Saturday, 2 January 2021

Fwd: OWT 109 January 2021

TEL 01938 555574   07804 520730  
     JANUARY 2021

EDITORIAL   Welcome to the first OWT of 2021.  Once again there is enough material to make it an interesting read, but please consider sending a contribution, no matter how trivial it might seem to you.  It is a source of wonder to me that we have managed 109 issues; collect them together and we would probably end up with a book longer than War and Peace!  We are currently losing more members than we are gaining, and it is inevitable that Wyvernians in its current form will eventually fade away.  We have talked about inviting post-1976 pupils to join us, and the very few people (two or three!) who commented had no major objections.  Personally, after due consideration, I feel it would be better if those people who never attended Humberstone Gate formed their own society.  Some, of course, managed to be at both!
Submissions -  OWT is a simple e-mail document, and I prefer contributions in that format as it makes it easier for me to edit, cut and paste.  Items sent as an attachment may, or may not, lend themselves to be suitably adapted and I might have to retype them.  In the early days many people did not have access to e-mail, and received OWT via SAE's.  That meant a maximum of four A4 pages, hence the text is quite dense.  Now only three people receive their copies by post, but the format needs to remain the same.  Thank you to everyone who sent a Christmas card.

REUNION 2021   Saturday September 18th.  Watch this space!!!

FROM KENNETH WARD  1959-66   Third year - Elbow Lane.  Class 2B had become 3B with very little change to the incumbents.  But we did move to another classroom on the ground floor, next to the playground and walled garden.  The bonus was we had an adjacent room, where we played table tennis, and our own small playground.  The table tennis table was well-used, and I learned the basic skills which were useful in the future when I had the opportunity to play.  I could make a 'smash' rather than a 'hash'.  At seventy-plus I still love to play and can give a resaonable account of myself, but it is more 'hash' followed by a 'crash'! 
A good friend, Bruce Gibson ' Boogie to his mates - had a desk near the rear of the room, close to some cupboards.  The cupboard next to him contained a jar holding some rotting material in which a fly must have laid its eggs.  This resulted in maggots.  Those in the vicinity of the jar thought that life had been created in 3B, though I doubt any of us excelled in biology.  The fun came in making paper aeroplanes.  A maggot was loaded into the cockpit, and the plane launched to the front of the class.  These plans were scuppered when Luigi Bourne stopped his French lesson to investigate the apparent invasion of an alien species.
We began doing maths and the sciences seriously.  I took to chemistry and physics, and began to do well.  The first chemistry task was to learn the symbols of the elements.  All kids should be taught the periodic table, and told how the elements are built up structurally.  They should not move on until they can recall them like the times tables - it is the basis of chemistry and a shame that so many fall at this first hurdle.  Even for those who don't do science it is great knowledge for quizzes!!  I also took a great interest in maths, which must have shaped my future academic and working careers.
This was the time we were introduced to algebra.  A very old Bob Roberts told us about y=mx+c.  For me this was a key moment, and my fun with numbers began.  Integration and differentation were just what I needed to progress.  Not easy, but nor was it a chore.  My friend Brian Hill was in the same year, but he was brainy.  Brian had moved to 4 Alpha by skipping a year.  We always travelled to school on the Corporation or Midland Red bus from New Parks.  On the way he helped me with the maths, as I was so eager to do well.
One of the lessons I enjoyed was woodwork with Mr Hutchinson.   Every teacher had a nickname, his was Bunny.  He was a great teacher and an inspiration.  Aged about fourteen or fifteen Boogie had introduced me to horse riding.  At weekends we went to a stable in Queniborough.  They had some twenty two horses and ponies, up to eighteen hands.  We would be there all day on Saturdays and Sundays.  We went to work to earn a ride, as we could not afford lessons.  There was a great gang of lads and lasses who mucked out and prepared the horses for the gentry to go hacking in the surrounding countryside.  While the horses were out we would stand on top of the hay pile, separating the droppings from the bedding.  On cold days the rising steam kept us warm.  Believe it or not we loved it! 
During that time we learned that Bunny was a part-time jockey, which came as a surprise.  We got to talk to Bunny in more detail about his love of horses and racing, and the details of his other life became clear.  As I recall, he rode for Lord Crawshaw, and lived above the stables on the estate.  Our mutual interest was always a topic of conversation after the weekend, and this led Bunny to invite me to go racing with him - a point-to-point at Market Rasen one Easter.  It was a great experience, and if I remember correctly he rode a grey mare called September Mourn (Sic)  Mr Hutchinson, if you read this extract thank you for that great Easter it will never be forgotten.  I did not become a jockey, but still have the love of horses.

Trevor Hides  1964-71.  Passed away September 20th 2020

Greg Allen  1959-65  
Greg in specs on the left
at a BT retirement party

Passed away cNovember 2020.  Frank Smith writes: I remember Greg for a number of reasons.  His family ran a cafe on the corner of Groby Road and Fosse Road, possibly living above it.  He was fanatical about motor bikes, and owned one from a young age.  For many years he worked with my brother, Pete, as a BT telephone engineer at the exchange in Wharf Street.  Greg attended at least one reunion, maybe with Chris, his younger brother.
John Hames writes: this is sad news.  Greg was a character with a great sense of humour.  As I remember, he was a keen cyclist and often kept up with the bus on the way to Grace Road for games lessons.  I have a happy memory of Greg stalking behind Bill Sykes as he walked to the back of the classroom during French or English lessons in 1B.  By the time  Bill had turned round to see why we were laughing, Greg had smartly returned to his seat.  RIP Greg, and thanks for the memories.

Dr John Sweeney  1963-70.  

Passed away October 21st 2020. The following announcement was made on our Facebook page by John's brother Denis:-

"It is with much sadness to inform you that Dr John Sweeney has passed away suddenly at his home in Cork, Ireland. I know how much he loved attending meetings of the Old Wyvernians, catching up with old school pals and teachers. He will be sorely missed by his wife, family, friends and colleagues everywhere. For those who wish can add a condolence message at Thank you, Denis. — in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia."


Ivor Bufton  1944-52.  Passed away November 18th 2020.  Sheila Bufton writes: Sad to tell you that Ivor has died.  He enjoyed the reunions, and but for his dementia would have attended more.  The more recent pupils would be quite unaware of his activities and successes during his time at the school, but some readers no doubt came across his father!  He is survived by myself and three daughters.  Tudor, his elder brother, is still fairly active at the age of 93.  Their father lived to be 97.  Long may Old Wyves continue.

Steve Merrill  1958-63.  Unconfirmed  reports say Steve has passed away.  Steve's claim to fame was to be a bearer at the funeral of King Richard III in 2015.

Steve in his schooldays

Steve as a pall bearer in 2015
at the reburial of King Richard III

Alan Taylor  1944-49  Alan, who received OWT by post, wrote to me in July as follows:  as you can see, I have moved to a care home, purely because I could no longer cope on my own.  Knee problems mean I cannot walk, and I am told I would not survive the necessary operation.  That was because of my heart problems in 1997.  I have enclosed some new address labels, and a book of stamps, but I doubt you will need them all!  I am certain they will last longer than me.

FROM JOHN O'GRADY  1959-64  
Reading OWT is good, even from the other side of the world where I have lived since leaving the school; it helps to fondly recall the 'good ol' days at CBS. So many school contemporaries have written here and as I read their contributions I might occasionally pull out my old class or school photos, and my copy of Andy Marlow's history of the school and identify them if possible; I can usually put a name to a face, although their appearance is likely different now. There are some that seem to have'disappeared and I wonder what happened to them; maybe to OWT readers I am one of those, but I'm still around, just not in Leicester.
  Recent writings address the topic of why we made the choice to attend CBS; I had no such choice, my two older brothers had attended CBS and mother told me in no uncertain terms that I was too, as there was a good supply of hand-me-down clothing that could not go unused. Although not a conscious choice on my part, I never regretted my time there. The junior school building at Lee St was a little rugged maybe, and then Elbow lane organisation somewhat makeshift in its first year, but I enjoyed Clarence House later. I didn't appreciate the calibre of teachers whilst attending as a student, but looking back I now realise how incredibly fortunate we were to have such capable and dedicated staff. Even in Lee St, the rigours of new first-form topics like algebra and geometry were taught by Mr Witts who could seemingly bowl a piece of chalk to bounce off any errant boy's head in response to verbal interference. I was rather cynical on the topic of RI with Sadie Thompson even then, but he taught it well, and often provided a good laugh especially when in answer to a query about a biblical reference to Jewish custom, explained what a circumcision involved. Wally's geography I found tedious & uninspiring, roneo'd world maps in our exercise books and sternly dictated notes. I recall him stopping me in the corridor during the first week and removing his glasses to rub his furrowed brow, asked with closed eyes if there were any more O'Grady boys to come. He seemed relieved to hear my negative response & even opened his eyes, leaving me wondering what mischief my two elder siblings had committed in the past, and how that may impact my immediate future.
I made it into 3 alpha so must have fooled someone at some point in time. Initially I was a poor student however, only just hanging on and avoiding relegation. Perhaps the headmaster's terms-end visit to the class with the class list, and occasionally naming me aloud as needing to do better, provided some stimulus, for a day or two anyway; near enough was good enough then. It was only during 4 alpha that I started paying any real attention, achieved some results and moved up the class lists. I became alarmed at one point when I realised it wasn't others sliding down, but I quite liked learning and thought I was becoming a 'swat'. Being back at the main campus meant I could be part of the charge around to Bayliss' asking for stale doughnuts at 1d each; disappointment was common. Sports days were always a disaster for me too, soccer I was hopeless, cannot kick a ball straight even now. Cricket was no better and receiving a glancing blow on the head from the ball when fielding without paying attention did not improve things. Cross country was OK though, Rushey Fields were not far from home and I found that if I picked up the pace somewhat, I could be changed and on an early bus directly home from there. Jock thought I was perhaps OK at running but I kept quiet about the sole motivation being the early departure rather than interest in the actual running. My term reports (which I still have) spoke of 'lack of school spirit' since I never made any teams of course, did not try out for the famous fencing team, did not join the school play, not much of anything at the time.

Fifth form loomed and that meant subject choices. I had not enjoyed any of the arts and performed badly, Bill Sykes could not seem to force any French into my head, History & Wag Pace's Geography had eluded any spark of real interest, so I chose science but felt bad because my long-time friend Brian Stevenson, who had began primary school with me and eventually we moved to CBS together, chose arts and we more-or-less separated. I found 5th form great, really good, though and forged ahead with gusto, Dr Burrow's chemistry (partnered for some classes with Frank Smith as I recall) made sense, but the absolutely outstanding teachers to me at the time were Tony Baxter and Bill Mann. Mr Mann was superb in Physics, it all came together so well; I recall the first lesson and he announced he would offer an extra subject of Physics Prac to any volunteers that wished to participate; definitely not a requirement and a subject taken after school hours. So on Monday afternoons, as the rest of the school departed, we few masochistic takers participated in this extra class. Going home in the dark during winter, close to 5pm, was nothing like detention, rather a minor price to pay for the delights of participation in designing & setting up experiments in the lab; I recall one of the first was correcting for cooling effects with departure from ambient temperature. Mathematics became not just interesting, but intriguing too as we juggled differentiation and integration, quadratic equations and so on. Tony Baxter had been a class mate of my elder brother, and the story of his end-of-school prank when they left the school was already partially known to me at that time, but I was sworn to secrecy and I never divulged anything of it; it was all so boldly unbelievable to a mere new kid in first form.

Dave Sarson and I struck up a friendship when his family moved into our district; he had a tandem which we occasionally rode to & from school; I was always on the back of course hoping he was concentrating on steering, riding along Melton Road cycle track at breakneck speeds. It was excellent to revisit the school many years later (unfortunately not Clarence House) and re-acquaint when he was deputy Head.

I managed passes in everything (including Physic Prac) except French at 'O' level – Bill Sykes strikes again - and moved to 6th form where I went into the Biology stream; there were only 5 of us using the biology lab as our class room, a small group indeed. Flo Willan was fantastic, an amazing teacher who I related to well and remained at the top of Biology from day one. Similarly, Maths Physics and Chemistry were excellent at that level and I really enjoyed school learning, so markedly different from earlier days, and I consider entirely due to the calibre of the teachers rather than anything on my part.

Events outside my influence took over however and during my first year in the 6th form, my family accepted a rather good opportunity to move to Melbourne, Australia where I completed school in a VERY different system. I was still required to re-visit French, and a new teacher in a new system guided me to very good results in even that elusive domain. The temporal difference of academic years between hemispheres saw me complete school when I would have been only half way through 6ScII if I had stayed. I went on to the University of Melbourne at a rather young age where I did quite well, and I will forever thank the teaching staff at CBS, particularly Flo Willan, Tony Baxter and Bill Mann, as it was due to their earlier encouragement and teaching that I managed good results including Dux in Physics at the end of my first university year. I loved Aus, and met and married a local so remained in Australia, and retired as Associate Professor a few years ago. Those foundation years at CBS will always be so important, and I would dearly love to attend the reunions, however it would be a rather long commute.! I will remain an avid reader of OWT however, recalling those harmonious early days at Humberstone Gate, treading the worn stone steps of Clarence House.
FROM PAUL HEALEY  1960-65   I remember David Needham from my year.  He was a tall, strong centre half for the school.  He joined Notts County, the made a big move to QPR.  From there he went to Notts Forest, and played for England.  I think he was in the Forest squad when they won the European Cup.  He had a spell in management, I think he was at Kettering Town.
Talking of subjects taught by Wally Wardle, in my brief period in the 6th form (Ding Dong and I mutually agreed it would be best for me to leave) I have an 'A' level in Economics.  I knew my days were numbered when he asked us what newspapers we took at home.  The Daily Mirror and News of the World did not get the thumbs up!  When he was head at Elbow Lane you had to go to his little office at the top of the stairs to obtain a new exercise book.  Wally always counted the pages of the old one, to make sure none had been torn out, usually to do lines.  There were four houses: De Montfort, blue (I was in it)  Abbey, green or red?  Charnwood, yellow.  ?? Green or red? I chose CBS because of football, having played in goal for Montrose, Wigston Lane.


I migrated to Australia ten years after leaving City Boys. I travelled mostly overland so took only what I could carry on my back. I knew my parents had kept some of my school memorablia. A few years later, when both of them had retired, they too migrated. Both lived to great ages but my mother developed severe dementia. My father would phone and tell me that my mother was throwing things out. She didn't want to cause me any trouble sorting out the Nachlass. My mother phoned and said: "you don't want those old school photos and reports, do you?" I had no idea they'd even bothered bringing them; they hadn't told me. I said most certainly I do want them!
My parents died within three weeks of each other. I went painstakingly through their papers but I was too late. Very little was left. Nevertheless, I can tell you that on Tuesday and Wednesday, 13 and 14 June 1972, I sat my Pure Mathematics with Statistics Advanced Papers. Because the original papers did survive. They are interesting for two reasons. I travelled to school with my friend and neighbour, Nick Weston. We had to catch the bus into town, walk up to Rutland St, then catch either the 31, 67, 69 or 70. I can't remember which day it was but we were engrossed in something which was probably either music or Monty Python. We were still preoccupied when we realised we were in the middle of nowhere—we'd caught the 68. No point trying to go back. We decided we'd get off at the closest point to Spencefield Lane then run like mad. We did and, as we charged down the corridor to the exam hall, both Mr Baxter and Mr Bell (gown billowing) were in more of a panic than we were. I think we were about 20 minutes late. Maths was the one (and only) subject I was particularly good at. I still had time to answer the questions and leave time over to double-check my answers. I was starting to triple-check when the bell went. I got the Grade A expected of me.
Which leads to the second point. The first paper was Pure Maths. There are 14 questions. Although I've retained my interest in Maths to this day, I cannot answer a single one of them. And there's only one question I can even understand. I do rather better with the Statistics paper: there are nine questions; I can understand two of them and even answer one!
My next submission to OWT will discuss the German papers. Then we'll do Economics. When I've had my fun, I intend to donate the papers and a couple of other things to the Old Wyves' archive. The school reports have all gone though. I particularly miss Mr Anderson, the form teacher's, comment from 3A of 1967/68 which went something like "Could excel if he stopped pretending to be silly". One of the things my mother retained was the Wyvern off my old blazer pocket. I've written before that I enjoyed little of my schooling but I find the Wyvern oddly touching so I think I'll keep that.

AND FINALLY   One afternoon per week was devoted to games, either at Grace Road or Rushey Fields.  Football in winter, cricket in summer.  Cross-country was a regular alternative.  I have never enjoyed team games, or any form of group activity, so I was not keen on football and cricket, but quite liked cross-country. Because Jock Gilman had a rather relaxed approach to his duties it was possible to dodge a few games sessions via a forged excuse note, but mostly it was a case of gritting one's teeth and making the best of it.  Allowing time for transport to and from the field, getting changed and sorting teams, there was probably only about an hour left for sport.  If it was a football session my policy was to stay as far away from the ball as possible, though on one occasion during my first year I became intimately acquainted with the heavy, soggy leather sphere.  In short I was rendered unconscious when it hit me on the head.  I woke to find a worried-looking Mr Sweet bending over me, though I was more concerned about possible damage to my spectacles.  After a couple of minutes recovery time I was back in the game, and no one gave the matter another thought.  How different it would be today.  Rushed to hospital for tests, an enquiry launched and no doubt my parents seeking some compo.  Cricket was better, as everyone else could  not wait to get to the wicket.  I was always last on the batting order, and apart from once the games session was over before my turn came.  On that occasion I got as far as donning the pads, but was saved by the final whistle.  So usually a nice relaxing afternoon at the pavilion.  If on the fielding side I made sure to be on the boundary, and with a bit of luck mever had to touch the ball.  But cross-country at Rushey Fields was quite enjoyable.  There was a short course and a long course, all of it is built over now.  Next time I will try to remember to print details of my various wheezes to avoid games, along with Peter McDermott, my partner in crime.

Dennis J Duggan
January 2nd 2021