Is Stan sick?

In his usual inimitable style, Khris Raistrick looks towards the budding talent of South Norwood, while perhaps highlighting his own tribulations with everyday life……….

‘This is sick!’ said one exuberant girl as she charged alongside her friends into Stanley Halls with the energy of someone desperate to get to the front row of a Rihanna concert. There was a chorus of ‘wow’ as they looked around the Halls.

About 30 seconds earlier I had been inwardly scowling at them, or more precisely one of them, who was standing on the wall and sort of leaning on the noticeboard – pristinely painted of course – where Judith and I were putting up the sh! posters [here is an example, you’ll have to look outside the Halls to see the full range] ahead of last Saturday’s Open Day. Or rather, Judith was prising the doors open as carefully as possible – since the, er, pristine paint was making it tricky to get into the cabinets – and doing battle with the unlabelled keys in the unmodernised locks while I was following with the drawing pins.

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[Keys and me don’t get on. When I first moved to London, I put some cooking on in my new palace – well, a room in Forest Gate – and popped next door to the newsagents, shutting the door behind me. When I returned, could I get the key to turn? Of course not. Did I, after five minutes of heroic struggle, feel it advisable to call 999 before the house burnt down? Yes. Did I keep struggling as the fire engine came screaming round the corner. Of course. And did I succeed in falling into the porch with one last desperate and successful effort to twist the key just as four burly firemen came racing up the path? You guessed it…]

Anyway, back to Stanley. One of said girls had suddenly turned to me and asked if they could go in. On whose authority, I have no idea – but two years of SPI committee meetings must grant you certain privileges – I puffed out my chest and said ‘if you’re quick’. Imagine if they’d decided to play hide and seek in that place. You might have to spend hours looking for them.

My curmudgeonliness soon melted, however, seeing the genuine awe and enthusiasm from these girls. And then…. ‘Can we go on stage, please?’ Oh no. The stage…the orchestra pit…the steps. THE INSURANCE!!!!

Still, in for a penny, in for a pound. ‘Go on, then, but please, quickly.’ And then, the most beautiful moment. Five girls, full of joy, singing, a capella, Amazing Grace. Beautiful. I could have sworn a beam of sunshine came through and shone on them at just that moment, but I might be making that bit up.

And then, as quickly as they were on, they were gone. That 196 bus wasn’t going to catch itself. ‘Thanks’ they beamed as they skipped out. ‘I expect to see you on that stage again when this place opens,’ I replied.

If that is an omen about the things to come at Stanley Halls, could you have a better one?

FOOTNOTE: ‘Sick’, M’lud, is a term used by young persons and means ‘great’ or similar. It is not one of the banned words that Harris Academy has listed, such as ‘bare’, meaning ‘very’, and the ubiquitous ‘innit’. If those girls had said ‘bare sick’ their feet wouldn’t have touched the ground, let me tell you.

 And yes, I know it’s the Upper Norwood students who have been censored, not our very own next door neighbours, but don’t let that spoil the story. Innit?


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