Monday 28th January
This morning I got the pleasure of a lie in! Somewhat of a rarity but much needed. However, despite the joy of it being a coach weekend I couldn’t just stay in bed. The previous week had been a busy one with late night play rehearsals for the Day Boy House Play, which was fast approaching, and a mountain of Top Schools had built up. After a good breakfast I tackled some of my work however, come 2pm I was back on the school grounds for yet another play rehearsal, our first in the Ashton Theatre. Something I could not afford to miss as I had gained the part of John Watson in one of two Sherlock Holmes short stories. Not everyone turned up but most of the main characters made an appearance and so my time wasn’t wasted. When it came to getting picked up, I hoped my journey home would last as I knew there was an incomplete English essay sitting on my desk. After that I could spend what was left of the evening playing my guitar and watching some TV.
Tuesday 29th January
Back to the normal routine and an early wake up call to start the day. The process of getting from my bed to school in zombie like fashion is one I am used to. We had a quick tutor period over in the economics block, somewhat of a trek from Radbrook, followed by some tough morning lessons. Just before lunch we had what seemed like an everlasting football session in the harsh cold winter weather as part of curriculum games, not as much fun as it had been the week before in the snow. After a good KH lunch I had much more fun playing fives. I am in fourth pair for fives in the fourth form and so I got there early along with my partner and played a warm-up game with some friends. Unfortunately my partner got injured and had to retire early and so Mr Barnard enlisted my help to teach some of the girls, which was quite an experience. The last two lessons passed by extremely quickly and before I knew it I was at another play rehearsal. Once again, we still didn’t manage to get a full turnout and so there was a mixture of frustration and defeatism on faces in the room.
Wednesday 30th January
Wednesday is a good day for me as it is not so full-on academically and offers plenty of sport, but there were some heavy morning lessons consisting of poetry, desertification and nuclear fission following Chapel with Reverend Dobbie beforehand. I had a speedy but tasty bite to eat at KH before a rush back to house to get on my sports gear and play astro football with the other day boys. Alas by 2pm our fun is over as the hockey players have turned up and we must leave for our own sport sessions. As I got up to the courts for fives I was reassured to see that my partner had recovered and so Dr Morgan set up a game between us and the third pair. We had beaten them once before, as they had us, so this game was somewhat the decider we felt. After some intense rallies and frustrated comments, we got to step. This took us three tries before we finally got the ball up from the cut and the nerves got to pair three and they miss-hit the ball. We were promoted and told that we would be playing at the weekend in the northern championships – fantastic! After a tea of KH pasta I was off to the Ashton Theatre for a rehearsal on the set we would be using on the night. I managed to keep myself awake thanks to the carbs and the sugar that had gone into my hot chocolate. When I finally got home just after 10pm I wanted to crawl into bed but knew I must attempt to get through some work as I had hardly touched it. Apologies to all my teachers now if my work fell below standard; a short but good night’s sleep should put me back on track for tomorrow.
Thursday 31st January
Not back on track at all, I awoke in a bad mood. Today I had only academic lessons and after almost 2 weeks of back-to-back late night play rehearsals I was beginning to feel swamped with work; with no break for sport it was going to be a tough day culminating in a final dress rehearsal. I kept as attentive as possible in the lessons and watched the clock tick by slowly, I was tired. It seemed a lifetime before break and I could go to the grot shop for some food, this would help. Annoyingly break flew by,( how does that happen?), and before I knew it I was back in a double chemistry lesson. We did some quick notes and got the news of a test we would be having next lesson. Great! The next lesson was tomorrow! My heart sank for I would have no time to look over my notes. After chemistry it was lunch and whereas some people love what’s on offer in KH on Thursdays, I cannot second them. I went back to house, grabbed some toast and changed into my CCF kit for my Thursday afternoon activities and I had completely forgotten that I would be shooting this week so that raised my spirits somewhat. It was a grouping exercise which meant that they wanted you to get your shots as close together as possible. I was in a good group of weekly shooters, so it was a fun exercise and even though I was the least experienced, my efforts were also worth measuring . I didn’t have much time for tea as it was the dress rehearsal and still things were going wrong with both lighting and acting. I was beginning to get a little worried, and I don’t think I was the only one.
Friday 1st February
Come Friday I was extremely tired after a week of sport and late night rehearsals, but was given a vigorous wakeup call when whilst having breakfast the lights went off, the thunder roared and the house shook after it was hit by lightning. At school I used any available time between lessons to get out my Chemistry notes. However this time was not enough and by period three, Chemistry, I was not feeling at all confident. I answered all of the questions to the best of my ability but still didn’t feel as though that was good enough. After break more science, double biology and some results from a brief test we had done the week before. This fortunately was fairly good; we went through what we had got wrong, always a useful exercise and probably one that would take a little longer in the next chemistry lesson. Before I knew it, it was time for lunch. The atmosphere in lunch was incredible as everybody was talking about the upcoming ISFA semi-final match for the 1st XI which had been cancelled the week before. All sport was postponed to a later time so that anybody who wanted to watch the match wouldn’t have to miss it. As I walked up to the 1st XI’s pitch it seemed as though the whole school had come out to watch, singing and chanting to show their support for Shrewsbury. The weather held together for most of the match but the score was not the one we had hoped for. The final whistle blew and I rushed off to fives, where it was confirmed that I would be playing at the weekend in the same competition as Mr Cooley himself, a fives legend! Following the afternoon lessons, I rushed up to the Ashton Theatre for a final rehearsal before people starting filling up the theatre at 7:30. I could see the nerves in most people, including myself, yet some of the 6th formers seemed slightly more relaxed. 8’o’clock and the lights went up. My nerves were not helped by the fact that due to the lightning I could see almost everybody in the entire audience. However, we kept it together, maybe even for the first time and when the lights went down and we heard the applause, relief rushed through everybody. One night down, only one to go.
Saturday 2nd February
Today was set to be another busy day for me as not only did I have the play to perform again but also the fives Northern Championships. The first three lessons flew by for a change as my mind if not my body was already on the fives court, I rushed back to house to get changed and arrived at the fives courts with butterflies in my stomach. It seemed as though we had drawn the hardest pool in the festival, a separate event from the main competition which I had not realized until the day. We came up against the winners from last year’s festival and only managed to squeeze four points out of the game, but it was the best effort in our pool. We then came up against two good players from Rydal who had previously beaten our 1st pair. Unfortunately we lost both of those games but managed to scrape a win against a mixed pair of a Shrewsbury upper 6th and a St Olave’s gap student. This meant that we only made it into the festival plate and would be coming in the next day for more beatings, although it was a wonderful experience to take on players of such calibre.
After this I had some free time and spent it wisely catching up on some Top Schools, after a well-deserved shower. I dropped off my work and headed to KH for tea. It seemed deserted as most of the boarders would be staying in house ordering pizza on a Saturday night. I would have felt quite alone had there not been a group going on the CCF night ex. After another sugar packed hot chocolate, I went up to the Ashton where my nerves kicked in again. We had another pre-show run through and then went backstage to get our costumes on. Once again, the lights came up at 8’o’clock and we made it through the first couple of scenes a little more smoothly than the previous night, which was good as I had noticed the Headmaster was in the audience. We got through it again with I think more laughter than the first time, always a good sign, and again when we all gathered for a final bow and applause all of the effort finally seemed worthwhile. We had a brief but awesome after-party with pizza and coke before it was time to go home on a buzz!
Sunday 3rd February
Sunday let me sleep till 10 and despite yearning for more sleep my mum dragged me out of bed as I had to get up and go back to school yet again for some more fives. Something I don’t think she was too pleased with, she looked forward to a day off the lengthy school run as much as I did. Today, although not getting through to the mains of the festival, we were still fighting for the plate. Our first match was one of the most tense that I have ever played, only just losing to our year’s second pair 17-16, who later made it to the final. However, the next game we slaughtered our opponents 15-2. That ended the day on a high and Mr Cooley walked away with the trophy for the main competition as well. Waiting back at home was the best part of being a day boy, mum’s Roast dinner with Yorkshire puddings…YUM!
It had been a hectic week as the next would be, but that is life at Shrewsbury.