Your name, nickname, WHS dates and House(s):
What made the biggest impression on you when you first got to WHS?
The view from Berners over Orwell Side, the river and the woods over the balustrade. I had never seen anything so beautiful, and I am not sure I have since.
Which boy did you most admire/look up to?
Terry Stancliffe, one of the nicest guys one could meet - a super-boffin but hugely modest - he kept a low profile and didn't shine in sport, but I always admired his calm, honest, brainy and considerate approach to everything and everyone.
Who were your heroes, if any?
Richard Waughman, then later Doug Gardner, John Dorling for his amazing performance in "Mother Courage", Michael Bauer for the same reason in "The Magic Flute", Bill Coutts and Glynne Thomas in Halls House for being Glynne Thomas ....
Who were your best friends at school?
At the time, Bryan Weaver, Ken Randle, Jean van Vliet, Peter Rose and later to some extent Cedric Delves, the most famous person I have ever met and with whom I shared a two-bed dorm in Halls in my last year. However, these friendships were not deep and I have never kept in touch with them, though I did meet Peter Rose in London a few years back.
Who were your most and least favourite teachers?
I can honestly say that I never met a teacher I really disliked. I thought the Heads, Deputy-Heads, Housemasters, Stretch, Jock Cromarty, Shakey, Doc T, Patrick Hutton, Ben Turner, Dick Woollett, Jim Hyde, Ernie Green, Bryan Middlebrook, Fred Mudd, Steve Corner and even the somewhat fierce Taffy were amazing schoolmasters - plus others I have no doubt omitted.
What do you think most teachers thought of you?
I am sorry - but obliged - to say that I expect they thought I was decent, hard-working and unlikely ever to disrupt a class - and irrationally lacking confidence.
What were your favourite and least favourite subjects?
I liked everything, but especially French, physics, biology and woodwork. I found the natural sciences absolutely fascinating to study and was very sad when I had to give them up on going into the 6th form because I was better at languages. I never had the chance to study chemistry because I had to choose between German, Chemistry & Greek at the end of year two, and chose German. EVERYONE should study chemistry! The year of "History & Philosophy of Science" I did in the Lower VIth was GREAT.
Were you ever slippered or caned? No ......
Did you ever smoke?
Never, and I couldn't really understand why anyone would smoke - and never have. Even then we knew it was bad for ther health, especially if you wanted to play games at a high level.
How many lines do you estimate that you wrote?
At an absolute guess I would say 200? (I usually kept out of any trouble going around!)
What was your greatest achievement at school?
Winning an ILEA traveling Scholarship to spend three weeks in four different places in France at the end of my 5th year. I suppose Stretch must have recommended me and so to him I owed a huge debt, because that was an amazing experience for a young lad from Camberwell who had never been abroad before.
And your greatest failure, if any?
I got 5 "2" grades at "O" Level, which wasn't bad, but the failure to get a single "1" convinced me of something that I already suspected, that I would never quite achieve glory despite generally doing my best and thereby a reasonable job.
What was your happiest moment at WHS?
When I first kissed the loveliest, sweetest, most intelligent and classy girl ever to walk the surface of the planet.
And your saddest?
1) When the aforementioned demoiselle dumped me and
2) ... when I was 20 yards from the tryline in the final of the Ipswich Sevens playing Ipswich School no less and about to score the winning try when I tripped over a divot with not an opponent within yards of me - this reinforced my opinion about being unlikely to achieve glory in my life, and moreover gave me a lasting hatred of divots - whenever I see one to this day I feel an overwhelming urge to squash the life out of its useless and stupid existence!
Were you ever bullied?
Only once, by a senior boy I had previously looked up to as a sporting hero. For some reason I cannot remember, he very coldly and deliberately hit me three times very hard in the same place on my left arm, not in some dark corner but right in front of the school gates. I now regret not fighting back, though he was much bigger and stronger than me, but what most galls me is that I cannot to this day imagine what I had done to annoy him.
Were you not as nice to others as you now wish you had been?
I don't think so. But I didn't cultivate friendships as much as I should have. I felt existentially lonely much of the time.
Did you ever do something you were ashamed of?
Once in a supervised prep (must have been in the 3rd form when I was in Halls) the prefect caught Martin Colley doing something he didn't like (talking I expect) and called him to the front, whereupon he hit him with a ruler four or five times extremely hard on the back of his hand. Martin didn't flinch a muscle - or an eyelid - but it must have been very painful. I do not know to this day how I could have failed to do something, even confront the prefect physically. I don't remember who it was, but what he did was completely out of line and he should have been stopped. In my defence, none of the others in the supervised prep class did anything either, but even so, it was shameful. If you ever read this, Martin, I am very sorry.
Apart from anything already mentioned, what is your biggest regret from your WHS days?
Not being clearer and more decisive about post-WHS studies. Stretch and Dick Woollett supported my application to Oxford University to read French, but in my interview at Merton College (Dick Woolletts's old college) I told them I didn't like French poetry and knew hardly anything about it - which in retrospect was a bit daft .... I regret now not having applied to do PPE, but I had always thought myself (no doubt correctly) to be not clever enough for that. I regret not thinking more seriously about my application - I was too detached from reality much of the time.
What do you most regret in general?
Not communicating enough, including to girls. Not "seizing the day" when I should have spoken out but kept quiet: too easily going with the flow.
What was the craziest thing you ever did at school?
I was in year 2 in Berners house. One evening shortly before lights out the day before the end of term, the two prefects (henceforth referred to as M & T) who slept in a curtained-off corner of the old Orangerie) got us together and told us we were going to raid Orwell House. They make us prepare bags of flour and water and soon after 22:00 we snuck out past Diana and down to Orwell House. Their defences were pitiful and we stormed through the dorms lobbing our flour and water bombs at the Orwellites, who were already in bed. To my eternal chagrin I missed completely and only managed to hit a locker. It was all over in a rush and we hurtled back to berners, got into bed, turned over, faced the wall and started snoring heavily. Some moments later, we heard the door open and Shakey came in. Well, we didn't see him as we were too busy pretending to be asleep, but it must have been him. We heard him pacing about for a while, but he must have thought it not worth pursuing and after a while left, thus provoking us in to a loud collective "Phew".
It was absolutely insane, but in retrospect a famous hoot in the annals of end-of-term idiotic pranks - and best of all, there was no aggressive follow-up from Doc T or Shakey - just a few menacing looks, met only by ones of totally feigned innocence. If either M or T are reading this, thanks for the memory Guys ....
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