Sunday, 30 July 2017

The class of ‘68 part 1 an ending

We were the class of ’68.

Twelve young people from south east London about to leave school for the last time.

It would have been in late June or early July 1968 outside Crown Woods School in Eltham, our exams were finished and we were all preparing for that long hot summer which would end with exam results and the beginning of a new phase in our lives.

Of the twelve sitting on the car I can easily name seven of the young people staring back at me. I’m there fifth from the left, beside me was my girl friend Ann, and on my right was Anne Davey, David Hatch, and Mike Robinson while perched on the car at the edge of the picture was Crispin Rooney and behind us Karen and Richard Woods. I rather think the chap on the end was Keith Bradbury while my dear friend Anne Davey  has informed me that behind us was Jenny Turner and Ian Curle.

We have become that favoured generation, “the baby boomers”. Not for us world wars or bitter trade depressions.

 We were born in to a world our parents were determined would be better and different.

And we grew up against a backdrop of rising prosperity, looked after by a welfare system which confidently planned to care for us from “cradle to grave” and entered adult hood with the promise of full time employment and the opportunity of a university course which for some of us would be totally free.

Now there was a dark side to all this. The Korean War had begun just as most of us were coming up to our first birthday, and the ever present threat of nuclear war hovered in the distance, and as if to round off our child hood by the summer of 1968 there was the awful tragedy of the Vietnam War.

But that summer was a good one, and I have to say truly it seemed the sun shone all the way through.

 Now I was the late comer to the group along with my friend Bernard, we had washed up at Crown Woods Comprehensive in the September of 1966. Me, from a Secondary Modern School and Bernard from a grammar school.

And Crown Woods was  mixed, which pitched both of us into a series of wonderful new experiences and opened up new friendships that have survived the space of over 53 years.

Of course the intervening years have offered up both triumphs and dismal dog days and along the way some of those twelve have disappeared while we have all had to cope with a mix of disappointments as well successes.

Most stayed in the south with only me washing up in the north and never going back. We did the full range of post school careers, with some of us heading off to pursue a degree and others getting down to it directly in offices and factories.

And now most of us are on the cusp of retiring or have done so with all that that will bring. And as I stare back at the class of 68 I ponder on the stories that we made and the people we touched.

Pictures; from the collection of Anne Davey

Tomorrow, part 2, one of the class of '68 and a secondary modern school

No comments:

Post a Comment