Friday 10 May 2024

Fwd: OWT MAY 2024

MAY 2024

EDITORIAL    I have held the latest three contributions back, as the basis for the next OWT.  Please consider sharing your memories, however trivial they may seem.  I reserve the right to edit material, usually to make it more concise and thus easier to read.  Anything considered hurtful to individuals, or libellous, will not be published.  Send to  If possible please include your dates.

   My running at CBS was remarkable for its unremarkableness, unlike the eminent John Offord!  I seem to remember Rushey Fields in 1965, next to the house on Melton Road where I spent the first four years of my life.  And there was token running round the cricket pitches at Grace Road.  Moving to Downing Drive, Jock Gilman introduced us to the joys of cross country.  The course was Chatteris Drive, into the fields across Bushby Brook, up to Thurnby.  Down Stoughton Road, then along a wooded path.  This ended in a mud bath known as the Amazon Basin, out of respect for Mr Wardle's evocative geography lessons.  I must have run the full course, but the Basin was memorable as a hangout for reluctant athletes.  Track running was for Tony Baxter's Bradgate House, wearing red jerseys.
The 6th form involved motor cycling.  My second bike was a monster Honda Dream (aka Nightmare)? the first 100mph 250cc.  Shutting the throttle brought a sound like an approaching thunderstorm.  A bored-out version is featured in the book Zen and the Art of Motor Cycle Maintenance.  My bike featured in the sixth form-science gazette The Pubs of East Leicestershire.  The headlight was prone to switching off when I changed gear, which made cornering interesting.  One night it gave up completely, and the late-lamented Kevin Flint and I pushed it for miles back to his house.  A few years later I was in full-on Bob Dylan Triumph Highway 61 Revisited style, though unlike him I never crashed.  I went on to be The Health & Safety Guru, as the tabloids referred to me.
I went to St Andrews to study astrophysics.  Our house, St Regulus Hall, did early morning runs along the west sands, splashing through the water.  The idea was stolen by the film Chariots of Fire.  The running was done by the shinty team, which is hockey without rules.  My first match was as a sub against the Glasgow police team, after one of our players went off to hospital.  I spent the match running away from the ball, or whatever the wretched thing was called.
Only in my mid-thirties did I abandon machinery in favour of human power, with long-distance cycling events.  These included Lands End to John O'Groats and coast-to-coasts.  It does mean I can look at the weather map and say 'Yes, done that.'  At the same time I was doing martial arts, aikido and laido.  Paradoxically Zen Buddhism is pacifism at the point of a Samurai sword.
Running did not return until I saw the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games.  Watching the marathons made my eyes light up.  I had to have that!  But no more Amazon Basin hideouts, I joined Sale Harriers - the Manchester United of the running world.  Clocking up the marathons, I think I'm now at twenty seven.  The Marathon marathon, New York, Venice, Rome and the 2012 Olympic marathon, Shropshire's Much Wenlock version, where the modern Olympics began in 1850.  During 2012 Graham, my brother (also ex-CBS) and I ran with the athletes' Olympic torch - rather than the ceremonial one.  We were part of the relay on the twelve-mile stage across Leicester in the middle of the night, passing the old school in Humberstone Gate.  I also returned to the school cross-country course wearing my New York marathon vest.  That was for old-time's sake, and was a pleasure.
I am now addicted to park runs, as a visitor at Victoria Park and on my home course at Abbey park.  I joined my local athletics club, and run with the youngsters and a few over-seventies.  There is something about communal running, as if dating back to being hunters - evolutionary psychology at work?  As if time was running backwards I acquired the juvenile disease of type one diabetes.  It is controlled, and contrarywise my personal bests are being smashed.  But I would not recommend it as a training regime.  So that is how a reluctant runner became a compulsive one.

FROM DAVID 'FOGG' POSTLES  1960-67   Nick Miller asks for news of Michael Palmer, a history teacher.  He died a few years ago.  Michael became a head teacher in Surrey but, during the cutbacks, was redeployed as the Surrey County Archivist.  His wife, Margaret, pre-deceased him, leaving Michael bereft.  He is survived by his children.

FROM STEFAN WOZOWCZYK  1965-72   Michael Palmer chose to take orders.  He left the school mid-year, I think late 1967.  My recollection is that he went into a retreat at one of the reclusive English monasteries.  He only taught us in our third year for a short while before leaving.  I remember Michael because he was one of those teachers who seemed able to teach any subject under the sun, so could fill in when a member of staff was away.  I hope he found peace.  Perhaps someone could provide more details?

FROM TONY WAKEFIELD 1951-52   The class photo dated March 1952 is of 1A.  For some reason I am in civvies at the back, but I did own a uniform!

FROM MURRAY WALNE   I shall always remember a highly amusing incident involving Flo Willan soon after we moved to Downing Drive.  There was a small sixth form intake of new pupils from other city schools, and naturally they did not know the staff.  Now, Flo always wore a brown lab coat - in fact I don't recall him ever wearing anything else.  At break one morning a lad was violently sick in the corridor and one of the new recruits, being helpful, spotted what he thought was a caretaker.  He flicked his fingers and asked the chap to clear up the mess.  Of course it was not a caretaker but Flo Willan, who needless to say was not amused.  But the rest of us thought it was hilarious.

FROM STEFAN WOZOWCZYK  1965-72   The correct chorus of the school song:
Vivat, crescat, in aeturnum floreat                              May it live, grow and flourish for ever
Schola quam laudamus                                               School how we praise/extol thee
Primem lucem juventutis                                            First light of youth
Semper te amamus                                                     We always love you

Taken from the COLS 1968 prize distribution leaflet.  Have we a definitive answer as to who composed it?  I was told that Mr Gimson wrote the music, but not the words.
Below is the glorious translation effort from webtran:  Long live the youth will always be increased at the first sight of eternity, we praise you, we love it flourish and be a school than

Jon Prithett, who knows me but possibly wishes he didn't, might recall I was in Charnwood House and made a spectacular absence of contribution to its sporting achievements.  After failing selection for football, Geoff Elliott put me at No 8 in the rugby squad.  From there I was successively relegated to inside centre, full back and, finally, wing.  Everyone knows that in schoolboy rugby you end up on the wing because wingers never get the ball so can't cause any damage with it.
But I should point out I was also in the Boy Scouts, and learned a lot of rope work.  Thus in the gym I could scale a rope up to the ceiling, touch it and come down again without falling off.  I doubt I was the fastest, and it probably wasn't even considered to be a sport, so I probably was not much help to Charnwood House.
References to concerts at De Montfort Hall are relevant to the school from the mid-sixties.  That is because there would be quite a large group of us hanging about outside before the concert began.  As OWT does not accept tales of illegal behaviour I shall be delicate!  I think my first concert was The Incredible String Band, circa 1969.  None of us paid for a ticket, though I don't think that fell into the category of genuine illegal behaviour.  I shall say no more...  I mean,what if you really were helping a roadie to carry in a Marshal stack?  Or what if David Bowie had said you were allowed in, but to sit down and not make a song and dance?  Yes, we were clever.  The school taught us well.

FROM ALAN FISHER  1964-71   Tony Baxter's mention of his involvement in the school plays triggered memories of my own participation.  By that I mean scene shifter.  However that did involve the wearing of costumes, as Mr Baxter liked to have scene changes taking place in front of the curtain or, in the case of Sergeant Musgrave's Dance, amidst the audience.  The play was performed in the round, with the audience seated round the acting area.  I was also involved in Mr Baxter's excellent production of The Tempest.  Fantastic memories! 
Mr Baxter was the only teacher who almost enabled me to understand maths but, through no fault of his own, it was a dismal failure. Strangely, arithmetic has played a major part in my business career - eg, budgets and accounting.
I experienced one year at Elbow Lane, one year of Friday mornings at Humberstone Gate and Vestry Street baths and six years at Downing Drive.
Keep up the good work.

OBITUARY   David Bates passed away January 1st 2024 after a short illness (Dates believed to be 1953-60)

FROM JOHN SKEVINGTON  1945-53   I was sorry to hear that Ivor Bufton (1944-52) had passed away.  He was one year ahead of me, but I remember his keen involvement in school affairs. I recall a crossword clue in the school magazine This person claims to have something that no one has ever heard of.  The answer - Ivor Bufton!
Before writing more reminiscences I glanced at OWT 106 to make sure I did not repeat myself.  However, whilst we had close involvement with pupils in our own year, memories of those ahead and behind us become tenuous, and I might be the only one from my lot still standing!  So I will confine myself to teachers, who will be known to a larger cohort.
Ivor's father aws a history master at CBS.  During one lesson he reeled off, from memory, all the English monarchs from 1066.  Pure showmanship, but we were greatly impressed.
I remember Bud Fisher as a very kind person.  My specific memory is of an RE lesson (Presumably based on the miracle of the raising of Lazarus) when he told of an old man he knew in his childhood who was nicknamed Dead 'Un.  This was because he had once been pronounced as dead, and was in a coffin in the parlour so friends could pay their respects before the funeral.  But while a few friends were talking in another room they heard a great clatter, and in walked Dead 'Un in his shroud!
Bull Smith has been mentioned.  I remember his phrase when he enlisted the help of a pupil with a chemistry experiment: Stand on that nail, small boy.
Finally, Bill Sykes.  He seemed to obtain reasonably recognisable orchestral performances for concerts and speech days.  When trying to get us to sing a piece in class he would be constantly yelling at us, in his Yorkshire accent, to observe the syncopa-a-ation.  One day he handed out the score of a work called Boot, Saddle, To Horse and Away.  It was really good, and I was even more impressed when I noticed the composer's name was H H Sykes.

FROM DAVE POSTLES  1960-67   I didn't know that Mick Bromilow obtained an Oxford Blue for cross country.  I remember running with Mick and Tag Taylor for the school, and the training ground in Abbey Park on Wednesday (?) evenings when the three of us formed a little group of mediocreties. Sometimes we would visit the biscuit counter at Lewis's after a race.  I recall sitting on the packhorse bridge in Anstey after one race, nattering away.

FROM DENNIS BIGGS  1949-56    I have arranged a boating holiday on the Broads with my son and grandson, this being after I told them about the week I spent there in Easter 1951 with the Green Howards  Yacht Club.  This was run by one of our teachers, Chas Howard and his brother.  Unfortunately my memory is hazy after so many years.
But I thought my musings might prompt further memories from other pupils.  I was just a cabin boy, with no boating experience but keen to learn.  My overall memory is being constantly wet, as we had a lot of rain and I was not properly dressed for the conditions.  But we still had lots of fun.
The yacht did not have an engine, and I don't think the conditions were ideal for sailing.  Sometimes we had to quant - using a punting pole - or tack endlessly to catch the wind.
Not sure where we went, though I do recall visiting Beccles.  'm not sure how long the Green Howards continued after my adventure, as I think Chas Howard left the school shortly after  (Chas  was at CBS when I was there 1959-64 - Ed)
I don't remember much about the food or conditions, but it was very cramped.  Hopefully we will have more room and comfort on our four-berth cruiser, with better weather.
Does anyone else have memories of those school visits to the Broads?

FROM MICHAEL ROSINGER  1962-69   OK, Mr Baxter, you have shamed me into writing something!  I can remember a few lessons as if they happened yesterday.
Biology with Mr Willan, my scariest teacher.
'Rosenger, what do you call the movement of digested food into the cells where they are used?'  A series of ums and errs result in Mr Willan erupting with rage.  Assimilation was the word, and it has remained with me forever.
'Rosinger, what is respiration?'  After more umms and errs my answer is 'breathing.'  I feel the class waiting for the onslaught coming my way.  Mr Willan's face screws up as if in agony, followed by the explosion.
Physics.  Mr Lawson asks 'what causes the sound of thunder?'  I remember my father telling me it was clouds banging together, and up goes my hand.  Thankfully Mr Lawson asks someone else, who provides the correct answer..  I was so relieved, I would have looked such an idiot.,
During the next lesson, Mr Lawson asks, 'What causes the tides?'  I remember my father telling me it was something to do with the moon,
but quickly refrain from raising my hand.  How ridiculous, I think to myself.
Woodwork.  I have a lot to thank Mr Hutchinson for.  A stick across the hand, when I decided to liven up a lesson by playing a tune with my mallet and chisel.  That gave me bragging rights for future conversations regarding corporal punishment in schools.  Everyone seems to have a story about being caned, and thanks to Mr Hutchinson I have one too - albeit with a bit of exaggeration here and there!  
By the way, my book stand and table lasted for over forty years in my mother's house.  She was so proud, and didn't seem to notice the poor mortice and tenon joints.  Or probably she did, but didn't say anything.
Musical Appreciation.  Mr Reminton's lessons in the sixth form were a great way to finish the day.  No pressure, no questions, just listen to some Debussy.  By the end of the lesson I was perfectly relaxed, and prepared for the future University Challenge music questions.
Many lessons at the City Of Leicester Boys' School (Notice the correct use of the apostrophe, Mr Whitbread) prepared me for the future.  I can order a beer in French or German; I can use a chisel.  And if the Times quick cryptic crossword ever has the following clue, I will be the first to get it:  A small phone card with great happiness I hear, for this biological process.  But no one prepared me more than Mr Baxter who, to me and many others, was truly inspirational.  For many years I taught maths in secondary schools in Sheffield and Nottingham, followed by three wonderful years training maths teachers at a university in Tanzania.  I return there each year to continue the training.  So my sincere thanks to Mr Baxter for setting me off along that path.

AND FINALLY...   The next episode of my disastrous CBS musical career - Ed)  We have reached circa 1962, with my own violin ignored and stored with the spare school ones in the corner of the hall by the stage.  It was there before we broke up for Easter, as I checked.  But when we returned I was dismayed to note my violin case had vanished. Compared to the tatty school ones, my case was rather smart, so I made what, at the time, seemed the reasonable assumption it had been stolen.  There was nothing for it but to tell my parents, who immediately contacted Mr Bell.  Consternation ensued, as in those days such a thing was unheard of, and a full enquiry was launched.  Eventually the caretaker was interviewed, and he was able to solve the matter.  With good intentions he had moved my violin to the storage area under the stage, and it was duly produced.  The resulting enquiry did my already dodgy reputation no good at all, both with my parents and the school.  But what I recall most of all is the humiliation of being hauled into Jill's office (School Secretary, and still with us as Jill Povoas!) and being handed an adhesive label.  I wrote my name on the label, and stuck it on the inside lid of the case, all the while being closely watched by Jill and Mr Bell.  Next tine I will recount the tale of an even worse violin disaster - I was my own worst enemy and no mistake...

Dennis J Duggan  (1959-64)
May 10th 2024