Saturday, 16 July 2016
OLD WYVES' TALES 91
FOR WYVERNIANS 1919-76
EDITED BY DENNIS J DUGGAN, ROCK COTTAGE, BROOK STREET,
WELSHPOOL, MONTGOMERYSHIRE. SY21 7NA
TEL 01938 555574 07399 464482
Please note my new mobile phone number
EDITORIAL I think it was Frank Smith who recently pointed out to the committee that 2017 is a milestone for Wyvernians. He wondered if we should mark it in some way, perhaps with a souvenir mug. But 2018 will also be a milestone, so we are throwing the matter open in the hope we will receive ideas and feedback.
First, we need to decide what we are celebrating! 2017 will be the 20th annual reunion, whereas 2018 will be the 20th anniversary of Wyvernians. So a short survey:
1) Should we celebrate neither of the above, one or both? If just one, which one?
2) A souvenir seems a realistic option, but what form should it take? Frank has suggested a mug, another idea is a concert party. Or invite a celebrity ex-pupil as guest of honour. What about a talent contest? For the tenth anniversary we had special key rings made. Anyone still have theirs??
Please send your ideas and comments to me, and I will forward them to Brian, Frank and John.
OBITUARY Richard Inglesant (1966-72) informs me that Denis Michael Hickling passed away on June 14th 2016. Denis was born on October 18th 1931, and was at CBS from age 11 until 16. He was not a member of Wyvernians, but his name has now been added at Richard's request.
The following from Dennis Biggs 1949-56 Sadly I have to report that our modern languages teacher from the 1950s Mr W T Brushe has passed away at the age of 93 after a short illness. At school I did not have a close relationship with him and it is only in the past few years when I joined Cliff Dunkley and Bob Gregory on their annual visit to his home in Ware, Herts that I got to know him more closely. We used to go to a pub in the countryside near his home and wine and dine him and talk about our years together at the school. I was surprised how sprightly he was and how sharp his memories were of us and our classmates.
Bill came to City Boys in 1952 as the Head of the Modern Languages Dept following the departure of Arthur Nockels. He was an "old-school teacher", strong on discipline and with at times a quick "Irish" temper, so you did not mess about with him. He was known to mete out immediate punishment to anyone who upset him. I recall one lad who had to stand with arms raised holding two heavy books, because he was caught throwing a book, if I recall correctly. He was from Northern Ireland and had studied at Trinity College, Dublin and the Sorbonne in Paris. He was a keen bridge player and in charge of the life saving and swimming events during his time with us. He also took parties of boys to the continent during the late 50s.
When he left City Boys he took up a similar position at Hertford Grammer School where he stayed until retirement. Bill had good memories of City Boys School and spoke of his time in Leicester with deep fondness. His wife Jeannie, whom he met at Infants School, is still at the same Nursing Home in Ware . Bill had two sons, one of whom, John, visited him regularly from his home in Milton Keynes.
FROM STEVE ROWLEY 1961-65 Apparently I was at City Boys (City of Leicester Boys?) from 1961 to 1966, according to Dennis Duggan who must have checked his records. Thank you Dennis. For the most part it is a bit of a blur now but I put that down to old age and too much wine. But because my memory is a bit shaky I'm always amazed when I read an article from an ex-pupil who can clearly state names, dates and quote every little detail. Even going back to my time it's almost 50 years or more. I feel that, back in those days, we were more programmed to do what we were told rather than question or argue. So on that point I want to talk about some of the teaching staff who were around in my time. My opinion only, of course, and as I said maybe the truth has dimmed over the years.
For the most part, looking back on their habits and behaviour, they seemed a bunch of oddballs; not all, but most. I think you can split them into two groups, the scary and weirdo ones and the reasonable guys. I'm not going to name names as I don't want to be sued for libel! I now live in the Philippines, but even so the long arm of the libel lawyer can track me down. I think most of those guys were ex-servicemen and I suppose that explains the disciplinary side of things and the fact that you were always called by your surname, even by other pupils. The way they handed out detentions and lines for hardly any reason at all was well out of order. I remember many times when I was in detention for an hour after school and you were made to write lines for the whole time, and if that wasn't bad enough missing my bus home afterwards. I also remember having the cane on both hands from Mr Bell after being reported by a member of the public who reckoned three of us had been playing at James Bond in his back garden during a cross-country lesson. He was almost right actually, but it was The Man From Uncle we were playing at, not James Bond. It seemed that the chemistry teachers were predominantly the strict ones, whereas the language teachers, along with Mr Hutchinson the woodwork guy and the art teacher whose name I can't remember (Charlie Varley - Ed) were the goodies and you didn't mind going to their classes. As I said, this is only my opinion, but the good ones seemed to be well out-numbered by the other category.
A few memories: The teacher who used to clap his hands together and aim a piece of chalk across the room at you (Ken Witts? - Ed) the one with the badly-stained trousers, the one who used the board duster to knock holes in his desk to get your attention, the guy who used to call you Ducky as he handed out a detention (Basher Brewin - Ed) the one who used to stand close to the radiator on a cold day, the teacher who used to double as a PE teacher and do star jumps in his braces and then collapse gasping for breath whilst he told you to touch all four walls and run back to your place, the one who used to suck little pills and smoke his pipe and teach you French in a thick Yorkshire accent (Bill Sykes - Ed) and many more. No names, no lawsuits. Maybe if you were there the same time as me, you know who I'm talking about. Finally I know that Richard Wakefield writes for and reads OWT, so I'd just like to say 'Thanks Richard for lending me your LP "The Rolling Stones" much appreciated! I sat on the bus home trying to show it off and look flash thinking that all the rest of them on the bus would think I was cool.' (Steve gave me permission to edit this piece, as even though he did not mention names msny of us would have identified the members of staff concerned. Some of Steve's comments have been edited out, thus I have felt able to add some names - Ed)
EDITOR'S NOTES Most submissions come via e-mail, so ideally I can cut-and-paste them straight into OWT. The few sent by post I have re-type into the computer. When e-mailing it would help me tremendously if you could use Times New Roman in 10 point, with no spaces between paragraphs. This will save me a lot of work trying to convert submissions sent in othet formats. Thank you for your attention, and please keep your entries coming in.
FROM ANDY HOWES 1957-60 In response to Dave King's recent submission, Dennis Miller Wilson (b 16.2.20) attended CBS from September 16th 1931 to March 31st 1936. As stated, he died in 1989. I also smiled at Steve Mellor's comments. Steve is my cousin, and if he thought the hall was huge what about the rest of us? Steve stands a few millimetres short ot two metres tall.
FROM NOEL 'POLLY' FLINDERS 1962 - 1967 I remember many of the people mentioned in OWT90, and have similar recollections. Leaving CBS in 1967 I chopped and changed jobs, and eventually joined the Prison Service in 1972 and am now happily retired. I married Mary Towey, who had been a pupil at the convent on Spencefield Lane. Sixth form dances were held there, but I don't think I met Mary until 1978. If anyone else has memories of those Friday dances I would like to hear them.
FROM CHRIS PYRAH 1964-70 It was on one of those odd days, like a Tuesday; we were thundering down Saffron Lane in a smelly old leather-seated bus on our way to the school sports ground at Grace Rd, a few to play cricket, but most to follow more trivial athletic pursuits. As we approached the railway bridge, my attention was caught by a poster on the hoardings to the right; it was for the film Seance On A Wet Afternoon. As I was only 11 or 12 at the time and the film was X-rated, it was many years before I got to watch it; rather good as it turned out, the one in which Richard Attenborough plays the husband of an unbalanced medium. City Boys and the Cinema; now there's an idea for you! Ever since it opened in 1920, the school always found itself housed in hand-me-down buildings; East Bond St, Clarence House and Elbow Lane had all been built for others, e.g. Wyggeston and Newarke. From 1965 though, staff and boys found themselves in a brand-new, purpose-built establishment of their own on Downing Drive. The trouble was, this wasn't some solidly-built edifice of Victorian brick but a shoestring job of glass, concrete, stud partitions and plasterboard, the latter flimsy enough to kick holes in (as we occasionally did.) Quite why we were having a history lesson in the assembly hall I no longer remember - perhaps the builders were in, repairing the form room walls - but there we sat, arranged in a semi-circle facing the master, Mr Anderson. JDA, as he was imaginatively known, was a pale and rather earnest teacher who had a somewhat wobbly voice, a gift to the school mimics : "MMMmmm GENTlemen, the TREaty of WestPHALia, 1648," they warbled. He encouraged us to broaden our experiences by reading widely and even to go to the pictures to see the 1966 version of War and Peace, in order to gain insight into Russian history during the Napoleonic era - much of the subtleties of plot-line and character went right over my head but the battle scenes were magnificent. Mr Anderson's interest in cinema ran to an experiment in the forming of a School Film Society whereby, under his guidance, large cans containing relatively modern films were rented, to be whirred away on an old projector in the hall. A group of budding film afficionados watched such celluloid British classics as The League Of Gentlemen (the 1960 bank job film starring Jack Hawkins and Richard Attenborough, not the later comedy) The Angry Silence, again with the seemingly ever-present Dickie Attenborough, this time as a tragic strike-breaker, then we had an Ealing comedy, The Lavender Hill Mob (or was it The Ladykillers?) The films were shown after school for a modest fee, in fact so modest that it was not enough to cover the cost of the hiring, so after those three performances, someone called cut on the venture, much to society members' disappointment. Leaving the hall, if you turned right past the dining hall, the offices of Ernie Bell, Rubberguts Remo and the school secretary, the staff room, then turned right again by the Art Department and headed towards Bunny Hutchinson's domain of woodwork and metalwork rooms, you would have noticed the corridor walls were decorated with works created by some of the more painterly pupils, and one in particular caught my eye. It was based on a publicity still from The Blue Max, a film starring George Peppard and James Mason (but not Richard Attenborough) about a fighter pilot's obsessive quest for Imperial Germany's highest honour during the First World War; the helmeted and goggled face staring out from between twin Spandau machine guns was a mesmerising image. The 'O' Level syllabus at the time covered the war poets such as Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, but to my schoolboy mind war action was more intriguing than its horrors. The Great War provided the subject of another film, one which featured in a possibly apocryphal story doing the rounds and concerned the mildly eccentric English master, Brian Scotty Scott. Apparently he took a group to see the 1930 anti-war masterpiece All Quiet On The Western Front, and during a rousing scene where waves of French poilus were storming over the top Scotty shot to his feet yelling attack, attack at the top of his husky voice. And finally, just for fun, here's a few masters who made it to the movies: For Whom The Bell Tolls Wal-E True Grit A Mann For All Seasons Lawrence Of Arabia Howard's End Bunny Lake Is Missing Miller's Crossing Enemy At The Gates Gregory's Girl Trouble Brewin' What's Up Doc? Emanuel The Anderson Tapes Scott Of The Antarctic The Sweet Smell Of Success Gouldfinger.
FROM DENNIS BIGGS 1949-56 I was pleased to attend this year's school reunion and would like to thank Dennis Duggan, his wife Stephanie and his band of loyal helpers who make the reunions such a success.This year is now the 60th anniversary of the date when I left school and started my working life and to tell the truth it seems hardly yesterday since then. Thank goodness the Clarence House buildings have been preserved and not redeveloped like the rest of Humberstone Gate and Gallowtree Gate with the demolition of the Bell Hotel, The White Hart Hotel, Lewis's, The Palace Theatre, Floral Hall cinema etc. There are now only a handful of former classmates who attend the reunions so it is a pleasure to meet up and reminisce about the old times and discuss our state of health. It is such a pleasure to look around the buildings and remember being in the classrooms and Great Hall. I too find the building seems a lot smaller than I remember it, but that is due no doubt to the fact we are now so much older. Long may the reunions continue.
Now that Leicester City Football Club is to be congratulated for at long last achieving the title of Premiership Champions, I can also reminisce about the years when I regularly visited Filbert Street and watched my heroes, Sepp Smith, Mal Griffiths, Arthur Rowley, Jack Froggatt etc playing for the Blues. The sound of the Post Horn Gallop as the team took to the field was unforgettable and I must confess that although the team is in my heart I have never had the chance to attend a match since those days, despite good intentions. I had an uncle who was a gate man at Filbert Street and if my father and I could find which gate he was on I could squeeze through the turnstile with my father without paying.! When I was an apprentice at A.A. Jones and Shipman, I got to know Charlie Adam, a former City player who after retirement worked in the Time and Motion office.This was in the days when footballers were paid a pittance.
I was reading through some of the old documents on display at the reunion and was reminded of the rivalry between the four houses in my early years at school and which seemed to diminish under the Headship of Ernie Bell. I was in Bradgate House and recall that we had regular House assembles with the Housemaster Johnie Jeeves and the intense House rivalry at football, cricket and swimming matches. I was not good enough to represent the school at football, I do remember playing regularly in the House matches. Likewise I played House cricket and in my later years captained the 2nd XI cricket team. I have fond memories of the support given by Ron Smith and Danny Kaye at these matches and the nets.
I lived in Humberstone and so went regularly to the Trocadero Cinema, first as an ABC minor on Saturday mornings to see Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, the 3 Stooges etc and getting a lifelong love of the cinema. I used to go after school to see the racy Continental films at the Floral Hall, although I wonder now how I managed to get in for the X rated films. Now I have a massive film collection on VHS and DVD to recall those years.
FROM LAURIE FORD 1962-66 Once again thank you for arranging the 2016 reunion. As ever it was an enjoyable occasion. I took the opportunity on the way to visit the Cathedral. Not to remember founder's day services when I seem to remember being in the choir but to see the tomb of Richard III (a hero of mine) Leicester have done him proud. Something he has repaid by the fantastic performance of the Foxes which began when he was finally laid to rest. Anyway, I digress. I was talking to Gill Povoas reminding her that when an exercise book was full we had to take it to the secretary's office to confirm this before we would be given another one! Budgets were tight even then.
Then I was approached by Phil Selvidge. He advised me to meet some guys over by the stage. To my surprise and for the first time since I have been attending these events he and some of my old class mates had attended (apparently a late decision). A selection of Martins (Reeves, Webster and Paul Dobson) and Brendon Carton.We exchanged contact details and were able to do some catching up and reminiscing. It was only when I got home that I realised (having left in 1966 due to family moving to Northampton) that it was the first time I had seen these guys in 50 years. Perhaps next year some more may emerge from the woodwork. Additionally it was good to have a quick chat with Tony Baxter & John Lawson. So once again thanks to you, your wife, Brian Screaton and any others who help keep the Wyvernians alive for all you do.
FROM DAVE ZANKER 1957-62 After the rewarding task of tracking all the names of those featured in the 1961 photo of 5S (which can be viewed on our Facebook page HERE), it occurred to Mark and I that we might invite the pictured culprits to let us know via the newsletter what happened to them. As a reminder, they are:-
David Linnell, Maurice Belsham, Mark Hayler, Martin Briers, Roger Hood, Chris Brierley, David Leigh, Alan Rudkin, Geoff Woodford, Pete Smithard, David Widdowson, Christopher Mason, Trevor Dixey, Michael Mansfield, Pete Garford, Douglas Dickens, Geoff Matthews, Steve Flowers, Fred Embury, Ian Neill, Phil Kitchen, Jan Mrozek, Pat Brown, Roger Gowland,
Geoff Bodycote, Alan Canham, Dave Zanker
Regrettably there will be no response from Pilot Officer Alan Canham who tragically lost his life in the RAF plane crash at Abingdon on 6th July 1965.
FROM MARK HAYLER 1956-64 Thanks to three "A" levels in 63 I gained my place at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne Dental School in October 64. .I rode for the Universty Cycle Team with mixed success but a spoof letter to Romneys got us included on the reverse of their Kendal Mint Cake packaging. Leaving in '69 with the Anatomy prize, an honours dental degree and a wife, I worked for a year as Junior Houseman at Sheffield Dental Hospital. My hospital career came to an end after a mate who qualified with me was the proud owner of an E Type, whereas my 1100 was just about road legal. It was general practice for me. Three years in Barnsley as the hired help followed, and spotting an advert for a practice in Morecambe for sale I bought it in '74.
Three children, two daughters and a son, where born in the seventies. .With my second wife Ann; we developed the practice into two locations and aware that NHS Dentistry as we knew it was about to change radically we sold the practice in 2001. I was then appointed Lead Clinician for Morecambe Bay Primary Care Trust and I set up Dental Access Centres in Barrow in Furness, Lancaster(temporary) and Morecambe. Reviewing our financial position early in 2003, I dicovered that my salary was the same as my pension and retired fully in the July of that year.
I took up Fell Running in my thirties and have awards for completing more than 21 Ben Nevis Races and 21 Yorkshire Three Peaks Races. My first sport though is still the bike and I rode Lands End to John O' Grotes in 2006 and 2012 plus Morecambe to Bridlington (The Way of the Roses) in 2013. Taking up mountaineering in my fifties I climbed in the Alps : Mont Blanc included, and in Alaska where I named an unclimbed mountain after my wife Ann thus; Pic Ann. Our year is divided between our house in Lancaster, our maison secondaire in Northwestern France and in winter in Benecassim Spain. So thank you City Boys.
FROM LES OSWIN 1935-39 Dave King (1958-65) mentioned Dennis Wilson in OWT90, and I must be one of the few surviving Old Wyvernians who can claim to have listened to this wonderful pianist tinkling the ivories. Yes he was at CBS in the mid thirties, the same time as my elder brother, Jim, who also played the piano. I don't think they were in the same form, but I'm sure Dennis gave a super performance at one of the Christmas concerts, possibly 1936, when Jim and I, with others, put on a small gymnastics display on the stage in the hall.
Brother Jim played the piano well, but nothing like Dennis Wilson, and we often wondered what his future in music would be. After eighty years Dave King has answered that question. I wouldn't be surprised if Dennis is on the 1935 school photo in my possession, but obviously I can't remember what he looked like. Swing music from America was becoming popular, and Dennis' technique reflected this new sound though I'm sure that Charlie Kunz and Carroll Gibbons would have had some influence. Thank you, Dave, for your musical memories.
I am so glad to hear the 2016 reunion was such a success, I wish I could have been there in advance of Leicester City's marvellous achievement. As I type this (May 10th 2016 - Ed) I am wearing a replica player's shirt with OSWIN on the back and the year when I was 91! I first saw them play at Filbert Street in 1936, when I was 13, the year they were promoted from Div 2 to Div 1, with Fred Sharman as Captain and Sandy MacLaren in goal. Happy days!
AND FINALLY... Some random memories. My first year at CBS (1959-60) was spent in the Lee Circle huts. I sat at the back of the room, right in front of the gas fire. So on the few occasions this was lit I was in great discomfort, and during one of Sadie Thompson's RI lessons I actually thought my blazer had caught fire! Assembly was held in the biology lab, and on the first day Wally Wardle introduced us to Adrian Pilgrim, another of the new intake. Adrian had health issues, and we were warned not to get up to any horseplay with him. One day I had a legitimate absence for a visit to the dentist, and as I approached the school realised it was not long before the end of Larry Lawson's maths lesson. In those days there was no love lost between us, so a bona fide excuse to miss his lesson was too good to waste. I loafed about in Clarence Street for a while, then when I reached the classroom peered through the keyhole to make sure the coast was clear. It almost was, and as Mr Lawson went out of one door I entered by the other. There was derision from my classmates as they refused to believe it had been a happy coincidence. At the end of the first term Sadie amused us with a reel-to-reel tape recorder. We used this to record a play about the birth of Jesus, and I had a bit part. My exact line was: 'Perhaps it's the Messiah, come down from heaven'' but one boy accused me of saying the words too soon. However I was gratified when Sadie dismissed the objection and said it sounded more authentic. However my warm feelings towards proved only temporary, as my first report (Sadie was my form-master) proved to be so devastatingly bad it led to serious consequences with my parents and my future at CBS.
In 2002 Stephanie and I were on board the Ocean Majesty, en route to Iceland. I had taken my new Wyvernians tee shirt, and wore it at lunch one day. Lunch was open-sitting, and the elderly gent across the table introduced himself as none other than Brian Thompson. We had a lovely talk during and after the meal. I had no hard feelings, my problems were brought on by myself. A small world indeed.
Dennis J Duggan
July 15th 2016