Far Fared They Forth…
Picture the scene. Yesterday’s rain is gone, it’s a beautiful morning. We are strolling along one of Tofino’s beautiful beaches at the Pacific Rim on Vancouver Island. Cheryl is chatting to an old surfer hippie about best places to live, mentions Arizona as she went to the U of A. His buddy arrives with two gallons of Bloody Mary’s, and he loses interest in us, but just then a couple walks by that he must have spoken to earlier. “They’re from Mesa Arizona” he says. Cheryl and the lady find that they were both born in the L.A. area, discuss briefly their time in Tucson, find they were there the same year (1970) but not in the same dorm. Colin picks up on a slight British accent of her husband, Paul, and (as usual) tries to guess where he is from. Finds out the following:
- Colin and Paul were both born in Newcastle-on-Tyne
- They both lived in Whitley Bay growing up
- They both traveled on the train every day from Whitley Bay to attend Newcastle’s Royal Grammar School (founded 1525) instead of attending school locally
- They both played in all three of the school orchestras
- They both became electrical engineers
We walked back along the beach with our new friends, Catherine and Paul, and met Paul’s brother Mark (who also attended the same school) and his wife Denise who live in Dunfermline near Edinburgh, Scotland. Later that night we all met up for a few beers and shared many schoolday stories together. To cap it off we entertained our wives with a less than perfect rendition of our (ridiculous) school song (words and movie below).
If we hadn’t met the old surfer… if Cheryl hadn’t mentioned Arizona… if I hadn’t picked up on his accent … we would have just strolled past each other without knowing the connection. How many near misses have we had without knowing? One of the greatest parts about traveling is not just the things you see, it’s the people you meet. We hope to drop in to Mesa, AZ on our way back through the southwest, later in the year.
Written by J.B.Brodie, the song is no longer sung at the school
I believe John Cleese and fellow humourists once performed it on BBC TV
Horsley, a merchant venturer bold, Of good Northumbrian strain,
Founded our rule and built our school, In bluff King Harry’s reign,
Long shall his name old time defy, Like the castle grim that stands,
Four-square to ev’ry wind that blows, In our stormy northern lands.
Chorus: Fortiter defendit, fortiter defendit, fortiter defendit triumphans (triumphing by a brave defence)
Fortiter defendit, fortiter defendit, fortiter defendit triumphans
Many a name on the scroll of fame, Is the heritage of our land,
Collingwood, Armstrong, Eldon and Bourne, Akenside, Stowell and Brand,
Strong in their wisdom, wise in their strength, Wielders of sword and of pen,
Far fared they forth from the school of the north, That mother and maker of men.
God speed the school on the shores of the Tyne, That has stood for centuries four,
Bright may the star of her glory shine, Bright as in days of yore,
Pray, too, that we may worthy be, To tread where our fathers trod,
Bravely to fight for truth and right, For Motherland, King and God.
Royal Grammar School, Newcastle, school song, murdered by three ‘Old Novocastrians’.
Click on map below to see larger version
On MacKenzie Beach, Tofino, Vancouver Island