Friday, 28 March 2008

Time to remember

Over the Easter break, I attended the 50th Jubilee celebrations for James Hargest High School / College in Invercargill. Just for the record, I was not a first day pupil. In fact, I didn’t even come close. I arrived in the 9th year of the schools existence just as the founding principal stepped down and a new principal started.

But what do I remember about my days at James Hargest? Although I remember some of the academic struggles, it is more involvement in sport that fills my memories. As I look back, I realise that we had many different sporting options available to us. I played rugby, indoor basketball, and tennis. I also participated in athletics and harriers (cross country running). There was also murder ball in the gym during physical education classes and touch rugby on the tennis courts during the breaks. Around those, I managed to fit in some experiments with printing photos in the school darkroom and just to ensure that I was fully occupied, there was the after school job.

As I recall our 1st and 2nd fifteen rugby teams did quite well in their respective competitions but it was the practice games between the 1st and 2nd fifteens that I recall most. Part of the reason was that I played centre or wing for the 2nd fifteen and my cousin played on the opposing wing for the 1st fifteen. My cousin was a sprinter and we knew that the only way to ensure that he didn’t score tries was to take out their centre with the ball or tackle my cousin as he received the ball. Our game strategy was therefore one of marking our opposing player and ensuring that we were in their face as they received the ball. The 1st fifteen of course returned the favour. I usually received the ball as the opposing centre reached me so strategies for avoidance or getting rid of the ball quickly were at the front of our mind. If I did get past their centre, there were always the forwards providing the inevitable cover so it was then usually into a ruck and a repeat of the process.

I have to admit that at times, we felt that we were just the punching back for the 1st fifteen. They wanted to practice their defence or attack moves so the game would be stopped and portions replayed so they would get their moves and defence correct. The 2nd fifteen consequently learnt strategies for defending or attacking to outplay the 1st fifteen strategies but more because we had to rather than because we were being taught to. Still they were great memories.

In my last year at school, I took to riding motorbikes. Initially, this was a Suzuki 50 but I migrated to an AJS 500 single cylinder which I rode with pride. Most of the time, I rode with a couple of mates and we explored the roads of Southland on our underpowered bikes. It is one of these motorbike riding friends that I remain in contact with. I lost touch with most others until the reunion.

The reunion like so many other things recently reminded me of so many things that have been left to fade in the memory banks. It was strange having people who I hardly recognised coming up to me and saying that they were a good friend at school. My memories have faded and I struggle to recall but there are some recollections still there.

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