Sunday 10 April 2022

Fwd: OWT114 April 2022

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     APRIL 2022

REUNION LUNCH   Brian Screaton (1959-65) reports: The inaugural Wyvernians lunchtime get-together took place on Wednesday 30th March at the restaurant in Clarence House, and was voted a great success by all who attended. Kerry and Adam and all the staff in the AgeUK kitchen did us proud, and it was a very convivial lunch with attendees including former teachers Tony Baxter, John Lawson and Dave Lawrence, former school secretary Jill Povoas and about 24 former pupils. It was a pleasure to welcome some post-Clarence House pupils, including Rob Willson and Chris Jinks. We are aiming to have another lunch in early October this year, and thereafter continue with the Reunion proper in March and the lunch in the late Autumn. Thanks are due to John Hames for making all the arrangements with AgeUK.
   (From Dave Zanker - 1957-62)  It is with much sadness that we report the passing of my brother, Steve Zanker (1961-68) on March 19th.  Steve was a well-known sportsman, and notably represented the school at football throughout his tenure.  He went on to Leicester University, where he gained his degree in Engineering.  Steve then spent a successful career in teaching, becoming Deputy Head at Barwell Junior School.  In later years he also became well-known for his role in developing educational computer networking.  Steve had suffered from lung cancer for many years, a condition which he fought bravely.  He passed away peacefully at home, with his wife Janet by his side.  Rest in peace, Steve.

Duncan Lucas (1940-44) passed away February 2022.

FROM BRIAN SCREATON  1959-65   Following the death of former teacher Eric Orton, I sent a donation from Wyvernians funds to Eric's chosen charity, Dementia UK.  I have received this very kind letter from Margery, his wife: Many thanks for your contribution to Eric's chosen charity fund - Dementia UK.  We were able to send £350 in his memory.  Anything that will help to improve the lives for sufferers must be good.  It was very sad to see such an energetic, fit person suffer with this problem and gradually lose all faculties.  He treasured his memories of City Boys' School - as it will always be for us - and the friends we made there and kept all our lives.  Best wishes, Margery Orton.

FROM DAVE WINTER  1960-67   Sad news about Eric Orton, whose nickname for some unaccountable reason was Ben.  He was a very good teacher indeed, especially for sixth form work.  Highly organised, and very hard-working himself, he expected a lot from us.  Every lesson was thoroughly prepared, and executed with energy and humour.  He was the only teacher to invite we sixth formers to his house for dinner, something which - in those days - seemed almost revolutionary.  Sometime after I left school I gather he became Head teacher at Lancaster Boys' School.  I can only imagine he was a success there too.

FROM RICHARD CHATHAM  1967-74   Sad to hear the news about Eric Orton.  He was a great French master, and fostered the love of languagesI  used throughout my career.  Other masters included John Mawby, John Webster, Mr O'Higgins and, of course, Grit Whitbread for Latin.  And in the spirit of words, fun and your apology to Ken Ward regarding your typing error in his contribution about cats, I believe it should have read the smaller of the two cats.  It is only the smallest if it refers to three or more cats!

FROM THE REVD DEREK HOLLIS  1972-79   I am sorry to read of the death of Eric Orton.  He taught me French, and some years after leaving school I came across him again as I attended the Leicester French Circle.  I was thinking of him only a few days ago (This was written January 7th - Ed)  This week I learned from a facebook contact, who recently played the organ for a service at St Denys church, Evington, that Bill Mann (A regular church member and bell ringer) is now in the nursing home at Arbor House, and said to be afflicted with dementia. Thinking back to my time at the school, I was secretary of the History Society during my later years there.  On occasions I recall we used to spend a society meeting watching a number of old cine films depicting school life.  They were silent, but quite amusing.  I wonder what happened to those films.  Did they ever reach the Wyvernian archive?  (Editor's note - the films surfaced c2001, and were transferred to DVD.  They are shown at the annual reunions)  I am still in touch with John and Margaret Webster, who taught at the school.  John taught German, Margaret taught geography.

FROM ALAN PYKETT  1959-66   I was interested in the article by Dave Postles, and would make a couple of points.  I well remember that Dave studied both geography and German for 'O' level in the way he describes.  I don't know if any other pupil in 5L took the same route.  I suppose I could have done, but did not give it much thought.  Secondly, Dave mentions books and plays studied over the two years in the sixth form towards the literature part of the French 'A' level exam.  I still have the exam paper, and believe the five books/plays studied were - with the authors in brackets - as follows:  Le Cid (Corneille) Les Femmes Savantes (Moliere) Les Hommes de la Route (Chamson) La Tete Sur les Epaules (Troyat) and Hernani (Hugo)  I believe the third one mentioned was about the Tour de France and the fourth one was about existentialism.  Happy days!

FROM RICH WAKEFIELD  1961-68   Further to the article by Steve Mellor, about his experiences at the French Revolution back in the summer of '76.  I recall that I, and a group of friends (Many educated at CBS) blagged our way in by delivering a rousing, if somewhat tuneless, chorus of 'vivat crescat'.  I wonder if we are listed amongst the undesireable rabble??!!

FROM KEN WARD  1959-66  Second year sixth Part 1   (Continuing Ken's memories - Ed)  I applied to Imperial College, London; University College, London; Nottingham; Brunel and Loughborough to study chemical engineering, and also to study metallurgy at Nottingham.  At this point I had six meagre 'O' levels grades but NOT English language.  The chances of acceptance for any of the courses was minimal - even the lower ones like Brunel or Loughborough - without English language.  But to my surprise I was offered an interview at Imperial College, and was put with a group of five other interviewees.  We were shown round the chemical engineering building, with its new and old laboratories.  This was like nothing I had seen before, and I can still remember my excitement.  The interviewer was very friendly, and when we were alone I told him I had not yet passed my English language 'O' level and would that be an issue?  His reassuring reply was it was not a major concern for him.  He gave us some tasks in the group sessions.  One was to solve differential equations, and I was able to separate and integrate them with ease, whereas the others were hesitant or did not have a clue.  He also set two problems - have a go at them!
Q1:  You have a bucket almost full of water.  In it you float a wooden boat, and you place a tin soldier in the boat.  When the soldier falls out of the boat, does the water level go up or down?
Q2:  You want to make a cup ot tea.  Is the tea warmer if you put the milk in first, or last.  Or will the temperature be the same - and why?
One of the benefits of the new school was the massive playing fields, so we didn't have to go to Grace Road for sports, or to Melton Road for crosss country with the privilege of changing in the cow sheds! 
At the beginning of the year I was hoping to play in the 1st XI football team, but on the first practice session I found myself playing with the rest of the Wednesday afternoon group  Part way through some changes were made, and I was asked to join the others on the 1st XI pitch.  I was elated, and felt ten feet tall, even though I was the smallest player on the pitch.  Dave Lawrence was the coach that year, he stuck me on the right wing where I stayed for the rest of the season.  It was great to be back with all the friends I had played with for many years.  It was a good year, with many goals scored, but not as many as Geoff Elliott.  My football career was almost short-lived.  I played in goal during a training session, my second position.  Mick McCoughlin hit the ball.  I failed to catch it, but it hit my hand and it hurt.  I looked at the middle finger of my right hand, the tip was bent at ninety degrees.  I was sent to hospital - without a teacher - they fitted a large plaster of paris splint which I wore for six weeks.  You can imagine the comments I received from my class and team mates.  The cast was set to allow the small piece of bone attached to the tendon to join with the floating finger tip.  The next week I strapped up the whole hand so I could play football.  Fortunately Dave Lawrence allowed this, though it might have taken some begging and persuasion.  I doubt it would be allowed today  (To be continued - Ed)

FROM MURRAY WALNE  1961-68   Good to read the old panoramic photos have been archived at Bond Street.  I've been tidying up my old family photos, and one of the panoramics showing my father is badly damaged.  My father, born in 1908, was at Bond Street 1920-23, so I shall pay a visit.  Not sure I'll recognise him though!  (Editor's note - I jumped the gun about the photos being on display, as at the time the building refurbishment was not finished.  I understand that Brian Screaton has donated a spare copy of the relevant photo to Murray)

AND FINALLY...   One afternoon per week was GAMES, at Rushey Fields or Grace Road.  It could be football, cricket or cross-country.  Of course, most boys relished the idea of an afternoon'e sport, but a few of us were not so keen.  To this day, I have no interest whatsoever in any form of sport.  Football was my worst nightmare.  Cricket was not so bad.  If on the fielding side it was a simple matter to stand as far away from the wicket as possible, and with a bit of luck the ball could be avoided completely.  If batting, it was easy to be one of the last men in, as most of the lads could not wait to wield the bat.  Usually the games session was over before numbers ten or eleven were called on, and I recall only one occasion when I was obliged to buckle on the pads.  So it was a relief when Jock Gilman blew his whistle (or shouted through his megaphone) as I was about to head for the wicket. I did not mind cross-country at Rushey Fields.  Sometimes we did the short course, others times the longer one which took us across farmland and along Barkby Road.  The fields have long since been built on.  Ironically one of the streets leading back to the park was called Wyvern Avenue!  My best friend at school was Peter McDermott, who shared my dislike of sport.  We sometimes used a good dodge at Rushey Fields, where the changing facilities consisted of a couple of long, narrow buildings with no windows.  The only illumination was via the open door, so sometimes Peter and I went to the very back of the huts were it was almost pitch black.  We waited until everyone had changed and moved to the pitches, which were on the other side of the park, then cautiously checked to see the coast was clear.  The terminus of the No 42 corporation bus was conveniently sited by the park gate, so it was easy to travel into town and transfer to our buses home.  Peter Lived in Evington, I lived in South Wigston.  Of course, the dodge was only viable because Jock never troubled to take a roll-call or do a simple head count.  The dodge was used several times, and never failed.  It all seems rather childish now, and probably not worth the risk.  But perhaps that was the challenge?    It was all a very long time ago.

Dennis J Duggan  1959-64
April 9th 2022