I am returning to the composition of this article after a period of a few wasted days and am pleased to report that Dennis' current issue of Old Wyves' Tales arrived on my computer this morning. Featured in it are one or two lost names I had intended to mention under the Where are You Now? heading of my personal amnesia box. John McQuaid, for instance, a notable likely lad up to whose image it would be difficult for us mere mortals to live. Burbeck was in 1B at the same time as me, but he has either got it wrong when he quotes 1950 as the year, or there was another Burbeck, of whom I was unaware, a year senior to us. And Dave Johnson, who I also remember from either 1B or 3 Alpha et seq. I congratulate him and John McQuaid on their daring and inventive spirit in going AWOL in order to play snooker at what would have been perceived at the time as a den of iniquity, when they should have been at school. I never reached such a high standard of misb_ehaviour, sad to relate. Oh, actually, come to think of it, yes I did on one occasion and shall refer to it later in this article.
I noted with pleasure that one A R Beaver, Tony to us if I remember correctly, became a senior prefect towards the end of the 1950s. He had come to the school at the ripe old age of 13, having failed the 11-plus but having improved his performance sufficiently at his secondary modern school so that he passed his 13-plus, a rare event. Tony was a personable, well-mannered and industrious pupil and he set a good example to me and many of my carefree colleagues, one that we largely ignored but ought to have followed if we'd had more sense. It is a credit to him and the teaching staff that he made up for lost time and a shaky start to outstrip many of us, and he deserves respect for achieving his enhanced status within City Boys'.
What an amazing array of extra-curricular activities was afforded to us. I had not appreciated there were so many, and much credit is due to headmasters, teachers, governors and sixth-formers for their industry and imaginative efforts on our behalf. I don't think I realised there was so much going on, but having said that, it is entirely possible that my interests outside the school environment captured my attention more than they should have done. I believe too, that my parents, although not exactly destitute, had sufficient to cope with financially without the additional burden of my asking for money to enable me to take advantage of trips to foreign climes or even other cities within the UK. I have no credible excuse for hardly ever taking part in out-of-school activities, except to say I do not really remember being aware of there having been such a cornucopia of character-building opportunities. And, of course, I was indolent by nature. I feel rather ashamed of myself when I realise what a wealth of potential enlightenment I just threw aside. Were I a stick of seaside rock, I can quite imagine that the word Philistine would be found running through me. The nearest I got to becoming actively involved with extramural work was when I helped Danny Kay to produce posters for the school play and to paint the scenery and erect it at the Co-operative Hall. It was quite exciting to be roaming around in the rafters and peering down through ventilation grills at the floor, about a thousand feet below. When Danny. realised what we were up to he soon caused the practise to cease. It was the only occasion when I witnessed him becoming annoyed.
I recall having attended just one debate, the subject matter having been close to my heart. This house holds that the turbojet engine is superior to the internal combustion engine. I cannot remember who won, but I do recall one boy's fallacious remark from the floor, to the effect that the turbojet was an internal combustion engine. In modern parlance, I dissed him. Also I went on a school educational trip to Cambridge, shepherded by Mr Guy and Nellie Witts. I believe we went to some sort of scientific research establishment, out towards the suburbs and housed in a single-storey building somewhat redolent of a prefab. I can't remember the subject matter. I believe I may have seen that same building on television in more recent years, its having become home to a family of cigarette-smoking beagles, much to the disgust of the animal rights lobby in particular and, to a slightly lesser extent, the population as a whole. Memorably, the journey back to Leicester was enlivened by a group of enthusiastic choristers, some of whose names I have mentioned already, bursting into song. Something about (and I must be careful here) three adherents to a particular Faith, an ancient city within a state whose western border is the Mediterranean Sea, and a precipice. Mr Guy, ever true to type, did not take kindly to it. He did not say anything. He did not need to. He merely swivelled round rapidly in his seat and glared forbiddingly as only he and Mr Pedley could, and that was the end of the matter. Another excursion was a visit to a medical clinic of some sort, somewhere in the area of St.Mary De Castro Church and what is now known rather grandly as The Hawthorn Building, but in those days was just the Tech. The object of the exercise was to receive an inoculation against something or other and we attended in small groups over a period of a few days. It may have been poliomyelitis that was the target and the injection may have been the newly-available Salk vaccine. Or not. We found in the same area a coffee bar, named El Casa Bolero. Well, in 1953 the prospect of going into a coffee bar seemed quite daring to some of us, as they were a recently-imported innovation from the USA. We noted too that inside were a few girls, maybe about the same age or slightly older than ourselves, so we endeavoured to establish friendly relations, but without much success. Without any success at all, in fact. Despite a few visits subsequently, it all fizzled out and my efforts to join the jet set were doomed to be hiatus-bound until I was old enough to sample the vastly more appealing delights of dance-halls, including the Palais and the Il Rondo with its Abracadabra Jazz Club, and on Saturdays De Montfort Hall, where we would defy the prominent sign which proclaimed No Jive, No Be-BopBy that time some of us were old enough, or progressing towards being nearly old enough, to sample the beverages offered by the plethora of hostelries that abounded within the city. Shortly after leaving City Boys', I and no doubt many others often chanced our arms and rapidly became accustomed to pleasantly-spent hours in venues such as The Angel, Magazine, Old Bowling Green, Braziers' Arms, Coventry Arms, Royal Standard, the old Dixie Arms, Cherry Tree, Tower Vaults, Jolly Angler, the gloriously-named Old Nag's Head and Star, The Eclipse and....well, the list goes on and on. Of those mentioned here, I think only three remain standing and open for business.. Lest I may be giving reason for suspicion that I am other than a moderate partaker of the old malt and hops, I hasten to state that such is not the case nor has it ever been, with the excusable exception of a very small number of occasions, many, many years ago. True, I may have been leaning towards that part of the spectrum at one time, but marriage and the threat posed by the advent of the breathalyser put a stop to any such progress.
It is remarkable to relate, but I have absolutely no recollection of City Boys' engagements either at the Cathedral or at De Montfort Hall, although by the very nature of things I must have been in attendance there during my tenure of captivity. I remember well our Armistice Day services though, and found them extremely moving, as I now do our Remembrance Day parades and services. I was a cadet in 1(F) Squadron of the ATC and I envied the School's ACF detachment for their being permitted to attend in uniform. It did not occur to me or any of the small number of ATC cadets to request the same privilege, but I'll bet that such would have been granted. We used to sing O Valiant Hearts, which seems lately to have fallen out of favour, perhaps for fear of offending the sensibilities of those who do not hold the same reverence for our war dead, or our high opinion of our wartime efforts and hard-won victories as do we.. I retain my own copy of the (sacred?) song and with a bit of self-prompting can recite it word for word.. Mention of the ACF reminds me of Smiler Evans, OC the School's unit. He took us for French while we were in 3 or 4 Alpha. Although a pleasant chap his nickname is accurately indicative of his humour he was nobody's fool and was swift to nip any tomfoolery in the bud . His chosen instrument of justice was the slipper, a well-worn plimsoll. On one occasion I had paid insufficient attention to the location of the line drawn in the sand, and had my backside warmed as a result of my insouciance. Another helping hand up the steep learning curve. By the time of my elevation to 5L my level of circumspection had increased enormously. Thank you, Smiler, and all your colleagues (To be continued - Ed)
FROM PETER BATES 1953-58 . (Not to be confused with Peter Bates 1954-?). This is my first contribution to OWT, though I have been reading them for many years-courtesy of Mike Boneham. Mike sat behind me in Form 4A and has lived about 250 meters from me for over 45 years. We often meet on the 56 bus to town. Firstly, thank you to all previous contributers to OWT, to Dennis and his wife and everyone else who has made OWT possible.
Secondly, I've had a brief look at the City Boys' School book . What a brilliant compilation. I found the history fascinating - all the struggles of overcrowding etc; I especially enjoyed the trips down memory lane reading about my years there. I particularly noted the photographs of Alan (Frank ?) Whitelam who, the book said, became School Captain. I have a photograph of Alan taken whilst in my class at Medway Junior School in 1951 in Mr Scotty Thompson's class (2S1). I believe he also went to Evington Valley Infants too, as he lived in Ethel Road.
Having read some of the book I have to accept the school had lots to offer its pupils, and many of the staff worked exceedingly hard for the good of the boys. Sadly for me I did not appreciate it at the time and deeply regret not settling down to working properly. Many of your stories, Dennis,are similar to mine. In spite of that I left with 5 O-Levels, and became apprenticed as a carpenter and joiner. I did work hard at the Technical College, gaining good qualifications in the building trade. My working life really turned round when I successfully applied for teacher training in 1969. I taught in three Leicester Schools until my retirement in 2002. My last post was in a ten-place Special Needs Unit which the LEA closed in 2002 - giving me the chance to retire with enhanced pension. Thank you very much, I accepted.
There are many things I could mention that have alrerady been documented. A few personal things would not have been. Firstly, a special thank you to Mr Lawson, especially in years 2 and 3. I was having a particularly bad time at home and school and Mr Lawson, I felt, treated me fairly and sympathetically. I liked maths, physics and chemistry which obviously helped me produce better work for him - but I felt he almost liked me which was not a feeling I enjoyed much at City Boys'. I must mention the late Ken Witts too who, as a teacher, was always prepared to listen - firm but fair. I did not warm to any of the other staff - they represented Authority with a capital A, and punishment loomed if you stepped out of line (Reading the book has changed my opinion somewhat) One other teacher I would like to mention is the late Mr B Thompson- not for memories of his lessons, but for the years I passed Uppingham Road Methodist Church and saw on their Next Sunday's Preacher board the name Mr B Thompson. Over many years I wondered if this was my former teacher. On reading his obituary I got my answer - a local preacher who worshipped at Mayflower Methodist Church.
Does anyone remember this? I believe it was winter/spring 1958 (my last year). We had a snowfall, and a group of us were snowballing in the quadrangle playground. Mr Bell came out of his outer door and ordered us to clear the snow away. We had shovels of some sort to do this. We piled the snow by an external toilet door (not used) which had a corner brick wall protecting it. The snow in this pile did not melt totally for some 2 or 3 weeks. On one particular afternoon each week, for as long as the snow remained, some of us took snow upstairs into the classroom - for the second period - to play up a certain teacher (I think Mr Thompson) The floor got wet but the first lesson teacher didn't make any comment. In order to keep the snow for the second lesson I put it on top of a cupboard to be removed and thrown around the class room between first and second lesson. Again wet floors but no-one took us to task. Finally the snow disappeared until-------------- Towards the end of the summer term Mr Remington came with his key to open the cupboard and get some books. He was taken aback when he found some damaged books - looking like water damage. I was sitting at my desk right by the cupboard, thinking I for one would be in big and expensive trouble. Mr Remington took the books away and I never heard about them again. I don't know the extent of damage nor if they were usable. I guess it is a bit late to apologise, but we never anticipated any damage. To finish I would like to say well done to Ivor Holyoak for your summary of 1alpha of 1958. I actually went to Medway Junior School; I also think it was KEITH Wilkins and MICHAEL Tupman, but I won't argue! I remember you Ivor - you had blond hair and dark rimmed glasses- am I right?
FROM ROGER LIVERMORE 1964-71 It was good to see some familiar faces at the book launch - Tony Baxter, Bill Mann and Dr Burrows. One quick anecdote - I was a very keen astronomer (went onto study it at St Andrews) and asked Dr Burrows a question. A lot of astronomy can be quite hard to believe, and I'd read that hydrogen was the most common element in the universe. I asked Doc if that was correct. He said that if it was there would be a pretty big explosion when he lit up his pipe.
FROM JILL POVOAS (SCHOOL SECRETARY) During April 1963 a gropu of boys went on a skiing holiday to Hochsolden, Sustria. In charge were Alan Mercer and Lionel Franklin. We had a hilarious time. At one point our passports were witheld by the hotel, as there was a question as to payment for a broken plate-glass window. Two of the group were late leaving the hotel, so we missed the train. Frantic phone calls by one of the staff resulted in the Arlberg express making an unscheduled stop so we could board. We were almost back in Leicester when the bus broke down, and we had to wait for a replacement. Everyone was extremely tired after the long journey - there were no flights in those days. Nor were there any mobile phones, so the waiting parents were very worried about our delayed arrival.