Sunday 7 October 2018

Fwd: OWT100 October 2018



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EDITORIAL   Welcome to the centennial edition of Old Wyves' Tales, though it is no different to the issues that have gone before.  OWT had humble beginnings way back in 2000, when I first went on-line and began to collect e-mail addresses..  The first ones were more like irregular rndom jottings, which slowly evolved into the format you all know so well.  Material keeps coming in, though as someone noted after so many years perhaps some of the memories might not be 100% accurate!  Who knows... 

FROM SIMON PARTRIDGE  1966-72   (Continuing Simon's memoirs - Ed)    In academic work I was slipping, as I had been caught up and overtaken in French, which I had started age seven.  Maths was becoming a mystery, though I was holding my own in RE and geography, two subjects in which I was destined to do well.  That was mainly because I did not want to get on the wrong side of Ken Witts, nor die at the hands of Brian Scott.  The following year was fifth form, and crunch day duly arrived with the Rev B Scott reading the mock 'O' level scripture results.  He spoke in his dry, languid drawl followed by silence or the word library.  When he had finished the room was half empty, but I was still there.  That was an achievement, as in common with most of my fellows I could never read a single word of the encouragement or advice scrawled in the margin or at the foot of my work.  A little extrovert and unpredictable at times, Brian was a highly intelligent and caring priest who was brave enough to discuss seminal issues in order to encourage thoughts about life's serious side.
Returning to 4 Alpha, the trip to Stratford was to see Eric Porter playing the lead role in Marlowe's Dr Faustus.  This was significant, as Porter had starred in the previous year's (1967) The Forsyte Saga on TV.  More importantly, the Lord Chancellor's powers over censorship were to end.  However the RSC prematurely decided that the vision of Helen of Troy should be portrayed with complete accuracy, which was very exciting for us at the time.
The evening of 19th February 1968 saw Pete Luketa and myself in Filbert Street's double-decker stand as Leicester City went 2-0 down in the now-legendary FA Cup 4th round replay against Manchester City.  But Messrs Fern, Nish and Large managed to bring about a 4-3 victory.  Moving on, Sunday 21st September 2014 saw City beat Man U 5-3 at home.  I watch Sky Sports in the gym, and during the first half I ran a leisurly four miles, but during the second half covered six!  Once home, I e-mailed Ian Ross in the USA to say I had seen nothing like it since the 1968 replay.  Ian replied that the replay had taken place on a Monday night, and the drizzle never stopped - he was right.  Ian was at the Filbert Street end with his dad, and with almost 40,000 there had been moved to the pitch-side wall for a better view, along with other youngsters. 
Form captain in 3 and 4 Alpha, and probably the fifth form, was Carl Jayes.  He was fair, reliable, intelligent, well respected, unassuming and good at sport.  4th February 1972 was the fourth round of the FA against Leighton Orient, and Carl's debut for Leicester City following his signing in 1971.  Prior to this, whilst at school, Carl had been playing, on a Wednesday afternoon during sixth form games, in the then Football Combination League.  This comprised of mainly reserve teams from the First Division.  In addition to this were Carl's seven appearances in goal for England Schools, for which he ironically alternated with Mark Wallington.  I was behind the Filbert Street goal at the Leighton Orient match.  An innocuous-looking shot from the right found Carl too far off his line as the ball sailed into the net.  The disappointment was vicarious for all who knew Carl, as they realised his inclusion in Leicester's roster of goalkeepers would be a brief one even if it did read Banks, Shilton, Jayes...  Goodness knows how Carl must have felt.
The following month Jimmy Bloomfield signed Mark Wallington from Walsall for £30,000.  This was initially to understudy Peter Shilton, but from March 1974 he was first-choice keeper following Shilton's move to Stoke.  The Sleaford-born Wallington went on to make 412 appearances for Leicester, ever-present for six successive seasons.  Carl remained with Leicester, making five further appearances, until the end of December 1974.  That was followed by loan spells with Peterborough United until in 1977 he transferred to Northampton County.  Up to 1980 Carl made 68 appearances, after which he sought a career with the Northampton police force.
In 1960, the late Lawrie Simpkin, who was to become my step-father, joined the Leicester Mercury as chief football writer, becoming Executive Editor prior to retirement in 1988.  His job involved contact with local and neighbouring police forces, which was of special interest as his son was a police officer.  Lawrie said of Carl that he was regarded as a highly competent and well-respected police officer.

FROM DAVE WAIT  1958-63   (Part 4 of Dave's reminiscences - Ed)  For swimming we were marched across the road to Vestry Street baths.  The whole thing lasted for about an hour.  The chap who took us for swimming was known as Tiddley Dum, Tiddley Dum, because for the first couple of years he would make us hold onto the bar and move our legs up and down to the shouts of Tiddley Dum, Tiddley Dum, TIDDALY DUM.  I think he must have once worked on a Roman galley, beating out the rhythm for the slaves on the oars. 
For cross country we went to Rushey Fields by bus, and changed in primitive huts.  Then it was a three-mile jog on a circular route which took us along part of Humberstone Lane.  Part was through a wooded area with a stream at the side.  Once there was a delay when a group of Teddy Boys blocked the way, letting odd ones through when their name was called.  A few of the braver ones became fed up with this, and pushed a couple of the Teds into the stream.  Time for a sharp exit!  I think that particular cross-country was completed in record time, and the teachers were surprised to see us back so soon. 
We soon learned the short cuts.  One involved hiding under a bridge, waiting for the leaders to return, then tag onto the end looking suitably out of breath.  During the severe winter of 1962-63 we used to go to Grace Road by bus then walk back into town in a crocodile.  Fair enough, but as we passed Walnut Street there was a chance to catch a No 60 bus home, which some of us did.  Obviously there was no roll call, because we never heard another word.
Grace road was where we played cricket, and where the annual Sports Day took place.  Cricket involved all the gear - boots, white flannels, white jumper, white shirt.  That's all I have to say on cricket.  I loved it than about as much as I do now!  The only plus point was the chance to play five-a-side football if you had not been picked for one of the cricket teams.  It was Rushey Fields for football, where there were two pitches and an adjacent stream.  Most games finished with the ball having been in the water at least twice.  They were the old leather type, so when wet were like a medicine ball.  None of us had long necks, because our heads had been knocked into our shoulders.

FROM STEFAN WOZOWCZYK  1965-72   I an new to OWT, and am gradually working my way through the archive.  Flo Willan features prominently, but I haven't come across the following tale so far.  Flo's  teaching about reproduction  (my penis reached the top of the board, etc) is well-documented.  In 1969 some boys were old enough to know what he was talking about, leading to sniggers.  'The penis is inserted into the vagina...'  More sniggers.  'The sperm is passed by ejaculation into the...'  By this point the boys at the back of the class were in fits.  'You boys.  Shut up.  As soon as I mention sperm, out it comes.'  I'm sure these lines were well-practiced over the years.  I imagine Flo returning to the staff room and saying, 'Yeah, I did the sperm joke again.'

OBITUARIES   Geoff Wright (1957-62) passed on the sad news that Bill Lally (1951-58) passed away July 3rd 2018 after a short illness  (Motor Neurone Disease)  Geoff writes: we were both members of the Dorridge U3A.  Bill did sterling work on the committee and had a range of activities - opera, table tennis, panto.  We did not know each other at CBS, and only recently discovered we were both ex-pupils
Trevor Dixey (1956-61) passed away August 2018.  Geraldine Dixey writes: Two years ago Trevor was diagnosed with Mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer.  Ironically he had never worked with asbestos.  I know he enjoyed OWT, he had many fond memories of the school.
Keith Bramley  (??-1951)  Keith Wright writes: that Keith Bramley preceded me to Birmingham Medical School, and initially I had digs with his former landlady.  So I always looked up to him, even though I saw little of him as he was three years ahead of me and would have been attending hospital practice when I was a pre-clinical student at med school.  Like me, Keith did not return to Leicester, but after National Service (and maybe further hospital appointments) became a GP in Southampton.  I gather that Jerusalem is to be sung at his funeral, which had been the school anthem until at least 1954.  As I imagine the occasion will be at a distance from Leicester the pronunciation of both countenance and chariot should be without the Leicester U, which used to send Bill Sykes mad.

FROM DEREK COLE  1950-58   Referring to Dennis Biggs' tribute to Ron Smith, I agree his lessons were never dull.  On one occasion he referred to me as 'the boy with the greatest fund of totally useless information it has ever been my misfortune to teach' - something I have dined out on for years!  I remember he encouraged me - and others, I'm sure - to look at historical events and not merely ask WHAT happened but WHY.  Although I went onto university and read a modern language, history has always remained an interest.

FROM IAN CRICHTON  1962-69   I can confirm two blockbusters shown as an accompaniment to the school films for Alan Pykett.  They were the Ealing comedy The Ladykillers, and the Peter Ustinov Romeo and Juliet.  The latter was based on a Shakespeare play, but which one escapes me!!  Like your goodself I can dismiss the Rats Eyes description discovered in the Daily Mail by Dennis Biggs, though cannot express it as eloquently.  Foxes is a relatively recent term, only coming into common parlance when Leicester won the Premiership a few years ago.  In our day the team were known as The City, and before that The Filberts and The Fosse.  No doubt some people will take the Daily Mail report as gospel, and the information will be passed down the generations in much the same way we accepted everything we were told as soon as we entered CBS.  It wasn't long before we came across Wally, Ken, Flo, Sadie etc and we never questioned anything about them.  For example, lads of my generation will forever view Jock Gilman, our esteemed PE instructor, as an early version of Del Boy selling second-hand cars.  That brings me to Mr Hutchinson (I eventually managed to complete a slightly crooked pencil case)  Dave Wait repeats the oft-quoted remark that Bunny was also a part-time jockey.  Can anyone verify this, or was it an allusion to Ron Hutchinson, the great jockey of the fifties and sixties and probably second only yo Lester Piggott?

FROM TOM WILLIAMSON 1946-5I   What was the connection between a wyvern and City Boys' School?  I was asked that question recently.  I have lived in various parts of Africa since 1955, working as a police officer and private detective, and for Rio Tinto, the British mining group.  I have been in Swakopmund, Namibia, since 1959, when I was transferred from Zimbabwe by Rio.  Life here is very pleasant, and there is still a strong German influence, it having been the German south west African colony for many years.  Greetings to any former classmates or teachers, though I think we are pretty well extinct by now!

FROM PAUL HEALEY  1960-65   A couple of comments on OWT99.  Dave Wait and Stalag 14.  If that was on the upper floor it was my classroom, which had big sash windows.  Is it a figment of my imagination, or did someone actually hang a boy out of the window by his ankles?  And if so, did the boy's head appear in the window below?
And Bill Sykes, the Man U fan who said he knew many of the players.  He taught us French, and played the organ.  Is it true he wrote the school song, most of which I can still remember including the Latin chorus?
StefanWozowczyk mentioned Wally Wardle, the robe-wearing head of Elbow Lane.  He had a little room on the landing, and you went to him for new exercise books.  Wally would count the pages of the old one to check that none had been torn out.  I lived in Aylestone, and Wally must have lived close by.  One weekend I bumped into him at the top of Wigston Lane, with his small child on a rein.  I don't know which of us was more embarrassed.  There was a bullying incident at Elbow Lane.  The bully was a big lad, and Wally picked a bigger lad and held a boxing match in the gym.  Spectators were banned, though I'm sure some watched from the rooms round the gym as the doors had glass panes.
Finally, I spent a nostalgic day at Grace Road earlier this year for the Leicestershire v Notts one-day game.  The playing surface was a lot better than in our day!

FROM ANDY BOURNE  1965-70   I loved Simon Partridge's recollections of the Ten Tors Challenge.  I think I might be the Andy Bull referred to.  I was the guilty party in the loss of the tent, which I believe fell off my pack when jumping or wading through one of the many peat bogs.  It was probably badly strapped on.  I remember sheepishly receiving rollockings from everyone, as we calculated that even trebling up in the two-man tents we were one too many.  I heroically volunteered (was told)  to be that unlucky man.  I slept fitfully in a polythene bag in torrential rain, and woke soaked through from leaks and condensation.  I never did get my medal or Duke of Edinburgh certificate, having left school rather quickly.  This followed advice from John Atkins and Ernie Bell that I was unwelcome in the sixth form.
I also have memories of the Brecon camp, but am amazed that Simon can recall the name of the pub!  One evening half a dozen of we 14/15 year olds were drinking in there.  Zager and Evans In The Year 2525 was on repeat play on the juke box.  We had a great time, drinking and playing three card brag and  darts.  Staggering out of the pub we were attacked by a large group of local lads.  They had got wind of our presence,and prepared an ambush.  No one was badly hurt, but black eyes and hangovers were on parade the following morning.

SIMON'S REPLY TO THE ABOVE   I am sorry for the error with Andy's name, especially as his father was picture editor at the Leicester Mercury at the same time as my father was deputy news editor.  My father always spoke very highly of Harry Bourne.  In the ACF Andy was actually known as Henry, perhaps after his father but more likely, I believe, after his grandfather Henry W Bourne, who was made editor of the Mercury in 1926.  I know for certain the pub was The Blue Boar, not just because Google confirms it is now Brecon Rugby Club but because I was the one who was banned!

FROM GRAHAM MORTON  1949-56   After reading about the school films in OWT99, my mind went back to that time.  In 1955/56 I was taking the first steps in making the film.  Mr Bell brought the idea from Whitgift School, Croydon.  I was given an 'X' order to purchase a process-paid film from Young's, Belvoir Street.  He had purchased a 16mm camera, which made the project expensive.  Mr Bell must have been concerned, as he recruited Ken Witts as projectionist for a paying audience.  He introduced the first film himself, Alec Guinness in The Man In The White Suit (1951)  I don't recall the exact date, but it must have been 1956.  Perhaps Frank Whitelam can confirm my memory.
Incidentally Frank's father (also Frank) was my father's Best Man and Connie was a bridesmaid to my mother.  As children our families used to picnic on Coop farmland, beyond where Judge Meadow is now.  At this time Mr Bell lent me to Mrs Plewman, the city's drama adviser, in order to make a short film of a junior school production centred round a large cart.  The film was in colour, and shown by a proud Mr Bell to a meeting of city headmasters.  It needed several showings for the childrens' parents.  This must have prompted the use of colour film for the section showing characters in King Lear.
Almost at the same time, during my activity with another film project, I met Archie Orton, a renowned Leicester headmaster.  Later he offered me a post at Moat Boys' school to teach biology to fill the gap when Clive Burrows went to Rushey Mead as headmaster.

AND FINALLY...   Prior to my time at CBS I was at Eyres Monsell Junior School.  Once a week we went by corporation bus to Knighton Fields Road swimming baths - that would be 1958/59.  Many of my contempories could swim, and they loved the sessions.  But my parents had never taught me to swim, and my first visit to the Knighton baths was not a pleasant one.  The teachers treated it as an afternoon off, and left us to it.  Week after week I spent my time clinging to the rail, ignored by everyone, so made no progress at all.  In fact I came to detest the weekly swimming lessons, and on one occasion I was physically sick with worry.  So understandably I did not relish the regular visits to Vestry Street, where the previous process was repeated.  My main problem was, and still is, that as soon as I let go of the rail I sink!  By the fourth year at CBS I was an accomplished forger of occasional excuse notes for swimming, PT and games.  My master stroke was to create a permanently excused from swimming note, on the grounds the chlorine brought on my asthma.  Jock Gilman never queried my fake notes, though with hindsight it is difficult to believe he was taken in by them.  But whatever, for my final two years I was allowed to sit on the balcony at Vestry Street and never had to enter the pool again.

Dennis J Duggan  1959-64
October 7th 2018