Nicknames - Michael John O'Leary (1957 to 1961)

Michael John O'Leary: When I was at the school, I don't ever remember any boy being referred to by his Christian name, either in my year or any other year. Maybe it was a Public School thing, but if it was I don't know how because we didn't have any contact with them. Perhaps it was brought in by the masters. Boys were referred to by their surname or a nickname such as 'Suff' for Alan Suffling, 'Alg' for John Allgrove or 'Runty' for Francis Green. I was called O. Even boys like Cooper B and Cooper C or Young R and Young L were referred to by their surnames with the C or B or R or L added sometimes to avoid confusion! I don't know if this changed after I left the school in the 4th form. For instance, John Allgrove became known (inexplicably) as Jim!??

Jon Kemp: Certainly amongst peers. That was the case until the seniors, then some boys were either known by their first names or their nicknames. Also think that juniors called seniors by their first names.

Peter Alexander: And who was it that gave you your 'nickname'? I remember vividly! Doc Thornberry, first class (1X), and he told the class what he was going to call me. And before some bright spark gets in, it wasn't 'twat'!

Louis Parperis: 'Izzl' - at least by pronunciation, though 'Pud', as in pudding, came later in celebration of the fuller-figured youth.

John Dawlings: Louis Parperis Exactly!

Peter Alexander - Louis Parperis: How do you know that ....... you were much older than me!?
“Carlile, is that with an s”?
“No sir. Without an s.”
“I shall call you Isle."

Louis Parperis: One year does not constitute much older, Old Martin.

John Dawlings: It was Doc Thornbery who gave you the name, I think. He always called you 'Izzle' in our Latin lessons.

Barry Clark: Hi Michael. Yes you are correct some odd names indeed were created. To avoid confusion in my class (entry '58) Doc Thornbery referred to me as 'barryclark' (all one word) and Michael Clarke as 'MA' (Michael A Clarke), thus neatly sidestepping referring to one by christian name. There was a change when in the 6th Form - as house captain I think - both Malcolm Poole and Stan Goetzee would use my christian name in private or when there was no-one around.

Chris Snuggs: Yes, Michael Clarke was always 'MA'.

Bill Kitchen: Similarly, I was know by surname till 6th form. I wrote a different name on my folders at begining of year, so teachers (even Bailey) called me 'Bill'.

Chris Snuggs: Well, some of you lot got away with it; 'Bill' could easily have become 'Bilious'. 'Suff' might have been 'Suffering'... "O'Leary might have been 'Oh Dearie' .....… I wonder what Lionel Messi's teammates call him!

Michael John O'Leary: Sometimes, at Woolvo and elsewhere, people used to deliberately refer to me as 'O'Reilly' - I was never sure why!??

Chris Snuggs: Better than 'O'Blimey'. I will never be able to think of the name 'O'Reilly' without the image of the dodgy builder in "Fawlty Towers" invading my mind. What brilliant bit parts they had in that series, quite apart from the main characters. Sadly Nicky Henson died recently ....

Graham Forster: Some of the nicknames were a bit unfair. Doc called one lad in Orwell 'Rubbish' because he was so messy, when his younger brother joined Doc immediately christened him 'Little Rubbish'. I got my nickname from the boys who showed me round the school. I wore huge gig lamp glasses, so was known as 'Prof'.

Michael John O'Leary: 'Prof' was also another, more kindly, nickname for Runty Green! I think it was because he was a swot??

Roger Friend: 'O', your observation about John Allgrove being called Jim is one of those imponderables. John (Fred) Walmsley came to lunch and he told me his dad was called Fred and he had a brother called Fred! Another imponderable?

John Walmsley: Well remembered. And my brother (Tony, who changed to Doug) was called 'Little Fred'.

Chris Snuggs: Fred/John - This is STILL causing confusion six decades later!

Michael John O'Leary: Years later I read the book 'The Story of O'! What a salacious piece that is! It bore no relation to my life!??????

Chris Snuggs: Are you sure? I heard that you were the inspiration for it!

Chris Snuggs: I was sometimes called 'Bugs', which is I suppose an improvement on 'Slugs'. I always knew Allgrove as 'Jim'. At primary school, fat boys were called 'Fatso', but we got told off by the teachers if we used that. I don't remember that ever being used at WHS. I seem to remember Malcolm Prickett being called 'Prick' ..... Khalid Rashid was just 'Rash' ..... Waughman was as far as I recall just 'Rich'. Edward Gentry was of course 'Rusty' thanks to his hair ..... Given your amazing bicepcial strength and pull-up abilities you should have been called 'Muscles', Mike .....

To be honest, being given a nickname, however horrible, was essentially a sign of affection. NOT being given one meant that people were basically ignoring you ...

Michael John O'Leary: Was his name really Prickett, not Pickett?

Chris Snuggs: Yes, Malcolm Prickett, sometimes called 'Balloon' on the basis that you could say: 'There's a ballon - prick it ...'

Graham Forster: I remember David Murray always being called 'Sam', which was confusing until it turned out that he had inherited his older brother's name.

Harvey Angel: I was generally known as Harvey by most masters (except Bailey, who used to shout 'ANGEL'!!). One of my house contemporaries decided upon 'Harpic, because he said I drove him clean round the bend, but fortunately it didn't really take on.

Chris Snuggs: In another universe you might have been called 'Scurvey' ...... 'Hardly' would also have done ....

Michael John O'Leary: 'Hardly'! What a great putdown that would have been! Not for Harvey, though!??????

Harvey Angel: I wouldn't have minded being called 'The Merchant' (as in wind-up merchant).

Roger Friend: As opposed to a Venetian merchant?

Omar James-johnson: Doc Thornbery always called me 'OJIMS'.

Andrew Wood: All this reminds me that at times Doc T would reverse the spellings of surnames in class. One I remember in a class in the nissen huts when he referred to Robinson as 'Nosnibor' and he kept using this and others.

John Dawlings: I was called 'Bottle' (short for Bluebottle on the Goon show) on my first day at school by Graham 'Bean' Broadbent. My brother was known as 'Bottle' and parents were always addressed by the staff as Mr and Mrs Bottle!

Robin Boot: I was called 'Jackboot' as a result of my surname being Boot, my father was in the Army and stationed in Germany. Also my mother was German before the war. During 3rd form, most people, even teachers, just called me Jack - which was quite nice, and I am still called by that name nowadays by many.

Jon Kemp: Jim Hyde thought he was funny calling me 'Unkempt'.

Chris Snuggs: HE WAS RIGHT!!!!!

Chris Snuggs: 'Little Puddle' was the wonderful nickname apparently given to Stretch's son (not sure if he had more than one - he never mentioned any sons in the six years I knew him ...)

Michael John O'Leary: Why did Stretch's son have a nickname? Did he attend the school?

Chris Snuggs: No idea. He just appeared in the above photo. There was no boy called "Poole" at WHS (though my Excel list could be wrong). I am guessing that he was often down at the hard and messed around with other boys and the boats under the guidance of his Dad.

Alternatively, the name COULD just have been given to him on the spur of the moment by Phil Melville, who sent me the photo.