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   Patrick French


Patrick French

House: Scott
Year: 1961-1965

I went to PoW from Kampala where my family lived, following the footsteps of my brother Chris (Scott House, 1955-61).

My first memories of the School are of 'fagging', being bullied, and NOT being very good at sports, especially anything to do with kicking or catching balls (which set me at a disadvantage compared to most boys). Early on, I caught pneumonia after some particularly wet games sessions, and was in hospital for some weeks, very ill. Later years were more pleasant - I made a few friends, got fitter physically, and enjoyed my schoolwork more too. I joined the Brass Band, playing a silver euphonium, which felt like a great privilege, and I became pretty good at it (I remember the Band playing in front of Prince Philip at the Kenyan Independence Day ceremonies).

In rugby I eventually made the House second team, merely because by that time I was able to run faster and keep up with the others, and get into a scrum and push (I went from three-quarters to prop). I remember enjoying getting out to visit other schools in the truck as a supporter when our 1st team played away, and singing rude songs in chorus on the way back. In my last year I became a prefect, and was able to concentrate more on studies, so as to help prepare for University entrance exams.

On the way from home to School and back, we often used to jump off the train and hitchhike. The freedom to travel around, safely, on my own or with one or two others, was amazing - I never had any trouble from anyone, and almost always got a ride quite quickly wherever I wanted to go; several times I was invited to people's homes - black, white or brown - with generosity and kindness.

I was very sad to leave East Africa, but it seemed inevitable, so I said nothing at the time. If it was now, I'd kick up a fuss! I've only gradually realised in retrospect that it really was a wonderful, exceptionally fine place to spend one's childhood and adolescence, and I miss the warmth and openness of the land, the lifestyle and the people. Apparently, the School still goes on! (Renamed and re-peopled, but some things never change.)

And to sum up: Well, this is my short-list of credits so far: 1952-55: Newton Hill Primary, nr Wakefield, Yorks, UK 1955-60: Nakasero Primary, Kampala, Uganda 1961-65: Prince of Wales School, Nairobi, Kenya (Scott House) 1966-68 & 70-72: Reading University, UK 1977-90: working in IT, most of the time freelance, in UK (South-East) 1990-96: worked for ICL, Sydney, NSW, Australia. 1996-99: in London again... Now living in rural West Wales, still in IT (it's even reached here!) and gradually settling in...

Odd, isn't it? Prince of Wales; New South Wales; West Wales;... wherever next?

Still singing, writing, gardening, walking, swimming, etc in the spare time I can find. And still waiting for the world to pay me to do it!! There's more to tell about the personal stuff, but not here.

I'd be interested to hear from any of my former friends or colleagues - feels like I've been out of touch for too many years!

Best wishes to all.

(Registered - 17th May 2003)

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