Tuesday 17 April 2018

Fwd: OWT 98 April 2018

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APRIL  2018
EDITORIAL   The annual reunion took place on March 17th at Clarence House.  It was pretty much business as usual, though numbers were slightly down on previous years.  We are all getting older, and I know that half a dozen people could not be there because they were either waiting for an operation or recovering from one.  And one or two long-distance members were, understandably, deterred by the possibility of more snow.  Before lunch we had the AGM, followed by the raffle.  Age UK had reserved the whole building for us, and over sixty people enjoyed an excellent lunch. Our grateful thanks to the Age UK staff, particularly Anthony, who pulled out all the stops to make sure the day was a success. After lunch we had two excellent speakers, John Sweeney and Alan Rudge, followed by free time.  By 4pm it was all over, including the shouting.  There has been some very positive feedback, and it is clear that many people particularly enjoyed the opportunity to speak to their former teachers.  It was especially nice that Dr Arnold 'Doc' Burrows was able to be present, thanks to his son, Simon.  And sincere thanks to Brian Screaton, John Offord, Frank Smith and Stephanie Duggan, without whom there would not be an annual reunion!!

OBITUARIES   Andy Marlow tells me that Paul Philip Lewin (1930-37) born July 17th 1918, passed away peacefully on Monday July 27th 2015, aged 97 years.  Paul was the City Boys School Captain 1936/37, and was a former Headmaster of The Manor School, Cambridge.  During World War II he served in the Royal Navy, and wrote a book about his life titledOutrageous Sailor.
John Batterbee (1949-56) passed away December 12th 2016
Dave Voce (1959-?) passed away March 2018
Ernie White (1952-57) passed away recently
Stewart Smith (1936-41) passed away February 17th 2018
Ron Brewin (1958-63) passed away March 5th 2018
Roger Povoas tells us that his brother, Graham, passed away during July 2017 after a short battle with cancer.  Graham was aged 75, and will be remembered for his prowess at football and cricket.
Keith Duguid informs me that Mick Morgan (1958-63) passed away recently, exact date not known
Graham Johnson heard that Harold Ernest Baum passed away recently aged 91.  It is possible that Mr Baum was a former teacher at CBS.

FROM SIMON PARTRIDGE  1966-72  (Continuing Simon's memoirs - Ed)  My first faux pas occurred during a cover lesson with Fred round in a circle, boys, Hutchinson.  He asked me to stand next to my desk, which I took to be an invitation to stand on my desk, so was sent to the woodwork room.  I remember him once lockng the doors in order to set the sights of a .22 rifle.  It was in a vice in the metalwork room, with the dividing doors open with the target at the far end.  The sights were spot on.  Bunny was not only a legend, but a master of field sports.  Rumour had it he held an MA in English.  He had a TV secreted in a tool cabinet.  In Year 5 I went to the workshop to see someone.  There was no sign of Mr Hutchinson, but the tool cupboard was open and the TV was broadcasting racing from Oadby and he was parading his mount in the paddock prior to racing.  Bunny may not have been a top jockey, but he was a competent point-to-point rider.  In addition he was a good boat builder, the pond under the library being a vital part of the sea trials, so there was no risk to him or Jock Gilman whilst out fishing.  Whatever I made in woodwork tended to become smaller, thus a coffee table was only suitable for a doll's house, a pencil box for toothpicks, and so on.
Unable to draw or paint, even by numbers, I nevertheless came top in art during my first term.  Pete Miller asked us to produce something modern and abstract, black and white with an optional use of balsa wood.  This put me ahead of Graham Chorlton who, according to Google, is currently Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at Coventry University.  Graham left CBS to study Fine Art at Cambridge.  His pencil drawings of engine blocks and crankshafts were so accurate they seemed to leap off the page.  He could also play chess with Stuart Fortey without a board or pieces.  They would exchange gambits in a corridor whilst waiting for a lesson.  Stuart was highly intelligent, and could explain maths to the less numerate classmates.  He liked zany humour, sich as Kenny Everitt, and The New Vaudeville Band and the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.
Pete Miller once explained why oil paintings are so expensive, using the example of one of his own works hanging outside Mr Bell's study.  He rued the fact that he had gifted the painting, as his work was becoming more valuable as he became better known.
The following year's highlight in 4 alpha (1967-68) was a cruise on the SS Uganda, starting from Genoa on March 15th.  Billeted in one of the Van Diemen dormitories I had been elevated to Dormitory Prefect, a role I took very seriously.  I decided to model myself on a combination of Mr Bell and Captain Mainwaring, the consequence being I was referred to as the Dormitory Defect.  My primary sin was one of omission, and failing to intervene when one traveller had his bunk shifted to a couple of coffee tables whilst asleep.
Highlights included entering Malta's Valetta harbour, and an example of Turkish coach driving from Antalya to Perga.  We were told we were the first cruise ship to dock in Alexandria after the Six Day war, the knock-on effect being that some exhibits from the Cairo museum had not yet been returned from their sojourn in the desert.  The pyramids were amazing, the camel rides frightening and the poverty humbling.  Empty coke cans were at a premium, as flattened out they could be used as roof tiles.  Long, thin tree branches held together by ropes were used as scaffolding.  We sailed through the Santorini caldera, the captain told us the sonar confirmed the volcano was still very much active.  The Parthenon was impressive, but what remains in my mind is the stop on the road bridge to look down on the Corinth canal.  Venice was likewise unforgettable, the Lido formed the backdrop to Visconti's Death In Venice.
We had preparatory lessons in school.and lectures and lessons at sea.  It was clear from Mr Bell's detailed and never-to-be-forgotten discourse on the war in North Africa that the Desert Rat's visit to Alexander and Cairo was seen as a home-coming (To be continued - Ed)

From Steve Zanker (1961-1968) 
I have enjoyed reading past issues of the Old Wyves Tales, thanks to brother Dave passing on an electronic copy. I have been tempted on a number of occasions to make a contribution, never actually getting as far as putting finger to keyboard – until now, that is  .Richard Wakefield’s hilarious telling of the Tale of the Nameless Stool struck such a vivid note with me that I feel compelled to reply. Some sort of open floodgate may follow, so be warned. Being part of the same 1 Alpha squad as Richard, I remember this incident well. Wally Wardle was such a presence in a bizarre sort of way that he must have left imprints on the memories of many of the boys fortunate or unfortunate enough to incur his wrath. Richard mentioned the gaze, but I recall the closed eyes, hands folded approach which just told you that something was afoot – somebody was for it. Great sport! This was an approach to problem solving that we had not come across in the genteel world of the junior school.  I was more fortunate than Richard on this occasion as I did my usual trick of lagging towards the back of any such queue, hiding in the masses and I completely missed sight of the offending item as we were whisked along the row of cubicles. In fact, I recall not having any idea what we were supposed to be looking at until we returned to the classroom, by which time, stoolus offendingus had grown to the size of a whale, according to some of ‘the boys in the know’ anyway. You just couldn’t make it up.  And just for the record – it wasn’t me!

FROM PETER GRUDGINGS  1936-41  (Petr's handwriting is not terribly clear, so I hope I have transposed the item correctly - Ed)  I telephoned John Harlow, who lives in Bath, but he could not hear.  His wife thought I was conducting a scam!
Does anyone have any information on Fred Marlow - is he alive and well?
I wrote to Stewart Smith and learned he had cancer.  He was having treatment.  I have heard nothing more since mid-February  (See obituary above - Ed)

FROM STEVE MELLOR  1960-66   (Steve did not originally intend this item for publication, but he agreed it could be printed so long as I toned the content down a little.  I hope you agree it is very funny - Ed)  Mid-sixties, high noon.  Word was getting round that trouble was afoot, so Ernie Bell sounds the alarm - DING DONG.
Meanwhile, back at the annexe, Sheriff Wally Wardle and Bill Sykes, his deputy, strap on their shooting irons in readiness for the afternoon patrol.  Wally spots a stranger at the gate, it's an embittered ex-pupil armed with a bag of stales from Bayliss's bakery.  He hurls a scone at Wally, who drills a hole through the scone with his sixgun and it drops harmlessly to the floor.  'Mount your bike and get out of Elbow lane,' barks Wally and the hapless boy scuttles away.
Cut to the music room, where Bill addresses the throng as he sits at his beloved piano.  Two fingers of red eye are balanced on the top.  'Mee, mee, mow,' he croaks and the boys repeat it reluctantly over and over again.  'OK,' shouts  Bill,  hitting the ivories with all the force he can muster, and the room erupts with song. 'Vivat, crescat, in eternum floreat...'

FROM DAVE WAIT  1958-63   (The second chapter in a series of 5 - Ed)  I can't  recall that much about my first day at City Boys, so at this stage I will say a few words about the teachers.  Of course they played an important role in day-to-day school life but not all of it was on the teaching side.  They provided a lot of fun, and in some cases terror.  The Headmaster was Mr E J W Bell, whose nickname was obviously Ding Dong.  The only time he spoke to me personally was the day I left.  'You're a new boy, aren't you?  Welcome to the school.'  He certainly took an interest in his pupils, or so they tell me.  The Deputy Head was Mr Remington, known simply as  Remmo or Remington Shaver.  He used to take morning assembly, and was very strict.  He had a terrifying habit of walking round the hall picking boys at random to read the lesson.  Almost all the first-year boys had bad backs caused by slouchng in their chairs as they attempted to make themselves inconspicuous.  No one dared sneeze or cough lest it attracted his attention.
For some reason we had two Deputy Heads, the other being Mr Wardle, or Wally to his friends.  Not that he had any friends, at least amongst the boys.  Wally  took my class for geography, and was a bit of a snob.  When he learned I came from a council estate, and dropped my aitches, he proceeded to make my life a misery.  He had a way of picking you up by the sideboards, and if he saw you playing football in the yard would point out how much your parents had paid for shoes.
The chemistry master was Basher Brewin, so-called because if you got something wrong he would bash you.  We had the last laugh when an experiment went wrong and a splash of acid landed on his bald head.  But he was a good teacher, and I obtained some of my highest marks whilst in his class.
One of my French teachers was Bill Sykes.  He took pills for angina, which we did not realise at the time, especially when he had a strop on - which was most of the time.  One day he had the task of overseeing the lunchtime roll call in the main hall.  When he asked us to put our chairs away everyone removed them from the hall and they were scattered along the corridors. Remo heard the commotion, and swooped this way and that looking for the culprits.

FROM CHRIS LOWE 1964-68   (Chris Lowe was head of English.  The following was originally written for Chris's grand-daughter as part of his memoirs.  More can be found on the Wyvernians web site under the Other Documents section of the Memorabilia page -Ed - or view it directly CLICK/TAP HERE)  I don't know exactly why Mr E J W Bell (known as Ernie  to the boys, Johnny to the staff but Mr Bell to his face) offered me the post as Head of English.  It may have had something to do with the fact that he had been Deputy Head at Trinity School, Croyden, some years before my arrival as a teacher, and had been an army officer and keen to start a cadet force and promote sport!  As he did not enquire about the way I might lead the department it could not have been that I had wowed him by my exciting vision of teaching English.  Anyway that was that, and I became Head of English at a prestigious grammar school at the age of 24.
During my reign at CBS the number of boys going to Oxbridge, and indeed other universities, grew and the rest of the exam results were kept up to standard.  I inherited three potential Oxbridge scholarship candidates - John Leaman, Philip Drummond and David Winter.  John obtained an Exhibition at Keble College, Philip a Scholarship at Oxford and David a Scholarship at Cambridge.  That was much to the relief of me and Stan (Berry? -Ed)  In succeeding years they were followed by others.  Sadly John was killed in a car crash whilst at Oxford.
I suppose my most famous pupil was Michael Kitchen, who became a star of the Royal Shakespeare Company in the seventies and eventually starred in the TV series Foyle's War.  He was a marvellous actor even at school, and a natural for RADA where he went at eighteen.  His style was, and is, to play himself then subtly transmogify that into the character he was playing.  It is very understated, but brilliantly done.  One day Mary (Presumably Mrs Lowe?) and I  took the fourteen-year-old Michael to the RSC costume department in Stratford On Avon to choose a pile of Shakespearean costumes for the school play.  I don't suppose it had any dramatic effect on him, but it did to us!  We have followed Michael's career with great interest and he was kind enough to meet your daddy, Simon, backstage at the National Theatre when he was but a slip of a teenager.
Until September 1965 the senior school was in Victorian buildings in Humberstone Gate, right in the middle of the city.  The first and second years were housed in an old secondary modern school in Elbow Lane, about a mile away.  It was equally Victorian, and on its last legs.  We teachers either had to walk or drive there.  On Wednesdays the head would take junior school assembly at Elbow Lane, taking with him the prefect who was to do the obligatory bible reading.  On one memorable occasion the head and prefect were on the stage, and the prefect went to the lectern.  Normally the relevant page was marked and usually the prefect had a note of the chapter and verses.  Except this time he did not, and neither was the marker in place.  Sod's Law was at work.  The prefect looked round wildly at the head, who being ex-military strode across the stage, opened the bible and pointed.  The prefect began to read Ezekiel Chapter 23, which is about two sisters, Ahola and Aholibah, who committed whoredoms very often with many men.  It goes on and on in graphic detail.  What compounded the embarrassment was the fact the prefect had not been told where to stop, and the poor boy ploughed on and on to the end of the chapter.  Read the chapter and imagine the scene...  Two hundred or so 11-13 year-olds, a dozen hard-bitten teachers, a begowned headmaster and a red-faced and blazered 17 year-old prefect gripping the lectern and wishing the floor would open up and swallow him.  It could have been a scene from a TV farce!
It was one of a number of amusing episodes occasioned by dear Johnny Bell, who strove so hard to make 'his' school the one of choice.  An impossible task really, given that Wyggeston Boys was an ancient and revered school plonked next to the university campus.  He was an ideas man, and got anyone else he could to do the actual graft.  He appeared to consider me sufficiently young and malleable enough to aid him in his PR work.  He knew I was in the TA, and cajoled me into starting the Cadet Force.  He thought all the best schools played rugby, but unfortunately CBS was a soccer school and eventually the alma mater of Gary Lineker, no less.  I drew the line at rugby, but when a young rugby-playing teacher jouned the staff he was persuaded to start the game  (To be continued - Ed)

AND FINALLY...   The recent snow made me think back to the harsh winter of 1962/63, and a harmless dodge I thought up.  Rushey Fields and Grace Road were out of use for several weeks, but that did not entirely excuse us from exercise.  Each week we travelled to Grace Road by Leicester Corporation buses, then walked back into town along Aylestone Road.  My family lived in South Wigston, on the Fairfield Estate, and my bus to and from school was the  87.  That went along Aylestone Road, and it seemed pointless for me to walk into town only to return by bus shortly afterwards.    Jock Gilman, and probably a second teacher, headed the crocodile so there was no one in authority bringing up the rear.  Nor was there any form of roll call.  My ruse was to make sure I was at the very back of the crocodile, and as soon as we turned onto Aylestone Road it was a simple matter to pop into the first front garden we came to and hide by the gate  Then, after a couple of minutes, I made my way to the nearby bus stop and was home nice and early.    Simple, but effective!

Dennis J Duggan
April 17th 2018