Saturday, 28 January 2012

Wuthering Heights in Milford Haven

The recent film of Wuthering Heights (dir. Andrea Arnold) had the best representation of the Yorkshire moors I've seen. It had a powerful impact on me for the first half or two thirds, for landscape and sound, certainly, but also for characters and story. But I could have done without the rest of the story after Catherine died--the Gothic element I found, as I always do, silly--and I began to be conscious of the film’s innovative techniques as mannerisms -- too many shots at 2 cm range as if seeing something on one’s own cheek, too many scenes opening with crashing wind and rain, great though those were the first few times.

I have had the book since I don’t know when.

A good old Everyman edition.  I thought I remembered reading it but not particularly liking it and I had no intention of reading it again. But I opened it and had a look and found the narrative lively and engaging, so without quite deciding to I ended up re-reading it (if indeed I’d read it before -- my memory now can’t be trusted). And after that I came close to going straight back and reading it yet again, but as that was partly to clear up the confusion left in my mind by the two versions, film and book, I opted to start on something else.

But the cover, I noticed, inside the dust cover looked like this:

And inside the front cover was this:

Margaret Hancock was my mother. Both she and my father went to school in Milford Haven but I’d always known it was to the grammar school. So what was this ‘Intermediate School’? It turns out that well before state (i.e. local authority) grammar schools were created by law in England they’d been legal in Wales, but under the name of intermediate schools, intermediate between elementary (primary) and university or college. The Milford Haven one was renamed a grammar school at some point.

I even found an image of it, from a postcard:

I was surprised how tiny the building was, for the only such school in the town. But I knew that more prosperous families sent their boys, like my mother’s brother, to the grammar school in Haverfordwest, and it wasn’t a rich town, so few would have afforded the fees (my dad, I think, won a scholarship).

1 comment:

paulineknit said...

What a lovely tale. My mother also won a book as a school prize - "The Lass of Richmond Hill" - which I did not read until after her death in 2005. A schoolgirl story, typical of its time. I passed it on to a long lost family member, someone whom my mother and her parents had wanted to find for some years, who also had the same forename as my Mum. I hope that her daughter and grand-daughter enjoyed the book as much as I did and treasured the gift in the spirit in which it was given.

I too have always wanted to read Wuthering Heights, and from your tale it will be the next book on my list.