Saturday 22 October 2016

OWT 92 October 2016





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EDITORIAL   The20th annual reunion will take place on Saturday March 18th 2017 at Clarence House.  Invitations will go out sfter Christmas, meanwhile you might like to make a note of the date.  We hope there will be a good turnout for this special occasion.
FROM MICHAEL CAPENERHURST 1947-51    G'day from NZ land,  Pleased to receive the last OWT and congratulations and thanks for the effort behind it. Sadly I do not seem to recognise many from my era - whether through apathy or the passing of time . I guess dropping off the perch does become an occupational hazard as the years stretch out, and I am 81 now.With regard to the suggestions for the celebrating of the 20ths , a souvenir would be more accessible to those of us  who are unable to attend functions in Leicester, but if that is the choice then I feel you would need to pre-sell the item to prevent yourselves having a stock of un-disposed of material cluttering your spare room. Similarly the ease and cost of transportation would also need to be considered. I happened to look through an old (old) photo album recently and found a few snap shots of the Green Wyverns on the Norfolk Broads , plus a snap of four school mates taken at the Festival of Britain in 1951 .( This was the year I left the City Boys and started to work at Briggs Tannery). Meaning nothing to my family, the odds are that they will be disposed off in due passing of time. Are they of any interest for the collection? If so then I will post them to you. Some can be identified , the majority not so.The shot of the four at the Festival of Britain is a casual shot but it was an organised school visit. It does appear that formal school attire was not called for since they are all in"civvies with not a Wyvern in sight. As a matter of interest they are all wearing ties, which was something that had caught my eye looking through this particular album - we wore ties in those days for just about every outing, formal or otherwise. Two years National Service put me off ties and hats for life. I've never worn a hat since other than when tramping, and it is years since a tie hung around my neck, but then again - I wear shorts the whole year round now. But I digress , the four in this shot are Birdie - Brian Burdett, Nelly - Pete Newton, Sandie - who I can't recall formally, and Robbo - Brian Robson.  The Green Wyvern shots include Duzzer Dewsbury and a G.Halliday - barely seen behind a layer of shaving soap. Those sailing holidays were an enjoyable part of school life and I was fortunate to be able to attend a number of them. They were held during school holidays and, I think, covered Easter, Whit, and Summer. Oulten Broad was one area of call - a massive stretch of water as I recalled, until I revisited on one of my trips back to the UK. Either my memory played tricks , or it has shrunk considerably in the meantime. However, it did bring back pleasant memories. I particularly remember one Easter trip diving off the boat whilst we were sailing,  the water was freezing and I swam/flew on top of the water to the nearest vessel before hypothermia set in. The sun was warm , the water not.  .I can't say that anything really stands out for my school years , I was an average student - I think I did take a prize once but can't remember what for  - a book as I recall bu , again, I can't remember what it was. I enjoyed Basher Brewin as a teacher , had no problems with Flo Willan , suffered in French with Johnny Jeeves and his method of subtracting marks for wrong declensions - I never could get the things right,  dropped German like a lead shot, seemed to do well in history with Chas Howard , passed the mock school cert without problems and flunked the actual (never did go sailing again)  Geography with Pace and Wally Wardle?, English language & literature I enjoyed although had always read the chosen book very early in the piece and then got bored with having to go through it again bit by bit. Bob Roberts for maths was a pain. He could not control a class, and whilst I was there to learn others were rowdy , disrupted the class and made his teaching methods even more difficult.  I dropped art in favour of woodwork. Flunked the "O" level exam in woodwork - can't ever recall being given theory in the subject, still have problems in obtaining a square cut in a piece of timber (thank heaven for drop saws)  and now have painting as my major hobby. I came away with six out of the eight subjects that I sat in the first GCE "O" levels (history & woodwork the no-goers, French & maths, English lang & lit, Geography & General Science passed) I later was to find that General Science was virtually useless, covering everything in general and nothing in particular. Made 'A' level chemistry at night school a harder slog than it should have been.  I was pleased to leave school and start work - but then spent the next thirteen years going to night school - even when doing National Service in the RAF. I took deferment  to the age of twenty, got married and was called up three months and two days after that event. Demobbed in 1957 in time for our first daughter to be born in 1958 - and continued studying. Came to New Zealand in Feb 1965 , wife and three daughters,  and have continued off and on with study . I think my last bit of studying was in19'92 - "Advanced dyeing" (93.5 % pass mark) and eight years before I officially retired in 2000. Now sixteen years on I still continue to work three days a week at the tannery and enjoy it, being there because I want to and not because I have to - makes a big difference.
Incidentally, if you would like to see my art work Google  OK so the photo is nine years old - but I haven't changed greatly - a little more grey and I do wear my glasses all the time now, but I enjoy life. 
FROM GEOFF WOODFORD  1957-64   Re Dave Zanker's listing of 5S in 1961 – must be fifty years since I saw any of my old classmates, and memories have faded somewhat! Our class was seated  in alphabetical order, so I was next to Dave Z in the back corner. On sports afternoons did cross country with Tony Rudkin as we preferred ambling along discussing radio projects to football, and no one was too concerned about times. We used to ride out  to the playing fields near Thurmaston on our bikes, well behind Mark Hayler as we could not keep up with him. He usually "forgot" to turn off and went cycling for the afternoon. I remember Dougie Dickens developing a strong interest in chemistry, not unrelated to the new lab technician (Cathy?)  After 3 years in the 6th form  I took Natural Sciences at Cambridge, then joined Courtaulds, working in Derby on synthetic fibres.  Emigrated to South Africa in 1970, and  after a year of minerals processing with JCI spent 3thirty years with AECI in the mining explosives industry.  At one stage ran Blasting Explosives Department, making fifty tons of nitroglycerine a day and managing the two thousand-odd people who converted it into sticks of dynamite etc  - a far cry from my schoolday experiments on permanganate/magnesium bangers. Later worked in, then ran, our projects group. The business downsized, and  I took an early retirement package in 2001. The kids had grown up, and Johannesburg had become unattractive to live in, so we moved to France with our 3 dogs, initially to get around the UK quarantine requirements, then decided to settle here in Morbihan in Brittany.  Johnny Jeeves' and Bill Brushe's French classes finally came in handy! Between  home improvements, walking, fighting nature in our ½  hectare garden, visiting family, sampling the French wines etc the time rushes by!
FROM KEITH SMITH  1958-65   I have seen mention twice now of Dennis Miller Wilson being an old boy of the School and how he came to be Director of Music at the BBC. My mother informed me some time ago that her father (my grandfather) George Herbert Allen (1890 - 1952) taught Dennis to play the piano and he was very proud to have taught him. My grandfather went to the Victoria College of Music, worked at Wolsey on Abbey Park Road after service in World War 1 and had a music room at his home in Harrison Road, where he taught piano, organ and violin. He was a Methodist lay preacher and church organist at Catherine Street and Harrison Road Methodist Church. I assume that Dennis would have lived close by.
FROM CLIVE DAVIES  1950-57   It was with sadness that I read in OWT91 that my former adversary, Mr W T Brushe, had died at the grand old old age of 93.  Despite the fact, oft recalled in OWT, that I was the recipient of his temper when pulling out of an inter-schools swimming gala at the last minute, I did hold him in some esteem.  He must surely have been the last of the teachers who taught me at CBS in the fifties, and I am sorry I missed him at a reunion he attended a couple of years ago.  Teaching in those days was a very different proposition from today, and I held no animosity towards him.  Our confrontation was just one element of school discipline in those days, along with the cane, slipper, chalk, detentions and blackboard rubber.  I seem to remember that all the teachers, with the exception of Jock Gilman, wore chalk-covered gowns during lessons, with hoods added for special occasions suxh as Speech Day and Founders Day.  The teachers moved from classroom to classroom, unlike today when it is the pupils who move between rooms.  There were, of course, the labs and other specialist rooms where teachers shared the space. With some teachers taking more than one subject those rooms saw a lot of staff movements every forty minutes or so.  This resulted in some unlikely pairings, such as Nobby  Clarke with Basher Brewin;  Mr Gould with Flash Gordon; WAG Pace with George Franey; Messrs Whitbread and Remington and, later, the new boys Messrs Witts and Lawson, often with Mr Sweet tagging along behind.  Buftom and Jeeves, the old boys, kept an eye on the even older pair of Roberts and Sykes, both with classroom control issues.  Then there were Kay and Smith, with a common interest in cricket; Wally Wardle sharing asides with Captain Chas Howard of the flagship Hope and Green Wyvern fame - surely the Captain Pugwash of his day.  Flo Willan, who seemed to have exclusive use of the biology lab, and Mr Philips, never strayed far from the science block, which was off the rear playground.  Add to those pairings Hantusche and Brushe, both with what I perceived to be foreign accents, strutting the third-floor library corridor so soon after the war.  I could not help thinking they must be spies, reporting back about grammar school life in Leicester.  Having a German teacher in school only five years after the war wasn't an issue at CBS, and I can't remember any specific mention of the hostilities.  That was not like my first boss, who would not purchase anything made in Japan or Germany.  Herr Brushe (what a name for a German teacher) with his bristling ginger moustache, and Hantusche (did he ever have a moustache?) both tried to teach me modern languages without much success. I was having enough trouble with English, which I failed at 'A' level despite the best efforts of George Franey.  Being of Welsh stock it wasn't even the first language for half of my family, and my grandmother did not speak much English at all. 
In OWT72 Andy Marlow requested details of the 1953 swimming gala Victor Ludorum, and I confirm that having seen the shield at the last reunion I attended I did indeed win it that year.  I also won the Roberts Tennis Cup in 1957, beating my old pal George Haines in the semi final, and Eddie Blount in the final on Speech Day afternoon.
FROM DAVE POSTLES  1960-67   I hesitate to enter into a conversation with Paul Healey and Steve Mellor which excludes others, but I hope that some of the following will resonate with other former schoolmates.  I first of all respond to some of their reminiscences.
Yes, Paul, I well remember your escape from Grace Road.  Nor was it very covert, but there seemed to be an absence of surveillance. It seemed that we were all bussed out there with little supervision, to entertain ourselves as best we could – or compelled to run round the perimeter of the ground, which was reason sufficient to make a getaway, more so because of the large splinters which excruciatingly penetrated your feet in the changing rooms. Still, you could have been less obvious.  Your peccadillo is compounded by Steve Mellor's decamping to the bowling alley whilst the rest of us laboured in the library under the vigilance of Dave Lawrence. I remember a roll call. Why wasn't your absence discovered?  'Breaker'; 'Breaker'; 'Breaker'; 'Yes sir' ultimately came the desultory confirmation.  Always only at the third time of asking. The rest of us dutifully responded at the first time of asking for our presence.  Really, one wonders about the recalcitrance of so many Wyvernians. The honour of the school was surely derogated by your inexcusable antics. Have you no shame?  Moving swiftly on, from Grace Road, by the fifth form that venue was no longer available and we were transported to the marginally superior Rushey Mead. Here there was the choice of tennis in the summer or random, self-convened football with a plastic ball. Unless memory ill serves me, the illustrious Steve played his hand at rackets with Richard McMorran, whilst the less refined, like me, kicked the ball about in rudimentary fashion. The benefit for me was a quicker return afterward, as it as was only a short march to Northfields Estate.  In the summer after graduating from CBS, Steve, Richard McMorran and I worked at Pukka Pies – and that was an experience.  Does anyone remember George, who gave instruction in French and Latin? He really stimulated my interest in the French language and literature, which engages me to this day. I think that Steve was in the same group, in the lower stream taking French A Level.

FROM GEOFF GERMAN  1965-71   I am hoping to locate Mr John Anderson, a former member of staff.  He was head of history in the late sixties and early seventies.  I think he went on to become Deputy hHad at Desford College, though I'm not entirely sure.  John Anderson taught me 'A' level history, before I went on to university.  I want to thank him for all the help he gave me at the time(Editor's note.  If anyone can help Geoff, please send the information to me.  I will then contact John on Geoff's behalf.  That way we should avoid any accusations about breaches of privacy etc.  This is something I am very conscious of)
FROM ALAN PYKETT  1959-66   On 27 September BBC4 broadcast a programme entitled  Grammar School. A Secret History . You may have seen it. Part way through there was footage of some school sports teams. My immediate reaction was they looked very much like teams from City Boys. The football team in particular were in the correct colours (black and gold quarters) one of the teachers looked very much like Dave Lawrence and the background seemed to resemble Downing Drive. However, I thought, no, it can't be. Fast forward to the rolling credits at the end and, sure enough, in the acknowledgements were City Boys School, Leicester, Leicester City Boys School Archives and the Leicester Mercury. It would be interesting to know how they got hold of the footage. I don't know what contribution the Mercury played! I really enjoyed the programme, and not for the first time I was transported back to my days at City Boys.
AND FINALLY...   I am running out of anecdotes for this spot, so given the above mentions of Grace Road and Rushey Fields I will repeat a couple of tales.  Jock  Gilman's supervision of games afternoons was somewhat lax, so it was relatively simple for non-sporting types like me and Peter McDermott to avoid this unwanted physical activity.  One sure-fire way was to present a forged note at the staffroom before (or was it after?) assembly.  Jock  would stand there, pipe in mouth, and glance at the forgery before initialling it.  That meant spending the afternoon in the library, usually undisturbed.  Occasionally there would be a purge, and the little group was directed to an empty classroom to write lines.  I still remember the frisson of nerves as Jock  read the notes.  Of course that dodge could only be pulled two or three times per term.  Once at Grace Road there was little or no chance of avoiding the football or cricket.  My policy with the latter depended on whether my team was batting or fielding.  If the former I simply made sure I was the last batsman, not difficult as everyone else could not wait to get to the crease.  So with a bit of luck, games would be over before it was my turn.  If fielding, I went and stood as far away from the wicket as possible to minimise contact with the ball.  Sometimes, instead of football or cricket, we ran round and round the perimeter of the field, and I enjoyed that.  The toilets were behind the grandstand, and were absolutely disgusting.
At Rushey Fields Peter and I developed a foolproof plan.  We used it regularly, and were never caught.  The changing rooms were windowless concrete buildings, long and narrow.  The door was at one of the narrow ends, and as the lighting never worked the bottom half of the room was pitch black.  All we did was vanish into the darkness until everyone had changed and moved to the pitches, gave it a few minutes to be sure, then walked the short distance to the 42 bus stop and caught a bus into town.  However if it was cross-country I was happy to take part.  With hindsight I don't know why we went to so much effort to get out of games.  Maybe it was the challenge?  It would certainly have made our lives easier, and less risky, if we had simply taken part and done our best.  And, of course, we only got away with it because there was never a roll call.  Jock  must have known about the fiddles, my guess is he opted for a quiet life!
Dennis J Duggan
October 18th 2016