First Day at St Luke's - Malc Greenhalgh


 malc greenhalgh 2Probably worth adding my two penn’rth to the first day at Killerton.

My first day at Killerton started with my dad driving me from Shirebrook, a notorious pit village in North-East Derbyshire to the railway station at Chesterfield. I was a Lancastrian at heart and my time here was not one that I had enjoyed for the last five years of my life. My dad was a kind old chap, Bolton born and bred. He shoved a few pounds in to my hand to ‘Tied you over’, he said ‘Until your student grant comes through.’  I had saved a fair bit up during the summer working as a postman in Mansfield but the extra money was, I must say, a real bit of a luxury!  We said our goodbyes and a lifted my heavy suitcase on to the train which would take me directly to Exeter.

Obviously I was a bit nervous, my interview had gone well with Eric Savage, Head of Economics, and I had done pretty well in my Economics ‘A’ Level so that wasn’t a problem. But what preyed on my mind was not knowing where I was going to be living or who with.  I knew I was living in a hall, a totally new existence for me, but where?  I decided that the best way to quell my nerves was to pop down to the food and drink carriage and see what they had.  Well when I got there a couple of fellow passengers were enjoying a beer. I can’t remember what time it was but I hadn’t had my dinner!  Anyway, the beer looked pretty tempting so I decided to join this merry crowd.  From there on I don’t remember much about the journey other than I was feeling much less nervous when I arrived at St David’s train station in Exeter.  It was late afternoon, as far as I can remember, and I wandered out carrying a fairly heavy suitcase. There were a couple of other studenty type characters hanging around but I wasn’t getting the meeting party that I had expected!  The other two were in a similar situation so that was some relief.  After some time, a minibus arrived and we loaded our bags in and sat waiting for some time while the next train arrived with the next new arrivals.  We didn’t chat much while we waited.  I guess we were all feeling tired and a bit nervous of what to expect. Eventually we were all aboard and headed off on the short journey to the college on Heavitree Rd.

Arriving at the college, we unloaded our luggage and were escorted to a ground floor room at the front end of the college. We joined a few other ‘freshers’ all waiting to be told where the next part of their journey was going to take them.  It seemed like an age before some older students arrived and called out a few names. ‘Okay, come with me, we are off to Rowencroft.’

That left just the two of us behind.  Sat opposite me was a large chap, not very talkative, but friendly enough.  ‘Have you heard anything about where our digs are likely to be?’ I asked. ‘Nope!’ was the reply.

We sat quietly for a little while longer before another chap arrived and said ‘Are you Malcolm Greenhalgh – he didn’t quite the pronunciation correct - and Tim Cottle?’ We both nodded with a bit of a smile as it did seem as though we were going to reach our destination this evening after all.  ‘You will need to bring your luggage over to the car park.  The minibus is wating there.’  ‘Minibus?’ I thought. ‘That doesn’t sound right!’

We loaded up our luggage yet again and climbed in. ‘Is it far? ‘ I asked. ‘Oh, about twenty minutes,’ he said. ‘Blummin’ ‘ek’, I thought to myself, ‘Where the ‘ek are we being taken?’ My minibus colleague didn’t look best pleased either!!

From memory, it was a long 20 minutes, before we turned up what looked like a long driveway in the middle of nowhere. I could just see in the distance a large building but as it had been a long old day the light was beginning to fade. The minibus came to an abrupt gravel generated stop and the driver hopped out and unloaded our bags. The big entrance door swung open and out came a rather short chap with a big grin on his face.  That was a welcomed sight I must say after such a long and tiring, and a bit of a nerve racking, day.  We picked up our luggage and hauled through the big open door.

‘Okay’, he said. ‘I think the best place for you two is the bar. Drop your luggage down there and follow me!’

As we walked down the stone corridor the boisterous laughter emanating from somewhere in the distance grew louder and louder. We followed along and turned a sharp left into a crowded room of what I later began to call, fellow Killertonians!!

I must say, I don’t remember much about what happened next, it still remains a blur. I guess we drunk a fair bit and I guess we went to the dining hall for something to eat. But I really can’t remember how long it was before my luggage was finally dragged up to my room along a wide staircase, past a billiard table, left along another corridor and then right in to what was a large, fairly hollow room with three beds and two large Georgian style windows at the far end. The shutters were wide open but seemed to lead in to a dark abyss.  I am not even sure I knew that my room mates were Horace Letchford and Dave Halford at this time!

I must have slept like a log because I don’t remember anything until I woke up with the sunlight beaming in to the room.  I struggled out of bed and went towards one of the windows. I was blown away with the ‘Garden of Eden’ that swelled as my gaze took in the large cultured lawn and the landscape of shrubs and trees. ‘Was this really where I was going to be living?’. What a difference from where I had woken the day before looking across to the black slagheaps of NE Derbyshire emanating from one of the largest coal mines in England!