Tuesday, 17 July 2018

OWT 99 July 2018

TEL 01938 555574   07804 520730  
JULY 2018

FROM SIMON PARTRIDGE  1966-72   (Continuing Simon's memoirs - Ed) Joining the ACF in 4 Alpha was something I had craved, and thoroughly enjoyed.  Prior to Simon Tong the corps was commanded by Captain Chris Lowe, Head of English.  He had the occasional assistance of (Lieutenent?) Brian Scott.  Chris Lowe moved on to be Head of English at Wyggeston, Headmaster at the Princess of Wales School, Oundle, and Legal Officer to the Secondary Heads Association.  Besides publishing an English compendium in conjunction with John Gates he had been, like Mr Bell, called to the Bar and was a non-practicing barrister.
During May of that year there was the Ten Tours expedition over Dartmoor, led by Eddie Gadd.  It possibly included Geoff German, Andy Bull and maybe Clive Cirtin(?) and Phil Murray(?)  Teams of six in the 14-16 year group had to navigate their way over a thirty five mile course to ten check points, each at the top of a Tor.  This had to include an overnight stop.  We had prepared well, and in Eddie Gadd we had a natural leader who inspired confidence when spirits were low.  He was able to anticipate problems and implement the best solutions.  Saturday was straightforward, but on Sunday we were faced with strong winds and driving rain which made navigation difficult.  We used a prismatic compass to take bearings, and spent a few hours trying to locate a track to the finish.  It was wet and cold and for long periods we were up to our knees in muck, which probably explained the loss of a tent.
We eventually reached the road, a remarkable achievement as it was easy to stray off course and travel in the opposite direction to that intended.  The last few miles prefigured scenes from MASH, released two years later, with military vehicles, regular soldiers, medics and helicopters.  These were involved in the search and rescue of teams who would not finish within the allotted time of thirty five hours.  We were the only Royal Anglian team in our age group to finish.  Lieutenant Tong was well pleased.  Then followed a hot shower, half a pint of draught Courage and the endless drive from Okehampton to Leicester via Northampton.
Easter 1968 and 1969 saw the annual camp at Derring Lines, Brecon, ostensibly to complete the requirements for a Duke of Edinburgh award.  Both times it was cold, and after almost fifty years both events have blended into one.  Cadet A went AWOL and was eventually located in Newport, Shropshire.  Officer A was reduced to using the vernacular, having been told the search helicopter was costing the army around £1,000 per hour.  Two regular soldiers had recently perished in the Black Mountains, and because of this Regular Soldier A was tasked to go over survival skills again, emphasising the need to pay attention.  Cadet B was banned from the Blue Boar, Brecon.  Cadet C put on a pair of trunks and a woolly hat to see if the survival bag really worked.  It did, and the following morning he watched us struggle to pack the frozen canvas tents.
One team of six managed to reach their destination by 11am, having hitched a lift from a mountain rescue worker driving a minibus.  One afternoon we killed time by walking the eleven miles from Story Arms to the Brecon camp along the highly dangerous A470.  Risk assessment my *****, but at least it was downhill.  In June and December 1968, four months into the fifth form, there was the completion of Cert A and a stripe.

FROM DAVE WAIT 1958-63   (Further CBS memories from Dave - Ed)  One of our classrooms in Stalag 14 overlooked an alley, with a pub roof directly opposite.  It was a regular occurrence to ask the landlord if he would retrieve a satchel.  I tried asking for a pint, but he didn't want to know. On one occasion our teacher was delayed, and a riot was taking place.  Desks were piled up by the window overlooking the alley.  The teacher, when he finally arrived, asked what was going on. 'Someone has fallen out of the window, sir.' The teacher turned white, making him look more like a licquorice allsort than usual.  He was not amused by the joke, and homework for the day was doubled - or would have been if anyone actually did it!  Once, a relief teacher took the class for French.  I say once, because we never saw him again.  We played him up almost as soon as he entered the room, and he decided to stamp his authority.  'You, boy.  What's your name?  Take five lines, I must behave in class.'   Everyone burst out laughing.  'Who, sir, me sir?'  'Yes, you, boy.  Take ten lines, I must behave in class.'   This continued throughout the lesson, with the last boy hitting the jackpot of one thousand lines.  Phew, I thought I would never finish!
Poor old Bill Sykes, in between popping pills he taught us French.  He had a more effective way of dealing with wrongdoers by issuing a slap, though in my case he sent me out of the room.  Looking back I feel rather sorry for Bill.  He wasn't a bad teacher, and was near retirement.  There were some teachers we did not dare to play up, even breathing too loud could be treated as an insult.  Mr Sweet, who took French, had the habit of walking up and down between desks.  He would suddenly ask a question in French, place his large hand flat on your head and swivel your face round to his, then repeat the question.
Mr Hutchinson took us for woodwork and metalwork, and was also a part-time jockey.  I got on really well with him, even though it took me a whole term to finish a dovetail joint.  I never progressed to metalwork, whether that was because I always took so long to complete a project I cannot say.  Perhaps that was the reason he let me run errands, including fetching his lunch from town.  But the only time I had the cane was from Mr Hutchinson.  I held the door shut so he could not get into the workshop, but my cunning plan failed.  He exerted more pressure on the door, and I did niot have enough time to return to my place before he came in.

OBITUARIES   Derek Needham  1946-53.  Passed away January 19th 2018 aged 83.
John Smith  1951-56.  Passed away May 2018.
Stuart bailey  1965-67.  Transferred to the sixth form from King Richard III school.  Stuart was Chairman of Leicester Civic Society, and involved with local heritage matters.
Les Oswin  1935-39.  Passed away June 25th 2018.  Les was a frequent contributor to OWT, and a staunch supporter of Wyverninans

FROM KEITH WRIGHT  1958-65   I read Mr Chris Lowe's account of his spell at CBS on the web site, and noted you chipped in with a few comments.  I know that memories tend to fade, but Elbow lane was not 'an old secondary modern school' but the former Gateway Girls Grammar School.  And we had a Cadet Force long before Mr Lowe came on the scene.  When I joined the Cadet Force under Mr Newton it was very active, and on Thursdays several of us joined RASC Brentwood Road Cadet Force for extra training.  We had extra shooting practice, which was good for me as I was in the Tetrathlon team under Bill Mann - and we got to drive Bedford trucks round the parade ground!  We also went on regular camps, fired our own Lee Enfield .303's at the range in Kibworth and sat for NCO exams.  The rifles were kept in the school armoury at the back of the gym.  After Captain Newton left, Mr Berry took over.  He was also a Captain in the Royal Army Educational Corps.  We all went, in uniform, to an annual regimental dinner in the school hall, with Mr Bell in his Major's uniform.  The Chairman of the Governors was also in attendance.  I left the Cadet Force in my last year in the sixth form.

FROM PAUL HEALEY  1960-65   (Paul makes refernce to the severe winter of 1962/63, when we were bussed to Grace Road and walked back into town - Ed)  Your final comment item in OWT98 rang a bell with me, as I lived in Aylestone and did the same thing.  I waited until the line did a snake round a bend on Aylestone Road, then did a runner up one of the side roads.  Very effective!
Reading John Lowe's piece, I did not realise that John Leaman (he was a year or so ahead of me) had been killed in a car crash.  I have fond memories of John, he captained a very average second or third eleven cricket team.  If my memory is correct, he was one of the older boys, together with (?) Geary, to go on the trip to Paris.  I think it was led by Mr Whitbread.

FROM ALAN PYKETT  1959-66   Very many thanks to all those involved in arranging the latest reunion, a highly enjoyable occasion as always.  As we know, this was the twenty first reunion and I remain an ever-present.  I am sure there are others who share this record, apart, of course, from our marvellous committee.  Prior to the reunion I did what I do every four or five years, and that is to watch the whole of the school film.  As it lasts for six hours I begin at the start of the year, viewing thirty minutes each week, finishing in the week leading up to the reunion.  I find this gives me an added appetite for the event, and of course the lunch!  As the film covers 1959-66 it encomasses all my seven years at CBS, and naturally those are the years I find most interesting..  I also enjoy the years leading up to my arrival, though have to say the years after my departure don't do a great deal for me.  Perhaps that is a natural phenomenon. 
I remember attending all the film nights, accompanied by my mother.  The school film was shown, followed by a full-length feature film.  I am struggling to recall them, but two might have been The Lavender Hill Mob and Operation Amsterdam.  Perhaps someone can come up with other titles.  Roll on OWT 100, with possibly some guest contributors.

FROM DENNIS BIGGS  1949-56   The most inspiring master from my time at CBS has to be Ron Smith, our history teacher.  His lessons were always interesting, and he kept us awake and on our toes the whole time so there were no dull moments.  I managed to obtain a Distinction in 'A' level history thanks to his efforts.  In 1 and 3 alpha we had Spiv Beaumont for history, he was quite a flamboyant character.  The other history master I recall was Mr Bufton, who was Deputy Head, but I can't recall if there were any others.  We began with English history from 1066, concentrating on the Tudor period and 17th and 18th century European history.  Surprisingly there was no teaching of 20th century history, which I understand is now taught more widely.
I was intrigued to read in the Daily Mail that Leicester citizens are called Rateyes, after the Latin name Ratae (ramparts) for the early Roman settlement of Leicester.  I have never heard this expression.  The name I associate with the city is Foxes - has anyone come across it?  I remember a school trip to the Roman pavement, and the site of the Jewry Wall.  We received a book called Ratae for the coronation, but my copy disappeared when my parents left Leicester in the mid-sixties.  Since then I have visited numerous Roman sites, the most impressive being Jarash, in Jordan, and Pompeii  (Ah wuh born un brung up in Leicester un ah cun say av nevver erd uh Rateyes - Ed)

FROM JIM HENDERSON  1953-60   Referring to an earlier query, I can say that Mr Baum was indeed a former teacher at CBS.  He was my first German teacher, though I cannot remember when he left.  I enjoyed this year's reunion enormously.

FROM LAURIE FORD  1962-66   Thank you to you and the team for putting on another excellent reunion, which prompted me to jot down some random memories.
First day, sitting in the Hall, heard the name Ford called for 1B.  My report at the end of the first term showed I had apparently ended up in the wrong class, there was another Ford who had gone to 1A.  My report had me in De Montfort House, not Bradgate, and age incorrect by three months.  In addition, my parents felt the comments did not represent their son.  The school was contacted by my dad.  They realised what had happened, but I remained in 1B, which was fine by me.
The embarrassment the first time I wore my school scarf.  A sixth form scarf had been purchased in error.
The record club in the hall at Elbow Lane during lunch time.  At some point it was closed down, and when it reopened you needed a pass to attend.
Handball at lunch time in the upstairs gym at Elbow Lane.
The Elbow Lane library, which held a surprisingly good selection of books.
Second year (2B) classroom with its own yard which was good for cricket.
This classroom also had large cupboards and some members of the class - Wagstaff being the main culprit - would hide in them.  Usually this was during a Bill Sykes lesson.
Lunch times at Elbow Lane.  A prefect at the head of each table in charge of serving, with two lads appointed to assist.
Playing football in the Elbow Lane yard after school.  Always played OK there, but put me on the pitch at Grace Road and I was useless.
The bus rides to Grace Road and Rushey Fields.
Rushey Fields for cross country.  I seem to remember the changing rooms were even grimmer than those at Grace Road.
Vestry Street baths on a Friday morning.
The Dess, a magazine started by 3B under the guidance of form master Bill Gates (English teacher and Leeds United fan)  Handwritten, and printed on a duplicating machine.
Le Copains, I think its French equivalent, under the guidance of Geoff Elliott (French teacher and rugby fan)
I was given a bus pass, and still have it.  The move to Downing Drive meant I lived more than three miles away from the school.
The 1963 Christmas concert.  An excellent band, sixth formers I guess, played The Cruel Sea, by The Dakotas, which had been in the charts.  In that same concert some of us, complete with wood and cardboard guitars, mimed to the Freddie & The Dreamers hit You Were Made For Me.  Chris Issitt was Freddie.  Others incuded Phil Selvidge, me and possible Steve Pinchbeck.  Apologies if I have missed anyone.
When I was in the third form I was asked to play a badminton match against the teachers.  This was at Elbow lane on an afternoon during half term.  I had been really looking forward to this, but to my horror the caretaker (Arthur?) refused to let me in as I was not in the senior achool.  It still rankles.
The power of the third form prefects at Elbow Lane, with their red and white metal badges.  Can't remember if I was one.

FROM DAVE POSTLES  1960-67   I wonder if we could manage a checklist of which teachers wore gowns, and why.  Role models?  Sense of achievement?  Conformity or non-conformity?
With reference to rugby union, I seem to recall that Eric Bann went over to that dark side with Leicester Tigers before the sport was accepted at CBS.  But I remember him as a basket ball player in the Humberstone Gate gym.

2019 REUNION   The date is Saturday March 16th, if you want to make a note.

FROM STEFAN WOZOWCZYK  1965-72   Mr Wardle could be terribly intimidating.  He taught is Geography in the first year, Religious Instruction in the third and filled in with history and just about anything else when a teacher was away.  Alas he could not teach us Classics, as it was no longer on the curriculum.  But in the sixth form he taught us Economics, and all of a sudden here was a teacher who was human, and treated you likewise.  Some members will know the meaning of  Economics.  You are not here to become Economists.  You are here to obtain an 'A' level and you will do so.  If you could not find a third subject you studied Economics.
In the first lesson, Wally  asked what other subjects we were studying.  Only one or two were doing 'sensible' subjects like English and History, I was doing Maths and German.  One boy, let's call him Rosemont, announced he was studying Art and RI.  Wally sat behind his desk, rubbing his eyes as always.  Rosement, what do you expect to do with your life, studying Art, RI and Economics?  Rosemont had no time to reply before the class wag, Ian T, piped up, Paint parnd notes on the collection plate, sir.  Hard to imagine, but Wally  cracked up.  T, come to the staffroom at break and I shall give you threepence for a Mars bar from the tuck shop.  I was one of the boys hanging round when Ian knocked on the door.  He got his threepence, and went on to establish a very successful window cleaning business.  I have no idea what 'A' levels he was studying.

AND FINALLY...   Alan Pykett's mention of the film nights certainly brought back memories.  I think I only went to one, as given my dodgy reputation I did not feel it wise to encourage my parents to vist the school any more than necessary.  Thus I often 'forgot' to mention such things.  But in my first year they did attend, and I'm pretty sure the film was Carry On Nurse.  It came out in1959, so the date would fit.

Dennis J Duggan
July 17th 2018

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Fwd: OWT 98 April 2018

TEL 01938 555574   07804 520730
APRIL  2018
EDITORIAL   The annual reunion took place on March 17th at Clarence House.  It was pretty much business as usual, though numbers were slightly down on previous years.  We are all getting older, and I know that half a dozen people could not be there because they were either waiting for an operation or recovering from one.  And one or two long-distance members were, understandably, deterred by the possibility of more snow.  Before lunch we had the AGM, followed by the raffle.  Age UK had reserved the whole building for us, and over sixty people enjoyed an excellent lunch. Our grateful thanks to the Age UK staff, particularly Anthony, who pulled out all the stops to make sure the day was a success. After lunch we had two excellent speakers, John Sweeney and Alan Rudge, followed by free time.  By 4pm it was all over, including the shouting.  There has been some very positive feedback, and it is clear that many people particularly enjoyed the opportunity to speak to their former teachers.  It was especially nice that Dr Arnold 'Doc' Burrows was able to be present, thanks to his son, Simon.  And sincere thanks to Brian Screaton, John Offord, Frank Smith and Stephanie Duggan, without whom there would not be an annual reunion!!

OBITUARIES   Andy Marlow tells me that Paul Philip Lewin (1930-37) born July 17th 1918, passed away peacefully on Monday July 27th 2015, aged 97 years.  Paul was the City Boys School Captain 1936/37, and was a former Headmaster of The Manor School, Cambridge.  During World War II he served in the Royal Navy, and wrote a book about his life titledOutrageous Sailor.
John Batterbee (1949-56) passed away December 12th 2016
Dave Voce (1959-?) passed away March 2018
Ernie White (1952-57) passed away recently
Stewart Smith (1936-41) passed away February 17th 2018
Ron Brewin (1958-63) passed away March 5th 2018
Roger Povoas tells us that his brother, Graham, passed away during July 2017 after a short battle with cancer.  Graham was aged 75, and will be remembered for his prowess at football and cricket.
Keith Duguid informs me that Mick Morgan (1958-63) passed away recently, exact date not known
Graham Johnson heard that Harold Ernest Baum passed away recently aged 91.  It is possible that Mr Baum was a former teacher at CBS.

FROM SIMON PARTRIDGE  1966-72  (Continuing Simon's memoirs - Ed)  My first faux pas occurred during a cover lesson with Fred round in a circle, boys, Hutchinson.  He asked me to stand next to my desk, which I took to be an invitation to stand on my desk, so was sent to the woodwork room.  I remember him once lockng the doors in order to set the sights of a .22 rifle.  It was in a vice in the metalwork room, with the dividing doors open with the target at the far end.  The sights were spot on.  Bunny was not only a legend, but a master of field sports.  Rumour had it he held an MA in English.  He had a TV secreted in a tool cabinet.  In Year 5 I went to the workshop to see someone.  There was no sign of Mr Hutchinson, but the tool cupboard was open and the TV was broadcasting racing from Oadby and he was parading his mount in the paddock prior to racing.  Bunny may not have been a top jockey, but he was a competent point-to-point rider.  In addition he was a good boat builder, the pond under the library being a vital part of the sea trials, so there was no risk to him or Jock Gilman whilst out fishing.  Whatever I made in woodwork tended to become smaller, thus a coffee table was only suitable for a doll's house, a pencil box for toothpicks, and so on.
Unable to draw or paint, even by numbers, I nevertheless came top in art during my first term.  Pete Miller asked us to produce something modern and abstract, black and white with an optional use of balsa wood.  This put me ahead of Graham Chorlton who, according to Google, is currently Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at Coventry University.  Graham left CBS to study Fine Art at Cambridge.  His pencil drawings of engine blocks and crankshafts were so accurate they seemed to leap off the page.  He could also play chess with Stuart Fortey without a board or pieces.  They would exchange gambits in a corridor whilst waiting for a lesson.  Stuart was highly intelligent, and could explain maths to the less numerate classmates.  He liked zany humour, sich as Kenny Everitt, and The New Vaudeville Band and the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.
Pete Miller once explained why oil paintings are so expensive, using the example of one of his own works hanging outside Mr Bell's study.  He rued the fact that he had gifted the painting, as his work was becoming more valuable as he became better known.
The following year's highlight in 4 alpha (1967-68) was a cruise on the SS Uganda, starting from Genoa on March 15th.  Billeted in one of the Van Diemen dormitories I had been elevated to Dormitory Prefect, a role I took very seriously.  I decided to model myself on a combination of Mr Bell and Captain Mainwaring, the consequence being I was referred to as the Dormitory Defect.  My primary sin was one of omission, and failing to intervene when one traveller had his bunk shifted to a couple of coffee tables whilst asleep.
Highlights included entering Malta's Valetta harbour, and an example of Turkish coach driving from Antalya to Perga.  We were told we were the first cruise ship to dock in Alexandria after the Six Day war, the knock-on effect being that some exhibits from the Cairo museum had not yet been returned from their sojourn in the desert.  The pyramids were amazing, the camel rides frightening and the poverty humbling.  Empty coke cans were at a premium, as flattened out they could be used as roof tiles.  Long, thin tree branches held together by ropes were used as scaffolding.  We sailed through the Santorini caldera, the captain told us the sonar confirmed the volcano was still very much active.  The Parthenon was impressive, but what remains in my mind is the stop on the road bridge to look down on the Corinth canal.  Venice was likewise unforgettable, the Lido formed the backdrop to Visconti's Death In Venice.
We had preparatory lessons in school.and lectures and lessons at sea.  It was clear from Mr Bell's detailed and never-to-be-forgotten discourse on the war in North Africa that the Desert Rat's visit to Alexander and Cairo was seen as a home-coming (To be continued - Ed)

From Steve Zanker (1961-1968) 
I have enjoyed reading past issues of the Old Wyves Tales, thanks to brother Dave passing on an electronic copy. I have been tempted on a number of occasions to make a contribution, never actually getting as far as putting finger to keyboard – until now, that is  .Richard Wakefield’s hilarious telling of the Tale of the Nameless Stool struck such a vivid note with me that I feel compelled to reply. Some sort of open floodgate may follow, so be warned. Being part of the same 1 Alpha squad as Richard, I remember this incident well. Wally Wardle was such a presence in a bizarre sort of way that he must have left imprints on the memories of many of the boys fortunate or unfortunate enough to incur his wrath. Richard mentioned the gaze, but I recall the closed eyes, hands folded approach which just told you that something was afoot – somebody was for it. Great sport! This was an approach to problem solving that we had not come across in the genteel world of the junior school.  I was more fortunate than Richard on this occasion as I did my usual trick of lagging towards the back of any such queue, hiding in the masses and I completely missed sight of the offending item as we were whisked along the row of cubicles. In fact, I recall not having any idea what we were supposed to be looking at until we returned to the classroom, by which time, stoolus offendingus had grown to the size of a whale, according to some of ‘the boys in the know’ anyway. You just couldn’t make it up.  And just for the record – it wasn’t me!

FROM PETER GRUDGINGS  1936-41  (Petr's handwriting is not terribly clear, so I hope I have transposed the item correctly - Ed)  I telephoned John Harlow, who lives in Bath, but he could not hear.  His wife thought I was conducting a scam!
Does anyone have any information on Fred Marlow - is he alive and well?
I wrote to Stewart Smith and learned he had cancer.  He was having treatment.  I have heard nothing more since mid-February  (See obituary above - Ed)

FROM STEVE MELLOR  1960-66   (Steve did not originally intend this item for publication, but he agreed it could be printed so long as I toned the content down a little.  I hope you agree it is very funny - Ed)  Mid-sixties, high noon.  Word was getting round that trouble was afoot, so Ernie Bell sounds the alarm - DING DONG.
Meanwhile, back at the annexe, Sheriff Wally Wardle and Bill Sykes, his deputy, strap on their shooting irons in readiness for the afternoon patrol.  Wally spots a stranger at the gate, it's an embittered ex-pupil armed with a bag of stales from Bayliss's bakery.  He hurls a scone at Wally, who drills a hole through the scone with his sixgun and it drops harmlessly to the floor.  'Mount your bike and get out of Elbow lane,' barks Wally and the hapless boy scuttles away.
Cut to the music room, where Bill addresses the throng as he sits at his beloved piano.  Two fingers of red eye are balanced on the top.  'Mee, mee, mow,' he croaks and the boys repeat it reluctantly over and over again.  'OK,' shouts  Bill,  hitting the ivories with all the force he can muster, and the room erupts with song. 'Vivat, crescat, in eternum floreat...'

FROM DAVE WAIT  1958-63   (The second chapter in a series of 5 - Ed)  I can't  recall that much about my first day at City Boys, so at this stage I will say a few words about the teachers.  Of course they played an important role in day-to-day school life but not all of it was on the teaching side.  They provided a lot of fun, and in some cases terror.  The Headmaster was Mr E J W Bell, whose nickname was obviously Ding Dong.  The only time he spoke to me personally was the day I left.  'You're a new boy, aren't you?  Welcome to the school.'  He certainly took an interest in his pupils, or so they tell me.  The Deputy Head was Mr Remington, known simply as  Remmo or Remington Shaver.  He used to take morning assembly, and was very strict.  He had a terrifying habit of walking round the hall picking boys at random to read the lesson.  Almost all the first-year boys had bad backs caused by slouchng in their chairs as they attempted to make themselves inconspicuous.  No one dared sneeze or cough lest it attracted his attention.
For some reason we had two Deputy Heads, the other being Mr Wardle, or Wally to his friends.  Not that he had any friends, at least amongst the boys.  Wally  took my class for geography, and was a bit of a snob.  When he learned I came from a council estate, and dropped my aitches, he proceeded to make my life a misery.  He had a way of picking you up by the sideboards, and if he saw you playing football in the yard would point out how much your parents had paid for shoes.
The chemistry master was Basher Brewin, so-called because if you got something wrong he would bash you.  We had the last laugh when an experiment went wrong and a splash of acid landed on his bald head.  But he was a good teacher, and I obtained some of my highest marks whilst in his class.
One of my French teachers was Bill Sykes.  He took pills for angina, which we did not realise at the time, especially when he had a strop on - which was most of the time.  One day he had the task of overseeing the lunchtime roll call in the main hall.  When he asked us to put our chairs away everyone removed them from the hall and they were scattered along the corridors. Remo heard the commotion, and swooped this way and that looking for the culprits.

FROM CHRIS LOWE 1964-68   (Chris Lowe was head of English.  The following was originally written for Chris's grand-daughter as part of his memoirs.  More can be found on the Wyvernians web site under the Other Documents section of the Memorabilia page -Ed - or view it directly CLICK/TAP HERE)  I don't know exactly why Mr E J W Bell (known as Ernie  to the boys, Johnny to the staff but Mr Bell to his face) offered me the post as Head of English.  It may have had something to do with the fact that he had been Deputy Head at Trinity School, Croyden, some years before my arrival as a teacher, and had been an army officer and keen to start a cadet force and promote sport!  As he did not enquire about the way I might lead the department it could not have been that I had wowed him by my exciting vision of teaching English.  Anyway that was that, and I became Head of English at a prestigious grammar school at the age of 24.
During my reign at CBS the number of boys going to Oxbridge, and indeed other universities, grew and the rest of the exam results were kept up to standard.  I inherited three potential Oxbridge scholarship candidates - John Leaman, Philip Drummond and David Winter.  John obtained an Exhibition at Keble College, Philip a Scholarship at Oxford and David a Scholarship at Cambridge.  That was much to the relief of me and Stan (Berry? -Ed)  In succeeding years they were followed by others.  Sadly John was killed in a car crash whilst at Oxford.
I suppose my most famous pupil was Michael Kitchen, who became a star of the Royal Shakespeare Company in the seventies and eventually starred in the TV series Foyle's War.  He was a marvellous actor even at school, and a natural for RADA where he went at eighteen.  His style was, and is, to play himself then subtly transmogify that into the character he was playing.  It is very understated, but brilliantly done.  One day Mary (Presumably Mrs Lowe?) and I  took the fourteen-year-old Michael to the RSC costume department in Stratford On Avon to choose a pile of Shakespearean costumes for the school play.  I don't suppose it had any dramatic effect on him, but it did to us!  We have followed Michael's career with great interest and he was kind enough to meet your daddy, Simon, backstage at the National Theatre when he was but a slip of a teenager.
Until September 1965 the senior school was in Victorian buildings in Humberstone Gate, right in the middle of the city.  The first and second years were housed in an old secondary modern school in Elbow Lane, about a mile away.  It was equally Victorian, and on its last legs.  We teachers either had to walk or drive there.  On Wednesdays the head would take junior school assembly at Elbow Lane, taking with him the prefect who was to do the obligatory bible reading.  On one memorable occasion the head and prefect were on the stage, and the prefect went to the lectern.  Normally the relevant page was marked and usually the prefect had a note of the chapter and verses.  Except this time he did not, and neither was the marker in place.  Sod's Law was at work.  The prefect looked round wildly at the head, who being ex-military strode across the stage, opened the bible and pointed.  The prefect began to read Ezekiel Chapter 23, which is about two sisters, Ahola and Aholibah, who committed whoredoms very often with many men.  It goes on and on in graphic detail.  What compounded the embarrassment was the fact the prefect had not been told where to stop, and the poor boy ploughed on and on to the end of the chapter.  Read the chapter and imagine the scene...  Two hundred or so 11-13 year-olds, a dozen hard-bitten teachers, a begowned headmaster and a red-faced and blazered 17 year-old prefect gripping the lectern and wishing the floor would open up and swallow him.  It could have been a scene from a TV farce!
It was one of a number of amusing episodes occasioned by dear Johnny Bell, who strove so hard to make 'his' school the one of choice.  An impossible task really, given that Wyggeston Boys was an ancient and revered school plonked next to the university campus.  He was an ideas man, and got anyone else he could to do the actual graft.  He appeared to consider me sufficiently young and malleable enough to aid him in his PR work.  He knew I was in the TA, and cajoled me into starting the Cadet Force.  He thought all the best schools played rugby, but unfortunately CBS was a soccer school and eventually the alma mater of Gary Lineker, no less.  I drew the line at rugby, but when a young rugby-playing teacher jouned the staff he was persuaded to start the game  (To be continued - Ed)

AND FINALLY...   The recent snow made me think back to the harsh winter of 1962/63, and a harmless dodge I thought up.  Rushey Fields and Grace Road were out of use for several weeks, but that did not entirely excuse us from exercise.  Each week we travelled to Grace Road by Leicester Corporation buses, then walked back into town along Aylestone Road.  My family lived in South Wigston, on the Fairfield Estate, and my bus to and from school was the  87.  That went along Aylestone Road, and it seemed pointless for me to walk into town only to return by bus shortly afterwards.    Jock Gilman, and probably a second teacher, headed the crocodile so there was no one in authority bringing up the rear.  Nor was there any form of roll call.  My ruse was to make sure I was at the very back of the crocodile, and as soon as we turned onto Aylestone Road it was a simple matter to pop into the first front garden we came to and hide by the gate  Then, after a couple of minutes, I made my way to the nearby bus stop and was home nice and early.    Simple, but effective!

Dennis J Duggan
April 17th 2018

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Fwd: Fw: OWT 97 January 2018

TEL 01938 555574   07804 520730  
EDITORIAL   Thank you to those who have responded to the reunion invitations.  This year we celebrate twenty years of Wyvernians.  We have two provisional speakers lined up, but oneof them  cannot commit because of uncertainty over times and dates of the Leicester City v Arsenal match.  The other, Bob Childs, has kindly volunteered, but as he has spoken to us at least twice before he would be more than happy to give someone else a chance!  So if you are willing to speak to a friendly audience for about fifteen minutes please get in touch.
OBITUARY   Dr John Edward Batterbee (1949-56) passed away peacefully at Eastbourne General Hospital on December 30th 2017.  Richard Thompson (1949-56) reminds us that John was Head Boy 1955-56.
FROM SIMON PARTRIDGE 1966-72   (Continuing Simon's reminiscences - Ed)  February 2015 was the last time I visited Leicester, and in the absence of any surviving family we holed up at the Beaumont Hotel.  This was well-placed for both Ryan Adams, the king of alt-country, and the remains of the king who was prepared to exchange his kingdom for a horse.  De Montfort Hall was very plush compared to the first time I went there in November 1966 for The Beach Boys, Lulu, David and Jonathan.  Sounds Incorporated were also on the bill, but I cannot remember them.  But I do remember being gob-smacked to see Good Vibrations played live as well as watching a mini-skirted Lulu trying to come to terms with a bar stool.  My last visit was in March 1972 for the late Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band, but I appreciate they were an acquired taste.
Walking along New walk and University Road you cannot fail to notice the Fraser Noble building.  It reminded me of Simon Noble, who like my brother and I transferred at thirteen from Stoneygate Preparatory School, then on London Road.  His father was Vice-Chancellor of the university, and they lived at Knighton Hall, so we always thought that Wyggeston would have been a more obvious choice.  Seven to thirteen years were not happy times for me.  For a start, Barney Presho, the headmaster at Stoneygate, announced with glee to my parents that I had failed the entrance exam.  Unfortunately he had overlooked the fact he was married to my father's sister, otherwise we could not have afforded private education for we boys.  Nevertheless I enjoyed a torrid time in an era when a proprietor or head teacher woud do all they could to show they in no way favoured their own families.  Older boys did transfer directly into the 6th form at CBS, and this became more prevalent as time went on. Others  also arrived from the private sector. One such was Simon White, from Trent College, Nottingham.  He was the son of Gordon White, of Gordon, White and Hood, architects in King Street.  Simon is singled out here because he had a blue  Reliant Robin, the only boy I recall who had the use of a car - albeit a three-wheeler. 
On my first visit I was in awe of Downing Drive, with its absence of Dickensian changing rooms and primitive toilets.  The canteen seemed to serve Egon Ronay-type meals, with no congealed fat on the plates.   My mother accompanied me, and the visit was a success though some of my spelling seemed strange.  Mr Bell deemed me to be a thoroughly decent chap on the basis my father worked for the Leicester Mercury.  Likewise Andy Bourne, as his father also worked for the local newspaper.  I had been assessed by an LEA educationl psychologist at his Welford Road office, and until quite recently still had the letter confirming I was suitable for a grammar school education.
The second visit, on the first day of the 1966 autumn term, was seriously embarrassing.  My mother had commandeered the family car, and I arrived with the knowledge I only knew one other person.  We entered the school, and I thought we must be late and everyone was in assembly.  Things became worse, and I was in a panic because apparently I had the wrong uniform - black instead of green!  The helpful receptionist pointed out we were in the wrong school, we should have been next door!  It was a relief when my mother left me on my own, but I was puzzled to learn that 3 Alpha was actually a second-year class.  The only person I knew was Peter Luketa, he was also in my class.  I sat next to John Rabone, who was also a new boy.  His family had been obliged to leave Malawi, having moved there when it was Nyasaland.  John was very occasionally absent because of Malaria, the problem being the vaccine rather than the actual disease.  One day he was absent, and we learned why from the Leicester Mercury.  His father had been killed the previous evening whilst crossing Uppingham Road.  I will never forget the complete helplessness I felt, and did know what to say or do.  I will always remember the look in his eyes.  He went on to study English at Exeter, then taught TEFL in Japan at a school established by his brother, who was a talented exponent of martial art.  I think John is now teaching at the University of Nottingham.
Simon Tong, the form teacher, was also new.  The staff were sensitive to my transition so assimilation went well.  Peter Luketa and I were both choristers at St James the Greater, London Road, as was Richard Chatham, three years my junior.  Brian Carruthers, a couple of years older, was a server.  When in church there was always a cheery smile from Bill Mann, owner of a light blue Standard motor car, who lived nearby. 
Geoff German and Zulu Anderson - I'm not sure, but while Geoff was a lot brighter and more hard-working than me, he could likewise have been touch-and-go for 'O' level French.  Like me, he was a Baxter Boy in 'O' level maths.I was top in history for the term we had to complete a project on the Leicester to Swannington railway.  In year five I was excused History 'O' level on the grounds the twentieth century was too complex and hard work for me.  Needless to say, Geoff went on to excel in the subject and read History at Hull.  Peter Luketa was reading Modern Languages there at the time.  Peter, I think, went on to big things with HSBC European banking.  It was agreed that Peter had a superb collection of rock, blues and R & B albums during his school days.  I recall him raving about an eponymous album by an unknown band called Led Zeppelin.
Geoff was possessed of a self-depracating sense of humour, and one of the kindest people you could hope to meet.  I was concerned about my indolence, Geoff was always in a high state of alertness.  He did not use joined-up writing, he wrote fast and neatly using individual letters.  Mrs German was instrumental in finding me a job at The Wigston Stage in 1971, after I had left school as quickly as possible.  I worked for Dims Inns full time to fund expeditions to Canada and America.  Geoff became a role model and in 2012, having stopped smoking in 1986, I ran cross-country for Wales in Belfast.  Thus I gained my first, and so far only, international vest.  I don't apologise for blowing my own trumpet.
As I have mentioned, conditions at Downing Drive were a world away from my past experiences.  I soon realised that Science was going to be a struggle, though other subjects posed no difficulties apart from German with its irregular plurals.  However I could sing, which kept me on the right side of Mr Gimson during my first year.  Inevitably, in time, I would begin to struggle as my peers were academically in the top two percent of the population, but there were no airs and graces and generally we all got on well.  Simon Tong was new to teaching, and clearly the business of learning had come easily to him.  This aided his progress to a couple of headships and the position of Director of Education for the Diocese of Salisbury.  He organised a trip to the RSC for The Taming of the Shrew, where the cast included Roy Kinnear.  His performance as Baptista alone was worth the ticket price  (To be continued - Ed)
FROM RICHARD THOMPSON  1949-56   I was interested in Brian Cope's reminiscences of the inter-school debating Society. The society didn't start till after my time at the school, but I do know a little about two of the participants Brian mentioned.  The History teacher from Gateway must have been David Bond, an old Wyvernian whom I knew because he was the elder brother of my friend Paul  Bond (CBS 1950-1955). David left CBS just before I started in 1949, so his dates were most likely 1942 to 1949, or possibly 1941 to 1948.  I saw a lot more of David when he was Liberal candidate in the NE Leicester bye-election in the Summer of 1962 when he came a close second to the defending Labour candidate (Tom Bradley, who later joined the Social Democrats) and the poor showing of the Conservative may have inspired Harold Macmillan's ruthless cabinet reshuffle of that year. Alas, David died quite young - in the 1980's so far as I can recall.  Brian also mentioned a Wyggestonian, Garth Pratt. I believe that Garth's political career got no further than being adopted as prospective Liberal candidate for Rochdale, a position from which he was later displaced to make way for the now notorious Cyril Smith!
FROM KEITH  DUGUID  1958-63   Sorry to hear of the deaths of Mick Morgan & Bob Rhodes, both in my year.   About 50 years ago I was in Torquay on the beach and Mick Morgan came out of the sea after a swim, a bit of a coincidence, and we had a little chat.Bob Rhodes who  I`d seen a couple of times in the last 5 years, usually in a supermarket, and I`d told him of the reunions,  but he was adamant he wasn`t interested!  Both died too young!
FROM ALAN WATERMAN  1936-41   Thank you for sending me the latest news from my old school. I will be 93 next July but the stories from other scholars bring back memories and names like Jeeves (French) and Bud Fisher (maths ) and Mr Crammer (Headmaster) as if it was just a short time back. The houses were Abbey (Green) Bradgate (Red) Charnwood (Yellow)  and De Montfort (Blue)  Best wishes to all ex City Boys Grammer School students. 
FROM DAVE WAIT  1958-63   1958 was to be a turning point, though I did not realise it at the time.  I was still only ten when I left Braunstone Hall Junior School that summer.  The end of term meant saying goodbye to a lot of friends and a few enemies.  But more important it meant the end of school for eight weeks!  For the first few weeks the sun shone brightly, but gradually the clouds of uncertainty began to roll in.  One of the first indicators of change was the remark, 'I suppose when you get to grammar school you will be a snob and think you are better than us.'  That remark made me determined never to forget where I had come from, no matter where I ended up (Or down)  The final part of the holiday was spent kitting me out.  I had obtained my first choice, CBS, and been provided with a list of everything required for my first term.  This included school uniform complete with cap, satchel, football kit, cricket kit, maths kit - no calculatore then!  Latin dictionary (never needed) short grey flannel trousers down to the knees (first years not allowed long trousers)  Because I lived more than three miles from the school I had a bus pass, renewed on the last day of each term.
It was daunting to realise I would not know anyone, as only two pupils from my junior school had passed the eleven plus.  Looking back I am pleased I took the exam on one of my better (brainier) days so did not have to go to an 'ordinary' school.  In some ways it did set me apart, but I hope it never made me superior to the plebs.  That makes me sound rather a snob, but I still drop my aitches and say gardin instead of garden.  The fateful day came all too soon, the walk to the bus stop was akin to walking up the steps to a gallows.  At the first stop, Gallards Hill, a friend from primary school boarded and I saw he was wearing a CBS uniform.  Joy of joys, at least the two of us could be miserable together.  With our caps on it reminded me of that old song The sun has got his hat on, hip hip hip hootay  To be continued - Ed)
FROM RICHARD WAKEFIELD  1961-68   I am sure that all of us who spent time at Elbow Lane under the majestic leadership of the esteemed Mr J E Wardle, Head of that Parish, will recall his tried and trusted approach to problem solving.  In the event of information being required to identify and apprehend a culprit for one of the many infringements to school order perpetrated by the inmates of the school, he would visit the appropriate classrooms and distribute small scraps of paper to all concerned.  He would intone in a low drawn-out voice, which is impossible to give due credit to in print, something along the lines of "There has been an incident (insert details of the incident) Write down what you know of it and return your slips to me immediately".  The good man would then disappear to his lair half way up the stairs towards the old gym and study his papers, after which a suspect would be arraigned or more papers would be issued soliciting more information.  Now, as a slightly craven 1st year I was somewhat daunted by this process, always feeling that I may well somehow be targeted however innocent I was...
One day, in our form room, which sadly afforded no view of approaching staff members or indeed of the Supremo himself, we were shocked out of our normal stupor by the vision of the man sweeping majestically between the rows of desks, his cape billowing in his wake sweeping pens, rubbers and whatever acoutrements were in the way, onto the floor.. He stood at the front, fixed us with his eyes. We were aware of the scraps of paper in his hand, but this time he did not distribute them...
He proclaimed, 'Something has happened. Form a line and follow me."  We were dumbfounded.  He swept off at a pace which would not have disgraced Yusain Bolt, with 30-odd first-formers panting along behind. Where were we going... why... ?  These thoughts flooded our innocent young minds.   We were surprised when we stopped at the entrance to the first-year toilets.  He told us to walk through the toilets and look in the cubicles.  To our horror what we witnessed that day would affect us profoundly, for there on the toilet seat lay a stool.  We were hurried back to the classroom, sat down, given the papers and told, "Now, you have seen what has happened.  Write down on the paper what you have seen and what you know about it" Now look, we were 11 or 12 years old., he really should not have been so surprised at some of the comments he received.  I'm not sure, but I believe the culprit was never identified and taken to task about it  (I vividly recall this incident, not least because the stool was a prize specimen, tinged with blue)  {To be continued - Ed}
FROM MICHAEL CAPENERHURST  1947-51   Plwase accept my apologies for absence at the reunion because of distance from New Zealand.  I would have had the fish and chips, I still miss the English version.  Here we tend to have thin slices of fish in soggy batter, it is an hour's drive to the best one.  Fish and chips and pork pies are what I look forward to on my trips to the UK, plus the roast beef and Yorkshire pud.  I have been making my own pork pies for fifty years.  I  made about twenty last year, but have not attempted fish and chips.  Finally decided this will be my last year at work, it will see fifty years with my present employer and sixty seven years since I walked into TN & FH Briggs Tannery, Waring Street (Off Melbourne Road) Leicester.  Two years' service in the RAF, the rest in leather.  One good thing came out of walking along Waring Street, I met my future wife there as she walked to school.  We were married for fifty one years before she passed away.
AND FINALLY...   Dave Wait's item made me recall my final days at Eyres Monsell Junior School in 1959.  My recollection mirrors Dave's, a carefree five weeks or so of holiday then the reluctant acceptance of what lay ahead.  Buying the uniform and the other bits, and wondering what was in store.  Life had been very cosy at junior school, with kindly teachers and home for dinner  (We never called it lunch) and I was savvy enough to know that a drastic change was afoot.  The dreaded morning finally came, I left our house in Tamerton Road and walked up Glenhills Boulevard to the Pork Pie roundabout.  The Corporation No 24 bus left from the top of Saffron Lane and deposited me in Bowling Green Street.  It was the first time I had been on a bus by myself.  Of course I had been shown where the school was situated, and knew I had to walk down Clarence Street to the Lee Circle huts.  Every morning there was an egg lorry parked in Clarence Street, on it was written The hens lay, the cocks crow, but we deliver the goods.  Funny what we remember.
Dennis J Duggan
January 18th 2018

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Saturday, 21 October 2017

Fwd: Fw: OWT 96 October 2017

TEL 01938 555574   07399 464482  
EDITORIAL   2018 marks the 20th anniversary of Wyvernians, and hopefully we will reach OWT100 during that year.  We have come a long way since that first informal evening at The Harrow, Thurmaston.  I remember it well for a couple of reasons.  I had made myself a name badge on a lanyard, and when I visited the gents a youngish chap at the next urinal commented, 'Oh look, it's Paddington Bear.'  I did not know (and still don't) whether he was making an innocent joke or trying to provoke me.  Whatever, I merely smiled weakly, finished what I was doing and made what I hoped was a dignified exit.  Second, when I booked the room I had not realised it would clash with a major annual event at my place of work - stocktaking. This was a major event, all hands on deck, no excuses.  We were taking our dog for a walk when Stephanie said, 'Won't that school reunion clash with the stocktaking weekend?'  Too late to alter the date, so I had no alternative but to go cap in hand to my boss.  Fortunately we had an excellent relationship and the matter was glossed over, but my colleagues were not so happy.  Strange what things we remember.
OBITUARIES   The following was received from Mike Ratcliff   I have to report the death of Robert (Bob) Rhodes who was in the same year as myself.  We were at CBS 1958-64, then we found ourselves on the same HND course in electrical and electronic engineering at Leicester Poly.  In subsequent years we both spent time working at Taylor Hobson, and for a few years actually worked together.  Bob died in September 2017.
Alan Lancashire (1938-45)  Passed away August 2017
Mick Morgan (1958-63)  Passed away August 19th 2017
The following was received from Dave Winter (1960-67)   I don't know if you know about this already but I've just learned of the untimely death of Martyn Heighton. He was in the year above us and I think he was head boy, too. I remember him playing the Mayor in the school production of The Government Inspector, with Michael Kitchen as Khlestakov, the 'government inspector' himself.  It was a Tony Baxter production….1963 or 64 I should think.  Haven't got the programme, alas.  I bet someone has, though. He clearly had a very successful career, though, judging by the obituary in the St Johns College Cambridge magazine.  Martin passed away November 6th 2016
FROM SIMON PARTRIDGE  1966-72   (Continuing Simon's memoirs - Ed)  Mr Wardle could have asked if I had spent too much time socialising in the rear lounge bar of The Magazine, Newarke Street, which was quite a lively place.  The bar at the front was occupied by the likes of Dave Burrows, Bomber Bayes, Eddie Gadd, Geoff Campion etc and was very lively.  Burrows was a fine soccer player with an equally good sense of humour.  Geoff was well-read and highly intelligent, as well as being proof positive that not all the most able pupils were to be found in the alpha stream.  We shared an appreciation of the rather esotoric Incredible String Band, who seemed to play quite regularly in Leicester at that time.  In the second year VIth (1970-71) The Princess Charlotte became a very important watering hole, but this was before it became a small but serious music venue.  The rear bar of the Charlotte could not be seen from the street, which made it ideal for extended drinking and card games.  The Town Arms was used to a lesser extent, whereas The Rutland and Derby was popular with Wyggeston.  And as for Yates Wine Lodge, the less said the better!  Finally there was also music at the polytechnic, university or De Montfort Hall.  Sadly I was too young to attend the Il Rondo in Silver Street.  At the poly, on May 8th 1971, Rod Stewart and the Faces, Atomic Rooster and Sam Apple Pie played at the May Ball.  This was on a stage built out from one of the floors of a teaching block, and the audience stood watching from a lawn enclosed by a quadrangle.  Bruce Bennett, Head Boy, was in attendance.  It was warm and still, and the sound percolated along the Soar Valley giving rise to complaints from Birstall and other places that Rod Stewart could be clearly heard there.
Mr Wardle was correct in his assesment of me (See OWT95) For most he will be associated with his trademark apology, Sorry, wrong room, that is until the day finally came when the classroom door flew open to Sorry, right room, WRONG FLOOR!  Here I was, almost nineteen, and retaking Religious Education and Geography  (Economics was a non-starter in the third year VIth, which I always knew was never going to be a success)  November 25th 1971, Led Zeppelin played the Percy Gee building at Leicester University, and things became even better when in the last week of the year I was given a place at the then City of Cardiff College of Education.  I thanked EJWB and was gone from CBS, where Tony Baxter had ensured I had the vital maths 'O' Level - and some acting experience, which was to become equally helpful.  Due to illness I did not arrive in Cardiff until two weeks after term had begun.  I had been assured by one of my teachers that a college of education would suit me down to the ground, and warned there was not much depth to the work but there would be lots of it - far more than at university.  My problem was New Testament Greek, had I been able to start at the beginning of term it would have made no difference.  Geoff Elliott had already performed a near miracle by getting me through French 'O' level, which he felt would be border line.  To avoid New Testament Greek I decided to change my first main subject to Drama, at the same time retaining Religious Education which I was destined to teach.  The latter was studied as an additional main subject which no longer required NT Greek.  I enjoyed the acting, theory, theatre history and literature, which included ten thousand words on Serjeant Musgrave's Dance.  That raised a few eyebrows as I had chosen a single play, not a selection of the chosen playwright's work.
The most galling experience was working for BBC2 as an extra.  We spent a whole evening as part of a crowd trying to enter a Welsh chapel to hear Evan Roberts, a preacher.  The £5 fee would have paid for ten nights' drinking in the student union  bar, but as most of us were in receipt of a grant the college sequestered the entire fee.
My first job was as head of RE in a Cardiff comprehensive. This was not as grand as it sounds, because the school was closed six years later, which was not altogether a bad thing.  It was an interesting school, one which had been unable to appoint a head of RE.  The head teacher had contacted the college, and the faculty head explained he was not going to send any of the thirty six girls for interview (out of sensitivity and human decency, not sexism)  Of the three boys, one had failed, one was going to teach PE, the other was me!  I turned up with a hangover, it being the end of finals, got the job and was driven into Cardiff by an officer of the authority to complete the application form  (To be continued - Ed)
FROM RICH WAKEFIELD  1961-68   (In OWT95 I said I did not get the joke about the Latin word DUM)  The Latin lesson.  Quite simply the man entered for our first-ever Latin lesson and bellowed the word DUM (Latin for WHILE)  This was greeted with blank looks, so the master picked on one pupil, called him DUMB (Same pronunciation, different meaning) and turfed him out.
FROM BRIAN COPE  1954-62  The culture of a boys' grammar school was certainly very distinctive. Music was a case in point. I recall that when grammar schools were abandoned more or less overnight in Nottingham, the cultural impact  was marked - the classical pianist of the old GS in one instance replaced by a guitar-strummer in sandals in the new community comprehensive.
On the other hand it meant that someone like Bill Sykes was unlikely to have had a job in the new dispensation. I lasted one lesson with him, when as soon as he discovered a pitch less than perfect I was sent to the back of the class to dwell on the imperfection of French verbs. Thank goodness the rest of the staff did not follow his 'educational' prescription, otherwise the corridors would have been filled with French Irregulars whilst maths and science teachers focused on their Oxbridge Scholarship candidates!
My memories mainly revolve around sport. My proudest achievement was to be skipper of the team which bowled out E M Wright's X1 for 57 and went on to win by 9 wickets. Their team contained a clutch of Mundens so no mean feat. I was a novelty bowler and a batting nurdler who was lucky enough (on account of age merely) to hold the fort between two outstanding cricketers, Whitelam and Davenport. Pressed into service as an opener, what a pleasure it was to watch Davenport quietly take oppositions apart with his mental strength and silky cover drives. (It was no surprise to find later that he had settled in Bradman's Adelaide)
There were only two co-educational experiences available on the premises - the school play, where real girls gradually took over from bewigged male adolescents and -where I was involved- the inter-school debating society held in our library once a month, when speakers from all the Leicester grammar schools took part. A History teacher from Gateway, Mr Bond, and I ran the show.  I have no idea whether it lasted long after we left. I remember Garth Pratt from Wyggeston, whom we all assumed would be PM one day, and Delia Balls from Collegiate who caused many a flutter.
FROM ALAN MERCER  1959-63  (STAFF)   As it was my first job I greatly appreciated the examples set by older teachers.  But there was one I didn't take up.  Mr (Chas) Howard never checked his addition of pupils' marks at the end of each term.  In his words, 'I don't need to check them because I never get it wrong.'
FROM KEITH HILL  1954-62   Henry IV Part 2 is still my favourite Shakespeare play.  It was our school play in April 1957, and I was Doll Tearsheet. 'Does your mother know what kind of woman you're playing, Hill?' asked Ron Smith,  the history master, as he applied make-up just before the first performance.  The penny then dropped, but only to some extent.  I was an extremely naive thirteen-year-old in 4 Alpha.  Although she had kindly provided me with a padded bra for a bosom, and a thigh garter for my knife, I'm not sure my mother knew either.  When we took the play to Krefeld, the mother of the family I stayed with certainly did.  'You are a lady of the night,' she said with a twinkle in her eye. I admit that I did perform the part with some gusto. I remember depicting a heart shape with my feet as I lay across Sir John Falstaff's chest embracing him.  In Germany this provoked our headmaster E J W Ernie Bell into appealing to me: 'I say, Hill old chap, could you tone it down a little?' Our producer, George Franey, overheard this and was incandescent. 'Don't take any notice of him' he said to me, and I am sure he added 'Silly man'  The play is dominated by two commanding figures: Henry IV and Falstaff. Tom Williams, with his sonorous bass voice, played Henry ('Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown'). As a prefect his speaking of the Lord's Prayer could be heard above all others at morning assembly. I remember asking him if he was very religious. 'I hate mumbling"'he replied. Tony Baxter was a towering Falstaff, an amazing performance from an 18-year old about to go up to Cambridge.

Falstaff's immortal opening line in the play is 'Sirrah, you giant, what says the doctor to my water?' The 'giant' in question was his page, played by Steve Buckley. Steve went on to study fine art at Durham University and became a distinguished contemporary artist. One of his paintings, Dancers, was purchased by the Government Art Collection. When I was appointed the nation's housing minister in 2003 I had this huge and lovely canvas hung on my office wall. I invited Steve, then Professor of Fine Art at the University of Reading, to visit my rooms in the Old Admiralty Building in Whitehall, and we spent a convivial evening contemplating his great work.  What an ensemble we were – the denizens of the Boar's Head Tavern in Eastcheap: Richard Makins as Mistress Quickly and Tom Williams (again) as Ancient Pistol; and the Country Justices Silence and Shallow. Silence ('Alas, a black ousel') was played by Richard Paynter and Shallow ('Jesu, Jesu, the mad days that I have spent') by the excellent John Page. Tragically my friend Richard Paynter died of peritonitis on 6 November 1957. For many of us this was our first experience of premature death. His headstone is by the porch of St Luke's Church in Thurnby.

Despite this sad association, I clearly have the warmest memories of my first school play. I remain very grateful to George Franey and the school for giving me the opportunity of so many great parts in so many stellar school productions: Peter Quince in A Midsummer Night's Dream, de Stogumber in Saint Joan, blind Tobit in Tobias and the Angel, and Sir Oliver Surface in School for Scandal. There are some who might say this was good training for my later career. It is true that from time to time I would startle my civil servants by telling them 'It's all showbiz, after all'! (Keith Hill PC was the Labour Member of Parliament for Streatham 1992-2010)

AND FINALLY...   My sorry career at CBS, involving truancy, lies and deceit, has been well-documented in these pages.  For the benefit of newer readers, by the spring term of 1960 I had been demoted from 1 Alpha to 1A This followed a meeting between my parents and Mr Bell, and it was hoped I would find the going easier.  But the die had been cast, and my reputation preceded me.  Demoralised and ashamed, I was soon demoted to the B stream.  Looking back, as I have done many times over the years, it is obvious I was my own worst enemy.  Always a secretive and solitary child (characteristics which, to a lesser extent, have followed me into adulthood) I confided my problems to no one.  Not my parents, nor my brother and sister, not the teachers.  Perhaps, in these more enlightened times, someone would realise I was struggling.  'Poor little chap, what's the matter?'  But in 1959 we were expected to be made of sterner stuff, and whilst I did need help everyone simply thought I was bone idle!  So the first, second and third years were not much fun, though things did improve in the fourth and fifth years.  Looking back, there were a lot of good times as well as bad.  Forging excuse notes for games, which usually meant a pleasant afternoon in the library.  I hated team sports, but quite enjoyed cross country.  I had written a 'permanently-excused' note for swimming, so was able to sit on the balcony at Vestry Street baths every week.  Surely Jock Gilman was not really taken in!  The lunchtime Crusaders meetings, run by Alan Mercer, were a highlight.  In 5F the last period on Fridays was geography with Ken Witts, who was always in a good mood presumably in anticipation of the weekend.  It was a nice way to finish the week.  One of the sixth formers came to school in a bubble car, which could be driven on a motor cycle licence.  He was allowed to park it in the little yard by the entrance to the canteen, where Mr Franklin parked his blue and white Fiat 1500.  Watched by a crowd of boys waiting for first-sitting lunch the sixth former fired up the bubble car, which to his consternation failed to move.  A couple of boys has lifted the rear end off the ground!

Dennis J Duggan  October 16th 2017

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Monday, 7 August 2017

OWT 95 August 2017





TEL 01938 555574 07399 464482


EDITORIAL Apologies for the late distribution of this OWT, but other matters have occupied my attention over the past few weeks.

FROM RICHARD WAKEFIELD 1961-68 As my old mum may say, there are teachers... and then... there are teachers. In my seven years at City Boys there certainly were. I was there from 1961 to 1968 and found the teaching staff was changing in nature through that time. Initially the staff were predominantly of a more senior persuasion ranging down to middl- aged, or so it seemed to this pupil A notable exception however was the excellent Tony Baxter, who I seem to recall shared a first day with me. As I moved up through the school I believed it was merely an accident of ageing on an annual basis. It seemed that some of the more senior staff were moving on and a younger crowd with, I imagine, a more radical approach were coming in and changing the feel of the school in many ways. I find in life that the majority of any demographic are perfectly good, capable, upright citizens, with a small number of greats at one end and a small number of bad eggs at the other. We will all have memories of our teachers, those we liked and those we didn't. I think it fair to say there were some we liked, others we didn't, and we'll all have our views of who falls into which category. But I think it fair to say that the majority were definitely members of the good, capable upright persuasion. Some were very much in the excellent camp while others were ... well, I'm not here to mention that...
For my money the top man was without doubt the redoubtable Ken Witts. Ken was, for me, a formidable presence and certainly not a man to give trouble to. I recall once, ill-advisedly, doing just that and I never did it again. But I respected him and learned well under his tutelage. He seemed to be up-to-speed with developments in his field (geography.- see what I did there?) and in my view put information across in a very straightforward and easily absorbed way. Like many however, I did question his rather avant-garde way of pronouncing The Himalayas, but notice that his pronunciation now seems the accepted one!
I recall whilst in 5F our form room, on the top floor of the science block at Downing Drive, was the Geography room. Ken was concerned at the speed with which stationery was evaporating from the store cupboard, so at the beginning of a lesson, when he heard furtive rustlings from the cupboard, he moved with the stealth of a panther approaching an unwary antelope and shut and locked the door. Clearly he had caught a suspect and made an academic arrest. Not many seconds later the stillness of the room was shattered by rattling and shouting. Ken opened the door to release a flustered and embarrassed Geography teacher number 2 - if memory serves me rightly, Dave Gilyean
The other teacher I rated almost as highly is the splendid Stanley Ras Berry... I had a piece about him in here before, but he truly set the seeds for changing my life for the better. My previous piece related to the time we were studying Emma by Jane Austen. The good man said how funny a passage was and read it out to a set of blank uncomprehending faces. We didn't see the funny side, he was non-plussed and abandoned the lesson there and then. For reasons I don't recall, I was doing English Literature for' A' level despite reading nothing except for Charles Buchan's Football Annual and the Beano. However the lessons this man gave led to my developing a huge love of Ms Austen's work, as well as many other classic writers and poets. I have loved literature in all forms ever since, and thank him for planting that love in my heart.
Finally a true maverick, a character, a one-off, in Brian Scott. In the 6th form I studied Latin. Now if you don't know, the Latin word dum means while. That is relevant!!! The first lesson, there were five rather nervous, not to say bemused, pupils sitting in the room as the aforementioned Brian Scott sailed majestically in bellowing "Dum... Dum... you're dumb, Smith... get out and wait in the corridor" Now the boys name wasn't Smith, I know what it was, who he was, but will not reveal it here. He then told the shocked survivors of that opening what Dum meant, and proceeded with the lesson. (I don't get it - Ed) He must have done a great job, because at the end of the year i came away with an 'O' level and a rather respectable grade

FROM ALAN PYKETT 1959-66 A few months ago there was an article in the Daily Express, which was perhaps seen by other Wyvernians, about attending an all-boys' grammar school in what I presume was the 1950s or early 1960s. So much of the article resonated with me about my time at City Boys that I could have written quite a portion of the article myself! Three items stood out for me. First, as soon as you attended the school first names disappeared so instead of Alan, Brian, David and Robert it was Pykett, Papworth, Billsdon and Leake - even amongst ourselves. I am sure those former classmates mentioned will not mind being used as examples. Secondly, we did not have teachers. Instead we had masters, sometimes in their flowing gowns and sometimes not. Lastly the playing up of the music teacher (oops master) Ring any bells? At the school mentioned in the article, when listening to the boys on an individual basis for their tone, some produced various animal sounds. However, their misdemeanours did not go unpunished. The culprits were given a page of an exercise book, the type made up of little squares, and told to cut out each individual square. Of course, our music master was Bill Sykes. I personally don't remember him being played up too much, but I do remember him listening to us individually in the second year to get a new intake for the school choir. Going back to surnames, I am not quite sure how widespread this was, but I believe it was definitely prevalent in public schools. Possibly this was something to do with our head, Ernie Bell, running our school somewhat on those lines.

FROM DAVE POSTLES (1) 1960-67 CBS: a musical journey Increasingly, reflections on earlier life tend to invoke the metaphor of music. Life-course is presented through musical adaptation and change. In parenthesis, the musical appreciation in the assembly hall at Humberstone Gate occurred largely as a distraction for many of us, an imposition approximating a regularized detention, although I recall one highlight when Colin Desborough correctly pronounced Dvorak to general astonishment. His elder brother, of course, was deeply interested in classical music. On the contrary, the life-course of many of us - my acquaintances - conformed to transitions in popular music. On my council estate (Northfields) in the 1950s, the ascendancy belonged to Little Richard. We walked the adjacent countryside in a large gang bellowing out 'Good Golly Miss Molly', 'Long Tall Sally', and the other lyrics. One strange interloper was Johnny Duncan and the Blue Grass Boys, 'Last Train to San Fernando', an evocative ditty, though of what is still illusory, certainly not of the annual pilgrimage to Skeggy by train. Both represented, in different ways, the insinuation of US culture. That,then, was the pre-CBS cultural environment. As in many other aspects, recruitment to CBS involved a widening of many horizons. There was now no cultural hegemony, but disputation. Who was superior: the late Buddy or the living Elvis? Through amity, with Alex Neal, and through him the influence of his two elder brothers (also at CBS) I aligned with the supporters of Buddy - a not inconsiderable number at CBS, not least the New Parks contingent. Those differences became elided after the first year. The cultural domination of the first wave of BritPop, the so-called 'Mersey Sound', reintroduced some sort of thin cultural coherence. Let it be agreed, however, that this initial wave was represented as much by Joe Brown and his Bruvvers as the Beatles. It was JB and the Bs who provided the accompaniment for the twist contest at Elbow Lane, not least 'Picture of You' (but also, of course, the paradigmatic US Chubby Checker) By the third year, contestation was revived. What was the sentiment towards the new US invasion from Detroit, Motor City, Motown, and, as importantly, the 'Wall of Sound' of Phil Spector? One future Head Boy adamantly inscribed on his satchel 'The Ronettes'. Not everyon agreed. There was now no consensus. At the annual show, my near-neighbour Gerald Taylor and his band entertained (regaled) the (compulsorily) assembled
mass to a string of retrospective hits by The Shadows. 'Apache', anyone? By 5A, there was much reminiscing: a (supply your own grave) la recherche du temps perdu. Was this a symbol of maturity and reflection? It was possibly not, since some of us made a fleeting homage to the DeMont for the bill which included The Nashville Teens ('Tobacco Road') and The Animals ('House of the Rising Sun') but only as support for Chuck Berry (a late addition to the programme) and the 'legendary' Carl Perkins). In to the first year in the sixth form, with the redoubtable Steve Mellor (alright, mate?), the original rocker on his motorbike. We vacillated between Brit stuff and US black genres. At the back of the classroom was a little store cupboard which contained, of all things, a record player. Vinyl was brought in and listened to at any opportunity, not least The Kinks. In another entirely variant adventure, a large group frequently ventured out by bus to The County Arms at Blaby, where the standard fare was Soul (Ben E. King, 'What is soul?') I guess we were all heterodox. 'Black is black' was not quite apposite; we were all imbued with that little bit of black ('Say it once, say it loud: I'm black and I'm proud', The Commitments). One consequence was the general response to Ding Dong's invitation to a representative from the South African Embassyto address the sixth form about apartheid ('separate development'), which ranged from rational hostility (Dave Winter) to quiet bemusement ('What is this guy on about?'). (Ding Dong had some minor teaching engagement for the sixth formers on current affairs). Then another transition occurred in the second year of the sixth form: We all became Mods, in the vanguard Geoff Pullan (renowned centre forward). How far were we all duped? The anthem of The Who, 'My Generation', seems now dissimulation. 'Hope to die before I get old'? I suspect that, like me, Geoff has become an old codger. In acknowledgment, however, he also favoured The Small Faces, inspired by the late Steve Marriott. I do remember being admonished by Geoff as we attempted on the bus into town to sell tickets to the convent girls (the context must remain obscured). Geoff was one of my close friends at school, but he was equalled by that footballing legend, Bill Dixey, the advocate of real Blues, constantly evoking Big Bill Broonzy - in the same sentence as Leibnitz (or was it Spinoza?). Whilst we conformed to the crowd, Bill was sui generis. What does this random, self-absorbed narrative mean for life at CBS? I tcertainly indicates some amour-propre, some of the chip on the shoulder, the revolt against the cultural imposition of a dominant institution: the faux renegade, of which there were many (sales of stale cakes, anyone? nipping off to the bowling alley?) More importantly, it reveals how our lives were joyously enhanced in the face of educational adversity by the camaraderie of small groups, affinities which worked outside thecurriculum. Those figurations (Norbert Elias) changed constantly, but were vital support networks. For many of us, learning at CBS was a permanent challenge, one often not successfully met, and it is to those mates that we owe our negotiation of the difficulties: through collective avoidance, resistance, and occasional collaboration. I salute you all in retrospect. If there is a god (probably not), may he bless you. Play the music.

FROM DAVE WINTER 1959-66 Like John Bennett I've got very pleasurable memories of taking part in school plays, albeit in only fairly small roles. Nevertheless this has allowed me to refer nonchalantly on more than one social occasion to having acted alongside Michael Kitchen in The Government Inspector' and The Tempest. Funnily enough I haven't got programmes from either of those, but I have got programmes for Cymbeline and School for Scandal. I have no recollection of Cymbeline whatsoever, but I do remember enjoying School for Scandal enormously. I can call to mind Messrs Bennett and Smart with great clarity, and also Keith Hill as Sir Oliver Surface. Looking down the cast list I notice that my older brother also took part. I had completely forgotten that detail!

FROM DAVE POSTLES (2) 1960-67 Bravissimo Brian Stevenson. I'm sure Michael Palmer would have rejoiced in your achievement and the display of such application and commitment in that arduous route to your degree. He and I would hope that it brought great enjoyment and satisfaction. I like to think too that I would have encountered you at the Central Library and benefited from your expertise. Without being too overtly political, I'd like to celebrate not only our school, but also the librarians and libraries which then could be such a part of developing young lives (if one wanted to take that route) and the OU, surely (as so many realise) one of the astonishing achievements of a government of the 1960s (although some of us did not have the opportunity to vote for it)

FROM ANDY HOWES (1957-60) Thanks for organising another great reunion. I enjoyed it very much.
I noted a number of passed names in OWT 94 and all are recorded in the database, as follows:  Leonard HARRISON, attended from September 1939 until July 1944, Terence Bernard WILSON, attended from September 1944 until June 1949, Raymond John WINTERTON, attended from September 1952 until July 1956, Martyn John HEIGHTON, attended from September 1958 until July 1965 .If anybody wants that database (as an .xls file) then I will be happy to forward it by email (contact - andyhowes@hotmail.com) I do not recall now who painstakingly converted all of those record cards (viewable at most recent reunions) but the spreadsheet keeps on answering queries. I hope to see all again next year.

FROM SIMON PARTRIDGE 1966-72 The nearest I got to Elbow Lane was working for both Fosse Motors in the evening and Avis Rent-A-Car , Lee Circle, during the day. That was during the hot summer of 1971. Carol King had released one of the best half-dozen albums ever recorded by a female singer-song writer. Simon Tong, English teacher, was in traction in the LRI following a serious car accident in which his hip was dislocated. This caused concern amongst his second year 'A' level English students. I had fallen in love with a Tesco supervisor, but separated as we were by her plate glass and the windows of my kiosk we were destined never to meet.

These reminiscences are set during the early years of Downing Drive. Having left Leicester forty five years ago I have attempted to set the article into the social/cultural context of the time. Where I have revisited episodes already described by myself or others I have tried to avoid repetition.

At some point in 1967/68 I was approached by Messrs Gates and Tong, and asked if I would like to take part in the junior school play. I had always been prone to showing off, and if truth be told I had been envious of Greg Hicks' acting ability - he was a pupil at my former school. His father, Rudy, had a market stall opposite the Queen Street Odeon, and lived to 103! Greg was to become a member of the RSC.

During the first inter-house drama competition I was gripped by P Mikelec's clever and humorous portrayal of the reluctant Jonah, who was decanted on to the shores of Nineveh by a whale with the instructions to prophesy to the inhabitants. I think it was the same Mikelec (what was his first name?) who won an Oxford scholarship, the recognition of which entitled everyone to an extra day's holiday. Before such awards were abandoned I believe we had a half day for a pupil gaining an Exhibition at Oxford or Cambridge. Likewise I remember being mesmerised by the part of the station master in Arnold Ridley's The Ghost Train, who was the actor?

I had no track record in acting, but there was a reason for the invitation. The play was to be John Whiting's Penny For A Song but with the political content removed. Nevertheless it remained an amusing account of one family's preparations to repel Napoleon's imminent invasion of the south coast. It was believed, albeit incorrectly, that I bore a passing resemblance to Napoleon Bonaparte! The most memorable feature of the production was a stack of chairs, stage right, disguised to look like a tree. On top of this was perched a lookout, played by John Measom, who was there not only for the duration of the play but the whole evening.

The following year, 1969, the senior school play was Henry IV Part 1. Falstaff was played by the late Dick Hammond, from whom I began to learn about acting. The producer was Tony Baxter, who might have been assisted by J W Mawby. Hammond did not ingratiate himself with Mr Bell, the headmaster, as he had corresponded with the letters page of the Leicester Mercury. He complained about the lack of facilities for sixth formers (eg a coffee machine) and the poor treatment generally, pointing out they were there on a voluntary basis! Hammond entered folk law by being burdened with a reference from Mr Bell which indicated he was unsuitable for teacher training. As expected, this resulted in Hammond being turned down at all the colleges he applied to, though he was finally offered a place at Wrexham to study Educational Drama.

1969 was my 'O' level year and I, along with a few friends who were far more able than me, failed maths. Thus we were unable to proceed into further education. As an aside, I recall a boy from Spencefield who, having arrived at sixteen to do 'A' levels, secured a place at Oxford or Cambridge two years later, this being conditional on his having a foreign language at 'O' level. He spent an entire year in the third year sixth studying French - and nothing else - to secure his place. The situation was serious enough for Tony Baxter, head of maths, to intervene. He arranged extra lessons during some lunchtimes prior to the November resits. As a result I passed, eventually being able to train to be a teacher in Cardiff.

The following year, 1969/70, Tony produced John Arden's Serjeant (sic) Musgrave's Dance. Unbeknown to me this was to become Tony's second act of salvation. The aforementioned Hammond played Black Jack Musgrave - Hammond was blond!

Richard Gill, who taught English and RE, always said that knowledge of the text was paramount for 'A' level scripture and he was right, as in 1971 I failed. Mr (later Reverend) Gill became Head of English at Wyggeston, a historian and an expert on the Victorians. I likewise failed Economics, but made a proper job of that. Mr Wardle, an intelligent and highly perceptive man, had a heart-to-heart with me prior to this disaster, and predidcted that women would be my downfall (To be continued. My apologies to Simon for some rather heavy editing - Ed)

AND FINALLY... Alan Pykett's mention of Bill Sykes prompted memories. I recall him as a small, very bald, Yorkshireman with a mercurial temper. He always wore a dark blue suit, sometimes with his gown. We thought he had heart problems, as he often put a small pill under his tongue. Once the red mist descended Bill had the worrying habit of walking up and down the aisles between desks, slapping heads indiscriminately. Through no fault of his own, Bill was responsible for a major disaster in my school life. I have told this tale before, but it might bear repetition. By the third year I had graduated from weekly violin lessons to the school orchestra. This practiced after school on Mondays, but true to form I began to miss the occasional session. This was a completely pointless exercise, as I could not arrive home until an hour later than usual or my parents would smell a rat. So I mooched around town, with nothing to do. My absences became more and more frequent, and as nothing was ever said I thought I was getting away with it. But by the summer term of 1963, Prize Day was looming, and as the orchestra played a major part it seemed wise to knuckle down to work. So imagine my dismay when Bill told me to 'bugger off' as my services were no longer required. I had not exactly covered myself in glory at CBS, and the one thing my parents were proud of about my school career was the fact I was in the orchestra. Instead of coming clean about the situation I never mentioned it, which was foolish as my parents, brother and sister intended to attend Prize Day. Not only did they look forward to my virtuoso performance, I was to collect my one-and-only prize, this being for English. I find it hard to believe, but I waited until my family were on the steps of De Montfort Hall before blurting out the truth and running inside. I duly collected my prize (The Kon Tiki Expedition, by Thor Heyerdahl) and fled at the end of the proceedings. Of course I had to return home eventually, but can't remember the consequences. Probably it was yet another disappointment in me more than anything.

Dennis J Duggan 1959-64

August 6th 2017

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