Stevie Carroll (stevie_carroll) wrote,
Stevie Carroll

Adventures Up North Part Four

For the final post about my trip to Derbyshire two weekends ago, I present The Book.

My finding of The Book inspired a story in A Series of Ordinary Adventures: 'Breaking the Silence'. In the story four boys at a private school had been sent into an attic by one of their teachers, and we follow the consequences of that visit at a reunion many years later:

There must have been a reason, whether sanctioned by a teacher, or thought up as part of a prank, for them to have all been there, in the attic, but they disagreed as to what that reason might have been.

Ben thought that they had been sent up as a punishment for some minor, or not so minor, infringement of the school rules. Or maybe it had been one misdemeanour too many, which had led to their being sent up to the attic, armed with brooms and yellow dusters, to clean the junk that had been there since before some of their teachers had been born.

Neil thought that they had gone up there to find props for the school play, with instructions to clean any particularly dirty or dusty items as best they could before bringing them down to the classrooms. Sometimes Tariq agreed that there had been a play at the bottom of it, but he generally asserted on those occasions that it had been costumes they had gone looking for. Why else would they have gone delving in old trunks? Why else would they have broken the locks on those trunks in the first place?

At other times, Tariq maintained that they had gone up there as a prank, challenging each other to pick the lock on the door in the long, dark corridor that led to the Classics Department. When the lock was finally breached (by whom, Tariq was uncertain), they had dared each other to climb the narrow, cobweb-encrusted stairs to the cavernous attics that ran the length and breadth of the building known colloquially as Old School.

Jim mostly agreed that a prank had been at the bottom of their visit to the attic, but it had been the cause, rather than the original aim of the adventure. They had been running from one of the bigger boys, though what exactly they had done to earn the bully's wrath that time was again uncertain, and had opened the door, thinking to hide in the cupboard sure to be on the other side. Finding the stairway up to the attic had been a surprise to them all, at least in this version of the tale.

They had tramped dejectedly, stomachs rumbling at the thought of a missed supper, up the well-worn stairs. They had run up joyfully, excited by the prospect of two whole periods out of the classroom. They had crept up, placing feet gently on the firmest part of each step, heads full of plausible excuses as to why they were out of bounds. They had rushed up, tripping over each other as well as over their own feet, desperate to escape the bully and his revenge for what they had done to him that time, and on all the previous occasions that they had pranked him.

In my case, I was sent up to the attic by a teacher, because I'd finished all the set work and she needed something fetched down or tidied up (I forget which). The door to the attic was across the corridor from our classroom, so she could still keep an eye on me (probably a good idea; I was a well-behaved student when it came to handing in work but one of a group who were apt to rebel in other ways, including wandering off when we thought we could get away with it).

I must have completed the task I'd been sent for, because my teacher was in a good mood when I returned with my own prize: a Victorian algebra textbook, which I was allowed to take home with me. I stowed the book carefully on a shelf in Dad's study with books of a similar age, type and size, but at some point in the intervening decades it got tidied away elsewhere. Until this year...

Algebra Book 310314 (1) Algebra Book 310314 (2)

Algebra Book 310314 (3) Algebra Book 310314 (4)

Algebra Book 310314 (5) Algebra Book 310314 (6)

Algebra Book 310314 (7) Algebra Book 310314 (8) Algebra Book 310314 (9)

And for anyone interested, the book is Hall and Knight's Higher Algebra: A Sequel To Elementary Algebra For Schools, the 4th Edition from 1892 (and with dates of ownership/lending of 1893 and 1920 written on the pages). Looking on Abebooks, there are plenty of copies available from the 1891 1st Edition right up to brand new paper back editions (still with the same chapter numbers and titles), so my book isn't valuable, but it is well loved.
Tags: a series of ordinary adventures, for reference, inspiration, out and about, photos, print books, published work, real life, truth stranger than fiction
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