Saturday, 2 January 2021

Fwd: OWT 109 January 2021



OLD WYVES' TALES 109
FOR WYVERNIANS 1919-76
EDITED BY DENNIS J DUGGAN, ROCK COTTAGE, BROOK STREET,
WELSHPOOL, MONTGOMERYSHIRE. SY21 7NA
TEL 01938 555574   07804 520730  
     JANUARY 2021


EDITORIAL   Welcome to the first OWT of 2021.  Once again there is enough material to make it an interesting read, but please consider sending a contribution, no matter how trivial it might seem to you.  It is a source of wonder to me that we have managed 109 issues; collect them together and we would probably end up with a book longer than War and Peace!  We are currently losing more members than we are gaining, and it is inevitable that Wyvernians in its current form will eventually fade away.  We have talked about inviting post-1976 pupils to join us, and the very few people (two or three!) who commented had no major objections.  Personally, after due consideration, I feel it would be better if those people who never attended Humberstone Gate formed their own society.  Some, of course, managed to be at both!
Submissions -  OWT is a simple e-mail document, and I prefer contributions in that format as it makes it easier for me to edit, cut and paste.  Items sent as an attachment may, or may not, lend themselves to be suitably adapted and I might have to retype them.  In the early days many people did not have access to e-mail, and received OWT via SAE's.  That meant a maximum of four A4 pages, hence the text is quite dense.  Now only three people receive their copies by post, but the format needs to remain the same.  Thank you to everyone who sent a Christmas card.

REUNION 2021   Saturday September 18th.  Watch this space!!!

FROM KENNETH WARD  1959-66   Third year - Elbow Lane.  Class 2B had become 3B with very little change to the incumbents.  But we did move to another classroom on the ground floor, next to the playground and walled garden.  The bonus was we had an adjacent room, where we played table tennis, and our own small playground.  The table tennis table was well-used, and I learned the basic skills which were useful in the future when I had the opportunity to play.  I could make a 'smash' rather than a 'hash'.  At seventy-plus I still love to play and can give a resaonable account of myself, but it is more 'hash' followed by a 'crash'! 
A good friend, Bruce Gibson ' Boogie to his mates - had a desk near the rear of the room, close to some cupboards.  The cupboard next to him contained a jar holding some rotting material in which a fly must have laid its eggs.  This resulted in maggots.  Those in the vicinity of the jar thought that life had been created in 3B, though I doubt any of us excelled in biology.  The fun came in making paper aeroplanes.  A maggot was loaded into the cockpit, and the plane launched to the front of the class.  These plans were scuppered when Luigi Bourne stopped his French lesson to investigate the apparent invasion of an alien species.
We began doing maths and the sciences seriously.  I took to chemistry and physics, and began to do well.  The first chemistry task was to learn the symbols of the elements.  All kids should be taught the periodic table, and told how the elements are built up structurally.  They should not move on until they can recall them like the times tables - it is the basis of chemistry and a shame that so many fall at this first hurdle.  Even for those who don't do science it is great knowledge for quizzes!!  I also took a great interest in maths, which must have shaped my future academic and working careers.
This was the time we were introduced to algebra.  A very old Bob Roberts told us about y=mx+c.  For me this was a key moment, and my fun with numbers began.  Integration and differentation were just what I needed to progress.  Not easy, but nor was it a chore.  My friend Brian Hill was in the same year, but he was brainy.  Brian had moved to 4 Alpha by skipping a year.  We always travelled to school on the Corporation or Midland Red bus from New Parks.  On the way he helped me with the maths, as I was so eager to do well.
One of the lessons I enjoyed was woodwork with Mr Hutchinson.   Every teacher had a nickname, his was Bunny.  He was a great teacher and an inspiration.  Aged about fourteen or fifteen Boogie had introduced me to horse riding.  At weekends we went to a stable in Queniborough.  They had some twenty two horses and ponies, up to eighteen hands.  We would be there all day on Saturdays and Sundays.  We went to work to earn a ride, as we could not afford lessons.  There was a great gang of lads and lasses who mucked out and prepared the horses for the gentry to go hacking in the surrounding countryside.  While the horses were out we would stand on top of the hay pile, separating the droppings from the bedding.  On cold days the rising steam kept us warm.  Believe it or not we loved it! 
During that time we learned that Bunny was a part-time jockey, which came as a surprise.  We got to talk to Bunny in more detail about his love of horses and racing, and the details of his other life became clear.  As I recall, he rode for Lord Crawshaw, and lived above the stables on the estate.  Our mutual interest was always a topic of conversation after the weekend, and this led Bunny to invite me to go racing with him - a point-to-point at Market Rasen one Easter.  It was a great experience, and if I remember correctly he rode a grey mare called September Mourn (Sic)  Mr Hutchinson, if you read this extract thank you for that great Easter it will never be forgotten.  I did not become a jockey, but still have the love of horses.

OBITUARIES   
Trevor Hides  1964-71.  Passed away September 20th 2020

Greg Allen  1959-65  
Greg in specs on the left
at a BT retirement party


Passed away cNovember 2020.  Frank Smith writes: I remember Greg for a number of reasons.  His family ran a cafe on the corner of Groby Road and Fosse Road, possibly living above it.  He was fanatical about motor bikes, and owned one from a young age.  For many years he worked with my brother, Pete, as a BT telephone engineer at the exchange in Wharf Street.  Greg attended at least one reunion, maybe with Chris, his younger brother.
John Hames writes: this is sad news.  Greg was a character with a great sense of humour.  As I remember, he was a keen cyclist and often kept up with the bus on the way to Grace Road for games lessons.  I have a happy memory of Greg stalking behind Bill Sykes as he walked to the back of the classroom during French or English lessons in 1B.  By the time  Bill had turned round to see why we were laughing, Greg had smartly returned to his seat.  RIP Greg, and thanks for the memories.

Dr John Sweeney  1963-70.  


Passed away October 21st 2020. The following announcement was made on our Facebook page by John's brother Denis:-

"It is with much sadness to inform you that Dr John Sweeney has passed away suddenly at his home in Cork, Ireland. I know how much he loved attending meetings of the Old Wyvernians, catching up with old school pals and teachers. He will be sorely missed by his wife, family, friends and colleagues everywhere. For those who wish can add a condolence message at RIP.ie. Thank you, Denis. — in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia."

 

Ivor Bufton  1944-52.  Passed away November 18th 2020.  Sheila Bufton writes: Sad to tell you that Ivor has died.  He enjoyed the reunions, and but for his dementia would have attended more.  The more recent pupils would be quite unaware of his activities and successes during his time at the school, but some readers no doubt came across his father!  He is survived by myself and three daughters.  Tudor, his elder brother, is still fairly active at the age of 93.  Their father lived to be 97.  Long may Old Wyves continue.

Steve Merrill  1958-63.  Unconfirmed  reports say Steve has passed away.  Steve's claim to fame was to be a bearer at the funeral of King Richard III in 2015.

Steve in his schooldays
1961?


Steve as a pall bearer in 2015
at the reburial of King Richard III




Alan Taylor  1944-49  Alan, who received OWT by post, wrote to me in July as follows:  as you can see, I have moved to a care home, purely because I could no longer cope on my own.  Knee problems mean I cannot walk, and I am told I would not survive the necessary operation.  That was because of my heart problems in 1997.  I have enclosed some new address labels, and a book of stamps, but I doubt you will need them all!  I am certain they will last longer than me.

FROM JOHN O'GRADY  1959-64  
Reading OWT is good, even from the other side of the world where I have lived since leaving the school; it helps to fondly recall the 'good ol' days at CBS. So many school contemporaries have written here and as I read their contributions I might occasionally pull out my old class or school photos, and my copy of Andy Marlow's history of the school and identify them if possible; I can usually put a name to a face, although their appearance is likely different now. There are some that seem to have'disappeared and I wonder what happened to them; maybe to OWT readers I am one of those, but I'm still around, just not in Leicester.
  Recent writings address the topic of why we made the choice to attend CBS; I had no such choice, my two older brothers had attended CBS and mother told me in no uncertain terms that I was too, as there was a good supply of hand-me-down clothing that could not go unused. Although not a conscious choice on my part, I never regretted my time there. The junior school building at Lee St was a little rugged maybe, and then Elbow lane organisation somewhat makeshift in its first year, but I enjoyed Clarence House later. I didn't appreciate the calibre of teachers whilst attending as a student, but looking back I now realise how incredibly fortunate we were to have such capable and dedicated staff. Even in Lee St, the rigours of new first-form topics like algebra and geometry were taught by Mr Witts who could seemingly bowl a piece of chalk to bounce off any errant boy's head in response to verbal interference. I was rather cynical on the topic of RI with Sadie Thompson even then, but he taught it well, and often provided a good laugh especially when in answer to a query about a biblical reference to Jewish custom, explained what a circumcision involved. Wally's geography I found tedious & uninspiring, roneo'd world maps in our exercise books and sternly dictated notes. I recall him stopping me in the corridor during the first week and removing his glasses to rub his furrowed brow, asked with closed eyes if there were any more O'Grady boys to come. He seemed relieved to hear my negative response & even opened his eyes, leaving me wondering what mischief my two elder siblings had committed in the past, and how that may impact my immediate future.
I made it into 3 alpha so must have fooled someone at some point in time. Initially I was a poor student however, only just hanging on and avoiding relegation. Perhaps the headmaster's terms-end visit to the class with the class list, and occasionally naming me aloud as needing to do better, provided some stimulus, for a day or two anyway; near enough was good enough then. It was only during 4 alpha that I started paying any real attention, achieved some results and moved up the class lists. I became alarmed at one point when I realised it wasn't others sliding down, but I quite liked learning and thought I was becoming a 'swat'. Being back at the main campus meant I could be part of the charge around to Bayliss' asking for stale doughnuts at 1d each; disappointment was common. Sports days were always a disaster for me too, soccer I was hopeless, cannot kick a ball straight even now. Cricket was no better and receiving a glancing blow on the head from the ball when fielding without paying attention did not improve things. Cross country was OK though, Rushey Fields were not far from home and I found that if I picked up the pace somewhat, I could be changed and on an early bus directly home from there. Jock thought I was perhaps OK at running but I kept quiet about the sole motivation being the early departure rather than interest in the actual running. My term reports (which I still have) spoke of 'lack of school spirit' since I never made any teams of course, did not try out for the famous fencing team, did not join the school play, not much of anything at the time.

Fifth form loomed and that meant subject choices. I had not enjoyed any of the arts and performed badly, Bill Sykes could not seem to force any French into my head, History & Wag Pace's Geography had eluded any spark of real interest, so I chose science but felt bad because my long-time friend Brian Stevenson, who had began primary school with me and eventually we moved to CBS together, chose arts and we more-or-less separated. I found 5th form great, really good, though and forged ahead with gusto, Dr Burrow's chemistry (partnered for some classes with Frank Smith as I recall) made sense, but the absolutely outstanding teachers to me at the time were Tony Baxter and Bill Mann. Mr Mann was superb in Physics, it all came together so well; I recall the first lesson and he announced he would offer an extra subject of Physics Prac to any volunteers that wished to participate; definitely not a requirement and a subject taken after school hours. So on Monday afternoons, as the rest of the school departed, we few masochistic takers participated in this extra class. Going home in the dark during winter, close to 5pm, was nothing like detention, rather a minor price to pay for the delights of participation in designing & setting up experiments in the lab; I recall one of the first was correcting for cooling effects with departure from ambient temperature. Mathematics became not just interesting, but intriguing too as we juggled differentiation and integration, quadratic equations and so on. Tony Baxter had been a class mate of my elder brother, and the story of his end-of-school prank when they left the school was already partially known to me at that time, but I was sworn to secrecy and I never divulged anything of it; it was all so boldly unbelievable to a mere new kid in first form.

Dave Sarson and I struck up a friendship when his family moved into our district; he had a tandem which we occasionally rode to & from school; I was always on the back of course hoping he was concentrating on steering, riding along Melton Road cycle track at breakneck speeds. It was excellent to revisit the school many years later (unfortunately not Clarence House) and re-acquaint when he was deputy Head.

I managed passes in everything (including Physic Prac) except French at 'O' level – Bill Sykes strikes again - and moved to 6th form where I went into the Biology stream; there were only 5 of us using the biology lab as our class room, a small group indeed. Flo Willan was fantastic, an amazing teacher who I related to well and remained at the top of Biology from day one. Similarly, Maths Physics and Chemistry were excellent at that level and I really enjoyed school learning, so markedly different from earlier days, and I consider entirely due to the calibre of the teachers rather than anything on my part.

Events outside my influence took over however and during my first year in the 6th form, my family accepted a rather good opportunity to move to Melbourne, Australia where I completed school in a VERY different system. I was still required to re-visit French, and a new teacher in a new system guided me to very good results in even that elusive domain. The temporal difference of academic years between hemispheres saw me complete school when I would have been only half way through 6ScII if I had stayed. I went on to the University of Melbourne at a rather young age where I did quite well, and I will forever thank the teaching staff at CBS, particularly Flo Willan, Tony Baxter and Bill Mann, as it was due to their earlier encouragement and teaching that I managed good results including Dux in Physics at the end of my first university year. I loved Aus, and met and married a local so remained in Australia, and retired as Associate Professor a few years ago. Those foundation years at CBS will always be so important, and I would dearly love to attend the reunions, however it would be a rather long commute.! I will remain an avid reader of OWT however, recalling those harmonious early days at Humberstone Gate, treading the worn stone steps of Clarence House.
 
FROM PAUL HEALEY  1960-65   I remember David Needham from my year.  He was a tall, strong centre half for the school.  He joined Notts County, the made a big move to QPR.  From there he went to Notts Forest, and played for England.  I think he was in the Forest squad when they won the European Cup.  He had a spell in management, I think he was at Kettering Town.
Talking of subjects taught by Wally Wardle, in my brief period in the 6th form (Ding Dong and I mutually agreed it would be best for me to leave) I have an 'A' level in Economics.  I knew my days were numbered when he asked us what newspapers we took at home.  The Daily Mirror and News of the World did not get the thumbs up!  When he was head at Elbow Lane you had to go to his little office at the top of the stairs to obtain a new exercise book.  Wally always counted the pages of the old one, to make sure none had been torn out, usually to do lines.  There were four houses: De Montfort, blue (I was in it)  Abbey, green or red?  Charnwood, yellow.  ?? Green or red? I chose CBS because of football, having played in goal for Montrose, Wigston Lane.

FROM STEFAN WOZOWCZYK  1965-72  

I migrated to Australia ten years after leaving City Boys. I travelled mostly overland so took only what I could carry on my back. I knew my parents had kept some of my school memorablia. A few years later, when both of them had retired, they too migrated. Both lived to great ages but my mother developed severe dementia. My father would phone and tell me that my mother was throwing things out. She didn't want to cause me any trouble sorting out the Nachlass. My mother phoned and said: "you don't want those old school photos and reports, do you?" I had no idea they'd even bothered bringing them; they hadn't told me. I said most certainly I do want them!
My parents died within three weeks of each other. I went painstakingly through their papers but I was too late. Very little was left. Nevertheless, I can tell you that on Tuesday and Wednesday, 13 and 14 June 1972, I sat my Pure Mathematics with Statistics Advanced Papers. Because the original papers did survive. They are interesting for two reasons. I travelled to school with my friend and neighbour, Nick Weston. We had to catch the bus into town, walk up to Rutland St, then catch either the 31, 67, 69 or 70. I can't remember which day it was but we were engrossed in something which was probably either music or Monty Python. We were still preoccupied when we realised we were in the middle of nowhere—we'd caught the 68. No point trying to go back. We decided we'd get off at the closest point to Spencefield Lane then run like mad. We did and, as we charged down the corridor to the exam hall, both Mr Baxter and Mr Bell (gown billowing) were in more of a panic than we were. I think we were about 20 minutes late. Maths was the one (and only) subject I was particularly good at. I still had time to answer the questions and leave time over to double-check my answers. I was starting to triple-check when the bell went. I got the Grade A expected of me.
Which leads to the second point. The first paper was Pure Maths. There are 14 questions. Although I've retained my interest in Maths to this day, I cannot answer a single one of them. And there's only one question I can even understand. I do rather better with the Statistics paper: there are nine questions; I can understand two of them and even answer one!
My next submission to OWT will discuss the German papers. Then we'll do Economics. When I've had my fun, I intend to donate the papers and a couple of other things to the Old Wyves' archive. The school reports have all gone though. I particularly miss Mr Anderson, the form teacher's, comment from 3A of 1967/68 which went something like "Could excel if he stopped pretending to be silly". One of the things my mother retained was the Wyvern off my old blazer pocket. I've written before that I enjoyed little of my schooling but I find the Wyvern oddly touching so I think I'll keep that.

AND FINALLY   One afternoon per week was devoted to games, either at Grace Road or Rushey Fields.  Football in winter, cricket in summer.  Cross-country was a regular alternative.  I have never enjoyed team games, or any form of group activity, so I was not keen on football and cricket, but quite liked cross-country. Because Jock Gilman had a rather relaxed approach to his duties it was possible to dodge a few games sessions via a forged excuse note, but mostly it was a case of gritting one's teeth and making the best of it.  Allowing time for transport to and from the field, getting changed and sorting teams, there was probably only about an hour left for sport.  If it was a football session my policy was to stay as far away from the ball as possible, though on one occasion during my first year I became intimately acquainted with the heavy, soggy leather sphere.  In short I was rendered unconscious when it hit me on the head.  I woke to find a worried-looking Mr Sweet bending over me, though I was more concerned about possible damage to my spectacles.  After a couple of minutes recovery time I was back in the game, and no one gave the matter another thought.  How different it would be today.  Rushed to hospital for tests, an enquiry launched and no doubt my parents seeking some compo.  Cricket was better, as everyone else could  not wait to get to the wicket.  I was always last on the batting order, and apart from once the games session was over before my turn came.  On that occasion I got as far as donning the pads, but was saved by the final whistle.  So usually a nice relaxing afternoon at the pavilion.  If on the fielding side I made sure to be on the boundary, and with a bit of luck mever had to touch the ball.  But cross-country at Rushey Fields was quite enjoyable.  There was a short course and a long course, all of it is built over now.  Next time I will try to remember to print details of my various wheezes to avoid games, along with Peter McDermott, my partner in crime.

Dennis J Duggan
January 2nd 2021


Sunday, 11 October 2020

Fwd: OWT108 October 2020






OLD WYVES' TALES 108
FOR WYVERNIANS 1919-76
EDITED BY DENNIS J DUGGAN, ROCK COTTAGE, BROOK STREET,
WELSHPOOL, MONTGOMERYSHIRE. SY21 7NA
TEL 01938 555574   07804 520730  
     OCTOBER 2020

FROM BRIAN STEVENSON  (EXACT DATES UNKNOWN)   Many thanks for the OWT's, they are always full of interest.   As I have found previously, it is possible to be a contemporary of a contributor without being able to remember a single thing about them - in this case Kenneth Ward.  Yet I do remember those he mentions, except for Mr Twiddly Dee Twiddly Dum - a nickname that must have passed me by.

FROM JOHN (JAKE) BLAIKIE  1955-62   (This was written July 15th - Ed)  Hello from locked-down Melbourne.  With regard to opening Wyvernians to post 1976 pupils I don't have any direct objection.  But I suspect it would lead to a large amount of input which would have almost zero-interest to the vast majority of current readers  (A declining number anyway, as age wearies us)  Maybe you could find an enterprising post-1976-er to run a parallel universe version?

FROM DAVE POSTLES  1960-67   The criteria for school selection in the last issue (This was written July 16th - Ed)  were interesting.  I had not considered the sartorial aspect - the attractiveness of the uniform.  In my year cohort  at Ovo Road (Overton Road, but latterly Merrydale - an oxymoron) four kids succeeded at the 11+, two of whom were boys.  The other lad progressed to Alderman Newton which had, I think, a splendid uniform.  In my family's perception - perhaps more widely shared - there was a hierarchy of grammar schools by disparate attributes.  Wyggeston was considered to be middle to upper-middle class and thus not suitable 'for the likes of us,' though later my sister attended Wyggeston Girls.  At Alderman Newton they played rugby.  CBS was assured because football was the sport (I was goalkeeper at Overton Road)  Languishing at the bottom in our perception was Gateway which, whilst soccer was played there, did not have a reputation commensurate with CBS. 
Some stimulating editorial comment included the notion that some boys were always destined for Oxbridge, or other universities.  I'm sure that was a significant aspect.  On the other hand some changes did occur throughout the years, and some advanced where others regressed.  How marginal were those aspects I don't know. 
Back to the uniform.  Caps were mentioned.  They were to be avoided as far as possible.  Accordingly, I would cycle along Victoria Road East in the morning, head uncovered.  But at the junction with Uppingham Road at the Shaz (Shaftesbury cinema) it was necessary to don the cap in case Grit Whitbread was encountered on his bicycle.  Lunch and afternoons were a different matter, you could cycle home with impunity.  Finally a brief greeting is directed at Steve Mellor, who was a mucker of mine. 

FROM KENNETH WARD  1959-66  Second year at the former Gateway Girls' School, Elbow Lane.  My academic record took a big blow when I was demoted from 1A to 2B, whereas some of my friends jumped a year and went direct to 3 Alpha.  The 'new' school was walled all round and we were not allowed out.  Our classroom was on the first floor, just off the gym, which did make concentration a bit difficult at times.  I still have a photo of the class.  There are only a few names I can't remember.  And I was still in short trousers!
I recall Mr Alexander, the maths teacher.  On occasion he would sit cross-legged, very relaxed, on the table, but he was very good.  Unfortunately he left after my second year and was never seen again.  Although we were separated from the main school we did have to go across town for certain activities.  One I joined was fencing.  For some reason the teacher let us carry our foils across town.  Crazy man.  Demented or what.  One day three of us decided to play at being the Three Musketeers in St Margaret's bus station.   Some busybody reported us, and we were banned from the club after only three lessons.  I still think I could have been as good as Crouch or Dart (?)
The Elbow Lane dinners were, on reflection, not too good.  But at the time I did not know much better than to realise my mum was a good cook.  A lot of liver was served, or stuffed hearts, kidneys and stews with loads of mashed potatoes, cabbage and gravy.  Considering the amount of offal, dinner time was more like a biology lesson!  A main event was the tuck shop, manned by third-year prefects.  Unfortunately some people (they will remain anonymous) ran up a tab, but that came to an end once the teachers got wind of it.  Given the meagre amount of pocket money I received the tabs seemed enormous.
Another maths teacher was Mr Mercer.  He was very good.  As it turns out, all my maths teachers made a big impact on me.  At the time.our French story book had a Monsieur Mercier as the key character.  Funny how you remember these weird facts fifty years on.  There was a boy called Manger, who wanted to know the name of the teacher on playground duty.  We said it was Jasper, though failed to mention that was his nickname.  It was rumoured that Manger received one hundred lines as a result!  It was good to see Jasper at the only reunion I have attended, in 1998?  (That was at The Harrow, Thurmaston - Ed)  He didn't look a day older.  One of Mr Mercer's quirks was a lead weight sewn into the bottom of his gown.  If he spotted an error whilst patrolling the classroom he would playfully land the weight on the back of one's head.  No words were spoken, none were necessary.
During a French lesson with Bill Sykes, Newcombe hid in the cupboard behind the teacher's desk.  I can't remember how long he stayed in there, but do recall him keep popping his head out and making us laugh.  He closed the door before Bill could see him.  That was a classic schoolboy activity which made our school days special, even if it distracted from the real reason for being there.
Can't remember why, but some of us decided to do some boxing in the gym.  Boogie Gibson and Tony Robotham were two of the five or six boys who set up a makeshift ring, and donned very large boxing gloves.  I had a bit of experience, with my dad teaching me the basics of the Queensbury rules.  I was ready to use everyone as a punch bag, friend or not.  This event was unsupervised - where was the H & S Executive?  Things went well until Boogie caught me with an uppercut and the lights went out, just as I was thinking I was invincible!  It never happened again.  I knew how to pick my battles, especially as everyone was taller than me.
Wally Wardle took us for Geography.  Not sure if it was his only, or favourite, subject.  I was one of those kids who had an answer to everything, or I should say was capable of giving a spontaneous answer with little thought.  The following incident is an example.  The subject was Australia.  Wally said, 'The ostrich is a native of Australia, and it can be dangerous.  Can anyone tell me where you should not stand when close to one?'  I thought this was a trick question, and being quite small replied, 'Underneath it, sir.'  The class went into hysterics, I felt rather an idiot.  Wally would not let it go.  'Tell me, Ward.  Why is that?'  My quick wit replied with, 'Well, sir, it might want to sit down.'  This resulted in a further bout of hysterics.  I hope Wally enjoyed the moment as much as the class.

FROM TIM RIGGS  1952-58   Thank you for OWT107.  My career at CBS was similar to yours (See the And Finally section - Ed) and I fell into category 3.  But I started in 1B and stayed in the B stream until 5S, where I managed three 'O' levels in maths, English and art.  I later managed three more, then did 'A' levels at technical college, which was a far nicer experience. 


FROM ALAN PYKETT  1959-66
   (This item was written in July - Ed) 
During lockdown, and at the time of writing this I am in extended lockdown in Leicester, I took the opportunity to read again Andy Marlow's excellent book about the history of the school. But this time I only read the history of the school from 1959 to 1966, the seven years I was at the school.  
I noted three items of interest which obviously passed me by when reading the whole book originally. Firstly, whilst spending my second and third years at Elbow Lane from 1960 to 1962 I do not really have any memory of being escorted in crocodile fashion with a prefect at at the head from Elbow Lane to Clarence House for lessons in the main school building. I am sure it did happen but perhaps not very often. Secondly, the date Thursday, 26 October 1961 is ingrained in my memory. It was the date of that year's annual Founders' Day service held at the cathedral, but that is not the reason for its importance to me! At the time I was in class 3A at Elbow Lane and I was possibly the only pupil in the class where there was no television set at home. I think my parents were becoming increasingly aware I was becoming a bit upset about this so imagine my great surprise when I went home for lunch on the above date and found a set in the living room. My excitement was tempered by my father issuing the immortal words "If it affects your school work it is going back". It was a rented set. He need not have worried. Amazingly, from that time onwards my academic career took off, culminating with me winning the form prize in class 4A the following year. Pure coincidence I suppose. As an aside readers will also recall that the above service was always held on the Thursday afternoon prior to the autumn half term break, which in those days was just two days, the following Friday and Monday, not a full week as it is now. Thirdly, and finally I hesitate to say but I think I may have found an error but I stand to be corrected! The annual swimming gala in 1965 is stated to have been held on 9 July. Most readers of OWT will recall 1965 was the year when the Leicester industrial holiday fortnight moved from the first two weeks in August to the first two weeks in July and my report for the summer term confirms that it finished on Friday, 2 July. Myself and my parents would have gone away the next day.

FROM JOHN OFFORD  1958-63  (This item was written in July - Ed)  I was interested to read Alan Pykett's comments about short trousers and how we ended up at City Boys School.  Looking through my photographs I found one of the Junior School Choir in 1960 (yes I could sing and was Head Choirboy at my local church) and you can see me and five others on the front row wearing short trousers. Move on one year and the 3A class photo shows everybody in long trousers. I suppose short trousers at age 13 were not very attractive to the opposite sex, although my legs have always been in good shape ! Nowadays I am in shorts whenever possible.
I remember the main criteria my parents and I used for choosing City of Leicester Boys was football and it was our first choice. Having played for Caldecote Road Junior School  and scoring 36 goals in their 1958 League title-winning side and runners-up in the Rice Bowl Cup final  I desperately wanted to continue in a football-playing school. Also City of Leicester Boys School sounded much better than the names of the other schools. It could easily be identified to a place. The place where I was born and bred. The others could have been anywhere.  In my final year at Caldecote Road I was in Class 1 along with 17 other boys and 25 girls. We all passed the 11 plus and three boys ended up at City of Leicester Boys. Another two went from Class 2.   Despite my wish to play football for the school I found it difficult to get into the team. Clearly I was not the only one to choose City of Leicester Boys for that reason and it turned out there were some good players.
I was eventually selected for Mr Alexander's 2nd year team in 1959/60 and the team photo shows me wearing glasses, with real glass in those days. I had already experienced a visit to hospital to have glass taken out of one eye after a stone hit my glasses whilst on holiday, so I knew I was taking a risk playing football.  I had never considered running . However, I managed to win the 1st year school cross country race over the Rushey Fields course. This led to being selected for the cross country team , but I still wanted to play football. One of the inter schools races held at Rushey Fields on our games day clashed with a form football match at Grace Road. I decided, without informing the Team Manager, to play the football match. During the first half the match was temporarily halted and I was told to leave the field and take no further part as I should have been at Rushey Fields. I never did find out how they managed to get a message to Grace Road and I wasn't in a position to ask too many questions. Fortunately no further action was take   .I continued to play in glasses for Mr Mann's 1960/61 Junior XI and the following season for Mr Lawson.
At this point Mr Lawson changed my sporting life. Although the school did not have a Health and Safety policy about playing football in glasses, he thought I was putting myself at risk and should only play football without them. I tried it for the next game, against Linwood School, who also played in gold and black. I then realised I couldn't go on playing football . Mr Lawson knew I would be disappointe , but he felt I should concentrate on running and so I started to train properly.  From our conversation he had clearly taken an interest in my school cross country and sports day results and I have always been very grateful for his advice. 
After leaving school in December 1963 I went on to break the British Junior 6 miles record in 1965, represent Great Britain Juniors as a 2000m steeplechaser in 1967, run for England as a Senior 3000m steeplechaser in 1973, represent the Midland Counties and Amateur Athletic Association (AAA) and then after 1982 for Great Britain in numerous international marathons around the world. I was never quite good enough to be selected for a major championship . However, in 1984 I  had the consolation of achieving the Olympic Qualifying time for the Los Angeles Olympics, but only three could be selected. My time of 2hours 13mins and 52secs was the 10th fastest in Britain that year and is still the County record.
It is interesting to note that on my final school report Mr Bell wrote " A great pity he is leaving. I would have liked to have seen him earn a Blue for running."  I like to think I achieved better than a Blue, but it was nice of him to believe I could have made it to Oxford or Cambridge, even if I didn't at the time.
In " And Finally" in OWT 107 I think Dennis has got in spot on about there being three groups after the first year. I would put myself in his second group. In 1958 I found myself starting in 1 Alpha (Mr Gould), finishing 23rd out of 28 after term one. I improved slightly to 18th the next ter , but my final term was a disaster. I bombed in the yearly exam order to 29th out of 30!  Moving down to 2A (Mr Freeman) for the second year was a blessing in disguise as I started enjoy the work and my exam position was 5th. 3A (Mr Newton) was even better. This was the year Chemistry and Physics were introduced and when I moved to 4A (Mr Gimson ), and along with Maths , English and German, I started to do well in these subjects.  They were the 5 GCEs  I obtained before leaving after only one term in the sixth form (Mr Lawrence). I was only academically average and did not consider myself as University material. After five years of study and exams I wanted to find a job. My qualifications allowed me to take up employment in a bank and four years later move on into local government, where I spent 40 years with the City and County Councils before retiring at age 60.
City of Leicester Boys gave me a good education to set me up for decent employment  and, as a bonus,  a successful career in athletics, of which I am very proud.  Although I left school 57 years ago I still have many happy memories. During the lockdown I have had the chance to go through my collection of schooldays memorabilia of photographs and reports to remind me. Also time to read again The Story of a Grammar School by Andy Marlow. It is a wonderful record of the history of my school. Thanks again Andy.
Thanks must also go to Dennis for being the Wyvernians Founder, Secretary,  OWT Editor and Reunion Organiser. Will we ever meet again at Clarence House ?   Stay safe.

FROM ED FEATHERSTONE  1959-65   Between 1991 and 2019 I was a Partner, then a Director, of Collis Bird and Withey Bookbinders.  When I bought the Andy Marlow book I decided to have it rebound.  It is now in a black quarter-leather binding (Spine and part of the covers in leather, with raised bands and gold lettering) and the rest of the covers in black buckram.  The end papers are also black.  We then made a handsome slip case, to protect the book for posterity.  I want Wyvernians to have it, so the book can be seen at the reunions.  It could be your personal copy.  Lord knows you deserve it!  (I was, of course, delighted and honoured  to accept Ed's generous offer.  If and when we have another reunion it will take pride of place in the display - Dennis)

AND FINALLY...   The recent spell of very wet weather made me think back to our weekly games lessons at Grace Road or Rushey Fields.  I was a less than enthusiastic participant, and had a range of dodges to avoid the torture.  But of course they could not be used every week, so often I had no choice but to take part.  The only hope of salvation lay in the weather, and if it was a wet morning I hoped and prayed it would become worse after lunch so games would be cancelled.  But so far as I recall, that only happened once in my five years at CBS.

Dennis J Duggan  1959-64
October 12th 2020







Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Fwd: OWT 107 July 2020






OLD WYVES' TALES 107

FOR WYVERNIANS 1919-76
EDITED BY DENNIS J DUGGAN, ROCK COTTAGE, BROOK STREET,
WELSHPOOL, MONTGOMERYSHIRE. SY21 7NA
TEL 01938 555574   07804 520730  
     JULY 2020


EDITORIAL   This edition is much shorter than usual.  With 106 under our belt it is perhaps not surprising that new material is in short supply.  So contributions welcome.  If possible please send as an ordinary e-mail.  If you don't have a computer I am happy to accept items by post.  I will not print anything cruel or libellous, nor any rants.  That is not to say you cannot be critical - many correspondents have expressed negative feelings about some aspects of the school during their time there.

FROM JOHN PASIECZNIK  1971-78   Responding to your request in OWT106, I'm happy if membership of Wyvernians is widened to include those who joined the school after 1976.  My stay included two very happy years in the slightly new-look sixth form  (A few girls joined at sixteen)  where I managed to scrape passes in three 'A' levels and thence on to university.  Next year, 2021, it will be forty five years since the school lost its grammar school status, so perhaps it's a good time to widen the net.  I wonder if 1990's Old Boy Emile Hesketh mentioned the Cityof Leicester School in his much-praised 2019 autobiography?

FROM ALAN PYKETT  1959-66   I would like to comment on two items from OWT 106.  First, the issue of short trousers.  I have to say I wore these to school until the end of the second year, having attained the age of thirteen in June.  If you look at the photograph of 2A from 1960/61, the one sent to the Mercury by our editor in 1998 - which prompted the start of the reunions - I am sitting on the extreme left of the front row.  You will also see there is only one other boy in short trousers, he is sitting on the extreme right.  I believe his surname was Lees, first name possibly John.  I have always been short in stature so don't think the trousers looked out of place, though I would imagine that few are worn in primary schools nowadays.  The second point is the choice of grammar school should one pass the eleven plus.  My first choice was always going to be City Boys because, as Bharat said in his talk, it was the uniform.  Black and plain, with a striking badge, was the appeal.  I was friends with David McAngus, younger brother of John who spoke to us recently, and I had noted how smart John looked in his uniform.  My father, rather tongue-in-cheek, suggested I should put 'Wyggy' as first choice, but that was easily rebuffed.  Naturally I was delighted to be accepted by CBS, and never regretted the choice for a second.  I believe one correspondent stated you only got into CBS if it was your first choice, something I never knew.  And finally... to coin our editor's introduction to his always amusing anecdotes, I have just watched Carry On Teacher and noted that Charles Hawtrey played Mr Bean, who taught French and music and also led the school orchestra.  Does this remind us of anybody?!!

FROM RICHARD CHATHAM  1967-74   John Skevington refers to the Roberts Cup for tennis (OWT 106)  and wonders about its whereabouts.  All I know is that I was fortunate to win the cup in 1972, and held it ovenight before handing it back.  I won a box of six tennis balls, and the box only gave up the ghost a few short years ago.

FROM BRIAN SCREATON  1959-66   We have recently acquired a CBS swimming medal, in its original case, from a seller on eBay.  It was presented to Leslie John Flower for coming first in both the one-length breast stroke and the two-lengths freestyle.  Leslie's family lived at 76 Melbourne Road, Leicester, and he was born on the 1st November 1919.  He joined the school on the 17th September 1930 and left on 20th December 1935, so must have been awarded the medal at some point between those dates.  I have not been able to find out any more about Leslie, but presumably he must have seen service in the second world war.  The seller was a dealer in medals, and after receiving it I sent a light-hearted e-mail to correct him on a few points in his description.  Such as, saying the school ceased to be a grammar school in the 1940's, and calling the wyvern a dragon.  He took it in good part, and said he was delighted the medal had found its true home.  It will be displayed at the next reunion.

FROM KENNETH WARD  1959-66   (The second and final part of Ken's contribution - Ed)  I think the biggest shock was being coerced into the showers after a PE session, with Jock Gilman looking on.  Wouldn't be allowed today, but at least you soon found where you stood in the pecking order - pun intended.  What was great was the short walk to Vestry Street baths.  I couldn't swim, so was put in the shallow end with Mr Twiddly-Dee-Twiddly-Dum.  I envied the boys like Winter, who dived off the board into the deep end.  I eventually learned to swim, but it took a lesson from my friend Brian Hill to master the art.  Small as I was, I managed to get into the 1st year football team.  I liked to play in goal, but was put at inside left (when those positions existed)  As kids do I likened myself to Albert Cheeseborough, who played in this position for Leicester City.  I even had a crew cut just like Albert's, but it did not last long as my hair did not want to stay vertical - even with a dollop of Brylcreem.  OK I admit it.  What was good enough for Elvis and Cliff was good enough for me.
The centre-forward, Arthur Skinner, was the team idol.  He was quick and always finding the net.  I hope I'm correct, but I think Arthur scored seven goals in one game.  He was also a good cross-country runner.  On our first outing I tried to keep up with Skinner, but learned a quick lesson about oxygen debt.  I ended up walking most of the way, and came in last.  I subsequently learned to start slower and come home in a reasonable position.  I loved going past the Walker's Crisps factory, near Melton Road, and smelling the odours.
The changing rooms at Melton Road were nothing more than disused cow sheds, with no lighting.  And, thankfully, no showers.  Most football and cricket matches were played at Grace Road, home of the LCC.  I have always derived great pleasure in telling people I played cricket at Grace Road for six years.  My last year was at Downing Drive.  I had a try-out for the cricket team when I was eleven.  I could really slog the ball, but I think the teacher/coach was looking for technique and a little more stature, so I never had a game.  But they did find me a role as scorer.  I went to the majority of matches, with the hope of getting a game, but to no avail.  I did used to practice with the team in the nets, and one afternoon my friend Bob Evatt - a great spinner of the ball - bowled one which I tried to hook over my shoulder.  The ball came off the shoulder of the bat into my left eye.  Within seconds it had closed, with a small flow of blood.  The resulting black eye was a monster, and stayed with me in various colours for a couple of weeks.  I was always convinced I had chipped the top of my eye socket, as there was always a small bump above the eye.
In retrospect I feel sorry for Bill Sykes, who took us for French and music in the first year.  During one lesson, in the Lee Circle 'Portakabins', Bill got us to sing When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again.  It was great when the class sang this in unison, but there was a TV advert which used the same tune.  The words were, the Weetabix come in two by two, the elephant and the kangaroo - or something like that.  One person began to sing this alternative version, and before you knew it half the class was doing the same.  Bill would slam his hands on the piano and race up and down the aisles shouting his head off.  'Who's singing that song?'
One of the playground games was Touch Rugby.  This was the only option, as playing football required a ball, and also less than one hundred and eighty boys standing about chatting.  We did not have a rugby ball, so fashioned one out of a school cap.  You had to wear these to and from school, but not in the playground.  Later in my school life I learned that rugby was not a game I should be playing - more later - but this playground game should have convinced me never to play at all.  There it was, a sunny lunchtime and the crowd applauding as I legged it down the playground.  Then Skinner came out of the blue.  He pushed, rather than touched, and I went face-first into a metal post.  There was blood everywhere.  I went to hospital but was told they could do nothing.  A tooth had gone through my lower lip, and it was not possible to stitch it.  To this day I still carry the scar, never having got round to cosmetic surgery.  Skinner, I hope you read this one day.  But don't fret, you are still my hero.
We stayed in Lee Circle for one year, then the huts were demolished to make way for a branch of Tesco, a multi-storey car park and a thirty six-lane bowling alley.  But where did we go for the second year?  Well, there was good news and bad news.  The good news was that we were moving to Gateway Girls school.  By the end of that first year I had begun to take an interest in girls.  The bad news was the girls were moving to a new school in New Parks where they merged with Alderman Newton Girls.
Throughout my school life we were moved from one derelict building to another, finishing up in a brand new building.  
I think this was a good learning curve for my life in general, and my career in particular.  Year two and onwards to follow.

FROM FRANK RICHARDSON  1945-50   Further to the comments about Basher Brewin.  I never liked religious education, but one year Basher took us for the subject.  He taught us about the Old Testament. It was like history, which I enjoyed.  He explained the parting of the waters, flooding of the world and a lot more, in words we could appreciate and understand.  It was the only time I enjoyed RE.  Basher was also a good maths teacher.


AND FINALLY...  As we have some spare space I am going to be a little contentious here, so feel free to disagree.  I can only speak about the intakes of the fifties and sixties, when I was a schoolboy.  It seems to me that by the end of the first term each yearly intake had formed into three sections.  The first contained the fortunate few who were effortlessly good at everything.  Natural footballers, swimmers, cricketers and athletes.  Everything also seemed to come easily to them on the academic front, from maths to physics, biology to geography, languages to history.  They became captains of teams, starred in the school plays etc.  It was taken for granted they would spent three years in the sixth form before leaving for Oxbridge.  The second, largest, group were the average boys, or at least average by CBS standards.  They did their best, seldom found themselves in trouble, did their homework diligently and were often pretty good on the sporting front.  The third group were boys who found themselves out of their depth academically, and to make matters worse performed poorly at sports.  Perhaps they had the wrong mindset for work in a grammar school  These were the boys who sleep-walked their way through their five years, and looked forward to the day they would be released and find a job.  I was in the third group, having been demoted from 1 Alpha to 1A after one term.  My second year was spent in 2A, then it was 3B and 4B.  My set of reports shows I was consistent in being inconsistent! Results and comments from the teachers varied wildly from term to term and year to year.  It seems that sometimes I tried, and sometimes did not.  The only year I came close to enjoying was the fifth, 1963/64.  I was in 5F, a small class of eleven boys.  It's probably fair to say that little was expected of us, and my memories are of a fairly easy time.  I obtained two GCE passes, French and English.  Ken Witts was form master, we had a great time with him.  He took us for the last period on Friday afternoons, and sometimes we did a quiz or some puzzles.  The final general report, written by Ken, reads: It has been rather difficult to ascertain his general attitude owing to his quiet manner, but I feel he has tried to do his best work in an effort to obtain a good GCE result.  In the summer term I came 6th, and was never absent or late nor had any detentions.

Dennis J Duggan  1959-64
Founder and Secretary, Wyvernians
July 14th 2020

Thursday, 9 April 2020

Fwd: OWT106 April 2020






OLD WYVES' TALES 106

FOR WYVERNIANS 1919-76

EDITED BY DENNIS J DUGGAN, ROCK COTTAGE, BROOK STREET,
WELSHPOOL, MONTGOMERYSHIRE. SY21 7NA
TEL 01938 555574   07804 520730  
     APRIL 2020


EDITORIAL   By the first week in March we had 85 people booked for the reunion, almost all having lunch.  As fears about the virus grew, we began to receive cancellations and eventually these amounted to sixteen.  But we did not know how many would simply not turn up without telling us.  We did wonder if we should cancel the reunion, but at that point there were no restrictions on such events.  Age UK were happy to proceed, so we went ahead.  It was a good decision.  After a slow start, when we began to wonder if we had made a grave error, people began to flock in.  Age UK served sixty seven lunches, and our guest speaker, Bharat Patel, proved to be a smash hit.  Otherwise it was business as usual, with lots of memorabilia to look at plus the opportunity to chat with fellow ex-pupils. Photos from this reunion can be viewed on our Facebook page CLICK/TAP HERE to view (Note you do NOT need to be a Facebook member to view the photos - just select the "Not Now" option when asked to register).
Hopefully there will be a reunion next year, though there will be two changes.  After many years of loyal service to Wyvernians, John Offord has retired from the committee.  John's main task was to liaise with Age UK, and this involves booking Clarence House, providing details of meals ordered, ensuring that everything is be in place on the day etc.  We owe John a vote of thanks for his stirling efforts over the past I don't know how many years.  We are fortunate that John Hames  (1959-64) has kindly agreed to take over the role. Secondly, Antony Foster, who was manager at Clarence House, has moved on to pastures new.  We can only hope that his successor will be equally supportive of our reunions, because Clarence House is the key to their success.  There is certainly no reason to believe otherwise at this stage, especially as Tony Donovan (Senior management) has made it clear he hopes we will continue to use the building.
At the moment we restrict membership of Wyvernians to those who joined prior to 1976.  However there has recently been a slight, but significant, show of interest from those who joined after 1976.  Our current policy means that Wyvernians will eventually cease to exist, as we all get older and pass to that great big grammar school in the sky.  So we think there is some merit in the idea, and we would be interested to hear other opinions.


FROM GRAHAM CORNELIA  1960-61   I can't remember you from Elbow Lane, but we had a similar start to our secondary education.  Oh the glory of starting in 1 Alpha, then the humiliation of beginning the second year in 2B.  But unlike your goodself, there was a meeting between Ding Dong, my parents and myself.  It was suggested that I might be better suited to another school, which was a relief for me but disappointment for my parents.  I wonder if I was the only boy to experience all three levels of secondary education.  After CBS I was sent to Fosse Secndary school, but they did not offer 'O' levels.  So at the end of my fourth year I went to King Richard III, an intermediate establishment, to take the exams.  But by then all my pals were at work and earning, so I decided enough was enough.  I left at Christmas and went into paid employment.


FROM DAVID TURNER  1954-59   In response to Alan Mercer's quiz, I think the answer to Question 1 is Mr Hutchinson (Can't remember his nickname) who taught us woodwork and technical drawing.  Was it Doc Burrows who had the degree in Pharmacy?  I recall he had a very posh red gown for big occasions.  And to concur with yourself and Pete Knight about the Jock Gilman excuse notes, I got a lot of my homework done on the balcony at Vestry Street baths.


ANSWERS TO ALAN MERCER'S QUIZ  It was Fred Hutchinson who was a point-to-point jockey.  At the reunion he told me his name is actually Frank, but he was known as Fred to avoid confusion with Frank Gilman.
And it was the same Frank Gilman who owned a garage.  He had a different car every week, which was always a source of interest.
Ken Witts had to prove his age to customs officers when he returned from a trip abroad.
Bob Dennis had the degree in Pharmacy.
Alan Mercer had a degree in Astronomy.

OBITUARIES   John Pearson (1949-56) passed away during 2019.
John Tilbury (1949-55) passed away December 2019.
Keith Burdett (1949-56) passed away during 2012  (Information from Richard Thompson (1949-56)
Martyn John Heighton, passed away November 6th 2016 aged 69.  He was school captain in 1965, and his life was very involved with ships and maritime matters. This is part of the  information kindly supplied by Brian Cope (1954-62)
John Thomas Geary  (1953 60) passed away February 29th 2020. The following is from Jim Henderson (1953-60)  John went to London University, and spent his working life in Africa, first in Ghana, then Botswana and Mozambique, teaching English and geography.  he eventually became a headmaster.  When things became difficult politically he returned tolive in rural Derbyshire, where he continued his lifelong love of hiking.  Less than six months ago, John was diagnosed with aggressive leukemia.  He leaves a wife, Marian, children Richard and Jane plus grandchildren.  He had an impish and mischevious sense of humour, and was a great lover of the Goon Show and Monty Python's Flying Circus.

FROM DAVE KERSHAW  (1969-76)   I was sorry to hear that Philip Jinks has passed away, we were classmates at Downing Drive.  As I recall, he had a loud and infectious laugh, and played a mean guitar.  But I must comment on your And finally... item in OWT105.  It's reassuring to know that not everyone had a good experience at CBS.  I had a torrid time for the first four years, until the 'disruptive elements' were removed through natural selection.  That meant I was allowed to pursue a range of subjects that I felt covered my aspirations for a career in the geological sciences.  On Mondays we had an early maths period on the upper floor of the main building.  I recall spending most of the time looking wistfully at the green fields near Bushby, wishing I was walking along the wooded bank of the little stream searching for ammonite fossils!  All I had for anything remotely connected to geology was Ken Witts.  We didn't get along very well, mainly due to the anticipation of terror engendered in the more sensitive of us.  And, of course, the fear of having a question thrown at me in class.  So I read these newsletters with a mix of laughter and some regret, but I always read them.  Perhaps it was the social turmoil of the 1970's that provided the backdrop to my experiences.  But as I said at the beginning, it's good to know there were a few introverts amongst us!

FROM KENNETH WARD  1959-66   It is important to set the scene before I arrived in Form 1A at City Boys' in 1959.  I was born and brought up on New Parks, and went to the infant and junior schools which were just down the road.  My reports - I still have a few - were never that brilliant but there was an aptitude for sport, numbers and anything mechanical.  In the final year at junior school I was fortunate enough to be in the top class, with Mr Kirby as the teacher.  He must have been brilliant, because virtually all his class passed the eleven plus, and I had always been near the bottom of the class.  I was absolutely amazed to pass.  It must have been my sums that carried me through, as my language was abysmal though my handwriting was good.  I still remember learning to write with an italic nib, and for being resonsible(?!) at age ten for filling the inkwells.  Today I still have a pen with an italic nib, but not the Osmiroid that was my pride and joy.  I occasionally try my hand at calligraphy - why don't they teach today's children the art of neat writing?  I always told my children that if they got an answer wrong make sure you do it neatly - you might get a bonus mark!  Passing the eleven plus was the first bit of good fortune I experienced, though I did not realise it at the time.
The next big step was to select which grammar school to attend.  My dad was very keen on Wyggeston, but I had heard it was all rugby and Latin so definitely not my cup of tea.   Alderman Newton's was out of the question because they had a green uniform and also played rugby.  Gateway was an option, but I chose City Boys' for all the right reasons.  They played football, and all my mates were already there.  And many of the boys from my class who lived close by were also applying.  Liam Wilson and Barry Fyfield, who lived within spitting distance of my house, were there.  And those from my class applying were Brian Hill, Mike Lindsay and Frank Smith.
Knowing my parents were keen on Wyggeston I filled in the form to apply for CBS.  I got my mum to sign it after dad had gone to work.  After signing she realised  what I had done, but after much pleading  agreed.  But that was not the end.  When dad came home he was livid.  He told me I had not thought it through, and was determined to have the application changed.  He made an appointment to see Mr Kirby at home to ask if that could be done.  It was a long evening.  I can't remember much about it, except it was dark when they returned.  I was overjoyed when dad said he had changed his mind, and CBS was probably the best chioce after all.  The main reason for the change of heart was that Mr Kirby had two (or three) sons and they all went to CBS!  Game, set and match.  I regarded the incident as my second bit of good fortune.
So off to City Boys' with my mates, either on the Corporation bus or the Midland Red, which went past my house (In the winter the Midland Red was always a good moving target for snowballs, and we did have a lot of snow)  It was a sunny September morning, I adored my new uniform with the yellow wyvern on cap and blazer.  On reflection I think I should have been put into long trousers.  I have a second-year class photo showing me wearing short trousers.  There are three of us in the middle of the front row.  Me, S pooks Newcombe and another.  That was the last year I wore short trousers.  Why did we call him Spooks?  He was thin and slight, with prominet ribs, which supposedly made him look like a ghost  [As Paul reads OWT I hesitated before including that sentence.  But obviously no offence is intended, and it was a long time ago -Ed]  We used to fight a lot. 
What a change things were, but I think I took it all in my stride.  Going to school on the bus was an adventure.  It was peculiar not having any girls there, but at that age who cared?  Teachers in black gowns showed us that school life had moved up a whole new level.  And some older boys still thought that fagging was normal, possibly after watching too many episodes of Billy Bunter (Gerald Campion)  The Lee Circle classrooms had heating pipes running through the walls from one room to another.  Although antiquated it was a step up from junior school, where we had a coke stove in the classroom.  There was a large gap in the wall where the pipe ran, and Roger Williams and I used to pass messages to Mick McLoughlin next door in Form 1B  (To be continued - Ed)

FROM JOHN SKEVINGTON 1945-53   For decades I had assumed that following the school's relocation, then becoming a mixed comprehensive, all its identity had been lost.  Then I stumbled across the web site, and discovered you having been having annual reunions for years.  What an admirable lot!  It shows that, leaving aside political arguments, the grammar school system produced something of great value for those fortunate enough to experience it.
I have only had time to read a fraction of the OWT reminiscences, but one theme I noticed was Bob Roberts.  We all remember how undisciplined we were in his lessons.  On  one occasion we all brought black cardboard curly moustaches, and clipped them to our noses while he was turned to the blackboard.  My personal triumph was to take home a piece of chalk.  I hollowed out the end to insert several match heads and sealed it.  Before the next lesson I put the doctored chalk on the ledge of the blackboard and removed the others.  Sure enough he began writing equations and did not notice the little puff of smoke.  During the next equation the chalk burst into flame and arced across the room.  Bob was astonished, and asked if we too had seen it, but we kept straight faces.  Now the truth is out I suppose I will be given a detention.  But we genuinely had great affection for him.  We began tennis as a school activity, and Bob oversaw our activities.  We played on the grass courts at the Collegiate Girls' school.  In our final year a few of us clubbed together with our pocket money to buy a trophy and presented it to the school as The Roberts Cup For Tennis.  I wonder where it is now?  Melted down, I suppose.
I also remember Basher Brewin.  The nickname was appropriate.  I saw him flailing at boys who had displeased him.  Can't imagine that happening today.  But what I remember most are his multi-coloured illustrations on the blackboard.  He illustrated instability by drawing a man standing in a boat and leaning sideways, so a vertical line through his centre of mass fell outside the boat.  Basher's artistry was excellent, but it took up a lot of lesson time that could have been better employed.
Joe Melia and I were good friends.  When the plates had been cleared away after lunch we played shove ha'penny on the shiny table top.  It was actually football, with a sixpence for the ball and two pennies for the players.  Joe went on to Cambridge Footlights, and a great career on stage and screen.  BBC Radio 4 did a nice obituary.
Peter Nellie Newton was another good friend.  In fact he was Best Man at my wedding.  He went on to the Courtauld Institute and became a world authority on medieval stained glass.  Sadly he died shortly after retiring.
I was in several school plays: Captain Brassbound's Conversion (Shaw)  The Government Inspector (Gogol)  The Devil's Disciple (Shaw)  Henry IV Part 1 (Shakespeare)  King Lear in 1954 when I was in my first year at London University.  George Franey asked me to play Gloucester.  Lear's daughters were played not by two young boys but by two real girls from a local teacher training college.  Now that was a breakthrough!
Those of us leaving in 1953 formed the 53 Club.  We met up, went on theatre visits and held several annual dinners.  Mr Bell, the Headmaster, came to one of them.  We even had a special tie made, I still have mine.  But university, national service and careers spread us apart and we could not continue with the club.

BERNARD WILKOWSKI   Many readers will know that Bob Childs has made mention of this remarkable man.  He was born in Poland in 1921, and to find out how he came to be a teacher of languages at CBS on 1970-73 you can find the full story on the Wyvernians web site in the Memorabilia section - CLICK/TAP HERE to go straight to the article.

FROM KASH SAHOTA  1974-81   The school often arranged trips to the Natural History and Science Museums in London.  I took part in such a trip c1978.  As well as the usual things in my bag (Sandwiches, crisps, radio etc) I also had some literature of the risque kind.  OK it was porn but very soft by later standards.  Needless to say, on the way down Bob Childs, one of the supervising teachers, caught me and a mate admiring it.  That put a dampener on the trip, especially when Mr Childs told us to come and see him on Monday morning.  Luckily he did not ask our names, and did not take us for any lessons.  Back at school; we somehow managed to avoid any visual contact for over a year, even though this often involved us running to other entrances.  After all that time he had forgotten the incident, and we were in the clear.  So when I saw Bob at this year's reunion I took the opportunity to ask for the return of my literature.  Needless to say it made him laugh, but disappointingly I did not get my magazine back!

FROM FRANK SMITH  1959-66   A number of panoramic photos have recently been added to our facebook page  (1954, 55, 68, 71,73,76)  The easiest way to view them is via the What's New?' button on the home page of the web site.  Then find the recent item on panoramic photos and follow the instructions.  Note, you do not need to be a member of facebook to view these photos.  You may be prompted to sign in or register, bu there is a Not Now option that allows you to continue browsing.

FROM ANDY MARLOW  1969-73   If you attended at Downing Drive can you help me with information regarding events held there?  I am researching this period as part of a proposed follow up to my previous book about the school.  Please contact me at marlow.a@sky.com

FROM LAURIE FORD  1962-66   During lunch at this year's reunion I was chatting to Rob Lee, who was musing  he ought to write about how he ended up at CBS.  That seemed a good idea, so I have pinched it!  My junior school was Dovelands, on Hinckley Road.  I can't say I recall taking the eleven plus, though obviously I did.  But even at the tender age of eleven I realised the importance of the exam.  Some of my classmates were promised - and given - a bicycle if they passed.  Sadly that was not so in my case.  Congregational Minister's stipends did not run to such things.  Thanks to some inspiring teachers, Miss Ashton in particular, I passed, and the dreaded envelope arrived.  Which grammar school to choose?  It did not take much time to decide.
Wyggeston.  No, because my brother was there, and regularly up before the Headmaster.  My parents did not wish me to be tarred with that brush.  And in terms of numbers it was a very large school.  And they played rugby, not football.
Alderman Nerwton's.  Another rugby-playing school.  No thanks.
Gateway.  More of a technical grammar school, and as I was useless technically that was ruled out.
City Boys.  They played football.  It was a smaller school, some 600 boys, which it was thought would suit me better.  So City Boys it was for my first choice.
It was rumoured that if you wanted to attend CBS it had to be your first choice.  Another rumour was it only took a maximum of three boys from each feeder school.  Any truth in that?  Only three went from my school that year - Jimmy Wilton, Howard (Chas) Mayhew and myself.  So in September 1962, kitted out with uniform, sports kit etc, off I went.  There was a mixture of trepidation and bewilderment about the new environment.  But I enjoyed my time there, and was sad to leave.  But in 1966 my family moved to Northampton and I ended up at a rugby-playing school after all, Northsmpton Town & County Boys Grammar.  City Boys did not lose a football player, as I was no good at the game.  But they did lose a badminton player, a game in which I earned my colours tie.

AND FINALLY....   As the theme is how we came to choose CBS, here is my version of events.  I passed the eleven plus at Eyres Monsell junior school in 1959, but neither I nor my parents had any real idea which grammar school to choose.  So they sought the advice of my teacher, Mr Berridge, via a letter delivered by myself.  Mr Berridge replied that he felt that City Boys would be best for me.  Of course they did sport, but that was not the be all and end all, and I had no interest in the subject.  He also felt I was at my best in a more personal environment, so a smallish establishment like City Boys would suit.  And so it was, for better or worse.

Dennis J Duggan  (1959-64)
April 9th 2020