Saturday, 14 December 2013

Enlarging horizons is far from old hat

The imposing Lancasterian Primary School, Shrewsbury
It's always good to hear from people out there who’ve enjoyed the Passengers in Time blog. Recently, I was contacted by someone -- let's call her Sheila -- who, it turns out, was in my class at school when we were both 11 years old, the year we took the fateful 11 Plus exam. Hearing from Sheila took me right back to The Lancasterian Primary School in Shrewsbury. Built in 1812, the 'Lancs' was an imposing-looking institution that I attended in the late 1960s and early 70s. We haven't seen each other in the intervening forty-odd years but I remember Sheila well because -- out of our class at primary school -- I think I'm right in saying we were the only two to go on to grammar school. Sheila went to Priory Girls’ Grammar School and I went to Priory Boys’ Grammar School (which was only right, given our respective genders) and our paths never crossed again until Sheila contacted me to say that reading Passengers in Time had inspired her to create Grumbling Appendix -- a blog about 'politics, feminism and popular culture in the context of the NHS'.

It turns out let’s-call-her-Sheila is a nurse in a NHS hospital. Funny, that — as I’m also a nurse who works in the NHS. Grumbling Appendix is a brilliant and highly-regarded blog that's getting rave reviews. So, hearty congratulations to let’s-call-her-Sheila. 

A cowboy hat made from recycled beer boxes
And then there’s let’s-call-him-Matthew. Well, actually, no need for anonymity here; his name really is Matthew — Matthew Steffen, to be precise. Matthew contacted me to say some very positive things about my blog post on Nova Scotia. He appears to be involved in a company called redneck that produce cowboy-style hats made from recycled beverage boxes. So, hat’s off to Matthew! What with grumbling appendixes (or should that be appendices) and recycled beer hats, my horizons are now suitably enlarged. I wonder if the treatment for a grumbling appendix would also work for an enlarged horizon.


  1. Hi Tony, Great picture of the Lancs! Can you imagine anyone building a school next to a prison nowadays? When my dad was head boy in the late 1930s, there was a prison garden next to the school yard. The headmaster, who was a keen fisherman, used to send dad to collect any worms that the prisoners turned up as they dug. He used them as bait. Don't think you'd get away with that any more.

  2. What a great anecdote. I think it sometimes felt like the school was an extension of the prison. I do remember walking home from school down The Dana and seeing prisoners carrying out rooftop protests.


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Tony Gillam is Senior Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing at the University of Wolverhampton, a freelance writer, trainer and musician. He is the author of 'Reflections on Community Psychiatric Nursing' (2002) and 'Creativity, Wellbeing and Mental Health Practice' (2018).