Friday 2 January 2015

Fw: OWT 85 January 2015


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REUNION 2015   Most of you know that our 2015 reunion will take place at Clarence House (our old school building) on Saturday March 21st 2015.  Official invitations will be sent later this month.  Meanwhile we are looking for someone to give a short talk after lunch, as these always prove popular.  The talk should last between 15 - 20 minutes, and be relevant to the school.  The subject can be serious or humorous.  The PA system will be available, and it might be possible to use PowerPoint or similar if required.  No need to be nervous, you will be talking to a friendly and receptive audience in Clarence House, not the Glasgow Empire!  If you want to give a talk please contact me asap, with brief details of the topic.  There will also be a Q & A session afterwards.
FROM LES OSWIN  1935-39   What a wonderful surprise to read the memories of a Wyvernian from my era - Peter Grudgings (1936-41)  We were at CBS at the same time, though I do not recall Peter.  That is probably because I was in the alpha stream, leaving in December 1939 after a final term as a prefect and captain od De Montfort House.  We are about the same age, and the fact we can still put pen to paper pays tribute to our English grammar lessons at what is now Clarence House.  I don't remember Mr Pedley being described as Sam Scruff  in previous OWT's, but I always called him that but could not recall the reason.  But I do remember so many of the other popular teachers.  Buffers, of course, our form master; Carps; Joss Carter; Bull Smith; Pig Kearsey; Johnny Jeeves; Mr Trump; Pluto ???? - never found out where that nickname came from, but what a disciplinarian!  I always considered The Beak to be an exceptional headmaster.  I am one of three brothers who attended CBS, and my education there played an important part in a successful forty-two year career in the hospital/NHS service, and five years in the Royal Corps of Signals during WW2 and twelve years in the Army Emergency Reserve after the war.  We must have spent those alternate mornings and afternoons together at Wyggy Boys, in the last term of 1939.  I used those 'spare' mornings and afternoons to deliver groceries for a local shop in the streets between Narborough Road and Fosse Road, using a bicycle with a small front wheel and a wicker basket on the front.  I believe I earned 14 shillings per week, and gave ten bob to my mum, as at the time my dad was serving in the Pacific with the Royal Navy.  Thank you for the memories, Peter.

Editor's note - I sent an advance copy of Les's above contribution to Peter, along with the former's contact details.  I know that breached the data protection rules, but I'm glad I did because Les sent a further letter to me:Just finished my apple pie on Guy Fawkes night when the phone rang.  It was Peter Grudgings, and what a wonderful chat we had.  Can you imagine two ninety-year-old veterans reminiscing back to the thirties whilst my neighbours' fireworks could be seen through the windows.  Peter was able to remind me that Pluto's name was of course Mr Lewin.  He was able to name the grocer I delivered for, and there was a family connection with the Joyce family, who ran the shop in 1939   (Stories like this make all our work worthwhile - Ed)
FROM HOWARD TOON  1951-58   A propos the entry from Robert Clifford, in which I was sorry to read of the passing of his elder brother Dick, I was very keen on cycling in those days, being in the habit of saving the money from my several newspaper rounds to buy a pair of alloy pedals one month, and an alloy front wheel another month until I had eventually built myself a very lightweight racing bike.  Johnny Jeeves was never able to accept the Ping! of the racing bicycle bell, insisting that it was not a proper bell because it did not give a Ting-a-ling sound.  I was never able to match the bike owned by Dick Clifford, which was a Claud Butler with peculiar shaped front forks which had a double bend in them causing the wheel spindle to be some 3" further forward than it would otherwise have been.  He informed me that these were dihedral forks, meant to increase the wheelbase of the bike and make it more comfortable to ride on long journeys. Do not ask why I should have been carrying this conversation in my head for the past 60 years - if only I could remember my French and German with equal ease!
FROM PETER GRUDGINGS  1936-41   Here are some comments about staff and pupils from my time at CBS.  I'm sure that not all staff held a teaching certificate, though most had a degree.  Pluto Lewin, who taught French, was excellent.  My French accent, which I learned from him, has often been praised by natives of France.  Alec Fisher was highly regarded, and nicknamed Rosebud.  He would sometimes refer to his naval service in the Dardanelles during 1915.  Joss Carter was reputed to have a dreadful temper.  I recall Bull Smith with affection.  When we left CBS in 1941 he said goodbye to us very warmly, knowing that in two years we would be in the forces.  Mr Jephcott (woodwork)  In 1940 he fulminated about modern youth and dancing.  He said, 'If it comes to the retreat from Mons again (perhaps he was there?) we would be lost.  Dunkirk followed in May and June.  No further comment.  Horace Trump, a marvellous person but no disciplinarian.  Mr Hanson, history, spoke of the French and the 1848 revolution.  However we did not know what he meant by the bourgeoisie. 
In those days it was possible to take an Inter-BA or BSc at 6th form level.  Donald Harmer, my form-mate, became a successful architect and married well.  The marriage was noted in The Times.  Paul Lewin, a 6th former in my time, always wore plus fours.  How or why that was tolerated I don't know.  There were school dinners for the County Boys from Wigston, Anstey and Glenfield - about thirty in all.  The meals were provided by the caretaker and his wife.
Talking to Mr Bufton in the 1950's, he described some members of staff as ardent communists.  No names, no pack drill.  Mr Carpenter, maths, was my bete noir, and I probably his.  He was impatient, intolerant, sarcastic.  He could have made maths more interesting, fibernnacci numbers for example.  During autumn 1940, bombs hit the Freeman Hardy & Willis building on the corner of Rutland Street.  Firehoses snaked all down Humberstone Gate.
FROM MARK NAILS  HAYLER  1956-64   In the summer of 1963 I was informed by Manchester University Medical School they would consider a reapplication for the next year if I improved my A level results, which were abysmal given my preference for racing a bicycle rather than studying.  So back to school I reluctantly returned. However Dr Burrows advised me to try Dentistry. His exact words being "They will take anybody."  I got an unconditional offer from Newcastle Dental School in January  1964  for the following October.  Spent the intervening period discovering that a life as a professional  bike rider was not to be.  Rode for the university cycling team. Came away after five fears with an honours degree.  I retired eleven years ago on an NHS pension after a career in general practice.  Been a great life for a thick lad.  And I'm still riding the bike but not in anger anymore.  Thanks Doc.
FROM DR ARNOLD BURROWS  1957-68   I have no recollection of the conversation with Mark Hayler.  I hope that it was in a situation of flux; I certainly did not intend to be rude to the Dentists!

FROM TONY INGHAM  1953-58   Now, here's a funny thing!  Having been retired for some time I am at last, between jolly intervals amusing the surgeons of North Worcestershire, able to scan the mass of literature, music etc amassed by any good Wyvernian.  And, like many others, I am interested in my ancestors and been compiling a family tree (more like a forest now)  This has been made more difficult because I have not lived in Leicester since 1961.  I opened Andy Marlow's history of CBS, and note that our editor and founder called an inaugural meeting during 1998 at The Harrow, Thurmaston.  No doubt that meeting took place in the lounge, as the bar would not have been suitable.    Now, here's the funny thing.  Decorating that room for many years, and certainly when the meeting was held, are photographs of how the place looked in the 1800's.  One view is of the front, the roof thatched, with three members of the licencee's family standing outside.  Over the door is the usual nameplate and licence, which identifies the licencee as someone with the name BARR... but the last part is obscured.  Many years ago I identified the two women as, almost certainly, my great-grandmother and great-aunt, with a male member of the family surname BARRASS, which matches the nameplate detail so far as can be ascertained.  The conclusion to this mammoth tale is that even in those pioneer days, a member of part of a future pupil's family was there, watching over proceedings for boys to come.  I have not finished reading Andy's book, but no doubt will find other claims to fame as on page 105, where I am there in glorious black and white with old classmates Brookes and Boneham in 1958, and also at the 2002 reunion  (I don't have much recollection of the 1998 meeting at The Harrow.  The venue was chosen because it was within walking distabce of our house in Oakland Avenue - we did not own a car in those days - it had a good car park and the landlord was very helpful.  One thing I do remember my visit to the gents.  I had made myself a name badge, and a fellow at the neighbouring urinal said something like, 'Oh look, it's Paddington Bear.'  - Ed)
FROM DON WRIGHT  1951-58    I am not surprised that Clive Davies still remembers the occasion when he was hit by Bill Brushe. Witnessed by myself and Alan Manship, and maybe by others, it was a single but violent slap, across the face I think, and these days it would have led to further consequences.   My recollection is that it was at the end of the school day, so about 4pm, and that Clive had said he was unable to swim for the school in a competitive match, possibly a match on the same day. However awkward that was for Bill his rea_ction was extreme, to put it mildly.  Despite all that, many of us had a high regard for Bill and rapidly adjusted to his mood swings, some of which were well justified by various members of his classes arriving unprepared for his lessons. He could be savagely hard on individuals whose b_ehaviour  he regarded as unacceptable - for example, one of our sixth form French class members, who shall be nameless, a very tall, gangly guy with massive hands stained a deep yellow through nicotine - was given a real verbal dressing-down before the whole group for his smoking. Those of us who also took German well knew the contrast between the potentially explosive Bill and the serene and gentlemanly John Gimson. He was as effective as Bill but his weapons were persistence, thoroughness and stealth and he rarely if ever raised his voice. Bill taught me to begin to understand the subtle language of the French classical literature of Molière and Co, and Gimson the complexities of German grammar, plus an introduction to classical music for which I owe him a great debt.  I was fortunate to be taught by two such men, who clearly knew their subjects well and enjoyed teaching them. I was equally fortunate to be taught English by the superb George Franey, whose smooth style and erudition I remember so well. These were good days. '  
FROM DENNIS BIGGS  1949-56   Bob Gregory, Cliff Dunkley and I visited Mr. W.T. Bill Brushe in August and had a pub lunch with him. It was very interesting to dredge from his memories some things which we did not know about his time at CBS (1953 t0 1960) as Head of the Modern Languages Dept, following on from Mr. Arthur Nockels. He had studied at Trinity College Dublin, Oriel College Oxford and the Sorbonne. He is now 91 years old and still remarkably well, as can be testified by those who met him at the 2014 School Reunion. He has some difficulty with his mobility now so I don't expect he will be able to attend future reunions. I visited him again at his home in Hertford in October, and he was pleased to be able to get out of the house for our usual pub meal and a few glasses of wine. He told me that he enjoyed looking after the life-saving team during his time at CBS, but in fact he only learned to swim in his late teens (as did I ) taking private lessons from a local police officer. Unfortunately his wife of 67 years has had to move into a Care Home nearby so he is feeling particularly lonely, especially as he is now no longer able to drive due to problems with his eyesight. He remembers with fondness some of the trips overseas which he led during the late 50s, and has a particularly good memory of many of his pupils. He told me that he would not like to be teaching in current times since he was very strict on discipline, and kept order in class by the occasional slap around the head of any recalcitrant pupil. Bob, Cliff and I have a lot of gratitude to him for his enthusiastic and idiosyncratic teaching of French and German, and he set us on the paths to our future careers, where this knowledge was decisive. Let's hope there will be many future occasions for our get-togethers and I am sure that many of his ex-pupils will wish him well.  All the best and thanks for the OWT 84. I am sure that we shall eventually reach 100.

FROM JOHN A LAWSON  1940-46   (John was both a pupil and teacher at CBS.  The dates given are from the former - Ed)  Continued from OWT84...   In some ways the staff room resembled a gentlemen's club at lunchtime.  Bill Sykes and others played shove-halfpenny and Howard, Remmington, Pace and others usually played Bridge at one end of the long marking table. It was not long before Ron Smith set up a second four at the other end,  often with Kay as his partner against myself and Ken Witts. About 10 years later Bill Mann joined in as well as many others. A year after we joined CBS, Ken and myself got married  (I hasten to say not to another) but it was on the same day.  Ken married Agnes, who had a first in Mathematics and was teaching at Collegiate Girls, and my wife was Mary, who was teaching Physics at her old school, Newark Girls. At that time she was only the second lady to obtain a first class honours degree in Physics at Birmingham.   Before we were married I realised her interest in sailing was rather minimal, hence my sailing with Green Wyvern came to an end.  I retained my interest in school cricket and coached the first X1 for several years until David Lawrence arrived. He had been Cricket Captain at Nottingham University and was a first class wicket keeper and opening bat, with an excellent cricket brain, and it seemed best for him to take over the first X1 and I looked after various teams in the lower school, which I did for many years.
Soccer kept me busy on Saturday mornings in the winter. Soon after I joined the staff I found things had changed from the Mr Crammer days, he had not allowed our junior boys to have teams in the local school leagues. We, as in 1952, had 1st, 2nd, & 3rd year league teams. There was no 4th year team, so I started one, which was very popular and proved most successful for many years. About 16 years later I managed a few more and finally finished with the 1st year B team.  It is well known that the County Cricket Club used our ground at Grace Road, and John Arlot in his commentaries on the BBC was not very kind in his remarks about the uneven outfield. Not so well known is the fact that Walter White, our groundsman as well as the county groundsman, did a wonderful job on the ground. Every time the boys had played football he would be out on the field with his spiked roller etc, and before the next time a match was played the field looked like a billiard table again. It was absolutely perfect for football. Walter certainly did his best.  Here is another little-known fact, which may be of interest. In the mid 50's, I think, the director of education told me off. It was at a cricket tea at Grace Road, probably against Education Dept. I happened to be sitting near the Director. I made a remark to som one near by, to the effect that "It is quite obvious the County are trying to get us off our field " The Director stated " that is not true" in no uncertain terms, and made it quite clear I was not to suggest that ever again.   Where do the county play their matchesGRACE ROAD. I rest my case.

In the early 70's Mr.Bell had started a 6th form Squash group on a Wednesday afternoon for their games period, and in a staff meeting asked for help. At college I saw many students going to the Leicester Squash club, but there was no way I could afford to go. So I told him I had never played the game, but would love to try. He suggested I should join him after school next Wednesday for a game. This I did and he proudly produced his special ball, very squashy! Never having played before I found a little book of how to play. It talked about domination of the "T" and reverse angle shots etc. We played a game, it did not last long, and the rallies were short. I won easily in spite of the squashy ball.  I realised later the head did not want long rallies, which happen with a normal ball. Next week, I was master i/c squash and continued to be for several years.  Project Technology:  This was one of the holiday courses I attended at Loughborough University. It enabled me to introduce Electronics to the school. Initially it was a one-year CSE course. and provided they obtained a grade-1 pass this was equivalent to a C grade GCE.  Little money was available, however being a member of Project Technology I had permission to collect electronic scrap from Harwell atomic energy station. At that time whole Labs. were being decommissioned, and I was able to go to their scrap yard and  load the car and roof rack at £2.50 a cwt. Over the years I made 3 or 4 trips. I think all our labs. benefited in some way.  Meters, small components, circuit boards, clamp stands (some brand new) CRO's and even a portable Geiger counter etc.  The boys enjoyed the course, including the practical, and usually obtained a grade-1 result. No other schools in this area were doing this study, but some in the south were.  A few years later, the "A" level Physics course contained an electronics option, & this proved very popular.  It was probably about this time Mr Remmington told me another little unknown fact.  I had long since given up teaching Chemistry and Maths to the lower school to be replaced by 6th form Physics and Maths for Biologists, which was essential for those also taking Physics.  He said for some years now he had found great difficulty in drawing up the timetable.  In fact the only way it seemed to be possible was to fill my TT in first!   I will leave you to imagine my thoughts!

The year we changed to the new school at Evington our son Peter joined as a 1st former. I was against it, but he was very keen, particularly after he and his sister had climbed the ropes in the gym in the old building during the holidays. When I joined as a pupil in the first year, Mr Bufton's oldest son was in the second year and later his youngest son also came. In fact I was already teaching John Lawrence, my head of departments son.  My wife Mary was presented with the job of making a fencing jacket. Peter had joined the school fencing club. She was a keen needle worker but the material was so tough she had sore fingers for several days later and said "never again". Speaking of my wife Mary, perhaps I ought to point out, after doing her teacher training course, her first post was at Wyggeston Girls teaching Physics, before she returned to teach at her old school Newark Girls.  In 1952 when he appointed me, did Mr Pedley know about my about my fiancée? I do not know.  Just one more fact about our school roots. My mother was an old Newark girl (probably 1908-1914) and I think wanted the become a teacher, but she had to leave to work at Faire Brothers and eventually became one of the first comptometer operators in Leicester.

My ramblings are now more or less where I started.  So you will perhaps realise I am a true-blue Wyvernian ( even DeMontfort House man & boy).  We have a large terracotta plaque with a Wyvern on it alongside our front door.  I realise now if I taken notice of my grandfather none of the above would have happened. I have 3 grandsons, so I am very careful what I say.

AND FINALLY...   Many thanks to thosw Wyvernians who were kind enough to send us Christmas cards, that was much appreciated.  We hope you will understand there are too many for us to respond to individually.  The layout of some OWT might look a little strange.  That is because when I cut and paste e-mails, some of them seem to upset the system and sometimes I cannot return to the original format.  As always contributions are needed for the next OWT.  I have two in hand, both from contributors to this issue so they have been held over

Dennis J Duggan  Jnauary 1st 2015  Pupil 1959-64

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