Rules of the Road

These last few posts and comments have been pretty hard core.  My memories of Nado are of his peculiar appearance which was matched by his even wierder behaviour.  I always looked upon him as a religious fanatic.  He would always take the literal meaning of the bible which seemed unusual as the literal meaning was meant for cultures that existed many centuries ago and needed some kind of reinterpretation to have a similar impact in the modern world.

I remember on one occasion being driven by him to the A1 to hitch-hike home .  We were behind a lorry and Nado insisted on driving with the bonnet of our mini clubman underneath the rear of the lorry.  When I pointed out that this was a slightly dangerous manoeuvre, Nado replied that as Jesus was always with us there was no need to be afraid.  His driving was ledgendary always at 100 mph.

Can any one remember the trip to Scarborough??

It started off by driving down a one way street in Leeds against the flow of traffic, being stopped by oncoming police and turned around.  Just a verbal warning that time, remember ‘Jesus was with him.’

Next was a game of chicken with a large tractor and cultivator on a single track country lane. We approached the tractor head on at mach 1 and as God was always with us the tractor ended up in a ditch as our transit flew by.

The next incident occured as Nado attempted a very poor hill-start and rolled into the car behind us.  Obviously Jesus was not in that vehicle as he was always with us.  So we pulled away and left them to it.

The grand finale happend in Dewsbury.  We were trying to set a new land speed record at night down Dewsbury high street, in a transit van.  On passing a stationary bus at a bus stop a pedestrian stepped out in front of the bus and into our path.  He glanced the side of the Transit and was flung onto the road.  Here is the dilemma: was God with him or with us?  I believe that his God was with him because by rights he should have been killed.  However God the father, son, and holy ghost were traveling that day in the Transit with Nado and us.  On stopping to help the poor man it soon became obvious that he was an illegal immigrant.  He refused any offers of help even though he had a serious injury to his leg.  He tore up witness statments that one of the boys had taken and sent us on our way.

So ended our day trip to Scarborough!!

In my youthful naivety Nados behaviour was eccentric but now I am older and wiser and from what I have read I realise that there was a darker side to this man.

A Shared Sense of Loss

My youngest child is fast approaching the age at which I left home and joined the Verona Fathers.  His beauty and innocence, his willingness to learn and hang on to almost every word of knowledgeable adults drags my memory back with painful speed to my own hopeful childhood.

In the late 1960’s the drive from Liverpool was across the picturesque A62, the lights of which could be clearly seen from the end window of our top corridor at Mirfield.  I would often stand there on a winter evening, my eyes following the meandering orange glow over the moors leading home, praying that my parents would feel the sickness I had in my stomach and, by some God-delivered message, they would make their way back to Mirfield and bring me home.

Only the comradeship and energetic playfulness of other Junior Seminarians prevented my depression from turning to despair.  For many years I have believed that the support, love and sheer rollicking enthusiasm for life that Mirfield boys had was the foundation of my lifelong belief in the need for a Socialist society.  In truth, the friendships I have sustained and the happy memories of the unity of the boys is more to do with a shared sense of loss than any higher noble spiritual or social meaning.  That was something I was to come across again much later in life.

He’s Hit an Artery!

Hi Degs again,

Just been away on the south coast for a few days, but now back to the grind stone. It reminds me of Mirfield, mucking out pigs, collecting hens’ eggs and even killing chickens for feast days.

Who can remember preparations for Parents’ Day?  All the corridors had to be cleaned, polished with big concrete bumpers, even hanging out three stories up with rag in one pocket and bottle of windowlene in the other!

Speaking of Parents’ Days, there was always that sense of excitement when families would come to visit, but also on some occasions a sense of disappointment when boys whose parents couldn’t make it would have to serve high tea to the lads with their families, as I did on several occasions. Then there was always the joy of helping father Wade with the vegetable garden, or when he was made bursar and, on his return from one of his several shopping trips, helping him unload his little van full of either food supplies or such strange, miscellaneous pieces of equipment as ex- MOD boxing gloves, javelins, medicine balls and gymnastics horses etc!  The following few weeks would then be taken up with groups of boys practicing boxing, but not quite with the marquis of Queensbury rules, resulting in several epic bouts!  One that sticks in my mind would be me and Brian Gardner.

The javelins were surplus to requirement as I can remember manufacturing spears out of kitchen knives and broom shanks, which resulted in Nicki Wilson getting a six inch carving knife through his leg!  A trip to the infirmary followed with Nicki screaming, “He’s hit an artery, I’m going to die!”

Hope this stirs a few memories, I will write a bit more when I get a bit of time.

Mirfield Memories

Hi, to those who know me I’m Degs to those who don’t I’m Kevin Deignan, ex seminarian old boy of Mirfield junior seminary. Having attended several reunions in the past I feel that it is time that I begin to put some thoughts and memories down in writing. These can be added to, criticised, commented on and if need be corrected, but hopefully enjoyed.

What I am hoping to achieve from this blog is to find out why our experiences at Mirfield created such a unique bond  that year after year people who have not met for several decades  come from the four corners of the UK, and even further afield, to reminisce and catch up. I am especially interested in people’s experiences from outside my year group and the experiences of those who were there at the last gasps of Mirfield.

I was recruited from St Patrick’s Parish in Felling, Gateshead in 1966/67. The promise of endless games of football, Duke of Edinburgh award schemes and a display of shields and spears persuaded me that this would be a good life choice. On receiving the vast list of things that I should be supplied with including: 12 pairs of underpants, several pairs of socks, sheets, pillow cases, plimsolls, football boots, scores of handkerchiefs etc. my Mother dispatched me with a least half the required amount!

My years at Mirfield were the transitional years from strict dress code and crocodile lines up to Hearts head post office and Robertstown shops where we were made to stand outside and enter two at a time to spend our weekly allowance to disappearing to Bradford ice rink on a Saturday night or hitch hiking to Bolton Abbey for the weekend. For those of us who occupied Mirfield at this time we will remember what a weird and wonderful, if sometimes slightly scary, experience this was. Academia was not my strong point and my 3 O’Levels of English, Biology and of course Religious Knowledge will testify to this. However, the life skills that I acquired whilst there have stood me in good stead. The teaching methods at times could be unorthodox but were always entertaining, who could forget Rory Hicks burning the skin off the palms of his hands whilst demonstrating that phosphorus will burn in oxygen, which is a chemical change and not a physical change! (Phosphorus once burnt forms phosphorus oxide). Mirfield made Hogwarts look quite tame if I think back at some of the things we used to get up to. It would be nice to hear from any ex old boys to share our tales of Mirfield. P.S. the film and book rights belong to me.