Thursday 5 January 2023

Fwd: OWT117 Jan 2023

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   At 4pm on Saturday March 18th 2023, Wyvernians as we know it will be no more.  After twenty five successful years the time has come to hang up our satchels.  Feedback from the original announcement showed the decision was the right one.  Better to go out on a high, rather than the inevitable whimper if we struggled on for a few more years.  Since 1998 many old friendships have been renewed and twenty three reunions have taken place.  Andy Marlow wrote a detailed history of the school, and we have amassed a vast amount of memorabilia.  One hundred and seventeen OWT's have been compiled.  There can be few 'ordinary' grammar schools able to match our achievements, we can feel proud.  I have said, many times, how ironic it is that after my difficult five years I should have been the chap who resurrected the original Old Wyvernians, but I am pleased and proud to have done so.  The memorabilia is currently in safe storage in South Wigston, coincidentally on the Fairfield estate where my family lived from 1961 to 1977.  We have hopes that the documents will be accepted by the Leicestershire Records Office, and the balance will go to the Museum Service.  As regards Old Wyves' Tales,  readers will have noticed it has been shrinking over the past few editions.  Hardly a surprise!  But so long as contributions continue to be received it will carry on, albeit at a reduced frequency.
Invitations and full details for the reunion will be sent to you asap.

AN APPEAL  On occasion, members have asked to borrow items from the collection.  Hopefully no one has borrowed anything without permission!!  No records have been kept, SO IF YOU DO HAVE ANYTHING PLEASE BRING IT TO THE REUNION.  If you are not attending, but do have something to return, please contact Brian Screaton to make the necessary arrangements.

   The 1st XI's defeat at the hands of King's College, Cambridge, was avenged by defeating Worcester College 11 - 1, with Geoff Elliott scoring three and yours truly two.  We had a write up in the Leicester Mercury.  fame at last!  In my last year it was decided the school should also have a rugby team to represent the school.  There was always going to be banter between the sporty blokes (footballers) and the grunts (rugby players)  The only way to decide which was the cream was to have a game of each.  I don't remember much about the football match, other than we won.  But now for the crunch match.  I was small, they were big.  They knew the rules, I didn't have a clue.  They won by a large margin, and I learned a big lesson - DON'T PLAY RUGBY.  My idea was to pick up the ball and run - between legs if necessary.  I was doing OK until a monster, eighteen years old and probably eighteen stone, picked up both me and the ball and threw me to the ground.  His mates then piled on top of me. 
At the finish of the sixth form exams I was relieved, as one would expect.  But I could not have realised the changes coming my way, and how I would, or could, deal with them.  First thing to hit me was the realisation I could legally enter a pub, which is what we did after the final exam.  But once the results were out, what would become of me?  I had a conditional offer from Imperial College, which was well out of my depth with two waiting lists, plus Brunel University and Loughborough College.  Rejections came from Nottingham and one other.  In August we went to the school to obtain our 'A' level results.  I queued while the secretary, Gill Povoas, handed out the certificates.  I remember looking at the Imperial 66 manual typewriter - was that an omen?  My modest achievement was a 'B' in chemistry, 'C' in physics and 'D' in maths.  So what of my future?  Not much chance of Imperial College, London, as they wanted three passes at 'B'.  I waited for two weeks to find I had been accepted by Imperial and I was amazed to say the least.  So I went to Imperial in 66!
Many of my schoolmates also went to London universities, my biggest mistake being not to keep in touch with them.  We could have supported each other, and shared experiences. But I did bump into a few old mates.  Paul Vaughan in Liverpool, I think he said he became a dentist.  Michael Kitchen, who I met in a trendy South Kensington pub.  We talked about his drama ambitions, so no surprises there.  I literally bumped into Andy Tear in a football match against University College, London (?)  He was left back, I was on the right wing.  He tackled me, and we went down in a heap, but my initial anger melted away when I recognised Andy. I also met Des Moran, he was working for Bridgeford's in Altrincham.  I was having problems selling my house - this was in the seventies - and he came to the rescue.  Des, if you are reading this, a big thank you!
Before I end my story, I would like to say a huge thank you to all the masters who gave support and encouragement along the way.  They made my school life so enjoyable, and left me with some great memories.  I did manage to graduate from Imperial College as a chemical engineer.  I had a wonderful, challenging and exciting career with companies such as British Oxygen, Burmah Oil, ICI Phamaceuticals and AstraZeneka.
I mentioned one teacher in my previous contributions, he said, 'Ward, if you haven't applied to go to university then you should.'  I said it wasn't for me, but he insisted and the rest is history.  Thank you for your attention - home time.

FROM MERVYN BROWN  1958-62   With reference to fags, as mentioned by Alan Pykett in OWT116, I also recall the ritual of being made to run between lines of second-year boys as they gleefully bashed us on the head with folded caps.  I seem to remember that one or two did not wish to participate and attempted resistance, but they were dealt with less gently than the rest of us!

FROM ROGER GOWLAND  1957-64   Happily retired in North Devon, I have bumped into a vision of lovliness known as Julie Bowskill.  During a few short chats we realised we had something in common.  I was a pupil at Humberstone Gate, and several years later Julie taught at Downing Drive  (So not that much in common then!)  Our chats did not lead to a date, but I wondered if any readers recall Mrs Bowskill.

OBITUARIES   Harry (Henry John) Newman, 1945-50, passed away October 2022.
Mike Capenerhurst (1947-51 ) passed away peacefully November 1st 2022 aged 87 at his home in Wanganui, New Zealand  (Information from John Capenerhurst 1951-58)
From John Pasiecznik 1971-78 :  I regret to inform you that Chris Jez Holden, the very popular history teacher 1969-76, passed away peacefully in his sleep on November 17th 2022.  He was seventy five.  CBS was his first teaching post, when in his twenties with black curly hair.  He travelled to the school on his motor bike.  Chris was ceetainly different to many of the long-established teachers.  He liked football and Monty Python, which made him even more popular.  Chris was an inspirational history teacher and made the sometimes-dry subject come alive.  I obtained top grade in 'O' level history, and took the subject at 'A' level.  I went on to take history and politics at Manchester University.  And perhaps, through his love of football - he was a lifelong Man Utd fan - Chris might have inspired a young Gary Lineker to take up the game.  RIP Chris, 1947-2022.
From Andy Howes 1957-60:  I want to report that my cousin Stephen (Steve) Mellor (1960-66) died in Spain December 5th 2022.  I belive it was a heart attack, but the jury is out.

FROM STEFAN WOZOWCZYK  1965-72   My mum had asked if I wanted long or short trousers.  I wanted long.  Satchel or briefcase?  Brief case.  And so, in September 1965, I walked into Downing Drive.  I was full of fear.  My mother had offered to accompany me, but I declined.  I caught the bus into town, then the bus out of town.  I don't think we should denigrate those of us who were not at Humberstone Gate or Elbow Lane.  I call Downing Drive Downing Strive.  I walked in and, yes, at the age of eleven I got clobbered by the caps.  They were never going to do any serious damage.  For the next seven years I received what I consider to be the finest education anyone could hope for.  I hated a lot of it, but that is neither here nor there.  Wally Wardle and Sadie Thompson both taught me.  I would like to name others, but they are still alive and attending the reunions, so don't want to embarrass them.  But I would like to credit one.  I have had a lifelong fascination with prime numbers, and at almost seventy years of age I am still scribbling mysterious notes whch my wife finds on the kitchen table.  She suspects they are secret messages to Martians, or lovers!
I refuse to have anything to do with social media, so when OWT arrives I am thrilled.  I will try to write more frequently so it can continue.  Perhaps we could compile a catalogue of those fine teachers.  I was not aware that Grit Whitbread was also Aunty Gritty.  I was beaten up four times, twice by the school thugs, though apparently I put up a good fight, and twice by teachers.  No doubt they would be dismissed nowadays, but as I said, they gave me a superb education.

FROM DAVE POSTLES  1960-67   Re the seat in Oadby dedicated to Grit Whitbread, it was donated by his daughter, Hilary, who worked in the personnel department at the University of Leicester, whilst I was also employed there.  I met Grit at the Department of English Local History on a celebratory occasion, when he visited with Hilary.  Towards the end he was ill, and I suspect that Hilary looked after him.

AND FINALLY...   It's odd what insignificant memories from my time at CBS became  lodged in my brain.  Bob Dennis was one of the younger, kindly, masters.  His subject was science, and one day in the lab at Elbow Lane his topic was good and bad conductors of heat.  He made a comment that, even at that tender age, I thought was rather sexist as my mother was regarded as being very clever.  Bob said something like, 'You might have noticed that when your mother makes a mug of coffee she probably puts a spoon in the cup first.  She won't know why she does this, but it is to take up some of the heat from the boiling water so the mug does not crack.'

Dennis J Duggan  1959-64
January 5th 2022