Monday, 6 February 2012

The Monastery


We didn't go on many trips at all in the high school I went to (Y7-11). At all. Once we went to the cemetery of the local church. And again. We went to some lame science museum in Liverpool. Lame know, Liverpool. And apart from that, I genuinely can't think of other trips we had. Oh, once we went to the theatre to see some BS WW2 play? Or something? Ah, who cares.

But in Y11, close to the time before we all ran away for exams and "study period"-ness, the handful of us RE (or RS) students had two trips, fairly close to each other. Now when I say "handful", you have to know that there were only 32 of us in total in the entire year group. So those of us taking RE, fewer than 10 if I can remember - not an entirely extravagant subject.

I can't remember which came first but we went to a Christian monastery as well as a Buddhist monastery. What was fun and strange about both trips is how not only did our usual RE teacher accompany us (he taught me RE for 5 straight years and history for 3!), but the other RE teacher (an Oxbridge grad music teacher from what I can remember) also supervised us few kids - and drove the damn mini-bus! Fun indeed. That was a long sentence. Not the "fun indeed" bit...

The trip to the Buddhist monastery was LAME. We basically took our shoes off to sit around in a circle in a prayer room and asked a Buddhist why he was supporting the slaughter of animals by buying meat from the supermarket despite his own belief - which he stated earlier - that nothing should be killed etc. Yep. Fun.

I remember the trips to and from this place. Somewhere in/near Todmorden. I had about 10 songs on my phone and was half-listening to them in the mini-bus. You know the songs you listen to from this age up until your early 20s, the ones that will probably stay with you for the rest of your life? And your kids will say "Oh, come on!" when you crank out a "classic" of yours in the car? Crikey, the music my uncle listens to...just says it all. Bands like Sherwood and Melee and others you probably haven't heard of. And this one song by...I think they're called New Atlantic, "Late Night Television". Straange.

The Christian monastery place... What I have remembered from it literally a second ago was how the Christian monk/priest (I can't remember which) was super-old and how one guy in the class was trying to hold his laugh whilst we were given a tour of the place. The monk was always closing his eyes as if he was remembering something whenever he was talking. I guess it did look strange.

But the strangest thing of all was the last thing we did when we were there: have lunch. Because it was a Friday. And this place had a rule for their Friday meals. On one of those long, extended dining tables (where someone sits at both ends and there are people sitting opposite each other on the sides), we were sitting there in our blazers and ties, along with our teachers but also the maaany monks and priests and nuns who lived there. And we ate lunch. In silence. We had to gesture to the person next to us if we were asking for water. Strange. Don't think I've quite had lunch like that. Sat with familiar and unfamiliar faces, together at the table yet alone in our thoughts.

I wonder if any of us have had another experience like that. But I haven't kept in touch with any of the RE class. Or the teachers from that school. Or any other students from my year group there.

Hmm, strange.

Sweet dreams.