VR and old schools

I went back to my old school today to see an old friend who used to teach me. It’s term time at the moment. I walked up the hill and past lots of awkward pasty looking young men standing very upright to balance those bloody expensive straw boaters we all had to wear. People used to steal mine all the time, and various arsehole teachers would punish you so severely for not having one that my poor parents would’ve taken out hat-insurance if such a thing existed. With my full forward open positive optimism I never expected it to get nicked again again, and then it did. I still haven’t really learnt that some people are just dicks.

The word “school” conjures a very different image in my mind than it does for most people. There were 750 boys there when I arrived (and rather strangely one girl, Jessica). The school is on top of a Hill overlooking the panorama of the urban sprawl. The view is stunning. The architecture is ancient and beautiful. In the Christmas Carol script, Marley takes Scrooge back to school. He opens the magic with “The school was a mansion of dull red brick, with a little weathercock mounted on the cupola.” It’s a bastardisation of the Dickens. But it might as well be a description of my old school building. What a lucky bugger I was. Scrooge was always there in my imagination, reading Ali Baba in what they called the fourth form room. I hated the place and so did Scrooge. I was driven past it today on the way home and snatched a photo.


Martin wanted to talk to me about Macbeth. I think he also wanted to introduce me to his friend because she’s in my industry. She was the Jessica equivalent a few years after I left the place. Strange to be the only girl at a place like that, I imagine. She seems to have come out of it reasonably intact.

She’s making VR, which is a fascinating if strange medium. With the goggles on, your brain starts to believe it’s happening to you. People have died of fright. Who knows, it might end up responsible for the end of procreation when everyone starts living virtually like the fucking matrix. I’m curious about it. You can do a lot with it and it feels like a medium I’d prefer to generate than to consume. And people like her are starting to push the form, which is always when I get excited.

The three of us sat in a cafe and geeked out about theatre, Shakespeare, audience response, technology and storytelling. I thought I was going to talk with Martin one on one about approaching Macbeth as a performance text. But that was derailed. The conversation went all over the place. At one point talking about sex robots in Barcelona, then a moment later Roman Catholicism, then ethics. “If someone slashes your bionic arm, is that GBH or property damage?” Martin fed us remarkable amounts of pizza, which we didn’t do well at eating, and wrote down all sorts of things we said. I have no idea what, if anything, we said that might be useful for his purposes. Still it’s always a delight to hang out with him, and his friend was excellent company and an interesting artist. Plus it’s the first time for a bit I haven’t felt rushed so I felt my shoulders drop. I’ve sat down so little recently that I discovered two long screws from Monday in my back pocket. I left them on the table prompting Martin to take the “he’s a couple of screws loose” shot. There’s some truth in that.

Year One – The calm before the storm

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

2 thoughts on “VR and old schools”

  1. Hey Al.
    look out for a programme on abuse in boarding schools on 12th Feb on ITV.It’s called Exposure and I am on it talking about abuse at my old school
    KEEP IT TO YOURSELF meanwhile old chap.Hope to see you Tuesday.


    1. Ugh yes. My old prep school will almost certainly feature on it. I know very well how forward and downright brave you’ve been and I will watch with sadness but awe at your bravery.


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