Saturday 27 January 2018

Fwd: Fw: OWT 97 January 2018

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EDITORIAL   Thank you to those who have responded to the reunion invitations.  This year we celebrate twenty years of Wyvernians.  We have two provisional speakers lined up, but oneof them  cannot commit because of uncertainty over times and dates of the Leicester City v Arsenal match.  The other, Bob Childs, has kindly volunteered, but as he has spoken to us at least twice before he would be more than happy to give someone else a chance!  So if you are willing to speak to a friendly audience for about fifteen minutes please get in touch.
OBITUARY   Dr John Edward Batterbee (1949-56) passed away peacefully at Eastbourne General Hospital on December 30th 2017.  Richard Thompson (1949-56) reminds us that John was Head Boy 1955-56.
FROM SIMON PARTRIDGE 1966-72   (Continuing Simon's reminiscences - Ed)  February 2015 was the last time I visited Leicester, and in the absence of any surviving family we holed up at the Beaumont Hotel.  This was well-placed for both Ryan Adams, the king of alt-country, and the remains of the king who was prepared to exchange his kingdom for a horse.  De Montfort Hall was very plush compared to the first time I went there in November 1966 for The Beach Boys, Lulu, David and Jonathan.  Sounds Incorporated were also on the bill, but I cannot remember them.  But I do remember being gob-smacked to see Good Vibrations played live as well as watching a mini-skirted Lulu trying to come to terms with a bar stool.  My last visit was in March 1972 for the late Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band, but I appreciate they were an acquired taste.
Walking along New walk and University Road you cannot fail to notice the Fraser Noble building.  It reminded me of Simon Noble, who like my brother and I transferred at thirteen from Stoneygate Preparatory School, then on London Road.  His father was Vice-Chancellor of the university, and they lived at Knighton Hall, so we always thought that Wyggeston would have been a more obvious choice.  Seven to thirteen years were not happy times for me.  For a start, Barney Presho, the headmaster at Stoneygate, announced with glee to my parents that I had failed the entrance exam.  Unfortunately he had overlooked the fact he was married to my father's sister, otherwise we could not have afforded private education for we boys.  Nevertheless I enjoyed a torrid time in an era when a proprietor or head teacher woud do all they could to show they in no way favoured their own families.  Older boys did transfer directly into the 6th form at CBS, and this became more prevalent as time went on. Others  also arrived from the private sector. One such was Simon White, from Trent College, Nottingham.  He was the son of Gordon White, of Gordon, White and Hood, architects in King Street.  Simon is singled out here because he had a blue  Reliant Robin, the only boy I recall who had the use of a car - albeit a three-wheeler. 
On my first visit I was in awe of Downing Drive, with its absence of Dickensian changing rooms and primitive toilets.  The canteen seemed to serve Egon Ronay-type meals, with no congealed fat on the plates.   My mother accompanied me, and the visit was a success though some of my spelling seemed strange.  Mr Bell deemed me to be a thoroughly decent chap on the basis my father worked for the Leicester Mercury.  Likewise Andy Bourne, as his father also worked for the local newspaper.  I had been assessed by an LEA educationl psychologist at his Welford Road office, and until quite recently still had the letter confirming I was suitable for a grammar school education.
The second visit, on the first day of the 1966 autumn term, was seriously embarrassing.  My mother had commandeered the family car, and I arrived with the knowledge I only knew one other person.  We entered the school, and I thought we must be late and everyone was in assembly.  Things became worse, and I was in a panic because apparently I had the wrong uniform - black instead of green!  The helpful receptionist pointed out we were in the wrong school, we should have been next door!  It was a relief when my mother left me on my own, but I was puzzled to learn that 3 Alpha was actually a second-year class.  The only person I knew was Peter Luketa, he was also in my class.  I sat next to John Rabone, who was also a new boy.  His family had been obliged to leave Malawi, having moved there when it was Nyasaland.  John was very occasionally absent because of Malaria, the problem being the vaccine rather than the actual disease.  One day he was absent, and we learned why from the Leicester Mercury.  His father had been killed the previous evening whilst crossing Uppingham Road.  I will never forget the complete helplessness I felt, and did know what to say or do.  I will always remember the look in his eyes.  He went on to study English at Exeter, then taught TEFL in Japan at a school established by his brother, who was a talented exponent of martial art.  I think John is now teaching at the University of Nottingham.
Simon Tong, the form teacher, was also new.  The staff were sensitive to my transition so assimilation went well.  Peter Luketa and I were both choristers at St James the Greater, London Road, as was Richard Chatham, three years my junior.  Brian Carruthers, a couple of years older, was a server.  When in church there was always a cheery smile from Bill Mann, owner of a light blue Standard motor car, who lived nearby. 
Geoff German and Zulu Anderson - I'm not sure, but while Geoff was a lot brighter and more hard-working than me, he could likewise have been touch-and-go for 'O' level French.  Like me, he was a Baxter Boy in 'O' level maths.I was top in history for the term we had to complete a project on the Leicester to Swannington railway.  In year five I was excused History 'O' level on the grounds the twentieth century was too complex and hard work for me.  Needless to say, Geoff went on to excel in the subject and read History at Hull.  Peter Luketa was reading Modern Languages there at the time.  Peter, I think, went on to big things with HSBC European banking.  It was agreed that Peter had a superb collection of rock, blues and R & B albums during his school days.  I recall him raving about an eponymous album by an unknown band called Led Zeppelin.
Geoff was possessed of a self-depracating sense of humour, and one of the kindest people you could hope to meet.  I was concerned about my indolence, Geoff was always in a high state of alertness.  He did not use joined-up writing, he wrote fast and neatly using individual letters.  Mrs German was instrumental in finding me a job at The Wigston Stage in 1971, after I had left school as quickly as possible.  I worked for Dims Inns full time to fund expeditions to Canada and America.  Geoff became a role model and in 2012, having stopped smoking in 1986, I ran cross-country for Wales in Belfast.  Thus I gained my first, and so far only, international vest.  I don't apologise for blowing my own trumpet.
As I have mentioned, conditions at Downing Drive were a world away from my past experiences.  I soon realised that Science was going to be a struggle, though other subjects posed no difficulties apart from German with its irregular plurals.  However I could sing, which kept me on the right side of Mr Gimson during my first year.  Inevitably, in time, I would begin to struggle as my peers were academically in the top two percent of the population, but there were no airs and graces and generally we all got on well.  Simon Tong was new to teaching, and clearly the business of learning had come easily to him.  This aided his progress to a couple of headships and the position of Director of Education for the Diocese of Salisbury.  He organised a trip to the RSC for The Taming of the Shrew, where the cast included Roy Kinnear.  His performance as Baptista alone was worth the ticket price  (To be continued - Ed)
FROM RICHARD THOMPSON  1949-56   I was interested in Brian Cope's reminiscences of the inter-school debating Society. The society didn't start till after my time at the school, but I do know a little about two of the participants Brian mentioned.  The History teacher from Gateway must have been David Bond, an old Wyvernian whom I knew because he was the elder brother of my friend Paul  Bond (CBS 1950-1955). David left CBS just before I started in 1949, so his dates were most likely 1942 to 1949, or possibly 1941 to 1948.  I saw a lot more of David when he was Liberal candidate in the NE Leicester bye-election in the Summer of 1962 when he came a close second to the defending Labour candidate (Tom Bradley, who later joined the Social Democrats) and the poor showing of the Conservative may have inspired Harold Macmillan's ruthless cabinet reshuffle of that year. Alas, David died quite young - in the 1980's so far as I can recall.  Brian also mentioned a Wyggestonian, Garth Pratt. I believe that Garth's political career got no further than being adopted as prospective Liberal candidate for Rochdale, a position from which he was later displaced to make way for the now notorious Cyril Smith!
FROM KEITH  DUGUID  1958-63   Sorry to hear of the deaths of Mick Morgan & Bob Rhodes, both in my year.   About 50 years ago I was in Torquay on the beach and Mick Morgan came out of the sea after a swim, a bit of a coincidence, and we had a little chat.Bob Rhodes who  I`d seen a couple of times in the last 5 years, usually in a supermarket, and I`d told him of the reunions,  but he was adamant he wasn`t interested!  Both died too young!
FROM ALAN WATERMAN  1936-41   Thank you for sending me the latest news from my old school. I will be 93 next July but the stories from other scholars bring back memories and names like Jeeves (French) and Bud Fisher (maths ) and Mr Crammer (Headmaster) as if it was just a short time back. The houses were Abbey (Green) Bradgate (Red) Charnwood (Yellow)  and De Montfort (Blue)  Best wishes to all ex City Boys Grammer School students. 
FROM DAVE WAIT  1958-63   1958 was to be a turning point, though I did not realise it at the time.  I was still only ten when I left Braunstone Hall Junior School that summer.  The end of term meant saying goodbye to a lot of friends and a few enemies.  But more important it meant the end of school for eight weeks!  For the first few weeks the sun shone brightly, but gradually the clouds of uncertainty began to roll in.  One of the first indicators of change was the remark, 'I suppose when you get to grammar school you will be a snob and think you are better than us.'  That remark made me determined never to forget where I had come from, no matter where I ended up (Or down)  The final part of the holiday was spent kitting me out.  I had obtained my first choice, CBS, and been provided with a list of everything required for my first term.  This included school uniform complete with cap, satchel, football kit, cricket kit, maths kit - no calculatore then!  Latin dictionary (never needed) short grey flannel trousers down to the knees (first years not allowed long trousers)  Because I lived more than three miles from the school I had a bus pass, renewed on the last day of each term.
It was daunting to realise I would not know anyone, as only two pupils from my junior school had passed the eleven plus.  Looking back I am pleased I took the exam on one of my better (brainier) days so did not have to go to an 'ordinary' school.  In some ways it did set me apart, but I hope it never made me superior to the plebs.  That makes me sound rather a snob, but I still drop my aitches and say gardin instead of garden.  The fateful day came all too soon, the walk to the bus stop was akin to walking up the steps to a gallows.  At the first stop, Gallards Hill, a friend from primary school boarded and I saw he was wearing a CBS uniform.  Joy of joys, at least the two of us could be miserable together.  With our caps on it reminded me of that old song The sun has got his hat on, hip hip hip hootay  To be continued - Ed)
FROM RICHARD WAKEFIELD  1961-68   I am sure that all of us who spent time at Elbow Lane under the majestic leadership of the esteemed Mr J E Wardle, Head of that Parish, will recall his tried and trusted approach to problem solving.  In the event of information being required to identify and apprehend a culprit for one of the many infringements to school order perpetrated by the inmates of the school, he would visit the appropriate classrooms and distribute small scraps of paper to all concerned.  He would intone in a low drawn-out voice, which is impossible to give due credit to in print, something along the lines of "There has been an incident (insert details of the incident) Write down what you know of it and return your slips to me immediately".  The good man would then disappear to his lair half way up the stairs towards the old gym and study his papers, after which a suspect would be arraigned or more papers would be issued soliciting more information.  Now, as a slightly craven 1st year I was somewhat daunted by this process, always feeling that I may well somehow be targeted however innocent I was...
One day, in our form room, which sadly afforded no view of approaching staff members or indeed of the Supremo himself, we were shocked out of our normal stupor by the vision of the man sweeping majestically between the rows of desks, his cape billowing in his wake sweeping pens, rubbers and whatever acoutrements were in the way, onto the floor.. He stood at the front, fixed us with his eyes. We were aware of the scraps of paper in his hand, but this time he did not distribute them...
He proclaimed, 'Something has happened. Form a line and follow me."  We were dumbfounded.  He swept off at a pace which would not have disgraced Yusain Bolt, with 30-odd first-formers panting along behind. Where were we going... why... ?  These thoughts flooded our innocent young minds.   We were surprised when we stopped at the entrance to the first-year toilets.  He told us to walk through the toilets and look in the cubicles.  To our horror what we witnessed that day would affect us profoundly, for there on the toilet seat lay a stool.  We were hurried back to the classroom, sat down, given the papers and told, "Now, you have seen what has happened.  Write down on the paper what you have seen and what you know about it" Now look, we were 11 or 12 years old., he really should not have been so surprised at some of the comments he received.  I'm not sure, but I believe the culprit was never identified and taken to task about it  (I vividly recall this incident, not least because the stool was a prize specimen, tinged with blue)  {To be continued - Ed}
FROM MICHAEL CAPENERHURST  1947-51   Plwase accept my apologies for absence at the reunion because of distance from New Zealand.  I would have had the fish and chips, I still miss the English version.  Here we tend to have thin slices of fish in soggy batter, it is an hour's drive to the best one.  Fish and chips and pork pies are what I look forward to on my trips to the UK, plus the roast beef and Yorkshire pud.  I have been making my own pork pies for fifty years.  I  made about twenty last year, but have not attempted fish and chips.  Finally decided this will be my last year at work, it will see fifty years with my present employer and sixty seven years since I walked into TN & FH Briggs Tannery, Waring Street (Off Melbourne Road) Leicester.  Two years' service in the RAF, the rest in leather.  One good thing came out of walking along Waring Street, I met my future wife there as she walked to school.  We were married for fifty one years before she passed away.
AND FINALLY...   Dave Wait's item made me recall my final days at Eyres Monsell Junior School in 1959.  My recollection mirrors Dave's, a carefree five weeks or so of holiday then the reluctant acceptance of what lay ahead.  Buying the uniform and the other bits, and wondering what was in store.  Life had been very cosy at junior school, with kindly teachers and home for dinner  (We never called it lunch) and I was savvy enough to know that a drastic change was afoot.  The dreaded morning finally came, I left our house in Tamerton Road and walked up Glenhills Boulevard to the Pork Pie roundabout.  The Corporation No 24 bus left from the top of Saffron Lane and deposited me in Bowling Green Street.  It was the first time I had been on a bus by myself.  Of course I had been shown where the school was situated, and knew I had to walk down Clarence Street to the Lee Circle huts.  Every morning there was an egg lorry parked in Clarence Street, on it was written The hens lay, the cocks crow, but we deliver the goods.  Funny what we remember.
Dennis J Duggan
January 18th 2018