Thursday 13 October 2022

Fwd: OWT116 Oct 2022

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LUNCH 2022   Wednesday October 12th at Clarence House.  I hear the event was a great success, with about twenty five people enjoying an excellent meal - and excellent service - courtesy of Age UK.  Many thanks to Brian, Frank and John for making the arrangements. 
To see a few photos on Facebook (courtesy of John Hames) click/tap HERE 

   With the passing of the Queen, and her funeral, my thoughts went back to 1952 when her father, King George VI, died.  I was in 4 Alpha at the time, and recall Mr Gould, our form master and English teacher, informing us of his death.  As far as I can recall, we were sent home for the day.  The radio played solemn music for days, and as a result we missed our favourite programmes.  We did not have a TV set at the time.  The coronation took place in 1953, and the whole city centre was decorated with bunting.  But it was a miserable, damp day.  We crowded in front of a neighbour's small TV to watch the ceremony and procession.  It was a day to remember, and we also had the news that Mount Everest had been conquered by Edmund Hilary and Sherpa Tensing.  One other hazy memory goes back to, I think, 1946 when King George and Queen Elizabeth visited Leicester.  We were taken from Humberstone Junior School to Victoria Park to wave to the royal party as they paraded through the city.  That was my only contact with the royal family, as despite living in London for the past fifty seven years I have never managed to attend another royal event.  I'm sure Queen Elizabeth II visited Leicester several times, but by then I was on my travels.  I wonder what my old school friends recall of these events?

NEW FB PAGE   Mick Howell (1973-80) has created a new facebook page for ex-pupils who joined CBS in 1973  (Search fb for City of Leicester Boys' School 1973 joiners) or go straight to  The 'committee' feel this is a good idea.  When I re-formed Wyvernians I was fifty years old, next month I will be seventy five.  Way back in 1998 it made sense to restrict membership to pre-1976, but as time passes the current Wyvernians will gradually continue to fade away.  New blood will help it to survive, though I suspect that many people (including me) have no attachment to Downing Drive.  But perhaps we can also say the Downing Drive contingent have no attachment to Humberstone Gate!
On that topic, you might have noticed that OWT is now much shorter than it used to be.  That is because there is a shortage of material.  After 116 editions, and several hundred thousand words, those Old Boys who wanted to share their memories have done so.  Perhaps it's time to pull the plug?

OBITUARIES   Dennis Leavesley (1943-48) passed away earlier this year.
I received the following message from Brian Screaton - Ed  Some sad news - Old Wyvernian Malcolm Law has passed away.  He did not attend any reunions, and as far as I know he was not on our email list, but some of you may remember him.  I think he was at CBS around the same time as me - 1959-65.  I came to know him again when I was a volunteer on the Great Central Railway, and an obituary appeared in the railway's newsletter.
John Williamson informed me that his uncle, Tom Williamson (1946-51) passed away December 2021.  He was living in Namibia, near Swakopmund, which was the location for the remake of The Prisoner.

FROM HOWARD TOON  1950-57   Memories fade with the passage of time, but with reference to your And Finally... of OWT115, and your account of Jock Gilman as a sports teacher, I have a different recollection, and recall my first introduction to Pirates in the gym.  Jock had lowered the ropes from the ceiling, and set up a number of vaulting horses in a carefully calculated circle.  He leapt at one of the ropes, causing it to swing towards its neighbour, and transferred himself to it Tarzan-style before landing on a vaulting horse.  From there he launched himself at another rope, and continued until he had completed the circle.  Most of us looked on in amazement, then trepidation, as he ordered us to emulate his performance.  He was also quite good at reaching up to a horizontal bar and pullimg himself up by his arms until his chin touched the bar.  But his most memorable trick involved a. vaulting box with twin semi-circular hoops embedded in the top.  He would jump smoothly on the box, grasp the handles one in each hand then swing his legs in a circular path, lifting each hand in turn to allow his lags to pass between his hand and the hoop.  The speed and co-ordination all but decived the eye.  But mostly he just stood.  May he rest in peace.  In passing I note that Steve Mellor, in the same issue, refers to Grit Whitbread.  In my day the nickname was Aunty Gritty, because of his very frequent use of the word integrity when trying to instil some sense of mature behaviour during his classes.  Perhaps this is where the shortened pseudonym came from?  Not many people know that...

FROM STEVE MELLOR  1960-66   At the risk of becoming too-regular a contributor I was interested to see there is a memorial bench for Grii Whitbread in Oadby.  My thought was, why Oadby?  When I was at CBS, and until I left the UK a little more than thirty years ago, his residence was Abbot's Oak, an imposing house on the corner of Abbot Road and Main Street, facing what was then Humberstone Junior School.  Michael Hadden (German, amongst other subjects) had been a near-neighbour of mine in Humberstone Garden Suburb.  With a few other Old Boys (Richard McMorran, Chris Chapman, Gerald Zoot Taylor, Ian Small, Brian Tosh Jordan, to name some) hailing from the area it appears to have been a source of multiple talent.  Noting the greeting from John Williamson, Hola from sunny Spain to you.  We probably had more contact with each other after leaving school, mainly at the Crown & Thistle, Loseby Lane.  It has always puzzled me how you picked up the nickname Zop - and whatever happened to the dud Czechs?  Answers on a postcard please...

FROM JOHN WILLIAMSON  1960-66??   Loseby Lane, they were the days.  My Zop handle was the invention of Martin Stuart.  The progression was from Williamson to Billson to Billso, but the last seemed incomplete so he moved on to Zopo  then finally settled on Zop.  Following on from this, it occurred to me that life might throw completely different things at someone whose forename was Elvis compared with what it might throw at someone christened Cuthbert, for example.  To put this to a sort of test, at university I told my new chums that I was always known as Arthur.  Moving to Chelmsford I initially became Ace, and more recently JAWS  (Which is a slight misordering of the sequence of my initials)  The obvious and fatal limitations of the different forenames/different experiences notion is that unless you can simultaneously interact with two sets of people and circumstances, one as Elvis the other as Cuthbert, there is no basis for comparison.
And a message to Steve Mellor.  The Czech twins, actually Anglo-German-Czech...  The lovely Madeleine I married, and we are still married.  Patricia, the equally lovely sister, married a reasonably-famous architect who was on nodding terms with Richard Rogers.  Sadly, Patricia died a few years back.  Both sisters worked in the fashion and design business.

FROM ALAN PYKETT   As the years roll on it becomes increasingly difficult to know what to write about.  However, one word which has come to mind recently is fag - but not yhe cigarette variety.  I was thinking of it in relation to our school, and whilst there was no fagging system as in Tom Brown's Schooldays (a film I never tire of watching) there was a reference to the word on my first day at CBS in 1959.  The first and second years were based in the Lee Circle annexe, and I remember our caps, which we had dutifully and proudly been wearing, were removed by the second-year cohort and we were 'forced' to run a fags' gauntlet whilst being gently swatted with our caps.  They were returned to us - presumably they bore our names.  In retrospect it was good fun, and we looked forward to doing the same when we began our second year.  But following the demolition of the huts in the summer of 1960 that would be at Elbow Lane.  At that point the tradition was stopped by the school, so the 1959 intake was the last to undergo it.  Happy days.

   September 1959, the end of the long, carefree, summer holiday and my first day at CBS.  I recall feeling very worried and despondent the previous evening, as I had no real idea what was in store.  At the time we lived at 5 Tamerton Road, on The Monsell  (No one referred to it as the Eyres Monsell Estate) and tomorrow I would have to go on a bus and walk through the town by myself for the first time.  It was decided I would use the No 24 Corporation bus, which had its terminus at the top of Saffron Lane.  The fare was 2d, though I was soon issued with a bus pass, and I alighted in Bowling Green Street.  Presumably there had been a reconnaissance at some point, as I knew where to go.  Horsefair Street, Gallowtree Gate, Humberstone Gate, Clarence Street, Lee Circle.  I joined the other new boys in the playground, but have no recollection of any initiation rites regarding school caps etc.  I must have forgotten.  So there I was, my new uniform crisp and clean, black shoes polished.  Most of us were in short trousers.  After a while a master blew a whistle, and we were told to form up in three ranks according to the number of our class.  I was in 1 Alpha. The master, I think it was Mr Whitbread, told us to form up in alphabetical order.  One innocent piped up, 'Please, sir, is that first names or last names?'  I thought the answer was rather ominous.  'We don't bother with first names here, boy.'  We were marched to the relevant rooms in the huts, which were formerly the wartime British Restaurant, and allocated a desk.  I was pleased to note mine was at the back of the room, in a corner, protected by two of the walls.  Even now I prefer to sit with my back to a wall in a pub or restaurant.  We were introduced to our form master, Brian Sadie Thompson, and presumably much of the day was spent settling in and being issued with exercise and text books etc.  The only other memory I have is of Wally Wardle suddenly bursting into the room.  He asked if anyone was interested in joining the school orchestra, and I impulsively stuck my arm in the air.  I had no interest in music, but had a vague feeling it might be advantageous to show an interest in something.  Equally it could have been chess, or any other activity.  That rash decision caused me major problems later in my school career.    My subsequent problems have been well-documented in OWT's over the years, so I will not rake them up here.  As an aside, in 2002 I met Brian Thompson on the Ocean Majesty.  We were on a cruise to Iceland, and I had packed my bright blue Wyvernians tee shirt.  I was wearing it on one of the days at sea.  Lunch was open-sitting, and Stephanie and I found ourselves on a table for eight.  One of the chaps looked at me and the tee shirt, and said 'I was one of your teachers!'  Talk about a small world.  We chatted over the meal, and had a longer talk in the afternoon.

Dennis J Duggan  1959-64