I was planning, sometime soon, to write some more about the humorous activities, jolly japes and wheezes (always reminds me of the static-laden tannoy announcement in “Hi-de-hi” on TV years ago – “This afternoon……., Geoffrey Fairbrother…….., wheeze in the pool!”) that my amazing classmates and I got up to from 1964 to 1969.
I have, however, been beaten to it! My witty and erudite (other brands of strong adhesive ARE available) old school chum known to the world as “Cornelius” has done it first! Go to his blog using the link at the foot of this one or if that’s too much effort for you, go straight to http://corneliusatloppers.wordpress.com/2009/04/19/cornelius-on-mischief/ and wonder at what a couple of literary Swans have developed out of the ugly ducklings of a single class in an ordinary 1960s pre-comprehensive single-sex Secondary School! I recommend reading it before you go any further with this drivel. DO IT! Otherwise a LOT of what follows won’t make sense!
Actually, if you go and look at the list of linked blogs at the bottom of my page you will see two other links – to Damien and Morpheus. These are the same person as “Corny”! He has retired from the rat-race to live in Thailand where the poor soul has nothing else to do but write in a humorous and interesting way – sad, isn’t it? I recently referred to him in an email as “my old school Thai!” – I do apologise!
Anyway, now that you are back from enjoying a “real” writer I have a small confession to make! I was, during those school years known by the nickname of “Horse” (or “The Horse” according to the article you just read. That sounds better somehow). It had, I hasten to assure you, nothing to do with being hung like one or with having a particularly long face (cue lots of bar jokes) and Cornelius assures me that it was never intended as anything other than a friendly tag by either he or the other guys. And he should know – HIS nickname was CONSIDERABLY more unpleasant than THAT!
However, I didn’t like it at the time – mainly as I could see no reason for it! Now I look back and think really hard it probably came about from my considerable prowess, in the early years at that school, as a “mount” in the playground sport of “piggy-back jousting” that was popular for a while.
I mention this because if you paid attention to Cornelius’ piece you’ll see I get a name check!
Going through his article I feel I can add bits to certain areas so that when you take both articles together a better (or more disturbing, depending on your viewpoint) picture of what we were like will emerge.
I remember well the stuff with the revolving blackboards. These had three (I think!) ridges running across them thus dividing them into three separate boards and these ridges were used to do the revolving. They also had two pegs low down on which hung a sheet metal tray containing chalk, blackboard erasers and other weapons of class destruction.
If you very carefully balanced the back edge of the tray on both pegs (instead of hooking it over them) the whole thing would rock back slightly so that when the board was revolved the ridge would catch it and cause it to crash to the floor. Two of us would then be summoned to pick it up while the lesson continued and would balance it back ready to crash again! We did this so many times in one particular lesson that Mr “Weird-beard” Birch the Geography master caught on and lost his temper.
Shouting “3A, you’re a bunch of bloody morons!” he stormed out of the room and slammed the door so hard that the frame split! The first time I ever heard a teacher swear!
I missed out somehow on the washing up liquid events but was one of the spanner-holding assistants in the Morris 8 team. I particularly remember that with the bodywork removed there was too much weight forward of the front wheels and that this was compensated for by using the old fuel tank (which was still in situ above the rear axle) as a ballast tank.
We found a concealed stopcock on the playing field and bombed over to it in the car with a length of hosepipe to commence filling the tank with water. Unfortunately, Jack Adams, the belligerent head of the P.E. department noticed slightly before we did that to accomplish this we had been obliged to manoeuvre over, and park on his prize Cricket square! At a Grammar School we could probably have been expelled for this crime and at a Public School would have been flogged, hung and THEN expelled – but here we somehow got away with nothing but a telling-off!
As a last word on the car I believe the electrics worked better than “Corny” remembers in that it was used at the School Sports Day as a loudspeaker van.
Ah! And so to the dear old Heath – source of so much pain when used as the school’s Cross Country course!
Ours was a “Football” (that’s Soccer to those of you of a North American disposition) based school which meant that on our year’s afternoon for Sports those considered gifted enough to be in the first two “elevens” would either play each other or the equivalent year of some other school.
The remainder would have to play Rugby, which was exceedingly unpleasant as it was seen by the Neanderthals, knuckle-draggers and potential ditch-diggers of the, shall we say, “less intellectual levels” as a way of wreaking mayhem and general unpleasantness on the “smart-arses”! So, the smarter of the smart-arses (modest cough!!) went to the aforementioned Mr Adams, expressed an aching desire to improve our Cross-country performances (he BELIEVED it?!) and obtained permission to “train” on the Heath each week. He MAY, of course, have just felt that if we were off school premises we weren’t likely to hurt his cricket pitch again!
Thus, every week throughout Autumn and Winter we were, indeed, out there on the Golf Course playing havoc with the scores and handicaps of the idle rich of east Ipswich.
Well do I remember the other people Cornelius mentions. Hank and I are still in occasional email contact, and Lamb and I share the experience, while on an educational cruise in 1968 of being warned and nearly arrested by a member of the Greek Police for attempting to take photographs of the Piraeus Naval Dockyard! He told me it was a yacht club and I let him stand on my shoulders to see over the wall! (Lamb, that is, NOT the policeman!)
Seeing what happened to those plane-spotters in Greece a few years back made me think seriously of what might have been!
HOWEVER! And it’s a big HOWEVER which is why I’ve written it twice in capitals, I cannot claim ANY credit for the event in which I was mentioned! I know my memory does sometimes let me down (usually when I’m doing a quiz, damn it!) but not on things like that. I’m absolutely certain that I was never on that Heath at night – well, not with BOYS anyway!
Plus I know very well that not only would I REMEMBER carpet-bombing a Golf Club, I would remember it with CONSIDERABLE PRIDE!
I wonder whose work I’m getting credit for?