formally known to me because its where my mother had a part time job cleaning at one of the halls of residence.

Beckett Park Carnegie College in those long distant days was one of two sporting colleges of excellence in the UK, the other being an identical campus in Loughborough , and during our school holidays our mum would take us to the campus and let us run riot in the place while she went about her cleaning duties at Bronte Hall with the rest of the cleaner women who were collectively known as "The Bronte Ladies" (nothing to do with the famous literary sisters of the same name by the way)

So yesterday's open day was an opportunity not to be missed by me to wallow in nostalgia and the campus didn't really let me down - the place is not wholly a sports college anymore as its now part of the much larger Leeds Met Uni and many of the halls of residence that my mother cleaned are now offices and lecture rooms but it was nice to wander around on "the acre" (the central grassed square around which all of the old buildings are arranged) and recall those school summer holidays when we played football right on that very spot.

But that wasn't my moment of deja vu, oh no.

Whilst our eldest daughter was chatting to some of her friends, all excited at the prospect of starting there tomorrow, I wandered off with our youngest daughter to browse the large, imposing and opulent main admin building, a huge portico'ed grand edifice which now houses the main campus library over three floors of literary works and research bays, we wandered the massive expanse of these rooms and I got a hankering to want to come here and study something, these 18 year olds are such lucky bas'tads to have these facilities at their disposal - I'd been working for two years at their age.

And then as we were leaving, I had my moment of deja vu.

We were walking down a grand corridor, stone columns and elaborately decorated ceilings stately as a stately home, when we passed a large glass panelled door which I glance through - and then stopped dead.

I took two steps back and peered through the door into a huge darkened hall beyond, my youngest walked back to where I stood, nose pressed against the glass. She asked me what it was, I told her I'd been here before.

But when we were kids playing on the campus we weren't allowed to go into the admin building for that was where important people worked and they didn't want to be interrupted in their important work by cleaners kids, no, I had been here before, but not when I was a kid.

Remember in the film "The Shining" where Jack Nicholson spends time in the hotel ballroom and while he is in there he becomes part of an illusion that he is attending a ball with lots of people present, and he spends time talking to the bar tender ?

Thats what happened to me yesterday, a flashback, peering through the glass door the darkened room was still darkened but suddenly there were flashing strobe lights in the great hall and a live band on stage playing punk music, the room was crowded with students and me and a small group of my friends were in there too, how I don't know, for access to the campus was strictly controlled by security to prevent local plebs like us mixing with the sports students, but we'd snuck in somehow and I recalled standing by that very door as a mate tried to chat up a very bored girl who clearly wanted nothing to do with him.

All of this flashed past in a couple of seconds as I stood at that door yesterday, grinning like an idiot, my youngest daughter stood staring at me like I was, well, a grinning idiot - I explained that I'd been here before, she looked as bored as that girl did when my mate tried to chat her up and she dragged me away to join her sister and my wife outside who were waiting there impatiently - "Ive just had a flashback" I explained while they all stared at me wondering whether this was the time to take me to a home for the bewildered.

If I think about it long and hard enough today I may even remember the name of the band that were playing there that night, the flashback almost caught the name, but not quite, how annoying is that ?


Sam said...

My girlfriends grandad was posted at Becketts park during army boot camp before the 2nd world war!

Gary said...

Something in my mind reminds me that the tree plantations in Becketts Park were laid out to represent the positions of the English army at the battle of Waterloo.

Or was that Roundhay Park.

Or is it just something I heard about in a dream...

No, I don't know.

Anonymous said...

do you walk round with a note book and pen ? how do you remember all these thing's.But carry on we have a great laugh

Gary said...

Anon ... No not usually !
I can't remember what I had for breakfast some days but then stuff that happened 40 years ago is as fresh as yesterday.

But the deja vu incident really was "flashback" time - we spent fifteen minutes in the building and I had no recollection of being there before at all, it was just as I walked past the door and glanced in the large empty hall that it suddenly hit me.