The Lunatic and
his thousand words.
10th November 1995: Met a student of mine in Port Antonio, Leo Elliot.
We went around Titchfield High School together, situated within the old Fort of
Port Antonio, Fort George on a promontory straddling two harbours.
Leo gused to go to school there and taught there for six years befiore he
deiced to become an architect. He slept during my lessons. I liked him. As we
walked along the buildings reading the signs of the litter, the discarde school
furniture in the old gun powder house which had obstinately remained in place
after the fort became a school and thus becoming an obstacle which people had to
negotiate, and which, “because it was there” people filled with rusty things,
and the rusty furniture strewn under the elevated floors of the main barracks,
and the informal paths created for hasty short cuts and quiet retreats to a
mysterous privacy. We looked at a solitary chair left empty in the shade of a
palm tree, a chair rescued no doubt from the ignominy of the gun-powder room,
oversseing the gentle massaging of the sea on the beach below. Leo became more
than a student allong that walk, a man , just my junior with a son. Litter was
everywhere. Bright litter, box-juice cartons, bright orange. Blue plastic.
Pepsi bottles, white throw-away-plates. One row of classrooms was completely
open at the side facing a courtyard. Teacher shouting back to back at their
purpils, who sat still and had glazed their eyes. Despite its openness, the
children were constrained within its space by the psychology of the threshold,
the demanding geometry of a sinlge line. Only one boy had penetrated the
invisible wall with his lazy legs and showed himself a true dreamer. In the
courtyard children were playing loud games. The children in the classrooms were
immune to noise and every distraction. Or they had become numbed by it. I don’t