Tuesday 29 July 2014

Fw: OWT83 July 2014

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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 neilmarston@yahoo.com
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 brscreaton@dsl.pipex.com 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