Wednesday 15 October 2014







TEL 01938 555574   07971 282356





    The 2015 reunion will take place on Saturday March 21st  at Clarence House.  More details later, meanwhile please make a note of the date

FROM FRANK SMITH  1959-66  We are in the process of producing a replacement web site for Wyvernians. It is almost ready to publish, however we have hit a technical problem that maybe one of our members and/or their friends or family can help with.

The problem is this: If you enter a phrase like "city of leicester boys grammar school" into a search engine like Google, the new website does NOT show up at all in the (first 20 pages of the) search results why? What changes need to be made to our website to make it appear near the top of the search results? If anyone can give us a clue, it would be much appreciated! You can send your answer to me at

At the moment the new website can be seen here:- but will take over our official web address ( once the technical issues have been resolved. Oddly the new website has been constructed using Google's own Blogger web building tools yet continues to hide from Google searches!

FROM BRIAN SCREATON  1959-65  I was honoured to be invited to the opening ceremony of the new City of Leicester College on Friday 29th August as a 'special guest', representing Wyvernians. I duly arrived at the new building at the appointed time of 1.15pm, after parking in a reserved space (I could get used to this) and was greeted by the Headteacher Anne Gregory, and the College Secretary Ruth Clewlow. Drinks were served and canapés consumed in the reception area, and I chatted to Tony Baxter, Bill Mann, Dave Lawrence, Fred Hutchinson and Bob Childs. Many other former teachers were present and other guests included representatives of Miller Construction UK, Leicester City Council, school governors, and a company called LMEC (Leicester Miller Education Company Ltd). It is this company which, as a Public Private Partnership, is "delivering the £300m Building Schools for the Future programme in Leicester". By a strange co-incidence the Chairman of this company is Rick Moore, a well known Leicester Magistrate, but also a contemporary and friend of mine in the local estate agency world in the 1970's and 80's, who I had not seen for a long time. Although he's actually an old Wyggestonian, so shouldn't really have been allowed in!  At 2.00pm we were ushered upstairs to the Hall, where the Year 7 choir sang songs, then Anne Gregory opened the proceedings with a short speech, thanking all those involved in the construction of the college, and welcoming the guests. Awards were then presented to sixth form students with outstanding academic achievements. Sir Peter Soulsby was supposed to be present to unveil a plaque but apparently had to cry off for some reason, so the unveiling was done by his deputy, Councillor Vi Dempster.  We were then given guided tours of the new building, which is fantastic – the equipment they have has to be seen to be believed.  I'm no fan of modern architecture, and the outside, especially the front elevation, is not to my taste, but internally the design has been extremely well-thought out. This aspect was led by the College Business Manager Jenny Sterland, who was also so helpful to us in rescuing many old documents and trophies before the demolition men moved in. Both the former City Boys and Spencefield Lane Schools have been completely demolished – the former is now a car park and the latter is part of the playing fields.  After our guided tour we were free to wander around – I  had hoped to grab a burger or a hot dog from one of the several barbecues that had been set up in the grounds, but was beaten to it by 1200 pupils all eager for a free feed!  On the subject of food, the sixth form have their own café on the first floor, whilst the other years use a canteen on the ground floor which has four identical serving counters and they claim to be able to serve about 600 pupils in 40 minutes  My only slight disappointment was that the 'History Wall' that was talked about during the planning of the new school has not materialised, and seems to have been condensed into a collage of photos in the shape of the college's logo. I know that economies had to be made during the construction, so I assume the History Wall fell victim to these.  The school was intending to have an Open Evening after the official ceremony so that everyone could view the new college, but this had to be postponed – as soon as I have the new date I will pass it on to Dennis for circulating, as the college is well worth a visit. In addition Wyvernians will have a stand there.


FROM CLIVE DAVIES  1950-57   I have recently been reading back issues of OWT, having somehow missed the last few newsletters, and as a result I have just purchased a copy of The History of A Grammar School by Andy Marlow. What a good read it is and I would recommend it to everyone  I noticed in OWT 80 a piece by my former classmate Master Clifford about Nobby Clarke hanging a ginger-haired miscreant out of the classroom window three floors up. I too witnessed this memorable event, and can confirm it really did have a sobering effect on the whole class and he always had the best of b_ehaviour from us thereafter.  Methods of punishment varied from teacher to teacher I recall, most of which would be considered as assault today. Basher Brewin with his wooden ruler followed by can't you do it duckie; the blackboard duster or chalk thrown with deadly accuracy by Messrs Bufton and Wardle ; the slipper from Gould or Flash Gordon and of cause the cane from Pedley  or Ding Dong Bell. In my particular case it was a slap across the face from Herr Brushe when I informed him that for some reason I was unable to swim for the school that evening, and I was left with an imprint of his hand on my cheek and a memory that has lasted over sixty years.


FROM JOHN O' GRADY 1959-64   In answer to Robert Clifford (OWT83) who comments on the Green Wyvern Yacht Club.  My elder brother, Peter (1955-60) was markedly different to me.  He took part in as much sport as possible, and in addition joined the Green Wyvern activities on several occasions.  At the time of his involvement the events described by Robert were history.  However I do recall Peter making comments about a legendary event involving a young lady and some home-made swimming attire.  Unfortunately I have no recollection of the lady's identity, and now have no means of checking.


FROM DEREK BOLTON  1953-58   Speaking to old classmate David Sharp the other day he asked me if I remembered the gift that our year (3B) bought for the form teacher at the end of the year (I think it was 1955). The teacher in question was the Rev Holman, who somehow drew the staffroom short straw and had our motley crew as his responsibility for two years on the trot.  Gifts for teachers in those days were unheard of, therefore I think it showed the respect we boys had for Rev Holman who taught us Maths and of course Religious Instruction. At the end of term we had a whip round and raised enough cash to purchase a pocket watch, it so happened that one of the boys, Alan Mecklenburgh had a brother who was an engraver running a shop in Silver Street. We had the watch suitably engraved along the lines To Mr Holman from 3B.  I am sure it read a bit more flowery than that.  Rev Holman left the school that year to go to be senior maths teacher at Harwich grammar school I believe. A year after leaving City Boys I was shopping in Lewis's with my mother, in reality she was doing the shopping I was just tagging along as you do at that age. We bumped into the Rev Holman, who was visiting Leicester and was shopping .with his mother. Exchanging pleasantries and introductions he suddenly took out his pocket watch to show my mother what the boys had bought for him, it was very clear to me that he valued it highly.  The bottle of beer.. somehow I acquired a bit of a reputation amongst my peers, subsequently a bet was made that I couldn't drink a bottle of beer during an RI lesson .I never could resist a challenge, still can't to this day. Money was mentioned so how could I refuse? The bottle of beer purchased for me was a large bottle of stout, I decided the best way to tackle it was to utilise a couple of straws to get the beer out of the bottle and down my throat whilst keeping the bottle in the desk. It took a while but I managed it, in spite of voices all around me drawing attention to the odour of beer that one could clearly smell in the air.  At least when I left school that day I was half a crown better off.


FROM JOHN A LAWSON  1940-46   (John was both a pupil and teacher at CBS.  The dates given are from the former - Ed)    Some thoughts about my time with CBS by John A Lawson sometime known as Larry  I began school at Catherine Street Board School as an infant and continued in the Junior Dept. where I sat my 11+. For some unknown reason I had to take part of it again some weeks later. I was offered a free place at Wiggy Boys. Grandad was greatly in favour of that, having had to leave school at 12 to chop sticks for a living, just as he was beginning to learn. Granny had to leave at 9 years old to go into service. However at this time my best friend was Alan Cherry who had just spent 2 happy years at CBS and I was sure I wanted to join him. I played soccer for Catherine St and although with Dad I supported the Tigers I felt soccer was better than Rugby at WGS.  I had my wish and Mum & Dad had to pay 3 guineas a term for me. There were advantages. CBS was in the middle of town only a one penny tram ride, in fact only half a penny if I got off the tram at St Marks church and ran or walked the rest of the way.  1B was my first form with Miss Reed (I was expecting a man - but the war had started) as I remember only one detention from Mr.Jeaves for turning round in class, followed by 2B, 3B, 4B, & finally 5A and 6S 1.  Monthly Orders (latter became form orders twice a term) in years 2,3 & 4, I was usually top or in the first three. In fact in year 3 I was awarded the Junior Mathematics & Science prize, the book was Makers of Science by Hart and it still holds a place in our bookcase. Also in 3B I was in detention again for not having my gas mask in school. No worry this time, detention was held in the Hall with over half the school!

I enjoyed the football. Beeby, De Montfort house captain & House master Mr. Bufton were very pleased with me when I turned up as a reserve for Senior House matches and always played although only a junior.   Later I gained my colours for football and cricket and in my final year 1946 was 1st X1 cricket captain. In fact I still have the bat, signed by Mr Crammer & given by Sports Ltd as best all-rounder of the year.  In 1945 after Harvest camps of previous years, Mr Howard introduced small groups of boys to the pleasures of Canadian canoeing on the Great Ouse. It was on a small island in the middle of the river at Hemmingford Abbots where I first heard my 5th year school certificate results. This was after camping and canoeing to Bedford and back. Another time we visited Ely and the river Lark and Prickwillow. By this time the war was nearing the end and Cecil persuaded Woods boat yard at Potter Heigham to have two boats, Smuggler and Ladybird ready for sailing. In 1946 I skippered Smuggler (described as a fast boat for an experienced sailor). I had a crew of 4 and my cabin boy was Guy Forcett Butler, my Physics teacher. Cabin boys usually sleep on the floor, but in this case an exception was made and he had a bunk. It was rather nice since he brought an early morning cup of tea to my bunk each day. In 1947 the Green Wyvern sailing group was formed. George Matthews from Newtons and myself were the two youngest skippers. More details are available on the Green Wyvern website.  Academic work was not too good in 6S1, OFTR Mr. Roberts suggested, on my report, it was probably too much cricket.

The war had finished and schoolteachers were in short supply, so I did my bit for the country and accepted a four-year Teacher Training course at University College Leicester. After the first year, I completed my Inter BSc in Pure Maths Applied Maths Physics And Chemistry.  Two years later, having failed my degree, I was called up for national service. The next two years I enjoyed, after putting on a stone in weight during 8 weeks square bashing at RAF Padgate, I was sent to RAF Yatesbury to train as an Air Radio Mechanic.  The course went well and they retained me as an Instructor.  On demob I was able to return to UCL to complete my Teacher Training course, as I still had one year of my grant left to qualify as a schoolteacher.

When it came to teaching practice time in a school, I was amazed and delighted to be offered a term at Loughborough Grammar School, and for the last 3 weeks I was doing a full time table for a member of staff who was ill. Saturday morning school was also part of the timetable. I played my second and last game of rugby in the staff match against the school, but I did not manage to score a try as a flying right-wing on one of the few times I received the ball. Anyway they seemed to think I was a good teacher and I even picked up some private maths coaching - it was nice to have some money in my pocket again. Even 3 years later I was still doing private Maths coaching through the Loughborough connection.   In the last term my tutor recommended me to apply for a post. I could hardly believe it—at CITY BOYS!   Maths teachers were in short supply at this time, however I know there was at least one other applicant and possible others. Mr R R Pedley was now Headmaster. I knew him as he came back from the forces in 1946 as Head of English and had taught me English in general studies periods in 6S1. All I can remember of his lessons was that he brought in copies of the Daily Mirror and was very pleased to introduce us to JANE. This was a cartoon strip and Jane was usually showing all her assets. My only other contact with him was in the School v Staff cricket match. He was well-known as a good batsman and was going well, having got his eye in, looking for his 50. I'd had a good season as slow right arm off-break bowler and he was on 40.  I was bowling and he hit the ball very hard and and it was still rising and would have gone for six or at least a one bounce four, but I caught it (very painful). He did congratulate me on the way to the pavilion at Grace Road.

Six years later we met again. This time in his study which used to be the old staffroom. Mr Crammer retained his large room with three toilets; I understand Mr Pedley knew how bad the small room was for the expanding staff. Full of apprehension we talked and I have no idea what about and then he showed me my letter of application and said this will not do--- and proceeded to show me how to write it.! I was accepted to teach Maths, Physics and Chemistry, and in my first year taught 3B for Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry – a quarter of my timetable with what was always said to be the worst form in the school. I survived. After about 20 years Mr Remmington, who was Deputy Head and had been Head of Mathematics when I was appointed, confessed to me-" you know I did not want you as a member of staff in my department". By then of course I was the teaching Physics and some Electronics.

So I came back to CBS in 1952, and the following also joined at the same time  K Witts ( Maths, Geog)  A Sweet (English)  F Gould (English)  R Smith (Head of History)  I immediately made friends with Ken; we seemed to be the two youngsters although Sweet and Gould could not have been much older. We all settled in well although the latter, I think, had trouble adding up the monthly orders. The rumour was that he had to go to the head's study to be helped. If true I would sympathise, remembering my application letter  (To be continued - Ed)

FROM ALAN PYKETT  1959-66   Just a couple of observations from OWT 83 as our editor tells us he has currently used up all material received. Firstly, if Paul Wheatley (friend of Laurie For ) is an avid racegoer he will know that the Cheltenham race festival always finishes on a Friday (for many years it finished on a Thursday) To my knowledge it has never taken place on a Saturday. Perhaps Laurie would pass this on to Paul and we could welcome him to next year's re-union! Secondly, there were quite a few references to the teaching of English, particularly the Literature part. It has been well-documented by me in the past that English was not my best or favourite subject. This was perhaps somewhat surprising as through junior school I was very good at reading and spelling. As the fifth year and consequent taking of  'O' levels approached I had a dread of being one of only a handful of pupils who failed English Language. This was despite my taking the form prize for 4A the previous year! I was not too concerned about failing English Literature, although I thought the syllabus for that year might give me a fighting chance. For the record the novel was Pride and Prejudice, the play was The Merchant of Venice and the poetry element was The Narrative Art in Verse. My efforts at English during the fifth year did nothing to dispel my fears of poor exam results despite the best teaching efforts of Ras Berry who I believe did have some health issues. The day of course eventually came to sit the English Language exam. The one bright spot in the exam paper was that one of the choices in the essay section was Experiences of being in hospital. As I had spent five days at the children's clinic when I was seven years old having my adenoids removed I had quite a lot of material for that part of the exam! Regarding the Literature exam I thought I might just scrape through with the lowest pass mark. Fast forward to 28 August 1964 when the O'  level results were published I was still feeling very nervous about the Language result. Lo and behold I was amazed to find I had passed English Language with a grade 2, my joint-highest pass mark with History, but not so surprised to find I had failed Literature with a grade 8 (6 being the lowest pass mark). Remarkably I got a better pass mark in English Language than in all the other subjects I preferred such as Maths, General Science, French and German. In conclusion one could say that having my adenoids out at age seven helped me pass my English Language 'O' level nine years later! I hope other material keeps coming in as it would be a shame to lose OWT. I realise there is only so much one can write about, and there may come a time when publication has to cease, but wouldn't it be great to see an OWT 100!

FROM DAVE POSTLES  1960-67   Andrew Tear was one of the kindest of peers.  He drove a white van, though not in the spirit of the later white van man.  He is unduly modest because the Oxbridge entrance exams, like all exams, were a lottery, down to the contingency of the questions and how one felt on the day.

FROM PETER GRUDGINGS  1936-41   From 1941-43 I was in insurance, followed by service in the Royal Navy until November 1946.  I trained as a teacher, and taught in Leicester until 1960 then in Warwickshire and finished as Headmaster of a now-closed village school.  I took early retirement in 1982.  During my time at CBS the Head was R W Crammer, an austere figre known as The Beak.  Career guidance was minimal, and consisted of a brief interview with Mr Crammae.  The most popular teacher was R R Pedley, known as Sam Scruff for his habit of wearing a tie to hold up his trousers and no socks.  He really brought Shakespeare to life, and we read the plays with parts allocated round the class.  He went into the army, and his popularity was renewed when he visited the school whilst on leave.  We had Henry Morgan Wardson as our form master and German teacher.  He was a consciensous objector, and being ignorant boys we gave him a hard time.  He was Professor of German at Cardiff. I wrote to his family when he died. It was the custom to give school leavers a bible (I still have mine) and we tried to obtain the signatures of masters and fellow pupils on the flyleaf.  For the first term of the war there were no air raid shelters at Humberstone Gate, so on alternate weeks we went to Wyggeston Boys from 8.30am to 1pm, and 1pm to 6.30 pm - six days per week!  School on a Saturday afternoon was not popular!  Later brick air raid shelters and trenches were constructed, and some downstairs rooms were reinforced with steel struts.  It was possible (though forbidden!) to do a Tarzan swing on the horizontal struts.  During 1940 and 41 we had some women teachers, including Mrs Eden and Mrs Wynne.  The former shocked us with the Not bloody likely line from Shaw's Pygmalion.

ALAN MERCER  1959-63   After City of Leicester and Beauchamp I worked in Uganda for four years.  On returning I got a short term contract at Wyggeston Boys. Towards the end the Head called me in and put this question to me, "You have seen the inside of three grammar schools in Leicester (I attended Newtons as a boy), what is your impression of Wyggeston?" I said the impression I had before was confirmed. The main effort went into getting pupils into Oxford or Cambridge, while CBS and Newtons spread their efforts more equally. I knew one boy who came out with two 'O' levels and I thought he would have done better at say, Lancaster Boys down the road. I was encouraged by his reply. He had the same impression since staring there that year and was determined to do something about it. There was a story going round that for one boy who only passed RE and Woodwork, the career officer suggested he should become an undertaker, but it is probably just an apocryphal story.  

AND FINALLY...   Alan Pykett says it would be great to reach OWT100, and what a milestone that would be.  However, apart from the balance of John Lawson's contribution we have run out of material again.  It is marvellous we have amassed so many memories, and so much information, about one school.  We have achieved so much over the past sixteen years, and not only with OWT.  This worthy publication depends on you, the readers, to provide contributions.  The ball is in your court!!

Dennis J Duggan  October 15th 2014

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Fw: OWT83 July 2014

TEL 01938 555574   07971 282356  
JULY  2014
FROM BRIAN SCREATON  1959-65   Neil Marston (1966-73) has produced a DVD of his photographs taken on the 1970 cruise to Gibralter, Spain, Athens, Istanbul and Venice.  Anyone wanting a copy please contact Neil on 07927 620348 or e-mail
FROM BRIAN SCREATON  1959-65   We are down to the last four copies of Andy Marlow's book about the history of CBS, and it is unlikely to be reprinted unless and when Andy produces an updated version.  To obtain a copy please e-mail me at or phone 07770 413228.  Cost is £25.99 inc p&p in the UK.  Cheques made payable to Wyvernians.
FROM BRIAN SCREATON 1959-65   I have managed to acquire a copy of Highways & Byways in Leicestershire, by J B Firth.  This is a presentation copy, with the CBS logo embossed on the front cover in gold.  It was presented to Dennys Cope Edwards, of Form IIIA, by Percy H Wykes in 1935.  Dennys Edwards was at City Boys from 1932-37, and lived on Kingsmead Road, Knighton.  The book was purchased for a very modest sum through the good offices of eBay, and will be on display at the 2015 reunion.
FROM BRIAN SCREATON  1959-65  Obituary for Geoffrey Francis Matthews.  Geoffrey Francis Matthews was a pupil at City Boys from 1943 to 1949.  Sadly he passed away on the 18th April, aged 81. Geoff spent his early years in Broughton Astley where his father, Maurice, was a railway clerk on the former Midland Counties Railway which ran from Rugby to Leicester, with a station at Broughton Astley. Geoff commuted to Leicester on this railway to attend City Boys. After he left he did his National Service with the RAF, and then got a job with Evode, which entailed him moving to Stafford. This was where he met Dorothy who was to become his wife, and they moved back to Leicestershire in 1976, settling in my home village of Cosby. Geoff was still working for Evode, who made shoe components, at their factory in Enderby.  Geoff was involved in many aspects of village life, notably the Church, where he sang in the choir, and Toc H.  Every December Toc H toured the village with Father Christmas in a sleigh, hauled until recently by a vintage tractor. Geoff was Father Christmas every year from 1978 until 2012, and I can remember my children climbing onto his sleigh to confide in him the presents they would like for Christmas. The sleigh itself was built by Geoff. He will be sadly missed by his family and the village of Cosby as a whole. His wife, Dorothy, has suffered from dementia for a number of years, and Geoff was her carer. This precluded him from attending our reunions, though I think he may have come to one. He was however always keen to hear about the latest reunion whenever we met in the village.


FROM ROBERT J CLIFFORD  1950-57   Richard F Clifford (1946-52) was my brother.  He passed away last year, so I cannot confirm the following story.  If any members of the Green Wyvern Yacht Club were on the same cruise I would be delighted to know if it is substantially true, and the name of the other actor.  Richard was a member, and sailed the Broads with the Howard brothers for three or four seasons.  Usually this was during the Easter or Whitsuntide holidays.  He was vastly different to me, being very interested in sport of all types.  Her played tennis with Bob Roberts after school, swam and life-saved, played squash, badminton, cricket and football.  His stories of life on the Broads held me spellbound, and this particular one has stuck in my mind.  I hope it is true.  On one cruise they were joined by Shirley Eaton, who would have been around 19 at the time though a seasoned stage performer from the age of 12.  This is the famous Shirley Eaton who was killed by being covered in gold in the James Bond film Goldfinger,  though she appeared in many other films.  They were joined by a young man, an actor, whose name I cannot recall.  Together they sailed with the Green Wyverns for a while, and Richard commented that Shirley made a brief swimsuit from two yellow dusters.  That made a lasting impression on the crew!

FROM RICH WAKEFIELD  1961-68   (The second half of Rich's school memoirs - Ed)  Next we come to the excellent and oft undervalued Mr Stanley Berry.  I had always assumed the S stood for Straw, though many years before he had been wittily christened Ras.  I learned his name the day he stood fumbling with the library door, struggling to unlock it.  Ken Witts strode by in that business-like way of his and boomed, 'Stanley Berry, just get that door opened!'  The reason I put Berry on a pedestal was thus.  He taught a group of five of us for 'A' level English Lit.  I recall two of the group, but won't name them for fear of offending the other two!  The authors we were studying were Jane Austen, who was a somewhat unlikely subject for 16-17-year-old boys, and the poet Gerald Manley Hopkins - also not a likely hero of the average 17-year-old.  During one lesson this good and honest man read a passage from Miss Austen's Emma, roared with laughter and looked seriously non-plussed and troubled when not one of us smiled.  He looked quizzical, and we feared the man might have suffered a stroke.  His voice rose sharply.  He shouted, do you not see the humour in this?  We said we did not, at which point he rose majestically, gathered his belongings and sailed from the room, not to return.
Now that doesn't sond like hero material, but some five years later the lady who was to become my wife was majoring in English Literature at university, and had an essay to do on Jane Austen.  I re-read the book, and still found it dull and pointless.  However, we move on six or seven years and for reasons I cannot recall I read Emma for a third time.  This time all the qualities that Stanley had espoused, all the humour we had missed as seventeen-year-olds came through.  I was enchanted by the book, and have remained a huge admirer of Jane Austen and her writing.
Around thirty years later I was going through a very difficult and distressing period which led to a meltdown, and almost a whole stanza of Hopkins came back to me.  I actually heard Mr Berry's mellifluous tones reciting it, it made a difference to me.  I wrote down what I had heard and went to buy a book of his poems.  I checked the relevant verses and found I was not quite word-perfect - though not far off.  My heart went out to the teacher who had done so much, I later understood, to instill in me a huge love of literature, especially the lines from Mr Hopkins.
FROM LAURIE FORD  1962-66   Firstly thanks to all who organised the 2014 reunion.  It was thoroughly enjoyable and also thanks to Brian Screaton who was kind enough to send me a scan of my entry card.   Í have a  plea from my old school friend Paul Wheatley. Can you pick a Saturday that doesn't clash with the Cheltenham Festival!! I thoroughly enjoyed Tony Baxter's presentation and was glad that 40+ years later I was able to personally thank him for his part in getting me through my Maths 'O' level. See also below.  Noting the photo of the badminton team I wondered if any of them are still playing.  Glad to say I still am.  When I was in the fourth year, in the two terms before I moved, I played for the team.  I seem to remember matches against Gateway, Guthlaxton and Humphrey Perkins.  There may have been more.  After the Humphrey Perkins match I was dragged into the pub.  It was the first time I had been in a pub, having led a sheltered life in the Manse.  I remember praying I wouldn't be caught.  From that team I remember Richard Abell, Dad Warner, Bill Draycott and Oakhill - first name escapes me.  I note in Old Wyves Tales  lots of references to Flo Willan.  I have strong and not too pleasant memories of Flo.  I remember well the tests referred to.  I always thought the arrangement whereby the unlucky ones with the lowest marks had to sit at the front was a bit dodgy, as those at the back with top marks usually stayed there as it was easier to use crib sheets undetected! I also had the unpleasant experience of being belted on the back for the heinous crime of not folding my arms.  Not surprisingly I failed biology (twice) at Northampton ,which was where I moved to two thirds of the way through the fourth year.  A few memories about other teachers:-  Bill Sykes: I think Paul Wheatley summed up some of our lessons with Bill perfectly in a previous OWT.   Wally Wardle: those terrifying words I'm waitingBill Gates:  Bill joined around '64 or 65 and taught English. He was my form master in the 3rd year, and always seemed very fair. He was from Leeds, and was always happy to debate the merits of City against Leeds (who were then a very strong outfit). He also looked after the badminton club, of which I was a team member. Wonder where he is now?  Geoff Elliot:  Another of the Yorkshire mafia.  From Sheffield, taught French and started off rugby at City Boys.  Bunny Hutchinson: let's just say woodwork and I did not get on.  I think I probably split more wood than he had a budget for.  Charlie Varley: inexplicably thought some of my art was quite good.  I think he was probably the only one!  Tony Baxter: taught me maths in the 4th year. Had it not been for him I would never have passed maths 'O' level, as at Northampton Town & County Grammar  where I moved to as my maths teacher was  - let's just say not very good.  Ding Dong Bell: met with him on my last day before moving to Northampton. Obviously had marginal impact on him as he thought I was going to Southampton.  I think my only other contact with Mr Bell was when given the form that allowed me to get a colours tie (for badminton)  Other miscellaneous Elbow Lane memories:  Record Club: spent many a lunchtime in the hall listening to 45's. Some tracks heard again years later can take me back to those lunchtimes. I seem to remember the Record Club being closed down for a while, and when it reopened you needed a pass to be allowed in.  2nd form yard: excellent facility for use of 2B only.  Our own yard.  Also had the advantage of large cupboards where pupils could hide during lessons. Usually the above mentioned Bill Sykes lessons. After-school football: played many a long game after school in the yard.  Always played better there than at Grace Road.  I was obviously a better player on tarmac.  I was never in any danger of getting into a City Boys football team.  There was lunch time handball, with benches as goals.  A surprisingly well-stocked library.  Vestry Street swimming baths, with a sadistic instructor who pushed you into the water whether you were ready or not.  One such belly flopper just about  put me off diving for life.  The crocodile walk from Humberstone Gate to Elbow Lane.  Summing up my time at City Boys it stood me in good stead for what life had to offer. I've not had a stellar career like quite a few. However, it provided me with a good education and  I just wish my son had had as good an education as I did.  

FROM CLIVE DAVIES  1950-57   I was not an academic by any means when I started Grammar School in 1950 and chose City Boys because it was considered to be a sports school and played football rather than rugby like most of the other grammar schools in Leicester. I was sports mad as an eleven year old and did just enough academically to progress through the school without too much conflict with the teaching staff. As a result most of my schooldays memories are of sporting moments on either the football pitch or in the swimming pool where I represented the school throughout my years at CBS. During my time we had a very good football team indeed and after six years together we were difficult to beat. Most of us going on to represent our colleges or universities and some even went on to play professionally. Paul Cobley I think was at Aston Villa, Graham Povoas Peterborough among others, with Bill Whittaker and myself briefly associated with Leicester City. My lifelong friend Eddie Blount says his claim to fame is to have scored against the late great David Frost while up at Cambridge.  We travelled miles to play other grammar schools, particularly when in the sixth form with visits to Kibworth, Coalville, Derby and Nottingham High Pavement and without motorways in those days it took most of Saturday to play away matches. We played in all weathers as it was difficult to contact opponents once they were on their way and in the winter particularly this could be a problem.  On one such wintery day we were playing with the wind and snow behind us when Kev Hall, playing at centre half, turned round and disappeared  into the background as he had about two inches of snow on his back. In the same match we had to carry our winger, Parker I think, off the field and into the boiler room to thaw out .No vests or gloves allowed in those days, not like todays pampered  professional footballers.

Another magic moment was witnessing the same ginger headed miscreant who was hung out of the third floor classroom window by Nobby Clarke trying to hit eight bells out of Arthur Sweet in the back of the net because he took exception to the high tackle the teacher had performed on him in the penalty area during a friendly game at Grace Road. It took two other members of staff plus a couple of sixth formers to drag him off.  We seemed to have either swimming or PE on the timetable every day, and if not there was the after school swimming club at Vestry Street baths or an evening session with the Old Wyvernians at Spence Street baths to attend if necessary. Back stroke and diving were my speciality but had large boots to fill, following as I did ,Johnny Hunt and Brian McNally who both represented the County in those events. However I did manage to win the Junior Victor Ludorum one year (I thought it was 1954 but I see from the book on the school's history by Andy Marlow that Graham Walker won it that year so it must have been 1953 as I was a year ahead of Graham)  Vestry street was either too hot or too cold as I recall, and when the boiler was working you could feel the vibration through the water in your stomach which wasn't very pleasant, especially when retrieving the brick from the bottom of the pool when practising life saving.
I particularly remember  Pete Boat who was an expert at the plunge spending the whole period nose down floating on top of the water at Vestry Street, and only coming into his own on gala day at Spence Street baths (which was longer than Vestry Street) where he held centre stage for ages, holding his breath for ever while drifting almost a full length of the baths.
The other contestants had usually surfaced half way down the pool twenty minutes earlier.  Happy days.
FROM KEITH WRIGHT  1948-54   Richard Thompson's mention of Spiv Beaumont in OWT81 set me thinking.  He had taught English and History to his/our form 1 Alpha in 48/49 and was held in high regard.  He claimed Norman ancestry in view of his surname; obvious perhaps, but I googled Beaumont recently to find that a certain Robert de Beaumont was given the title Earl of Leicester by William the Conqueror. I am not sure whether R Beaumont MA (Oxon) knew that!  I suppose most Leicestrians knew/ know it, but if not join the club!    I conjectured whether Spiv was a Norman Robert, a Plantagenet Richard or even a Take It From Here Ron (Glum).  On eventually turning to page 227 of Andy Marlow's The Story of a Grammar School I found it was Ron(ald),  so problem solved. Only pupils' surnames were used in those distant times, though in Andy Marlow's magnum opus an occasional Christian name can be seen.  I wonder if this has altered in schools in the 21st century, for the  irksome familiarity through overuse of Christian names seems rife in the population at large?  Despite swirling his gown and walking back and forwards whilst teaching, the dramatic effect achieved failed to imbue me with a love of history at the time; probably because he had to teach us social history- the agrarian and industrial revolutions to boot.  Turnip Townshend and 4 crop rotation not being as boy-friendly as kings and battles, though no doubt more fashionable at the time. I have previously railed against educationalists failing to take boys' likely outlooks properly into account in the field of poetry (epic rather than romantic being ,at least initially, more attractive to lads in my view). Maybe the same applies in other areas – of the humanities at least.  Perhaps Mr Gove should have a committee look into this area, in view of the poorer educational performance of boys these days?!   Mr Beaumont spent 4 1/3 years at CBS before moving, on promotion.  A fairly typical length of service for many members of staff, I realised from reading Andy Marlow's book.  So much the better for a dynamic school, though I am sure there needs to be a backbone of time servers,.  Interestingly my wife's old school in leafy N. Wales was criticised by the inspectorate a few years back for its static staff, something which, I suppose can lead to complacency.
Andrew Tear's comment in OWT81 about the 4 year course to "O" level enjoyed by the alpha stream was interesting.  Geared to some extent to make more possible a 3rd year 6th form hot house for Oxbridge entry, in my case it meant I started at Med School on my 18th birthday, probably too early, and, I would suggest, definitely too early for someone with a summer birthdate. 
FROM LES OSWIN  1935-39   I'm pretty certain my interest in football started in the mid-thirties when I was at CBS, and in my last quarter at the school I captained De Montfort House football team against Abbey, Bradgate and Charnwood at Grace Road.  A few years earlier my elder brother Jim had also contributed to De Montfort soccer games, and in the early days of WW2 younger brother Rex, also at CBS, kicked a ball around for De Mont, so we brothers obviously became fans of Leicester City.  They played at Filbert Street, not far from our parents' house.  This year, 2014, is a special year for Leicester City for they are being promoted from the Championship Division to the Premier League and the fans are already celebrating.  These include my son, and one of my grandsons, who are ardent supporters and season ticket holders.  From my early interest in City during the thirties to this year they have been up and down a few times, but are there any Wyvernians who remember when Leicester City gained promotion during the 1936/37 season - perhaps the 2014 reunion attendee, aged 92, might recall the occasion.  Indeed, he may even have been at the match AS WAS I
The date was 1st May 1937 when Leicester City was scheduled to play Tottenham Hotspur at Filbert Street, and if they won then City would be promoted from the second division to the first and join such teams as Arsenal and Leeds United.  I was aged almost 13 years 7 months, and probably paid a shilling to enter the Popular Side.  It is likely that other CBS pupils would have been there, possibly with their dads, but I was on my own as our dad had no interest in soccer, having spent most of his life in the Royal Navy.  Being small, the adults allowed me to get right to the front, leaning on the brick wall where I watched this important match which finished 4-1 in Leicester's favour.  The goals were scored by Jack Bowers (2) James Carroll and Arthur Maw.  To this day I remember that Fred Sharman was captain, and Sandy MacLaren was in goal - other team members were Danny Liddle, Willie Frame, Sep Smith, Dai Jones, Eric Stubbs and Percy Grosvenor.  At the end of the match, when the result was confirmed, my grown-up companions helped me over the wall and we all rushed onto the pitch to congratulate our team.
This was 77 years ago, and that match is one of my most tresured memories.  Perhaps the dads of some younger CBS pupils might have similar memories?
FROM DR MIKE DALY  1963-70   I seem to remember being at Elbow Lane in class 2B RE, or was it a history lesson with Mr Scott, one day in 1964-5. At some point one of my classmates, Kevin Brennan, who sat immediately in front of the teacher's desk, decided to lift the lid of his desk and eat his sandwiches and sip his school milk third. For anyone who remembers Mr Scott this was not only foolish but downright dangerous. As I remember it, although memory plays tricks, Mr Scott, without breaking his sentence, walked around his desk, picked up young Brennan and his desk, marched to the door, pushed it open with his foot, still speaking, and unceremoniously deposited said pupil and his desk outside, closed the door and calmly continued his lesson. What a star. We were all in awe and fear of him for years, until he finally left - I believe to become a vicar!
FROM DENNIS BIGGS  1949-56   Whilst on a recent holiday, I re-read Great Expectations and it brought back memories of this work being introduced to us by George Franey in the first term of 1 Alpha in 1949. It was a complete contrast to the books I had read until then, ranging from Biggles, Jennings, Just William, Just So books etc borrowed from the Humberstone village library and of course a weekly dose of the Rover, Hotspur and Wizard comics. We had also our introduction to Shakespeare with The Merchant of Venice and poetry from the Golden Treasury of Verse. I am sure that Mr Franey was only following the curriculum but now knowing so many works of English literature, I wonder why we were not introduced more gradually to the wealth of English literature with the books of R . Stevenson, Conan Doyle, Walter Scott, Orwell etc before having to read The Cloister and The Hearth or Brother to the Ox, which for me are certainly easily forgettable. My memory is now fading of the other set books which we had in first two years at CBS, but they were not particularly inspiring in my recollection. There is currently a debate about pupils of today not being introduced to American literature such as Hemingway, Steinbeck, Harper Lee etc and I do not recall Mr Franey giving us an insight to the wide range of other reading matter available at that time. My wife informs me that she was reading the Russian classics of Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky and French literature of Victor Hugo, Zola, Balzac, Maupassant during her early school years, whereas these were never mentioned to us at all.
My father was a member of the Red Circle Library in the Haymarket and he introduced me to Edgar Wallace, Conan Doyle, Sapper, Agatha Christie and Sexton Blake books which were not classics but certainly easier and more enjoyable reading. One of our classmates, Baines, seemed to have had a regular supply of Hank Jansen books which were surreptitiously handed around in class.
I wonder what the views of other classmates are on the teaching of English Literature at CBS, and perhaps they may be able to refresh my memory of other books which were in the curriculum at that time.
AND FINALLY...   This edition of OWT has used up all my material, so I hope that you will be able to dredge up some memories of our old school.  This particularly applies if you have not yet made a contribution to OWT.  I look forward to hearing from you.
Dennis J Duggan 1959-64
July 29th 2014 


Thursday 17 April 2014

Fw: OWT82 April 2014





TEL 01938 555574   07971 282356  

APRIL  2014
REUNION 2014   The 17th annual reunion was held at Clarence House (the former school building) on Saturday March 15th 2014.  We are fortunate that Age UK allow us to hire the premises for the day.  This year almost one hundred people attended, including several wives.  The oldest person present was 92 years old!  It was pretty much business as usual, though because the cafeteria was being refurbished we had lunch in two other rooms which Age UK kindly sorted out for us.
The latest batch of the memorabilia rescued from Downing Drive was on display, and proved very popular.  Of particular interest were the sets of index cards, one of these being made out for every boy who entered the school. 

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The pupil index cards (numbering several thousand) were available for inspection

My wife, Stephanie, looked after the raffle and helped Frank on the door.  We had twenty five raffle prizes, and £102 was raised.  Complimentary tea and coffee was available in the hall, along with an honesty bar.
Before lunch I gave a short talk, which was followed by the AGM.  It was a nice surprise(!!) that Brian and I were re-elected as secretary and treasurer!  As we had ten ex-members of staff present (unfortunately Bill Mann felt unwell and left early) Mike Ratcliff arranged a suitable photograph.  He described the experience as akin to herding cats! 

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Ex-staff at the 2014 Reunion - Can you name all of them?

 After lunch, which everyone agreed was excellent, we re-assembled in the hall to hear an amusing presentation by Tony Baxter.  Tony was both a pupil and a teacher at CBS, and his talk was called 'A View From The Other Side of the Desk.
Brian Screaton then gave an account of two ex-pupils who were killed on active service in World War II, and whose names appear on the honours board.  By 4.30pm it was all over, and God willing we can look forward to next year's annual gathering.  My thanks to Stephanie, Brian Screaton, John Offord and Frank Smith for their continued support, without them the reunions would not happen.
AGE UK   The news of the Age UK cafeteria refurbishment came as a last-minute shock to us, and for a while we feared the reunion might not happen.  But thanks to Antony Foster, Centre Manager at Clarence House, and our own John Offord (1958-63) alternative lunch arrangements were put in place and worked very well.  As a gesture of appreciation, Wyvernians made a donation of £50 to Age UK, and the following response was received from Antony:  Thank you for your letter and donation.  It's really appreciated, and we are pleased the reunion was a success.  I apologise for not acknowledging you sooner; the restaurant is finally finished and I can return to my normal day job (Whatever 'normal' means!)  We look forward to seeing you all next year, and hope that members of Wyvernians will visit us between now and the next reunion.
Thank you to John Offord for the kind words in the Leicester Mercury, it was totally unexpected.

Leicester Mercury 26/3/14
FACEBOOK PAGE   Thanks to the good efforts of Frank Smith (1959-66) we now have a very successful facebook page.  The address is you can reach it via the web site.  Simply click on the big blue/white F on the left-hand side of the home page.  You will find a guest logon for those who have not already registered with facebook, though Frank tells me that registration is quite painless!
FROM J ROBERT CLIFFORD  1950-57   (Continuing Robert's school memoirs - Ed)  German: Herr Hantusch and Herr Mollenauer.  The latter was an exchange, or student, teacher.  He was short, thin, blond and wore rimless glasses.  However he did not last long with 3 Alpha, as he was unfamiliar with the English concept of respect earned, rather than respect demanded.  I had German in 1 Alpha and 3 Alpha with Herr Hantusch.  My exercise books had more red ink than blue, and I was so discouraged I considered I was hopeless.  In 4 Alpha we had to choose between German and geography, and it was no contest - WAG Pace won hands down.  Totally unexpected in the wandering course taken by my life, both career and private, the German language played an incredibly important role.  Without further formal schooling in the subject, the resurrected memories from those far-off days have led a number of people in Austria, where I am now happily settled, to ask if I am Dutch.  Not sure how to take that!
Mathematics: Horse remington and OFT Bob Roberts.  The Christmas party we laid out in the staff room on the last day of the 1957 school year was only possible because it coincided with the retirement of Mr & Mrs Grundy, the long-serving caretaker and his wife, so they had left the lodge.  This enabled some of our number to remain in school overnight and access the canteen and its crockery and cutlery.  Only the teachers' nicknames were used on the place cards, and staff would sidle up to a pupil and ask which one of them was Horse.  On hearing it was Mr Remington they asked why.  It was blindingly obvious to us - he had a mane of hair and a centre parting.  I note my conclusions on the aptitudes of people to acquire particular skills.  Some become proficient in one or more languages, and to keep them separate.  Others are able to learn large amounts of dialogue then discard it, like repertory actors.  There are many other illustrations.  I found it easy to visualise three-dimensional products from two-dimensional engineering drawings, and to use pure maths.  Such skills are not universally given.  They are not something to boast about, it is just the nature of things.  It is on that basis that my opinion of Bob Roberts should be viewed, and explains the diametrically opposing views held by others who endured the chaos of his classes.
My greatest regret is that I did not have the grace or generosity to overcome my antipathy to school in time to thank him for the education he gave me in pure maths.  His teaching was so effective that during my first year at college the head of the Maths Faculty tried to poach me from my chosen course.  In later years I recognised its value in problem solving, which has been a large part of my life.  Even today, Bob's last words ring in my ears.  What the merry hell have you been playing at all these years, Clifford?'  This was shouted across the entrance hall as I saw the 'A' level results, finding to my disbelief two distinctions.  Three times per year, in every report, Bob's comment had been Does not seem to have grasped that which he shoud have learned long ago.  It seems the penny had finally dropped!  The chaos in his classes disguised his determination to convey the abstract concepts of his subject to those who, by a quirk of nature, had the ability to absorb them.  He probably recognised those who could not, and endured the disorder caused by their frustration.
Founders Day.  I remember this was introduced by Mr Bell.  To me it seemed a pretentious construct, not in keeping with the CBS ethos.  The school's modest approach led to results which challenged those of brasher establishments.  It did not sit well with the fifth and sixth forms to be marched from school to cathedral in double file, exhorted by Hoppy to keep in step.  After a while I remarked that since we were treated as children we should hold hands, and the idea was quickly taken up.  Hoppy, glancing back, nearly had a heart attack.  The whole thing was manufactured, and the cathedral staff seemed oppressive.  The final straw was the collection, which was conducted with a menacing air.  The phrase shooting fish in a barrel came to mind.
Jazz band  1956/57.  In the sixth form, a number of us decided to form a jazz band.  There was no encouragement from the school, but that did not matter.  We bought our own instruments.  Richard Tansley was on clarinet, Pooch Pearson on trumpet, Midge Midgeley on tea-chest bass.  I can't recall if another Pearson was on trombone or not.  I was on drums, totally miscast.  Enthusiastic, but too shy and no sense of rhythm - enough said!  At the Christmas concert our renditions of St James Infirmary Blues, Cherry Pink & Apple Blossom White, When The Saints Go Marching In, Basin Street Blues called up a storm, with five hundred comrades on their feet cheering.  Our encore of Tiger Rag threatened the structure of the building.  It felt good!  (The Final instalment will appear in OWT83 - Ed)
FROM COLIN MUNRO  1943-46   (I was not sure if I should publish this item or not, as its content is somewhat risque.  Hopefully no offence will be caused - Ed)  Most of your correspondents seem to have gone to university and reached eminence in various professions. I was one of the scruffs from Belgrave, whose parents  could not afford to keep me on in the sixth form, let alone support me through university. Will you allow me to lower the tone of OWT with an anecdote?   One day in 1943 I was in the bogs in the back yard when in came two six ft-tall prefects. As they enjoyed the flow one said to the other, What's the difference between a British soldier having a pee and Yank from Texas?  The other played the stooge, I don't know....etc.  Well, when the Tommy finishes he gives it a shake, the Texan taps it with his boot. They both found that hilarious.  For my part I couldn't see anything funny at all. I envisioned the Texan standing on one leg and trying to reach with the other.
Eight years later I was in the Royal Air Force, stationed in Gibraltar.  A friend and I had taken the ferry to Algerciras, and were hitch hiking back along the road to La Linea when we heard a horrendous noise from an adjacent field. Looking over the fence we saw a jack donkey in an advanced state of sexual excitement, his elongated member almost touching the ground. In that moment I saw the point of the joke.


FROM GRAHAME HURST  1955-60    I have been meaning to contribute for many years, and at last I have got round to it. By and large I enjoy reading Old Wyves Tales, but I do get very hot under the collar when Basher Brewin is denigrated in these pages. From memory Basher taught me maths in every year from 1A to 5L with the exception of 3A, when Larry Lawson took over. In my first term I was 25th out of 28, but from 2nd year on I was never out of the first three. I remember well in my first year myself, Colin Smith and Geoff Wright, who came from Woodstock Junior School on Stocking Farm, were christened the The Woodstockians  by Basher because we had not done fra_ctions or decimals before. We would be made to stand at the front of the class, and Basher would tap us on the head with his thermometer case until we got the answer right. I think that experience made us all determined to do better. I managed to get an 80% GCE pass, so he couldn't have been all that bad. I always found Basher to be a good teacher, and I think if people have nothing good to say about any of the masters who taught them they should keep quiet. I have nothing but good memories of City Boys, and I thoroughly enjoyed my school days and  am not looking back through rose-tinted specs. I have nothing but respect for the masters who taught me, and  believe I owe them all a great debt of gratitude. Unlike our esteemed Editor I did enjoy games, playing in the school soccer teams in years 1 through 5 with Dave Atton, John Blaikie, Graham Walne, John Whalley, Geoff Wright, Alan? Watson, Rocky O'Grady.  Sorry, I apologise to those I have missed. I also played cricket, captaining the Junior XI and playing for the second XI in year 5. After 'O' levels I left City Boys and became articled with Hopps & Bankart in Friar Lane, where I met John Rudge, Albert Witherington and Denis Kilburn,  all Old Wyvernians. I qualified as a chartered accountant in 1966. In 1983 I left Leicester for Kidderminster, then Gosport in 1986, Sheffield in 1997 and finally settling in Shropshire in 1999. Now retired, I keep busy doing volunteer work, Scottish Country Dancing and umpiring cricket on the Shropshire Premier League panel.
FROM PAUL JOLLEY  1961-67   I was caught up in the alpha stream during the same years as Andrew Tear.  I think I was promoted beyond my abilities, and it did me few favours. Because my birthday was in late July I was always going to be among the youngest in any form, and I ended up taking my O levels at age 14 and my A levels at 16.  It became obvious fairly quickly that I was not Oxbridge material, and I botched my 'A' levels fairly badly so I stayed on in third year 6th to retake them.  I was taking physics, chemistry and biology, and this led to a bizarre and rather comic situation.  No one else was doing biology in the third year 6th, so I became a form all by myself.
For that year I was 6Sc3 (Bi ) I was absorbed into the second year sixth for chemistry and physics, but Bob Dennis and Flo Willum had 6Sc3 (Bio) on their timetable so I had to be taught.  Needless to say a number of lessons ended up with the master coming in, making sure I was occupied for 40 minutes, then going back to the staff room to put their feet up and have a fag!  It all worked out pretty well, as I scraped through my 'A' levels second time and got a place at Birmingham University to study dentistry. I spent 36 years looking after the dental condition of the good citizens of Leicester before retiring 6 years ago.  I do sometimes wonder if I was unique in the history of the school, being a one boy class!

FROM ROGER PEBERDY  1950-57    I very much enjoy reading the newsletters -and was amazed to see myself mentioned in a recent article (by J Clifford, who I remember well)  As I seldom travel anywhere these days, and have not visited Leicester since my mother, my last link with the city of my youth! - died in 1993,  I shall not be attending the reunion, but my good wishes go to all who do and all connected with its organization, especially any of my 1950 to 1957 contemporaries  (I did 3 years in the sixth, as Birmingham Medical School wouldn't let me in when I got my A levels at 16, insisting that I must be nearly 18 to be allowed on the course!)  As I had guaranteed my place I spent a happy year enjoying myself rather, messing around and became genuine friends with Flo Willan....   But I did have to do the 'A' level exams a second time in order to be able to get a grant from the LEA, which was a bit of a bind!
FROM RICH WAKEFIELD  1961-68   So there I was, sitting moodily in my armchair as the rain pounded on the windows behind me.  I had planned a walk in the woods, but the inclement weather put the kybosh on that.  So I fell to musing, which is, I believe, a very respectable pastime for a fellow of a certain age.  My mind sought sunnier times, and strangely it alighted on the glorious summer of, I believe, 1966, the third term we had been ensconced at Downing Drive.  The sky was a clear blue, and the sun shone energetically on the pristine paintwork - the very same paintwork which I suspect still graces the building until it finally goes.  I was feeling quite relaxed, even though we had the delights of a French lesson with our own, our very own, Mr E S Orton, to look forward to first period after lunch.  We were relaxed because we were about to wander round to the classroom and copy the dictation which Mr Orton had written up for the morning shift, prior to cunningly revolving the board so it was hidden.
We had latched onto this idea a couple of weeks before, and made a practice of copying the dictation which we reproduced with a few errors both accidental and deliberate.  We reasoned, sensibly I think, that Mr Orton might have been a tad suspicious had we all scored 100%.  So having made usable copies we ambled smugly back to our form room and lounged around for the rest of the break.
The bell rang, and we trooped to the form room.  You know the one, upstairs in the science block with a commanding view of the gym.  Oh, the sights you could see from that window.  Groups of human flotsam, some not natural athletes nor blessed with simian qualities, were being mercilessly chivvied up ropes for no apparent reason - once at the top, the only thing to do was come down again.  We felt smug because it was not us being chivvied, though we knew that tomorrow it would be our turn.  We had considered various ways of breaking a limb in such a way that we could not climb a rope, but could still play football.  Alas we never found such an injury.
From that same window on a good day one could witness the stately, though businesslike, stride of EJW himself, his gown billowing behind like a latterday superhero intent on stamping out all crime and malpractice.  Or as we saw it, stopping our fun.  His inexorable march along the covered way was indeed impressive, spreading fear into the hearts of those who had been less than angelic recently.  Let's face it, that was 95% of the pupils (the other 5% being absent for one reason or another)
But we were discussing Franch dictation.  You might recall we had already copied it, and were confident of obtaining our standard mark of 8/10.  Our taskmaster announced the dictation, our already-completed version was ready, but when Mr Orton began to read the passage we realised that something was wrong.  Knots formed in stomachs, you could feel the communal knots in the room.  What we were hearing was very different to what we had written.  We tried frantically to catch up, but the man was a vertitable Sherlock Holmes of the teaching trade.  The task was beyond us, the bounder had seen through our ruse and outflanked us by giving a different dictation.  I can't remember the marks, but it was somewhat less than 80%!
FROM CHRIS PYRAH  1964-69   Size mattered.  Or at least, so it seemed to eleven-year-old fags,  above whom all masters appeared to tower. However, as time took them towards senior school, relative heights changed and some pupils found themselves growing level with - or even taller than - a number of the teachers.  Here are a couple of recollections relating to two of City Boys' shorter masters, both of who, as it happens, taught music.
 Bill Sykes was a school treasure, the Mr Chips of the City of Leicester Boys School, a man who had not only been born back in Victoria's reign but was still teaching in the year of the Beatles' A Hard Day's Night.  He had famously written and composed the words to another well-known song, one which we belted out each morning in pride and fitting praise.  Whether it was down to his advanced years or not, to the eyes of the boys and most masters Mr Sykes seemed rather short.  With that low, querulous voice that put me in mind of Albert Steptoe, his stop yer messin' was growled out with almost enough menace to cut the noise that was beginning to build up from the back of the room.  Each first-former had to endure audition by Bill at his old upright piano in his attempt to winkle out any likely recruits for the school choir.  Being rather shy, as well as short, I had no wish to join in any such public display of singing, so I performed my test piece in a cracked, tuneless manner.  He saw through my ploy.  You've got quite a nice voice, he observed, if only you'd stop messin' .  Not nice enough, thankfully; I never was called up for choir duty.
 Possibly the shortest of all the short masters that I came across, Dick Cleverley, appeared a few years later than Bill Sykes, who had decided to call it a day rather than make the move from the Victorian building on Humberstone Gate to the Wilson-era superficiality of Downing Drive.  Dick had introduced some wishful experiment that he called Music Appreciation, a once-a-week  period in which he attempted to interest uninformed youth in the somewhat arcane delights of classical music; to put things in context, the year was 1968 and although Flower Power was definitely wilting, the Vietnam War raged on.  One of the more progressive pupils in my form at the time was Kev Gorringe, who decided to stir Music Appreciation up a bit by bringing in Disraeli Gears, Cream's latest L.P, to be played on the hallowed school gramophone.  Perhaps due to a misplaced sense of fair play and tolerance, Mr Cleverley agreed to play one side of the album; half an hour or so later he complained  it all sounds a bit the same to me,  evidently unmoved by the glories of Sunshine Of Your Love and Tales Of Bold Ulysses.  Curiously enough, many of the boys seemed to agree with him, but then again, Clapton, Baker and Bruce were surely better appreciated outside the classroom.  The following week, Dick was back to his beloved Bach,  Beethoven and the like and the wild woods of rock were never again visited during class time.
FROM ALAN PYKETT  1959-66   As always, I enjoyed reading the last OWT.  I took particular delight in the reminiscences of Trevor Dixey and Dennis, our editor, about games, PE and swimming.  I have mentioned some of these points before, but I think they are worth repeating.  Regarding games, although never good enough to play for a school team I enjoyed the house matches played by the also-rans  (Abbey, Bradgate, Charnwood, De Montfort)  I got very excited when I scored a goal, which wasn't very often!  Whether at Grace Road or Rushey Fields, I believe there were three pitches.  One was used  by the team for the particular year and reserves, the other two for the games between houses.
As with football, I was never good enough to play for the school cricket team, but can't recall much cricket between houses..  It was not possible to play a full game in the time allotted, especially with limited-overs cricket being in its infancy.
I could tolerate cross-country, but was always disappointed when it replaced football.  Usually that was because of bad weather.  I always managed to complete the course without cheating!  I believe the distance increased as we moved up through the years: short for first and second years, medium for third and fourth years, long for fifth and sixth years.  Moving on to PE, I generally enjoyed it apart from the detested game of Pirates.  If Dennis had been at the school in 1965/66 his ruse of being out early in the proceedings would not have worked.  Mr Read was the master that year, and during one game I decided not to move so was caught early on.  This was noted, and Mr Read sent me outside to run round the perimeter of the playing field for the remainder of the lesson.  To me that was preferable to another thirty minutes of Pirates.  Of course that was the first year at Downing Drive, and I believe that for the first time in the school's history the playing fields were adjacent to the main building.
Finally, swimming.  I dreaded swimming lessons - but were they lessons?  I can't remember being taught to swim whilst at the school.  When we arrived, aged 11, you could either swim or you couldn't.  Like our editor, I spent the 'lesson' splashing about in the shallow end at Vestry Street, and neither Jock Gilman, nor the resident swimming coach, seemed to take any notice.  I think that by the fifth year I could just about manage half a width.  That is possibly the only negative aspect of my time at CBS.  I really enjoyed my education there, and feel very proud to have been a pupil.  So much so that, picking up on Brian Screaton's sttendance at the funeral of Mike Hutchings, I have also requested To Be A Pilgrim and I Vow To Thee My Country, another school favourite, be sung at my funeral.  But I hope there will be many more reunions before my final event!
FROM BRIAN COPE  1954-62   Living now in Cumbria, I noted recently that schools in West Cumbria were performing so poorly they were to be closed or replaced by new academies. Apparently the proportion of pupils achieving 5 A*-C GCSE grades (incl Maths and English) in Cumbria as a whole is approx. 56%, and these schools were well below this standard.  Well, I could not resist looking at 'O' Level exam results at  CLBS in the 'golden years' and here are the results using the same criteria:- 1957 50% of intake achieved at least 5 O Levels incl Maths and English,  1958 52%,  1959 48%.
If we assume we were an average Grammar School intake, and therefore among the top 20-25% in the city, then we may say that only about 12-14% of that school year reached the standard now regularly achieved by 56% of Cumbrians!!   I should also add that some of the pupils who failed English or Maths first time went on to Oxbridge Firsts, PhDs etc, so it's a  fairly odd set of criteria one might think. If exams are now 'easier,' and statistics  massaged, then one might think this a rational response to the setting of impossible targets.  Of course it may well have been that education in Leicester then was in crisis...but it didn't feel like it.
AND FINALLY...   A very interesting submission from Grahame Hurst in this issue, it certainly made me think.  If we have nothing good to say about a teacher, should we keep quiet?  Over the years OWT has printed items giving both points of view. For every teacher criticised, there is another who receives the highest praise.  Clive Davies (1950-57) has just sent a piece which will appear in OWT83, and he makes the comment that what some of us experienced at the hands of some teachers would be considered as assault today!  That is not to say it did us any long-term harm, in fact it probably did many of us good!  Times change.  Certainly the respect for authority instilled at CBS - and by my parents -remains with me today.
Dennis J Duggan
April 16th 2014