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   David Cresswell


David Cresswell

House: Junior/Junior Day/Fletcher/School/Clive
Years: 1964-1970

David Cresswell - 1970 and 2004

Attending Nairobi School was certainly an experience. Much has been said and written about the splendid operational standards and quality of the education. Naturally, as children and pupils, we believed. Later still, as mature adults, most still do. For the period, the place and the circumstances the school was as good as one could have reasonably expected. For that, any OC might well be grateful. It was, after all, a time very different from the present.

Some of the more sensitive boys must have endured all of the circles of an earthly hell there. Other boys displayed remarkably well humored and pragmatic attitudes. Early in my 1st year I had, in the swimming pool changing rooms, an encounter with a boy a year or two ahead of me, but much, much older. Never knew his name. He demanded that I look at his backside as he pulled down his trunks. He related the name of the master responsible and the day of receipt of each of three sets of welts. I asked about some other scrappy markings. “Oh. Them! Our neighbors garden boy did that with a stick a few days ago because I called him something uncomplimentary,” he explained with a sly wink followed by a laugh at my discomfort. Certainly a very naughty and forward boy who made an impression. I determined never to suffer any such mistreatments. I was careful never again to allow myself to be alone in topos, tosh or changing room with just one other older boy.

Keeping apart from the older boys was easy. Avoidance of being hit was a little more complicated. Whilst in Form 2, during a mid-morning break time, David Ralph and I dumped our haversacks onto the veranda of a classroom opposite the armory. Looking through the open door we saw Julius Simpson furiously doing his prep work. Being a pair of silly little sods we started to rag him. This attracted the attention of a young man who had recently left the school and returned to teach for a couple of terms prior to attending university. An appointment with Neil Chadwick, the 2nd Master, was set for all three of us. I was, as the Americans so quaintly say, “really pissed” at the prospect of being beaten for such a nothing. Dutifully, and fully resigned to our fate, we three reported on time. The wizened old man asked me for an account. I recounted the event, just as it had happened. Satisfied that David and I had not really sinned, even though we had each placed a foot upon the steps to the veranda, he told us to go. Poor Julius then received a few cuts for being in a class room during break. I felt more shame, guilt and responsibility for that beating than I have felt for anything before or since. I had felt like an accuser during the interview with NC. Furthermore, had we two Davids not looked into that room Julius would have finished his prep in peace; unmolested and undetected. All would have been well. To add zest to my discomfort, Julius was one of the 'all-round' most decent and pleasant boys I had ever met. This event, however, enabled a realization that all school authority figures did not devote all of their energies to catching, terrorising and beating small boys. There was some justice and decency after all. And jolly glad of that I was, too.

A few of the beaks inspired and impressed me for one reason or another. It is Nigel Brown, Housemaster of Clive House during most of my time there, to whom I am most indebted. He arranged for me to spend a year at Rugby School. This experience awakened areas of consciousness and altered my life course. Not quite in the more orthodox manner which he and my Pater might have hoped for, however.

Today, I live by principles similar to those of my youth. To have and to do as little as practicable; to desire and strive for the least of the material measures of our perceived worth. Long gone are all affiliations to and affections for any organized religion. A much broader range of people now attract and gain friendship. I do not disdain and dislike so many; nor so deeply. Flattery and sycophancy, along with all other forms of competition, are as repellent now as ever. As a senior, in order to fulfill my duty, I tried hard in a few instances of competition; mainly involving the organisation and application of the strenuous or athletic efforts of others. The few small triumphs enabled me to sample and better understand the seductive and addictive nature of that most dangerous of psychic beasts.

There were a good number of pals, as I was surprised to see when I commenced what I thought would be a very short list. There were also many boys who I would very much have liked to know better. I had kept apart from them for reasons of their associations with rougher types, streaming, age difference, orientation, snobbishness or attractiveness. A few associations were, in retrospect, of dubious motive, habit or practice. At the time they seemed natural, normal and shameless enough despite their practical and sensible clandestine nature. Latterly, I might have refrained. However, the memory causes me no concern of conscience. After all, a chap simply had to do what a chap had to do.

Fortunately for me I overcame any remaining shyness in time to make good the many enjoyable friendship, liaison and lifestyle opportunities of my young adulthood. Having got that out of the way, I settled into a fairly normal period of middle aged / middle class respectability, aspiration and practice. Thankfully, I soon regained my senses; returning to Africa to lead a quiet and simple life.

Soon to remove to an idyllic and remote spot overlooking the Danube. Perhaps this will be the last of many removals which, since school, have taken me to England, Wales, Holland, Egypt, Italy, The Transvaal, The Cape, Ohio and Bulgaria. Only India now remains as a destination of potential long stay aspiration.

(Registered - 16th June 2003 and updated 14th April 2007)

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