Sunday 17 April 2016

OWT90 - April 2016





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APRIL 2016


REUNION 2016   Thank you to those who took the time to contact me to say how much they enjoyed this year's reunion.  Next year will be the 20th, and your committee are wondering how we can celebrate this land mark.  We seem to have stumbled on a successful formula, which I for one would be reluctant to change.  However, if anyone has any ideas feel free to submit them for consideration. 
A few statistics.  Age UK served 70 lunches, so including those who did not require lunch, and others who turned up on the day, we must have had well over eighty people in attendance.  The first reunion was at The Harrow, Thurmaston, in 1998.  It was a very casual affair for those who joined CBS in 1959, but such was the interest that 'New' Wyvernians was born.  Crucial to this was the availability of e-mail, which makes bulk communication so simple.  And, of course, personal computers make it easy to create databases and spreadsheets, which again simplifies admin.

Photos taken at the Reunion are now on our Facebook page - click/tap HERE to view


FROM RICH WAKEFIELD  1961-68   I would love to be able to share a host of wonderful memories of my time at the school, but to tell the truth my time there was neither distinguished nor particularly happy... I was, I confess, socially unprepared for the experience... I would make a better job of it now!  Let me take you back, though, to a PE lesson... you remember the changing facilities were never overly spacious  Anyway, I changed back into the day clothes, put my PE kit into my bag and finished the day  Back at home my mum unpacked the kit and exclaimed in a voice mixed with horror and amusement "Who's plimsolls are these?. There's a pair of socks in them".... Now, I'm pretty quick on the uptake, so checked my own feet.... they were clearly snuggled into a pair of school socks, so putting two and two together and realising I hadn't stolen the socks and put them into my plimsolls, it dawned on me I had come home with someone else's gym shoes containing his socks  Now I do remember hearing a rather sad voice asking if anyone had seen his socks as he had to cycle home, and it is uncomfortable cycling in standard school shoes and no socks, but I didn't know who it was!  I aimed to take the shoes back once my mum had washed the socks and try to return them to their rightful owner and recover my own sockless plimsolls.   However life has many twist and turns, and next day my grandad came home, not knowing about sock/plimsollgate, and told a story of a pal of his at work who's son had been obliged to cycle home in his hard school shoes, but without socks because some felon had made away with his plimsolls and socks.  And the plimsolls left him didn't fit.  Small world!!!  I met the lad in  question at a reunion at Clarence House a couple of years agoand we talked about the incident, but I prefer not to put a name to the story at the moment....


FROM PAUL HEALEY  1960-65    It was good to read Dave Postles' account of the journey home via Churchgate.  I remember Dave, also I think a member of De Montfort House (as was David Needham, Notts County, Notts Forest and England) I saw David in the news recently as a member of the Forest team that won the European Cup.  Having to catch the 24 bus from Bowling Green Street to the top of Saffron Lane I had forgotten about the walk via Churchgate into town, and the short cut through the market and sometimes through the the deli shop with wooden floors, the smell of coffee and sliced ham (cannot remember the name)  Was it Simpkin & James? - Ed  I spent many a half hour in Brees on Churchgate, hardly big enough to move. I remember trying to buy a copy of Google Eye by Big Pete Deucher - but failed miserably.  Please keep the stories coming; it's great to reminisce occasionally.


FROM STEVE MELLOR   1960-66   The article from Dave Postles, together with Mark Hayler's saga of the stales, as well as our editor's guided tour of inner Leicester, do take me back to some memories of my time doing that trek.  At the bottom of Churchgate (Elbow Lane end) there was a factory which periodically spewed out some malodorous discharge, probably toxic, resulting in a speeding up of the journey to quickly get past the offending area.  Whilst I have no idea what the factory ptoduced it really was a repulsive, gut-wrenching smell and, if my recollection is correct, the smoke/stem had a yellowish tinge to it!

Mention of the clock tower brings memories flooding back of the nearby men's barbers shop - Ron's.  Used by a clique of the more fashionable pupils, therefore excluding myself, Ron used to sell a concoction for holding the most difficult quiff in place - Ron's Pink.  It was a pink-coloured cream, sold in a bottle bearing a black-and-white label bearing an image of Ron and the clock tower.  Much favoured by Michael Kitchen, this cream set like concrete after application, resisting wind and any physical attempts to disturb the styling.and far more effective than greasy alternatives such as Brylcreem.

I had not realised there was a long tradition of trading in stales from Bayliss's, an entrepreneurial sideline from which I also profited - buying en route to Humberstone Gate from Elbow Lane at one shilling per bag and selling the cakes indivially to make half a crown.  That, together with my paper round and an evening job at the local filling station, financed the purchase of my first motor bike.

Another deviation from the direct route between the two schools was the bowling alley in Lee Circle.  This was a particular favourite of mine which, alas, deprived me of any time to attend Latin studies with Grit Whitbread.  I have absolutely no recollection of the assorted entertainments recalled by Dave Postles, though the names are familiar.  Mick Quincy and Colin Desborough as a comic double act stretched things though...  I will not be at the 2016 reunion as still moving round the globe.  A point to consider.  Whan I attended CBS the hall seemed huge, but at one of the reunions it appeared so much smaller.  As the physical dimensions of the building have not altered, is this because I am now of greater size than in my teenage years?


FROM BRIAN SCREATON  1959-65   The factory referred to by Steve was, I think, the Dalmas factory.  They made plasters.  I also remember the noxious fumes, as well as the workers standing outside covered in white fibres.  I too was a patron of Bayliss's, but not being of an entrepreneurial bent (not then anyway) I used to encourage my friends to contribute a few coppers each then we would share a bag of stales.  The bowling alley also brings back memories, though I think I only visited during evenings and weekends.  It was 'the' place to hang out in those days.  Part of it is now a guitar shop, I was there the other day.  The floors above are now flats.  And I also was one of Ron's patrons, though not until I left school.  During my school years I recall going to a short back and sides merchant at the far end of Churchgate, almost opposite St Margaret's church.  I think it was called Ernie's, or something like that.  I remember not having the first idea what he was on about when he once asked me if I 'needed anything for the weekend?' but I was young and naive in those days. 


FROM IAN CRICHTON  1962-69   Random memories of CBS pupils and teachers taken from the old friendsreunited site:  (NB, this is a slightly-edited version of Ian's original text, as some of it is less than tactful to individuals - Ed)

Froggy Freeman - Taught French for a while.

Stanley Ras Berry - I found myself doing English Lit at 'A' level.  We studied the poems of Gerald Manley Hopkins and Jane Austen's novel Emma.  One day Mr Berry was reading out loud from the latter and he suddenly burst out laughing, pointing out the sharpness and wit.  Like my peers I was less than impressed, and said so.  Nor did I get anything out of the Hopkins poems.  Six or seven years later I had become addicted to the works of Jane Austen, and still love Emma.  Years later, talking to a friend, I quoted some lines I knew well and felt close to - they were from Hopkins.  Those lessons with Ras came back, and I realised I owed the man a huge debt.  His affable teaching had planted the seeds of a love and enjoyment of English literature.  I would love to be able to shake his hand and thank him, and I regret not realising that at the time.

Flo Willan - Anyone remember Mr Willan's biology tests?  I can still recall all tne names of human body parts!

The only teacher who scared me.  That said, forty nine years later I can still remember the latin names of most of the elements.

Shrimp O'Grady - Who remembers Shrimp being hung upside down from one of the library windows by one of the teachers?  Or the time the deputy head broke the glass in the library partition when throwing the blackboard duster.

Any members of 5G remember dropping pieces of chalk onto passers-by in Hill Street?  On one occasion the waste paper basket was thrown out.

When we were in 5S (next to 5G) we used to throw chalk at the cats on the roof of The Fountain.  Ernie Bell used to say 'It can't be any of our boys.'.  A piece of chalk hit Ken Witts on the head, but fortunately he could not identify the culprit.

E J W Bell - He hated boys wearing 'sailor boy' trousers.  I think he meant flares.  Always noticed if you were still wearing your footie socks after sports  'They should be black or grey, boy.'

One day members of the sixth form screwed Mr Bell's chair to the stage.

Wally Wardle - The scariest thing that could happen to a first year boy.  I still recount some of his sayings to my kids.

Ian Meadows - Winner of Mastermind 1985

Tony Baxter - The best maths teacher ever.

It all fell into place in the fifth form.

Good old Mr Baxter.  Rescued me from failing maths, I got a place at Aston University.

Mr Remington - He was the one reason I became fascinated with maths.  The only teacher you could not rile.  Suffered with indigestion.

Bob Roberts - Eccentric, untidy, but a brilliant mind.  Only five or six in my maths class, hence a fantastic education.  Well done, Bob.

WAG Pace - Great sense of humour, he made the subject come alive.  He taught me how to read maps, this has stood me in good stead over the years.

G B Newton - Taught German for several years, my time was 1957-64.  Passed away in Harrogate in 2002, suffered from Parkinson's.

Doc Burrows - Left CBS to become Head of Bournville School.  Instilled a love of chemistry in me and in 1976 I finally got a PhD.  Doc insisted on neatness.

Chas Howard - Skipper of the Green Wyvern Yacht Club

Dickie Diack - Brilliant teacher of statistics


FROM DAVE KING  1958-65   In December 2008, there was a piece in OWT by Brian Stevenson in which he recalled our days together in what, back in the 60s, was called a group, which after various name and personnel changes became the Jades. All the members were pupils of City Boys. The longest-lasting line-up was Brian on vocals, Keith Duguid and myself on guitars, Dave Durant on bass and Geoff Maisey on drums. Keith had left City boys by the time he joined us, probably about late 1964, and that line-up lasted until I left sometime in late 1966 partly because of a girlfriend and partly because I developed an interest in classical guitar and folk music. As Brian's 2008 piece says, when Keith joined we were encouraged to raise our game somewhat, getting better equipment and a regular programme of paying (?) gigs.

 I think I probably gained a lot musically from City Boys, although not from formal music lessons - such as they were. I did join Bill Sykes's after-hours violin class (taught by a Mr Hall, I think)  I didn't play the violin for long but I guess that must have been the beginning of my attempts to learn to read music. I was much more interested in the pupil bands that played at school concerts. Does anyone know what happened to the members of the Hill Street Stompers? A lot of time was spent inside and outside school swapping and discussing chords and songs, writing and rewriting gig playlists and so on. I know Brian won't mind if I add to and correct his 2008 piece a little. Brian wrote that he bought his first drum kit from  Alan Shepherd. Actually (and he now agrees with me) Brian bought his first drum kit from another City Boy called John O'Grady (Ogra, I think he was nicknamed) who was emigrating to Australia.

It was Peter Sheppard, not Alan Shepherd who played drums with Dave Langton on guitar and Jim Cryer on vocals. I think Jim also played bass. I think I remember them having a sax player too – can anyone confirm that? What was the name of their group? Gez Taylor, who played piano with an earlier incarnation of the Jades for a time, later joined the Pete Sheppard lot and invested in an electronic organ. I don't remember ever being in the same form as Pete Sheppard, but he lived not far from me and we were in the same scout troop. We were friendly for a while and I recall us listening to records by Chet Atkins and the Shadows in my front room.

One of the best musical instrument shops in Leicester in the sixties was Moore and Stanworth's on Belgrave Road. I remember one time when some of us were in there (probably not buying anything) and one of the guys who ran the shop (probably Phil Stanworth) was talking to us. When he learned we went to City Boys he told us about another old boy, Dennis Wilson, who played the piano and worked at the BBC. I think at the time we thought this Dennis Wilson must be a right square. I can't find any reference on the Wyvernians website to him, but what little is on the web says that Dennis Miller Wilson (1920-1989) was from Leicester and composed the theme music for several television programmes including Fawlty Towers, Rising Damp and Till Death Us Do Part. If he was in fact a City Boy he would have been at the school in the mid 1930s.

I did buy (or rather my parents bought me) my first electric guitar from Moore and Stanworths but it's another Leicester music shop that I associate with City Boys. When weather conditions were too bad for the weekly games lesson we were taken by bus to Grace Road from where we were supposed to walk back into the centre of town. The route brought us in via Welford Road and I would nip into King Street and drink in the sight of the electric guitars in the window of the music shop there. It was called Cox's and it was run by an elderly couple (at least they seemed elderly to me then). It was there that I first saw a Fender Stratocaster in the flesh so to speak.

Back to the Jades and in the late 60s we went our separate ways pursuing our different careers and relationships and so on. Dave Durant ended up in Sussex, Brian in Manchester and myself in Liverpool. Keith stayed in Leicester and Geoff ended up back there after working abroad for some time.  As Brian and I lived not too far away from each other we stayed in touch over the years and occasionally met up, sometimes singing some of our favourite songs from the 50s and 60s. We also managed to stay in touch with Keith and Geoff and met up with them on a couple of occasions but we lost touch with Dave Durant. The idea of us all getting together for a playing reunion was mooted from time to time, but the possibility became more serious after Keith managed to track down the elusive and indispensable Dave Durant.  So in 2012 we had the first of five (so far) reunions trying to relive our youth. Interestingly we have ended up using a rehearsal studio not far from the old Elbow Lane branch of the school. We've enjoyed revising some of our old numbers (and finding out which numbers some of us secretly hated all those years ago) as well as writing some new material.


MYOTUBULAR TRUST   Those present at this year's reunion will know we made a donation to the Myotubular Trust (I think it was £150) as our speaker, Bob Childs, is linked to the charity.  We have received a lovely letter of thanks from the Trust.  More information can be found at


OBITUARIES   Keith Sercombe  1956-61 passed away July 2015.  I was notified by his daughter, who donated the two vouchers used as raffle prizes.

Don Harmer  1936-41 passed away January 22nd 2016.  Brian Screaton sent me a copy of the obit from the Mercury.  Don began his career as an architect, but was called to the Bar in 1979.  In his interesting and varied career he served as an army officer during and after WW2 in Nigeria and India.  Don had lived in Mojacar, Spain since 1992.


1966 VISIT TO RUSSIA   Dave Mason's photographs of this visit can be seen on the Wyvernians facebook page -

Click/tap HERE

Any problems contact Frank via email on

FROM CHRIS (CHARLIE) PYRAH  1964-70   After reading Dave Postle's tour of Leicester (OWT 89) then recalling the 1962 film version of The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner, memories that had lain undisturbed for decades began to bubble to the surface, particularly those concerning that bizarre phenomenon known as the school cross-country run.    In the Clarence House era, the City Boys' teams would have been bussed out to perform in short back 'n sides and footer bags at Rushey Fields, but in 1965 the school had been relocated to Evington, which had the great advantage for cross-country running in that it actually bordered on real countryside.  Those taking part were the pupils who hadn't already been selected, or had managed to avoid selection, for the recognised school sports teams such as football, fencing or whatever; they found themselves instead conscripted into the annual Sports Day mayhem of the X-country race.  At the appointed hour they were confronted with Rubberguts Remington.  Rubberguts, or Remo as he was more commonly known, was the Deputy Head and had something of the look of a mean Robert Ryan.  Sternly brandishing a stopwatch he click-started his time piece as a loud pheep from Jock Gilman's whistle signalled the off, and the hapless chappies set off on a route which took them out across Downing Drive, along Chatteris Avenue, turn right at my classmate Paul Hefford's bungalow; they then took a sharp left up a bridle path that climbed slowly past a couple of arable fields of about five acres on the left and a long, narrow strip of bush and spinney to the right; more of that later.  At the top of this track the straggling band of green, red, yellow and blue-shirted boys turned left down the hill at Stoughton Road, gathering speed down to the dip at Bushby Brook, then veered hard left along seven hundred yards or so of rural footpath that cut back across the fields which, according to season, seemed either crop-laden or quagmired.  Through a gap in a hedge, over a simple plank bridge crossing a tiny stream they ran, through the mud which varied in viscosity from that of a stodgy sSottish porridge to a thin Whistlerian sauce; by the time they reached the stile out of the field all plimsolls would be heavily caked with glutinous Leicestershire clay.  A wild impasto of claggy clods and soily smears miraculously appeared on the pristine pavement of Swinstead Road as the athletes thundered by, and sure enough the local residents were soon complaining to Ernie Bell.  Once more along Chatteris Avenue and the runners returned, at last passing the bike sheds to finish back in the school grounds.  Wrong!  They were then cruelly reminded this was only the half-way stage of the roughly three-mile run and the whole damn course had to be done again.  It was only much, much later when, with scorching lungs and jelly-like legs, they finally faltered over the finishing line.

 In later years a small group of the less sporty and, some would say, less scrupulous, of the cross-country conscripts, having grown a little cynical about the whole event would, upon reaching that spinney by the bridle path, find suitable fallen tree trunks on which to sit down  then relax with a cigarette or two. Silk Cut were the brand in favour at the time.  This break would last as long as it took those runners on their second lap to pass the spinney again, then the smokers would tag on at the end to arrive back at the school pretending to be winded by their exertions - or perhaps it was the cigs that left them short of breath!  Not quite up to the rebelliousness of the 1962 film, but a close-run thing?  Would the boys of the thirties and forties have played similar tricks, or was this idle and literal

straying from the straight and narrow a small sign of the supposed decline in standards glimpsed in the City Of Leicester Boys School by (amongst others)  Mr Orton?  Mr. E S Orton was a man who had come in from the outside world of industry to teach French; and he later rose to the rank of Deputy Head. After  retirement, he penned a report which can still be read today as it survives amongst the memorabilia on display at reunions; it was a wide-ranging criticism that hit subjects from the poor condition of the buildings to what was he saw as the growing laxness of attitudes in the school.  While some were beginning to question the relevance of such out-dated holies as the school song, the Victor Ludorum and even Ernie himsel,f with the new broom of the Sixties, Ben was definitely old school if not Old School.  Although the times they were a-changing, looking back now over fifty years or so, and notwithstanding the niggles of some Wyvernians, it's clear that the mood of the (pre-1976) Downing Drive days were a vital and integral part of City Boys' history.

 A blue-jawed teacher that most Downing Drivers will remember was Brian Scotty Scott; a compact, beefy man with a soft, husky voice, one of the tweed jacket and pullover brigade; he was my first form master, form 1A.  His penchant for occasionally flinging a bible at subversives during his lessons seemed at odds with his essentially kind character, but he was always something of an eccentric; what stuck in my mind were his oft-repeated references to rat pie, a hypothetical dish, I hasten to add.  He taught English and History but he may also have been involved with the school's Army Cadets, for in my mind's eye I can picture him in the scratchy brown battledress of the time.  He was ordained as a priest in 1965 and after leaving what he laughingly referred to as Dr Bell's Academy around 1968, he served variously as curate, chaplain, vicar and rector around Leicestershire and Rutland.  His official leave-taking, according to a memoir written by fellow Old Beghian Sam Ashton, was remembered by a colleague thus:  on his final day he took to the stage in front of the fully assembled school, and what he reiterated was the simple gospel principle that we should treat all,

no matter what their background, or their abilities, as we would expect to be treated ourselves. The boys rose with one accord, they clapped and stamped their feet and cheered.  The school would never be quite the same again.  Overnight, Brian had become something of a folk hero.


FROM ROGER LIVERMORE  1964-71   As ever many thanks  to you, your wife and the team for the reunion.  It brought some unsuspected magic.  I'm still in awe and admiration for the teachers and each year seem to appreciate them more. The education received  at the school still counts every day, and so I value the reunions. It has been excellent to see my science teachers Tony Baxter, Dr Burrows, Dave Lawrence - and I had  some lessons with Bill Mann.   But unfortunately I missed getting to see Alan Eales  who did 6ScIII on maths ( I think), I'd not expected him to be there.  I frequently remember a piece of advice he gave to the scientists prior to going to university.   It was to read novels during the summer, perhaps to get better understanding of characters , was this to balance the abstract and make us more human for the ventures ahead ?  Anyway I did,  amidst the Tolkien (at the time some at University did seem to be living out the book) but also the D H Lawrence, Gide, Kafka, Mann, Hesse, Huxley, Sartre. It worked well and continued with me managing all the Joyce catalogue and Proust ( but not in French).  It also helped bridge the great divide of science and arts.  It seemed to be quite prevalent at school and led to endless discussions - the scientist line being  'without science you artists would be sat on a rock in a cave trying to read a hand-written Shakespeare'.   The healing of the split meant that I took as much an interest in the humanities as the sciences.    What I had not realised was that whilst the school reflected the split of the 'Two Cultures'  there was the influential scientist/writer C P Snow  who recognised the harm the split caused and sought to bring them together.    I now see that C P Snow was born in Leicester, an Alderman Newton boy!
At the end I was approached by Steve Robinson (1964-1970?)- who hardly looked any different after a few decades.  There seem to be quite a few at these reunions who have a pact with the devil or have some other elixir.  What threw me was that we were also at the same junior school - Mellor Street Junior in Belgrave, a board school of 1880 just like Elbow Lane's building.  Seeing Steve threw me as not only was I thinking CBS I was then having to ransack the memory banks for junior school memories.   So am now trying to construct my entire school days. 
I went back to the Andy Marlow book and for the first time noticed that I'm in it!   That is apart from the panorama of 1966.  I tried to keep a low profile at school.  I'm in for 1968 and winning a Sir Jonathan North award.  This was for a collection of astronomical observations and log books.  This was mostly on the visual tracking of artificial satellites.  At the time it was of some significance in refining data on the air density at different altitudes and the not quite spherical shape of the earth.  There was also the look out for Russian spy satellites where I had linked up with the teacher Geoff Perry at Kettering Grammar School who, with his pupils, did the radio tracking.     We did a joint exhibition at the Leicester University Science Fair.  Coincidently I'd come across the award in my garage on getting back, and checked that I could get about £50 for it.  Checked on who Sir Jonathan North was and on the inscription ' Vitai Lampada Tradunt'  (Lucretius, 'They hand on the torch of life').
When down from Edinburgh I stay at my brother's, also ex CBS, at Eaton near Belvoir Castle .  I seems to recall that CBS may have doe summer holiday camps during the war?   This is Graham Livermore ( c1972 -1979) in same class as Gary Lineker, so only Downing Drive. We meet up with another pair of brothers from City Boys  -  Dave and Paul Holmes ( 1977-79?).    
Before the reunion I took a wander round town and  taking in a couple more of the old school sites.  At Elbow Lane I'd been interested in the church next to i t-  All Saints that seemed to peek through the trees to the junior  school, knew it to be medieval and I'd been wanting to check the 10-12 medieval church sites - 5 or 6 old churches have gone.  I also took in The Great Meeting (School) in East Bond Street where our new school was in 1920.  It is part of the Unitarian chapel complex.  Never really looked at it before.   Like the idea of the dissenters - the Unitarians and the influence they had in Leicester, and it continues ( the elected mayor is one)   Their ethos of tolerance, shown in its most open form with a tradition called Universalist Unitarian.  They seem to be open to all spiritual searching and all faiths, and as they say none.  That would seem to represent modern Leicester.
One last bit!  At the reunion  had lunch with Tony Baxter and Rob Lee ( Bob Childs part of the time)  - we were talking about Ian Ross (1964-1971) and were trying to find out where he was .  He seemed to be top of the class  at everything and very nice with it too.  Rob and I thought that we had got snippets, I thought that he was now in California.  We touched on the hippy era of him being in Goa, and I imagined the Big Sur California living. I thought that he was on the internet but am having trouble finding him again.


AND FINALLY...   During the very long hard winter of 1962-63 it was not possible to have the usual weekly games lessons.  As pointed out in one of the above items, once a week we were bussed to Grace Road and walked back into town along Aylestone Road and Welford Road, supervised by Jock Gilman and another master.  I lived on the new Fairfield estate in South Wigston, and used the No 87 bus to travel to and from school.  It terminated on Sturdee Road, Eyres Monsell, opposite the parade of shops called The Exchange, from whence it was an eight-minute amble home.  The bus travelled along Aylestone Road, and it seemed pointless to trudge all the way into town only to return along the same route later on a bus.  There was never a roll call, so I used to make sure I was at the back of the crocodile.  As it passed the bus stop I nipped into the front garden of a nearby house, and when the crocodile was out of sight waited for the bus.  Thus I was home nice and early.  I did this several times, and was never found out.

Dennis J Duggan

April 17th 2016