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   Chris Bird


Christopher Raymond Bird

Usual Name: Chris
House: Rhodes
Year: 1961-1966

School days:
  • Year Started at PoW: January 1961 to August 1961
  • Left to attend Shoreham Grammar School, Pond Road, Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex, England
  • Returned to PoW: August 1963 Left POW: December 1966
  • Prefect: 1965
  • Head of House: 1966
  • Sports: School 1st XV 1965, 1966 (tight head prop and sometimes breakaway); also represented Rhodes House in rugby (house colours), hockey and soccer.
  • Grew up: Kilembe Mines, in the foothills of the Ruwenzori Mountains, Western Uganda. Near the rail town of Kasese, about 80 miles from the Congo border.

    Life since school:
  • University of Natal (Durban) 1967 to 1970 - Bachelor of Economics.
  • After university went to Johannesburg, started a CA with Francis, Dix, Bird, Chartered Accountants (no relation) ). Quit after 6 months and joined Edgars Stores. Trained in Credit Management and sent to Mbabane in Swaziland to train others. Eventually put in charge as store manager of 3 stores in Pietermaritzburg, Natal.
  • Left South Africa early 1973 to live and work in London, and stayed until 1978, including an 18 month interlude (1976/77) in Cape Town with British Leyland.
  • In November 1978 went over to Australia and worked for the Australian National University (ANU) in a finance and administration role. Obtained CPA qualification with the Australian Society of Accountants.
  • In September 1983 married an English lass, Sara. We have one daughter.
  • In 1985 moved to Sydney. Carried out several finance related roles with a variety of businesses (hospitality, media, consulting) before joining the financial services industry, mainly in banking.
  • Retired in early 2017, left Sydney and moved to the Cotswolds in England, where I am currently renovating a period property. New adventures await ......

    Memories of School
    Here are a few memories, not in any particular order:
  • When I first went to the 'Patch' in 1961, I was miserable and rebelled quite a lot. I think in the 2nd term I held the not so proud record of receiving the most "cuts" of anyone in the whole school!
  • Before moving to Rhodes, spent a short while in Intermediate House. Swearing was punished by having to chew a piece of soap to wash your mouth out, so to speak. Wright's Coal Tar was the prefects' seriously foul soap of choice.
  • Oliver Wigmore was Headmaster and a bit of a perfectionist. In chapel he used to insist that when singing the word "angels" in a hymn, it should be pronounced as "ainjals". For some reason he did not like to hear "aingils", and stopped us on a few occasions to make sure we got the pronunciation right.
  • I loved sport at school. I recall we had 17 rugby fields, something that awes people even today. I also remember the lookout towers at the fields near Rhodes and Hawke.
  • I was once watching a house rugby game between Hawke and Nicholson one Wednesday afternoon. One chap did a high tackle, whereupon Mr Hogg who was standing on the sideline (I think it was him?), called the culprit over, and gave him 4 of the best right there and then! Did Mr Hogg always walk around with a cane?
  • I also remember the cross-country runs we did through beautiful valley country. In my last months of school, studying hard for A levels, I did that run fairly often, to clear the cobwebs.
  • I was made a prefect in 1965, then Head of House in 1966. As a prefect you were allowed to smoke in the Pre's common room (a legacy from WWII days?). I smoked before being made prefect and got caught once. A prefect would tell you to come up close and breath. If they smelt tobacco, that was it, into the locker room for a thrashing from the head of house.
  • Some Saturdays when bored we would sneak out of the "boma" (i.e. the hedge boundary enclosing the school grounds) and head for a duka in the valley mainly to get ciggies. This was always exciting yet dangerous stuff, to get out and back in bounds without being spotted by some passing prefect or master.
  • In my last year I was MC for our school dance and went down to St. Andrews School (next door to Loretto Convent) to ask if their band "The Saints' could play for us. As I waited in the quadrangle I saw, on the second floor above me, a line of boys queued outside a room. At the beginning of this queue was a brown robed "Friar Tuck" robustly meting out six of the best to each lad in turn. Pretty daunting stuff!
  • In VIth form we were taken on excursions, once to a tobacco factory, and once to a brewery. In the tobacco factory the filching of cigarettes got so out of hand that a worker reported the group and the teacher in charge made everyone empty out their pockets. What came out was enough tobacco to keep someone in cigarettes for years. As for the brewery, on the way back to Patch, there was fair bit of puking over the side of the school truck for those who had had one too many. Pity the motorists driving behind the truck.
  • Does anyone remember the story of a bunch of lads who snuck out one night to Loretto Convent and tied a small dog (by its collar) to the bell rope outside the front entrance. Apparently the clanging awoke the whole school, followed by irate nuns later demanding of boys schools' headmasters who the culprits were. We KNOW it was the PoW, but no one got caught!
  • The train journey from home to school (western Uganda to Nairobi) took 3 days. That was always an eventful trip, and got even better when the girl schools started to come on board from various stations once we crossed over the border into Kenya. The chaperones always had a hell of a time keeping the Princo and Duko mobs away.
  • Stan Tudor was the PE teacher. He was also Kenyan tennis and squash champion at the time. In the gym, you would sometimes get to meet Horace. Horace was a small wooden paddle that Stan would unhesitatingly use across your bum if you clowned around. Very painful through thin gym shorts.
  • I read that sometime soon after I left the Patch, fagging got banned. This is a travesty. This practice was essential for the proper induction, subjugation and hardening of juniors. I mean, to see a frail young boy stagger under the combined mass of not only his own books, but also those of an Upper VI prefect's, comprising weighty English, History, French, and Economics tomes, and of course full cricket gear for practice later that day; now that's what made a man! Just kidding. It was never that bad, but sad to hear of a long established tradition owing its demise to our unfortunate and more politically correct times..
  • That reminds me of a somewaht unsavoury priviledge I heard practised (but never experienced) by some of the more sadistic prefects, and that was to wake some poor bugger up in the middle of the night and get him to sit on the toilet for some minutes to warm the seat for the prefect's use.
  • Some memories of teachers: Bertie Lockhart, music teacher; Mr Salmon, maths teacher, Mr Chadwick, brilliant history teacher, and sharp as a tack. I remember some lads from Clive got caught doing something down at Loretto Convent. Apparently this was expulsion stuff. When this was brought to Chadwick's attention, he immediately caned the boys, thereby avoiding the more serious consequences of expulsion because apparently you couldn't be punished twice for the same "crime. Mr Chadwick's esteem and prestige thereafter rocketed skyward.

    (Registered - 20th Nov 2004) (Updated 20th March 2019)

  • If anyone wishes to contact Chris, please e-mail webmaster@oldcambrians.com to obtain his contact details