Friday 25 October 2019

Fwd: OWT 104 October 2019

TEL 01938 555574   07804 520730  
     OCTOBER  2019

   The 2020 reunion will take place on Saturday March 14th at Clarence House, a week earlier than usual.  I think this might be because Leicester are playing away that weekend...  We are working on the arrangements, but meanwhile if you fancy giving a short talk please let me know.

NEW BOOK   (This item was sent to me from a facebook post by John Offord - Ed)  One of our former pupils, Bharat Patel (1964-71) has written a book and ALL profits are going to Hope Against Cancer, a research charity.  You can order copies direct from the charity by calling 0116 270 0101 or e-mail  The cost, including postage, is £11.50.  If you wish to round up the figure the additional money can be gift aided.  Indian Takeaway is the bewildering experience of a boy who, by the age of eight, has lived on three continents.  At twenty one he returns to the land of his birth where his formidable grandmother has lined up an arranged marriage.  To find out what happens next... please buy the book.  You will have guessed the boy is Bharat, and the book is full of stories you could not make up but happen to be true - with the caveat there is a bit of journalistic embellishment.  Thanks for your support, and enjoy the book.  (I understand the book covers Bharat's time at City Boys, though some names might have been changed - Ed)

FROM ORSON DUNCAN LUCAS  (1940-)  Hon Alderman of the Borough of Oadby & Wigston, Freeman of the City of London, Past Chairman of Leicestershire County Council, Rotarian since 1962 - His Early Life pre-1946.  This item is transcribed from Duncan's hand-written notes, some of which are difficult to decipher, so apologies for any errors - Ed)    City Boys' School, Years of Turmoil 1940 on (Continuing Duncan's memoirs - Ed)  My small stature was not helped by my misuse of dinner monies.  We had an elderly teacher called Miss Mearns, and we boys could be cruel to lady teachers.    We had Bull Smith, physics; Bud Fisher, scripture; Mr Hackney, art; Mr Carpenter, maths.  He was a big man, of the Sergeant Major sort.  He was not one of my teachers but he saw my attempt to draw a chair and played hell and gave me a Saturday morning two-hour detention.  Did my paper round first, and after detention went to the market where my Uncle Ernie had his butchers stall.  Did my round of his city customers, and home just before the evening papers were due.  I was frightened of Mr Carpenter and hated him.  Mr Hanson, the history teacher, was nicknamed Avro Anson after the training aircraft.  He was an air raid warden and some days fell asleep at his desk.  His own history book was used in class.  We respected Mr Hanson, and never played up while he slept. 
School meals were mediocre, and lots were wasted.  Bud Fisher took the scraps home for his chickens.  We emptied salt and papper pots into the waste and reckoned the eggs would come out hot!  The caretaker was Mr Grundy.  He lived in the small lodge at the entrance.  When Mr Grundy discovered I came from Wigston he used me as a carrier to bring pies from Mr Burdett's shop.  Mr Burdett was a relative.
I believe a Mr Kersey was the physics master.  One day he got all the lads to hold hands.  I held back, as I saw a magneto with wires leading off.  He nodded at me and spun the cog on the magneto, and a yelp came from the boys as the spark travelled round them.  I was told to inform the lads why I had held back.  I helped out on the farm and had such a shock when cranking a tractor.  The handle kicked back and I lost my front teeth.  I enjoyed singing the old songs and can still sing many music hall ones to this day.  Some are in my book Duncan's Ditties of Leicestershire.  It is difficult recalling school details, but my memories of the blitz are in One Man's Wigston.  Every day, after a sleepless night, I did my paper round on my ten shilling bike and earned five shillings a week.  We all sat up during the night, seeing the red glow over Leicester and hearing the explosions.  Then off to school next day.  To my mother it was a sin to miss any schooling.
A vivd memory is of a big building in Charles Street.  It was still burning, and a fireman guided us round the debris.  There was smoke and dust everywhere.  We walked to the hot dog stall on Humberstone Gate where the massive Freeman, Hardy & Willis building was a smouldering ruin.  Went on to school.  County Boys we shouted to the Door Monitor, which excused us being late.  However we abused that privilege on many occasions.  We lads did not understand the perils of war.  After Dunkirk we saw troops arriving at South Wigston station.  They walked, not marched, to the nearby Glen Parva barracks.  The LDV, later the Home Guard, built barricades across many roads.  Very few had rifles.  Some had shotguns or - yes - pitchforks.  We played sports, football and cricket on the Grace Road playing fields  (To be continued - Ed)

FROM DAVE POSTLES 1960-67   Reference to Ken Witts in OWT103 reminds me of A-level geography, which was my sole contact with him.  Ken gave instructions in the climatology component, and WAG Pace was responsible for geomorphology.  There was a distinct contrast in their teaching (and our learning) styles.  Whereas WAG expected us to take voluminous notes, Ken insisted that notebooks remained closed, and no notes taken.  If I remember correctly, Ken directed the field trip to the exotic Wreake Valley, walking from Frisby to Hoby.  There was an intermission on the terrace between Rotherby and Brooksby to make sketches.  WAG, rather severely for his usual demeanour, took leadership of the other field trip through Bradgate Park. 

OBITUARIES   Alan Pantling,  1941-46, passed away on April 25th aged 88.  His daughter, Alison Watts, writes:  I meant to write down some of his memories, and still can at some stage.  I have his school bible and reports and even his blazer badge, which he had kept safely all these years.  The school certainly had a very lovely and lasting place in my Dad's heart, and he spoke of it frequently throughout my whole life  (Ediror's note.  Alison gives Alan's dates as 1939-44, but that seems incorrect.  Alan told me 1941-46, but I suppose it's not too important now)
Brian Screaton informs us that the Rev Gerald Rimmington  (1941-48) passed away earlier this month aged 89.  When Wyvernians had the memorial boards restored some years ago, Gerald performed the re-dedication ceremony.
Don Wright tells us that Neville Jackson (1942-47) passed away in August.  He and his wife lived in Hinckley for many years.  Neville's main hobby was photography, including 3D, and he was a prominent member of local clubs.  Until recently Neville was a regular attender at our reunions.

For my sins I am a life member of Leicestershire County Cricket Club and pay several visits to Grace Road, our former playing fields, during the season. Earlier this year I was informed there was to be a re-union of former pupils of the school at the ground. This took me somewhat by surprise as the only re-union I am aware of is the annual one in March at Clarence House for which I have a 100% attendance record. The explanation came later when I learned that the re-union was for former pupils who had played for the school cricket team. Naturally this would not include me as my cricketing skills ( if I had any ) were far below those required to play for the school team. I wonder if any Wyvernians can throw any light on this second re-union. For information I do see Frank Whitelam at the ground from time to time. From memory Frank was a fine opening bat for the school team.

FROM RICH WAKEFIELD  1961-68   So, here I am sitting in the warm with music playing drowning out the sound of the rain hammering violently on the window panes (Incidentally and irrelevantly the music is Country Joe and the Fish) I decide to put figurative pen to figurative paper and write something for the Old Wyves columns. Just at the point when I thought I may have to invent a memory, inspiration struck.   I had been telling a couple of stories to a pal a few days earlier, they came back to me now.
So, gentlemen, let me transport you back the the Biology Laboratory at Humberstone Gate. A motley collection of 4th year boys are sitting at the benches with their note books, text books and pencils all ready.  We are looking vaguely at an empty blackboard and a total lack of teachers, awaiting the arrival of the redoubtable Mr Flo Willan.
In due course he sailed in, resplendent in his gown and clutching a bundle of books. He announced briskly we should turn to a particular page in our text books, and that today we were going to be dealing with reproduction.  There was a murmur of joy, followed by a murmur of disappointment when we saw the text book was dealing with rabbits. To be fair, I understand they are fairly adept at this particular subject.

Flo turned to the board, his cape spread behind him rather like a cormorant drying its wings, and feverishly drew or wrote on the board.  None of us could see what he was drawing or writing at this stage.  He then moved away from his now complete masterpiece to reveal a chalk diagram of the appropriate organs on the board.  Then he spoke.  "Copy the diagram into your notebooks, we will add labels later.  Don't be afraid to draw your testicles nice and large like mine." We all found it hilarious, but daren't laugh until after the lesson and there were a good few yards between this redoubtable biologist and ourselves.  Only in later years, indeed at a reunion in Humberstone Gate, did it dawn on me, whilst recounting the tale to another former pupil (who had heard the very same statement a year or two earlier)  this was his little prank or icebreaker!  There was another incident with this man. I want to say it was on the same day, but I am not sure.  You may recall he would stand with his back to his table, place his hands on the edge and raise himself up and sort of hover for a second or two before dropping onto the table. This day we  were interested.  He had his geography wrong. He was standing directly in front of a gas tap. Did we call out and warn him?  Er, no. He dropped onto the tap and stoically remained there for a couple of minutes before standing up again and wandering to a safer spot where he repeated the manouevre, with a tad more dignity and less discomfort.

FROM KASH SAHOTA  1974-81   This anecdote relates to c1979, when any young lad with a few quid in his pocket could walk into a shop and buy an air rifle, with few questions asked.  You could then take it on a bus to school (in a case) and use it on the range under the stage in the main hall at Downing Drive.  Here the supervising teacher would leave the group to their own devices.  Mmm, how times have changed - I hope.  Some of my recollections have been corrected by Andrew Holmes, we attended the school at the same time.  We were friends, but after this incident perhaps he should have been my best friend.
Had I asked my parents if I could have an air rifle the answer would have been NO, and I would probably have received a good thrashing for even suggesting it.  So I obtained one without their knowledge.  To get it out of the house one morning per week I sneaked it into the porch before going into the kitchen for breakfast, then collected it as I left for the bus stop.  On the morning in question my mother, in between me sneaking and collecting, decided to put the milk bottles out and found the case containing the rifle.  Needless to say, I s**t myself, but denied any knowledge.  After a brief exchange of words I headed to the bus stop.  'What now, what now, help, panic' would have been my only thoughts.  I don't know where the inspiration came from, but it did.  I ran down the street to Andrew's house and asked him for a massive favour, and between us we concocted a story.  He knocked on our door and told my mother the air rifle was his, and he had got drunk the night before and left it outside the house as he knew I lived there.  My mother's English was not the best, and although I imagine she gave Andrew some stern looks he was able to convince her of his honesty.  He retrieved the rifle, and gave it to me at the bus stop.  I am not sure if you can have a hero in such a tale of lies and deceit, but if you can then Andrew played that role and saved the day.  Nice one, Beastie,  as he was known at the time.

FROM ANDREW HOLMES 1974-81   (I forwarded Kash's e-mail to Andrew, who sent this reply - Ed)  Ha ha.  Yes, I remember that.  The school had an air rifle club, but I never had one myself.  But Kash lived up the road from me, and we knew where each other lived.  One morning,as I was getting ready for school, my mother said, 'There's someone at the door for you.'  I went to see who it was - Kash.  I asked him what was up, and he explained he had left his rifle and case on his own doorstep the previous night and could I come and apologetically pick it up and say it was mine.  Otherwise his mother would kill him because she did not know he had a rifle.  So on my way to the bus stop I did as he asked.  I apologised to his mother, for something I had not actually done, and for something that did not actually belong to me, and let me tell you it felt ** embarrassing.  But I got the rifle back to Kash at the bus stop.  It had been a rather hairy moment. I used to have long brown hair and they called me The Beast,  that being after Mr Burden, the biology teacher, had named me The Wild Man From Borneo.  You should have seen the look on the mother's face.
Thinking about this reminds me that a group of us were heavily into The Beatles at that time.  Does Kash recall me recording a cassette of Rossini overtures for him?  He asked me to do that because he had seen the Beatles fim Help, and the credits had a number of Rossini overtures like The Barber of Seville and he wanted to know more about the music.

AND FINALLY   After one hundred and four OWT's I am running out of my personal anecdotes, so will repeat one.  I was never a fan of PT, swimming or games and occasionally resorted to a risky manoeuvre to avoid them.  This involved me sneaking downstairs in the early morning, finding the Basildon Bond writing pad, and in what I hoped looked like adult writing composed something like the following;  Dear Mr Gilman, please excuse Dennis from PT/swimming/games today as he has a bad cold/hurt his ankle/sprained his knee etc (choose one from each section)  Yours sincerely M J Duggan (Mrs)  Each morning, either before or after assembly, Jock Gilman stood at the door of the staff room to receive excuse notes from the little queue of boys.  After glancing at the notes he initialled them, job done.  That entitled the bearer to sit on the balcony at Vestry Street baths, sit out the PT lessons, or go into the library instead of Grace Road or Rushey Mead.  I still recall the feeling of apprehension as Jock perused my notes, and looking back it seems inconceivable he was taken in by them.  My theory is that he simply could not be bothered with the trouble that would ensue if he rejected the notes, so it was easier to accept them.  Happy days!

Dennis J Duggan   October 24th 2019