Neville John William Day 7 March 1922 - 26 November 1990
Neville Day’s admirable tutoring
Expelled at the age of eight from St Audrey's Convent School, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, for 'Subversion', a crime for which I am still particularly proud. The Rosminians order of nuns running the place either couldn't spell 'atheism' or didn't want to. Now free of the daily beatings and ensconced in an immaculately run Fenland village Primary school I thus managed to scrape through the 11 Plus school discrimination examinations. Thus gaining a place at King Edward VII Grammar School, King's Lynn, Norfolk.
School years being the best years of your life. As anyone and everyone will tell you.
Not so, KES, as it was affectionally known, was sheer hell for me as I recall.
I am not going to describe why on this page because this account is not about me but about my Stepfather and mentor Neville Day. Besides which some of those responsible for my five years of misery in school may still be alive today. If not then certainly their relatives, and they probably deserve better than to be reminded.
I used to wake up in our smallholding farmhouse around 6AM every morning, still dark, get up wash and dress, not necessarily in that order, and after a cup of tea rush off to the farmyard to help Dad feed the farm animals.
An hour later and after consuming a ballet of cholesterol for breakfast, change into my uniform, mount my bike and cycle for all I was worth for Marshland St James's 'Smeeth Road' named Railway Station, whereupon amongst a dozen of my boy and girl peers I would board the train and join in the daily war of attrition between the ruby red blazered Grammar School boys and Sherwood Green clad King's Lynn High School girls. We boys generally contrived to lose. Resulting in the girls seeking punative damages. Which was lots more fun, but I digress.
Reaching school was a further mile long, heavy book laden satchel, fast yomp, and because the train was invariably late, a punishment detention awarded for arriving late at school. Teachers being unfamiliar with local railway timetables, along with simple arithmatic.
I was useless at Algebra, Chemistry, History, Languages and Cricket. The latter being my downfall. No one ever explained the Offside Rule in Cricket to me properly. I was therefore consigned to 'C' stream and thus 'No hope, no future, grade', for life.
One day, I was returning home from school, unexceptionally on the later train alone, therefore devoid of intimidating High School girls. On the later train having completed my weekly detention for late arrival. I used the forty minute rail journey to ponder over the time it took me to cycle the mile to and fro between my home and the village Railway Station.
I was covering that one mile distance in a little under four minutes. I might have been stupid at algebra but if the set algebra questions were logical and created by intelligent people then they weren't too difficult to solve.
Fifteen miles per hour then. If I could get it down to two minutes, impossible, but I correctly surmised it would be thirty miles per hour. Further pondering led me to wondering at what velocity* (*grown up word for speed, created by teachers of Algebra and other people with beards) would be necessary for me to arrive at the same time as I departed.
The mistake I made at school the following morning (after arriving late) was to ask our Science Master. My reward being a sharp wack around my ear which left my head buzzing for an hour, along with the reply "Stupid boy, just pay attention to the syllabus."
Trying to look up the words 'silly bus' in Encyclopedia Britanica in the school's library at lunchtime provided no clues at all though. So when I got home again (late) and with ear still ringing, I asked Dad.
Dad replied "I don't know son but it would be damned fast. I do recall though there is a bloke that knows the answer and he could explain to you far better than I can. I'll see if I can find out more for you."
The subject was forgotten. At least by me.
Dad took the train, as our village had a train service in those days, when, pre Dr Richard Beeching, the country still had a fully functioning infrastructure.
Dad returned relatively late (probably a detention then!) therefore I was asleep in my bed by the time he got home.
Next morning, when I woke, got up, washed and dressed (not necessarily in that order), I discovered a book on my pillow.
I was thirteen years old. I understood every word of the book's contents. I still do. As the little book was published before today's sad fashion of introducing unqualified acronyms, jargon, verbosity and procrastination.
Einstein's E = mc² still has relevance in my work with energy and matter today! More than sixty years after I received a whack around the ear for daring to ask a Science teacher!
Shame upon my Science teacher when he either hadn't heard of Albert Einstein and his Theory of Relativity, or more likely he had, but just didn't understand it. When all he had to do was ask my Dad!
Chris Latham-Smith 2022.
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