Bank closure a reminder that time just keeps marching on - Ian McMillan
In the small seaside town I was in, a bank was closing its doors for the last time.
I’d noticed a sign up in the bank’s window at the start of the week saying that it would be closing on the Friday and I promised myself that I’d be there to witness its last few minutes.
But what with one thing and another involving fish and chips and seagulls and the buying of presents for the grandchildren, I almost missed the actual final seconds.
I wandered down the street and glanced in.
A mum and a little girl were talking to the person behind the counter; they were speaking elegiacally, I convinced myself, about the fact that maybe the girl wouldn’t see such things as rural bank branches except in the history books.
There was nodding and a bit of laughter that I imagined was tinged with sadness.
And then they left and the doors closed and that was that. I expected more, to be honest; I expected a brass band playing something slow and sentimental with real feeling; I expected a protest with banners; I expected the doors to close with a sound like thunder.
I walked on towards the beach as the tide was going out.
My wife said ‘I bet if we come back next year that place will be a bar or a café called The Old Bank’ and we both agreed that maybe it would.
Life goes on, of course; maybe The Old Bank will be a great success and it will win awards, and we all know that nothing can stay the same forever but the moment of closure, the moment of the folding away of something that had seemed permanent, is always something that makes me hold my breath and wipe a tear from my eye.
There were only nine children on the register, seven juniors and two infants and so the school just wasn’t viable and so it had to close.
I remember us chatting to former pupils and recording the sound of the tractors making hay in the fields as the school year drew to an end and I found myself welling up with the huge emotion of it all but then, like with the bank all those decades later, the ending when it came was more of a whimper than a bang.
The last pupil walked away, waving. An infant presented the teacher with a card and box of chocolates. Then she turned and locked the door for the last time.
And then, because it was a documentary and we wanted it to sound good for the radio, she had to unlock the door and lock it again more forcefully and then we recorded her footsteps as she walked across the yard for the final time and got into her car and drove off.
And yes, when I went back through that village a long time after the school had closed, it was now a house called The Old School.
Maybe when the people from The Old School next go on holiday they’ll pop into The Old Bank in that seaside town and sit in The Overdraft Room and enjoy and Overdraught Special Beer.
Time, eh? It just keeps moving on.