Mr Lyward’s Answer by Michael Burn The Story of George Lyward and Finchden Manor


Download 443.84 Kb.
NameMr Lyward’s Answer by Michael Burn The Story of George Lyward and Finchden Manor
page8/20
A typeDocumentation
1   ...   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   ...   20
Of course there were boys who did try to bully now and then. There were boys who stole from the others, or were conspicuous for their crude language. But they could not dominate the community, and could not impress or frighten any other boy for long. It was not only the staff who knew the fear and need to appear grown up from which bullying or swearing might spring: the other boys knew too. It might, in one or two instances be necessary to send an exceptionally disturbing boy away. But, in general, bullying, stealing, swearing, fell away as the need to bully, steal or swear, diminished.
Some boys tried to take Finchden Manor by storm at once. One of them was a boy deprived of love. He had wrenched attention to himself in the usual ways, and been found out. Sent to Finchden, he played for it again, and on his first evening succeeded in dominating a whole room by bravado. It shook him to find that the conquest did not last, and had not really been a conquest. He was not deliberately rebuffed, but the others did not respond.
At their different stages, the boys were aware of the deeper impulses behind the actions a newcomer might flaunt on the surface. They sensed fear at the root of any kind of compulsion to 'show off'. Boastful deeds, intended to provoke awe, were met with condolence, as if, at the end of a dictator's tirade, the audience were to rise silently, pat his hand, and murmur: 'We're sorry for you.' The audience at Finchden did not need to be told how the new boy had suffered in the past. They only knew that he had. They all had. Otherwise they would not be there.
One day there was to be a dance. The boys had borrowed some trellises belonging to Nigs Walker, as a foundation for the décor. Someone annoyed him, and he demanded his trellises back, which meant - as he knew it meant - no décor. The dance was to start in a few hours. Sid came in, and found the boys helpless.

'Take the whole thing down,' he told them. He thought he knew what would happen, and it did. Nigs broke the trellises to bits and refused to cook. Sid became extremely unpopular. The boys stood about accusing the staff of 'giving in again to Nigs'. Nigs stood outside sulking, isolated. After a while the boys came up to Sid, and one said:

'We thought you were hitting at us. Nigs is the one who's suffered.'

They all looked at Nigs, until one went over and asked him to help them with the lights, and so, although the trellises were destroyed, he was brought in again to help with something different. The boys did this, not Sid. They often seemed to understand that when one of them, in sulks or rage, destroyed property, he destroyed something within himself A few boys showed their 'independence' by running away. They were sent back from afar, or found in Tenterden. No penalties. No reproof. Nothing might be said at all, or the member of the staff who had driven the boy back, late at night, might get him a hot meal. It was not independence the boy had shown, but dependence.Gently, casually, he might be drawn into the family at Finchden, accept love, and remain.
Often this 'drawing in' just happened, as a beggar is drawn to a fire. Boys who agreed to stay, but with a blank and hostile condescension, which proclaimed 'Go ahead and cure us. We're not going to help', were drawn into a game of cards, or suddenly had to smile. It might be at a concert, or at someone playing with the monkey, or during a discussion - and the game of cards, or smile, might be a beginning, even though they afterwards went back to scowls. Some boys accepted Finchden from despair, saying to themselves that this was their last hope. Some revelled in it; one remembered sitting on his bed and thinking what a joy it was to wear a dirty shirt. The feeling that had come to these boys at their first interview - 'This is it' - never left them. They found there all that had been missing, and gave all that they had been unable to give, within their own family.
Finchden also had the hospitality of a happy family. When you said goodbye you were asked to return. When you returned you were welcomed. A place was kept for you, and food appeared. Nothing seemed to have changed. A few new boys might have arrived; you did not notice them at first, because they were already behaving as if they had been there for months. You recognised a boy you had seen on your previous visit, at his first interview, strained and unhappy; already he looked relaxed and younger. Sometimes there would be a boy who sat by himself and could not yet join in. An old member of Finchden might be at supper. Perhaps he had brought his girl, or you would see him wandering about on his own, remembering places, incidents, people, Mr Knox. So it could be at any ordinary school. Here the memories were more poignant; memories not only of youth, but of thankfulness, transformation.
Visitors were sometimes nervous of coming to the boys' meals, but had no need to be. If a stranger wanted to ask questions, many of the boys could give at least as good an impression of Finchden as anyone else. They were direct and unpretentious, and talked about themselves easily, on the level of ordinary conversation. Naturally, they championed the place. If a visitor were skeptical, they suggested he should stay there for a few days and live among them. Once half-a-dozen young psychiatrists arrived and spent an hour or two in the dining-hall, each amongst a group of boys. The boy who praised Finchden most highly was one who was doing his utmost to leave. Nearly all the boys understood they were learning something they would find in few other places. They no longer thought of themselves as odd or guilty or to be pitied, and wanted to describe Finchden because they thought it worth describing, and were proud of it.
They had visits from head-masters, social workers, doctors, probation officers, magistrates, men and women. The boys could quickly recognize whether strangers had or had not an open mind. Consequently, even in an hour or two, a visitor could often feel a touch of those intimate challenges to rigid attitudes which Finchden presented to the boys. It was sometimes the cleverest visitors who seemed to be the most closed. But the boys took to someone like the Educational Officer who asked 'Do you fellows ever cry?', and on being told 'Yes', said: 'You're lucky. It was a long time before I could.' They took less to a tough looking but vain Australian, who lectured them on I.Q.s. After they had begun to call him the Queen of Sheba, he came to Mr Lyward, said 'They don't like me,' and burst into tears. A person arrived, known ever afterwards as Educated Jones. He picked on two of the most intellectual boys and took them, without Mr Lyward's knowledge, to the local pub, where he bored and annoyed them with his views on complexes and inhibitions. Unwisely returning to interrogate the rest, he was all but thrown into the pond.
The boys liked an old lady called Mrs Hallam, grandmother of a boy who later came to Finchden for years. Her daughter, the boy's mother, had paid a brief visit and disapproved. Mrs Hallam, an intelligent dowager aged seventy, determined to see for herself. She tramped all over the place, had long talks, enjoyed and admired. 'I suppose she understood,' said one boy, 'because at her age she has no axes to grind.' Children felt at their ease at Finchden. One boy taught a little girl visitor pottery. A boy of twelve came for a few weeks before going to public school, because his mother wanted him to experience Finchden's depth and ease; he could hardly be persuaded to to leave. A visiting headmaster's child took off his clothes and bathed happily in the pond; but his parents stayed suspicious.
The boys had many friends in the neighbourhood, and no irreconcilable enemies. Any tradesman who saw them week in week out was bound to observe the alterations in them. Mr Bolton, who owned the sweetshop, would keep an eye on certain boys, perhaps for a long while: but a time came when - for most - he could take the eye away. Finchden had a good and much-loved neighbour in Colonel Cosens, who owned the adjoining orchard and took the swill from the kitchen for his hens. He and his daughter had long been friends of Mr and Mrs Lyward and the boys, and came to all their shows, pantomimes, concerts and parties. Now and then there would be big occasions, such as the play Fitzy produced and later took on tour. The hall would then be packed to the walls. The boys were hosts. They had good manners, worn as easily as their good suits, and completely without their tongues in their cheeks. This often surprised visitors. But why? It was 'the result of years of letting be, during which the boys have grown to feel that they could not buy approbation ... and that nobody will attempt to buy them either.' They had also a kind of chivalry towards one another.
Although concerts given by people outside were rare, Mr Lyward once invited the local string quartet. One or two guests sat in front in the home-made chairs, with the boys all round. The monkey perched in one boy's lap, a dog, a cat, a hamster in somebody else's, and the log-fire blazed. In an interval between Schubert and Schumann, Richard rose without a word, felt his way between the musicians to the piano and played Chopin. No one was embarrassed, or thought it strange. When my wife went later to speak to Richard, two boys at once joined her, in case she did not know he was blind. Another night Fitzy was given a farewell present, in a hall crowded with old members of Finchden, parents, and friends from Tenterden. The presentation was made after a revue, which ended with a scene from Hamlet, and the boys chose Tubby John as their spokesman. Aged nineteen, he was an amateur of heraldry, and weighed forty stone. They helped him on to the stage, where he made his speech surrounded by the Danish court in jewels and slashed hose.
It is within a corner of this quiet picture that one should place the troubles - the burning of a barn, a theft, a dog, supposed to be tied up, left loose and killing chickens. Every so often something of this kind happened, just as every so often some boy ran away. These events were not the atmosphere; like Flynn, they were the atmospherics. Ordinary people in the neighbourhood did not judge the boys. The police showed understanding, never came to the house without telephoning - and never came at all unless they had to. When they did I used to have an impression as if all the windows had been shut, or someone were walking over a grave. When the police had gone everything seemed to open up again. While I was at Finchden they only came about five times.
The happiest families have sorrows; and the most healing communities have those they cannot heal. No true account of Finchden Manor could leave out those boys the community either could not help or could only help a little. How sick some were will become clear from the following extract from a diary by one of the staff concerning a boy called Peter Fell.
'On Wednesday afternoon I saw him in the hall, and he was crying. He said he was not unhappy. The reason for crying was that he was so happy to realise he was cured and could lead a normal life again. His chore for that day was washing supper dishes. This job, which normally takes fifteen minutes, took him an hour and three-quarters. Next day, after playing the piano, he came to me and said: "Shake me by the hand." I did so. "You may now say," he continued, "that you have shaken hands with the second Mozart, the next genius." He burst into tears, and ran upstairs.... Later he started singing. He sang all night ...'.
One boy, who went into a mental home after a week or two, did damage to Finchden costing a large sum, and disturbed the others by talking about his experiences in mental hospitals. He had an obsession that he could cure everyone. Another arrived with over thirty convictions. He committed two offences outside Finchden almost at once, which were quashed in the hope that he might remain there. He had an obsessive hatred of the police, stole a car, drove at seventy miles an hour, and tried to knife the policeman who arrested him. He gave no trouble as long as he remained within the grounds of Finchden, and the other boys were never frightened by him. He could only be persuaded to go to the police station on condition one of the staff went too. He had a warm affection for Neville, and has kept up a cheerful correspondence with Finchden from a State Institute.
Such boys - and the rest were similar - were unlikely even to have been considered at any other place without warders or resident doctors. One proved so disturbing that after several exhausting months both staff and boys asked for his removal. 'When he walks in, all the laughs become forced, and nobody dares say anything. He teases people in a way that really hurts them, and says he has only just started. If two boys are playing he has to spoil their game, he terrifies the little boys and threw one of them out of a car. He steals from shops, pushes people off the pavement, uses obscene language to girls in the town, and taunts the Jewish boys.' Every member of Finchden to whom I mentioned his name said that he was the most disturbing person they had ever met.
Just over ten percent of the boys who came to Finchden Manor remained less than six months. About a quarter of these ran away and for various reasons could not be brought back. Jim Learoyd stayed two weeks of May, 1947. There was a dance in the hall and all the doors in Mr and Mrs Lyward's part of the house were left open for the guests from Tenterden. Jim Learoyd slipped into Mr Lyward's study, pocketed a large sum lying in an unlocked drawer, and vanished. He was found a fortnight later in London, with only a quarter of the money left. The law took its course, and he could not come back, though Mr Lyward would have taken him. The remainder of these boys were taken away by parents or guardians before they had been allowed to give Finchden a fair trial.
The remaining ninety percent or so stayed at least six months. Some stayed less than a year, a few for six years or more. It cost Mr Lyward an effort to send any boy away, but about seven others had to go because they were too disquieting to the other boys, the townsfolk or the neighbours. One or two of these stories illustrate the limits of 'maladjustment', as distinct from mental sickness in the strict sense, beyond which Finchden could not go.
Simon Parker was cruel to small animals. He refused to stop going for walks on a hill the Army used for training with live bombs. It was also fairly common for Simon to avoid meals, having sources of income from home which enabled him to feed outside Finchden. Simon was also unique in that he used to insult boys of 'lower social status', which 'is resented,' Mr Lyward wrote, 'by boys who have been to public schools, on behalf of those who have not.' He went about boasting: 'I refuse to recognise the group', and provoked bigger boys by 'borrowing' their property and offering money in compensation. 'I fear violence beyond the ordinary school-boy scuffles,' Mr Lyward wrote, 'if Simon's insults and general behaviour lead the others to retort, and he then defends himself by kicking and biting.' When the boy understood that he was to go 'into the world', he became overwrought and burst into tears. Other boys consoled him and helped him to pack, and Mr Lyward's letter to the father said that Simon 'had left with everybody's good wishes. I hope that the memory of the boys' kindnesses will remain, in spite of what he may say, and that he will continue to look on me as a friend. Our best contribution is to write him a short friendly letter now and then, and let him know that he can visit us if he wants'. Mr Lyward was asked a year later to take Simon back, but could not.
How did the mentally sick boys ever find their way to Finchden Manor? One Mr Lyward took to save from a remand home - 'perhaps a mistake?' he noted. Of another he wrote that 'the hopes of those who recommend such boys to us are not always based on any very sound knowledge of their case'. In several instances it was through Finchden's efforts on a boy's behalf that room was found for him in hospital. That these boys were sent at all is a measure of the hopes placed in Mr Lyward, and of the extreme cases he has been ready to attempt.
1   ...   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   ...   20

Related:

Mr Lyward’s Answer by Michael Burn The Story of George Lyward and Finchden Manor iconPretest on the answer sheet provided by the teacher, mark the best answer

Mr Lyward’s Answer by Michael Burn The Story of George Lyward and Finchden Manor iconOtsego manor project committee

Mr Lyward’s Answer by Michael Burn The Story of George Lyward and Finchden Manor iconBethel Manor Youth Programs

Mr Lyward’s Answer by Michael Burn The Story of George Lyward and Finchden Manor iconMr. Jones, of the Manor Farm, had locked the hen-houses for the night,...

Mr Lyward’s Answer by Michael Burn The Story of George Lyward and Finchden Manor iconFalls Manor is extremely pleased that you have chosen or are considering...

Mr Lyward’s Answer by Michael Burn The Story of George Lyward and Finchden Manor iconStephen George Harris

Mr Lyward’s Answer by Michael Burn The Story of George Lyward and Finchden Manor iconPygmalion by George Bernard Shaw

Mr Lyward’s Answer by Michael Burn The Story of George Lyward and Finchden Manor iconGeorge M. Moffett Professor of Biology

Mr Lyward’s Answer by Michael Burn The Story of George Lyward and Finchden Manor iconFor Richard Matheson and George Romero

Mr Lyward’s Answer by Michael Burn The Story of George Lyward and Finchden Manor iconPygmalion by george bernard shaw

Mr Lyward’s Answer by Michael Burn The Story of George Lyward and Finchden Manor iconGeorge Mason University Fellowship of

Mr Lyward’s Answer by Michael Burn The Story of George Lyward and Finchden Manor iconMichael A. Baca

Mr Lyward’s Answer by Michael Burn The Story of George Lyward and Finchden Manor iconMichael G. Brown

Mr Lyward’s Answer by Michael Burn The Story of George Lyward and Finchden Manor iconThe English Theological Works of George Bull

Mr Lyward’s Answer by Michael Burn The Story of George Lyward and Finchden Manor iconThe King George Conspiracy and Federal Secrets

Mr Lyward’s Answer by Michael Burn The Story of George Lyward and Finchden Manor iconThe story

Mr Lyward’s Answer by Michael Burn The Story of George Lyward and Finchden Manor iconAnswer – section a

Mr Lyward’s Answer by Michael Burn The Story of George Lyward and Finchden Manor iconS t Michael’s Church, Alnwick

Mr Lyward’s Answer by Michael Burn The Story of George Lyward and Finchden Manor iconEvan Michael Baumel

Mr Lyward’s Answer by Michael Burn The Story of George Lyward and Finchden Manor icon© 2002, Michael R. Lissack




manual


When copying material provide a link © 2017
contacts
manual-guide.com
search