There’s nothing like New Year to make one muse on the transition of one thing to the next, the old to the new, the past to the future. And as 2015 rolled over into 2016 on Big Ben’s chimes last night, it was exciting to think that this new year would return us to Tankerville.
The moon high in the sky above my house last night also reminded me of Allen Curnow’s poem ‘Continuum’, a haunting lyric in which he explores our relationship with the natural world around us and probes the creative process from a writer’s point of view. Writing this blog, often late at night when the world is still, allowing the mind the safety and space to slip backwards through time, I can identify with the peculiar sensations of continuity and disconnection he searchingly describes and the moments when inspiration strikes.
‘The moon rolls over the roof and falls behind/my house, and the moon does neither of these things,/I am talking about myself.
It’s not possible to get off to sleep or/the subject or the planet, nor to think thoughts./Better to barefoot it out the front
door and lean from the porch across the privets/and the palms into the washed-out creation,/a dark place with two particular
bright clouds dusted (query) by the moon, one’s mine/the other’s an adversary, which may depend/on the wind, or something.
A long moment stretches, the next one is not/on time. Not unaccountably the chill of/the planking underfoot rises
in the throat, for its part the night sky empties/the whole of its contents down. Turn on a bare/heel, close the door behind
on the author, cringing demiurge, who picks up/his litter and his tools and paces me back/to bed, stealthily in step.
The Cambridge English Dictionary defines the noun ‘continuum’ as ‘something that changes in character gradually or in very slight stages without any clear dividing points.’ It seems to me that there is no better word to describe the long process we have been going through over the last three years of merging Church High and Central High together to create Newcastle High School for Girls. Nor the internal and external physical changes now underway to develop the Church High Tankerville site to receive the new school.
Never very far away at the back of my mind, however, is a sense of strange wondering at a ‘bigger picture’ in the great scheme of things which is about to result in a beautiful old building, by a very circuitous route and a totally unpredictable turn of events, being returned once again to its original name ninety one years later on.
This fact was brought to mind recently by an old broken chair you may recall I noticed discarded in the yard behind Tankerville House. Its engraved back-plate left no mistake about its connection to the old building and also reminded me of a puzzle which will have eluded many a Church High girl: where exactly was the ‘C’ in the badge?