Tuesday 14 July 2020

Fwd: OWT 107 July 2020


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     JULY 2020

EDITORIAL   This edition is much shorter than usual.  With 106 under our belt it is perhaps not surprising that new material is in short supply.  So contributions welcome.  If possible please send as an ordinary e-mail.  If you don't have a computer I am happy to accept items by post.  I will not print anything cruel or libellous, nor any rants.  That is not to say you cannot be critical - many correspondents have expressed negative feelings about some aspects of the school during their time there.

FROM JOHN PASIECZNIK  1971-78   Responding to your request in OWT106, I'm happy if membership of Wyvernians is widened to include those who joined the school after 1976.  My stay included two very happy years in the slightly new-look sixth form  (A few girls joined at sixteen)  where I managed to scrape passes in three 'A' levels and thence on to university.  Next year, 2021, it will be forty five years since the school lost its grammar school status, so perhaps it's a good time to widen the net.  I wonder if 1990's Old Boy Emile Hesketh mentioned the Cityof Leicester School in his much-praised 2019 autobiography?

FROM ALAN PYKETT  1959-66   I would like to comment on two items from OWT 106.  First, the issue of short trousers.  I have to say I wore these to school until the end of the second year, having attained the age of thirteen in June.  If you look at the photograph of 2A from 1960/61, the one sent to the Mercury by our editor in 1998 - which prompted the start of the reunions - I am sitting on the extreme left of the front row.  You will also see there is only one other boy in short trousers, he is sitting on the extreme right.  I believe his surname was Lees, first name possibly John.  I have always been short in stature so don't think the trousers looked out of place, though I would imagine that few are worn in primary schools nowadays.  The second point is the choice of grammar school should one pass the eleven plus.  My first choice was always going to be City Boys because, as Bharat said in his talk, it was the uniform.  Black and plain, with a striking badge, was the appeal.  I was friends with David McAngus, younger brother of John who spoke to us recently, and I had noted how smart John looked in his uniform.  My father, rather tongue-in-cheek, suggested I should put 'Wyggy' as first choice, but that was easily rebuffed.  Naturally I was delighted to be accepted by CBS, and never regretted the choice for a second.  I believe one correspondent stated you only got into CBS if it was your first choice, something I never knew.  And finally... to coin our editor's introduction to his always amusing anecdotes, I have just watched Carry On Teacher and noted that Charles Hawtrey played Mr Bean, who taught French and music and also led the school orchestra.  Does this remind us of anybody?!!

FROM RICHARD CHATHAM  1967-74   John Skevington refers to the Roberts Cup for tennis (OWT 106)  and wonders about its whereabouts.  All I know is that I was fortunate to win the cup in 1972, and held it ovenight before handing it back.  I won a box of six tennis balls, and the box only gave up the ghost a few short years ago.

FROM BRIAN SCREATON  1959-66   We have recently acquired a CBS swimming medal, in its original case, from a seller on eBay.  It was presented to Leslie John Flower for coming first in both the one-length breast stroke and the two-lengths freestyle.  Leslie's family lived at 76 Melbourne Road, Leicester, and he was born on the 1st November 1919.  He joined the school on the 17th September 1930 and left on 20th December 1935, so must have been awarded the medal at some point between those dates.  I have not been able to find out any more about Leslie, but presumably he must have seen service in the second world war.  The seller was a dealer in medals, and after receiving it I sent a light-hearted e-mail to correct him on a few points in his description.  Such as, saying the school ceased to be a grammar school in the 1940's, and calling the wyvern a dragon.  He took it in good part, and said he was delighted the medal had found its true home.  It will be displayed at the next reunion.

FROM KENNETH WARD  1959-66   (The second and final part of Ken's contribution - Ed)  I think the biggest shock was being coerced into the showers after a PE session, with Jock Gilman looking on.  Wouldn't be allowed today, but at least you soon found where you stood in the pecking order - pun intended.  What was great was the short walk to Vestry Street baths.  I couldn't swim, so was put in the shallow end with Mr Twiddly-Dee-Twiddly-Dum.  I envied the boys like Winter, who dived off the board into the deep end.  I eventually learned to swim, but it took a lesson from my friend Brian Hill to master the art.  Small as I was, I managed to get into the 1st year football team.  I liked to play in goal, but was put at inside left (when those positions existed)  As kids do I likened myself to Albert Cheeseborough, who played in this position for Leicester City.  I even had a crew cut just like Albert's, but it did not last long as my hair did not want to stay vertical - even with a dollop of Brylcreem.  OK I admit it.  What was good enough for Elvis and Cliff was good enough for me.
The centre-forward, Arthur Skinner, was the team idol.  He was quick and always finding the net.  I hope I'm correct, but I think Arthur scored seven goals in one game.  He was also a good cross-country runner.  On our first outing I tried to keep up with Skinner, but learned a quick lesson about oxygen debt.  I ended up walking most of the way, and came in last.  I subsequently learned to start slower and come home in a reasonable position.  I loved going past the Walker's Crisps factory, near Melton Road, and smelling the odours.
The changing rooms at Melton Road were nothing more than disused cow sheds, with no lighting.  And, thankfully, no showers.  Most football and cricket matches were played at Grace Road, home of the LCC.  I have always derived great pleasure in telling people I played cricket at Grace Road for six years.  My last year was at Downing Drive.  I had a try-out for the cricket team when I was eleven.  I could really slog the ball, but I think the teacher/coach was looking for technique and a little more stature, so I never had a game.  But they did find me a role as scorer.  I went to the majority of matches, with the hope of getting a game, but to no avail.  I did used to practice with the team in the nets, and one afternoon my friend Bob Evatt - a great spinner of the ball - bowled one which I tried to hook over my shoulder.  The ball came off the shoulder of the bat into my left eye.  Within seconds it had closed, with a small flow of blood.  The resulting black eye was a monster, and stayed with me in various colours for a couple of weeks.  I was always convinced I had chipped the top of my eye socket, as there was always a small bump above the eye.
In retrospect I feel sorry for Bill Sykes, who took us for French and music in the first year.  During one lesson, in the Lee Circle 'Portakabins', Bill got us to sing When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again.  It was great when the class sang this in unison, but there was a TV advert which used the same tune.  The words were, the Weetabix come in two by two, the elephant and the kangaroo - or something like that.  One person began to sing this alternative version, and before you knew it half the class was doing the same.  Bill would slam his hands on the piano and race up and down the aisles shouting his head off.  'Who's singing that song?'
One of the playground games was Touch Rugby.  This was the only option, as playing football required a ball, and also less than one hundred and eighty boys standing about chatting.  We did not have a rugby ball, so fashioned one out of a school cap.  You had to wear these to and from school, but not in the playground.  Later in my school life I learned that rugby was not a game I should be playing - more later - but this playground game should have convinced me never to play at all.  There it was, a sunny lunchtime and the crowd applauding as I legged it down the playground.  Then Skinner came out of the blue.  He pushed, rather than touched, and I went face-first into a metal post.  There was blood everywhere.  I went to hospital but was told they could do nothing.  A tooth had gone through my lower lip, and it was not possible to stitch it.  To this day I still carry the scar, never having got round to cosmetic surgery.  Skinner, I hope you read this one day.  But don't fret, you are still my hero.
We stayed in Lee Circle for one year, then the huts were demolished to make way for a branch of Tesco, a multi-storey car park and a thirty six-lane bowling alley.  But where did we go for the second year?  Well, there was good news and bad news.  The good news was that we were moving to Gateway Girls school.  By the end of that first year I had begun to take an interest in girls.  The bad news was the girls were moving to a new school in New Parks where they merged with Alderman Newton Girls.
Throughout my school life we were moved from one derelict building to another, finishing up in a brand new building.  
I think this was a good learning curve for my life in general, and my career in particular.  Year two and onwards to follow.

FROM FRANK RICHARDSON  1945-50   Further to the comments about Basher Brewin.  I never liked religious education, but one year Basher took us for the subject.  He taught us about the Old Testament. It was like history, which I enjoyed.  He explained the parting of the waters, flooding of the world and a lot more, in words we could appreciate and understand.  It was the only time I enjoyed RE.  Basher was also a good maths teacher.

AND FINALLY...  As we have some spare space I am going to be a little contentious here, so feel free to disagree.  I can only speak about the intakes of the fifties and sixties, when I was a schoolboy.  It seems to me that by the end of the first term each yearly intake had formed into three sections.  The first contained the fortunate few who were effortlessly good at everything.  Natural footballers, swimmers, cricketers and athletes.  Everything also seemed to come easily to them on the academic front, from maths to physics, biology to geography, languages to history.  They became captains of teams, starred in the school plays etc.  It was taken for granted they would spent three years in the sixth form before leaving for Oxbridge.  The second, largest, group were the average boys, or at least average by CBS standards.  They did their best, seldom found themselves in trouble, did their homework diligently and were often pretty good on the sporting front.  The third group were boys who found themselves out of their depth academically, and to make matters worse performed poorly at sports.  Perhaps they had the wrong mindset for work in a grammar school  These were the boys who sleep-walked their way through their five years, and looked forward to the day they would be released and find a job.  I was in the third group, having been demoted from 1 Alpha to 1A after one term.  My second year was spent in 2A, then it was 3B and 4B.  My set of reports shows I was consistent in being inconsistent! Results and comments from the teachers varied wildly from term to term and year to year.  It seems that sometimes I tried, and sometimes did not.  The only year I came close to enjoying was the fifth, 1963/64.  I was in 5F, a small class of eleven boys.  It's probably fair to say that little was expected of us, and my memories are of a fairly easy time.  I obtained two GCE passes, French and English.  Ken Witts was form master, we had a great time with him.  He took us for the last period on Friday afternoons, and sometimes we did a quiz or some puzzles.  The final general report, written by Ken, reads: It has been rather difficult to ascertain his general attitude owing to his quiet manner, but I feel he has tried to do his best work in an effort to obtain a good GCE result.  In the summer term I came 6th, and was never absent or late nor had any detentions.

Dennis J Duggan  1959-64
Founder and Secretary, Wyvernians
July 14th 2020