headmasters_cane.gif"Must try harder!" by Chris Latham-Smith.

1 'Bunny' Bayfield - Gentleman - Maths 6 Luke Grant - Gentleman and Scholar - Maths
2 Aubrey Hood - Kind & talented man - Music 7 'Pongo' Gwynn - Lovable but dangerous! - Chemistry
3 Johnny Greenwood - Different! - French 8 Antony Beaumont - Nice man - Geography and Latin
4 'Elsie' L C Vernon - Kind man - Deputy Head 9 John Thornton - Finally taught me maths but too late!
5 A H Sleigh - Chain smoking Beak, 'nuff said! 10 Dave Perry - PT - Best with your back to the wall bars!
The rest elude me. Perhaps that's for the best!

I was brought up in a remote, some even disrespectfully describing as a desolate part of the UK. Yet still in a place and an age when the milk always arrived on the doorstep before dawn and the post of the day arrived before 8:00am. There was no such thing as Second Class, except on trains and where until recently there was also Third Class and for which if you were wise you brought along something, or someone, soft to sit upon. Smoking was almost obligatory for everyone over the age of ten and real men drank six pints of beer every day; except on Sundays when they drank eight.

I used to wake and get up (not necessarily in that order) well before the milkman arrived and come rain or snow (no ‘shine’ because the sun hadn’t yet risen) I would help my Dad feed the farm animals, plough a field or hand load a cart full of sugar beet before washing and changing (not necessarily in that order) then cycling to the station over a mile away to catch the steam, and in later years, diesel train that took me to school.

The single track train journey took almost threequarters of an hour and sometimes as much as half as long again when the ‘down train’ didn’t reach the passing loop on schedule.

From the station to our school was twenty five minutes steady book filled satchel carrying yomp to cover the almost a mile and a half distant. Come rain or shine (the sun had risen by this time), fog, ice or snow.
spacer_transparent.gif Click image to enlarge

My whole journey to and from school thus took around ninety minutes each way, and I was always late. Being late of course carried inevitable punishment and which was worked off in the form of ‘Punishment Parade’ or, when the 'down train’ was really late, a Detention. Both of which anyway meant staying on after school to write as much tripe as one could fill on four sides of foolscap, before running like hell for a mile and a half just to see the last train for the day pulling out of the station. billet_de_chemin_de_fer.gif Fortunately the bus station was only around half a mile from the railway station and buses ran well into the night. The only problem being the bus didn’t run as far as the station at my home village end and indeed stopped a good mile short of my house. Thus involving either a very long walk through rain or snow (no ‘shine’ at this point as the sun had long since set) to collect my bike from the station or an even earlier start and a jog next morning.spacer_transparent.gifClick!

Times were hard but not all that hard. I doggedly refused to do any homework at all during my whole five years torture at King Edward VII Grammar School in King’s Lynn, Norfolk. Contriving ever more outrageous reasons for not having done so. Excuses which unless were particularly amusing to my adversary would instantly result in yet another Detention. The fact that teachers failed to see the direct connection between my lack of homework and their sadistic metering of Detentions was in my view because they were too dim to see that there was no way I could do homework as mainly because of them I was barely ever at home!

Despite my rebellion, or maybe because of it, I did manage to consistently achieve good grades in exams. These were always in the top 5% amongst my peers. Coupled with appalling end of term class position results always in the bottom 5%. I swear the ubiquitous year end school report text must try harder had been coined especially for me. I think my teachers actually had a rubber stamp of it made and which they would pass around when my shambolic report edition hit their desks for their fictional contribution. Though I put these latter results, along with my almost total inability to understand the football offside rule, plus being terrified of cricket following having all my front teeth knocked out by a well aimed head shot bowled by the school bully, as the reason I was never even put forward to apply for a place in one of the better universities.

panoramic_camera.gif Am I bitter? Of course not. Having gone on for a significant portion of my working life to earn more each year, visit more countries and meet more interesting people than all of my mortar boarded antagonists, even on occasions when two or even three of them are put together. I at least learned something from my harrowing experiences.

As I enter the twilight of my life I do admit though that I start to reminisce a little. Thus I found on the Internet an old school photo from 1961 with me sat cross legged amongst a total of six hundred or so boys. Right in the middle and just below the feet of the chain smoking Beak. The photo appeared on my old school’s Old Boy’s website. The reason I probably couldn’t find myself on the 1964 photo was probably because I appeared on the same photo twice and had long since been airbrushed out. Twice! Now senior enough not to have to sit on rain drenched tarmac I now stood on a wooden form bench near the back. Thus affording me the opportunity to leap off my bench perch at one end after the panoramic camera had passed during its clockwork rotation aloft its tripod, then run like hell before finally forcing myself in among the boys on their bench at the other end. For those not yet having worked out why. So as to appear on the same photo twice!

I was good at running. I had plenty of practice!

I've finished trying harder now (and running!).

For the day anyway.


mistral back crawler Back