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   Peter Greenaway


Peter Alan Greenaway

House: Junior/Rhodes
Years: 1960-1962

Arriving at PoW at the same time as the new head I rapidly fell in thrall of his most ambitious project and was declared a “founder member” of “U2” the accelerated path to glory. After three years of intense activity, culminating in my OLC, I left the school and followed my parents to Australia towards the end of 1963.

The high points:
  • slogging in the trenches of academe with boys like my close friend David Bennett-Rees and John Gatti
  • playing for the Junior Colts XV and winning all our games that season.

    The lower points:
  • apparently forever running around the rugby pitches (17 of them?)
  • arriving home having been constipated for 2 weeks and explaining to my father – a doctor – that I hadn’t had time to go. A week of treatment with progressively more potent potions was to pass before the dam broke!
  • or, having failed my first "mile" athletics standard due to a streaming cold, ran the repeat under the surveillance of D.S. Hogge who also coached my Colts XV. I was just behind Joe Lusted, - I think, also on the team - and at every lap (around the cricket pitch and not the thrice-cursed rugby pitches for once) DSH murmured, as always without apparently moving his mouth, "Greenaway hurry up - you are going to miss it!" We floundered on and eventually finished in a lather of foam half a lap in front of everyone else and about 40 seconds inside the time!

    Fond memories:
  • the accelerated stream certainly had the pick of the teaching staff:
  • I remember “Johnny” Walker explaining passionately to his new “Additional Maths” class that he did not ever want to see “Ans =” at the botom of our work. “Ans” didn’t equal anything!
  • Major Fyffe in chemistry who inserted an agonising pause in the middle of naming most substances so that “sodium hy” was followed by a near-religious murmured response from the congregation “Droxide”!
  • I much appreciated the charismatic style of “Pissy” Reid in history who made me appreciate for the first time that there was more to it than dates while inserting a series of incredibly awful puns (on the Greek war of independence we learnt that a town in the north of the country was the birthplace of the auto industry – Saloonicar!) He touched a chord – I obtained an outrageously good mark in the OLC and remain fascinated by the subject even today.

    Less fond:
  • hearing of the untimely death of “Teddy” Boase who was the only person who ever looked like making me appreciate Latin
  • or receiving a satis card from “Grumbles” Burton for French which I then had to discuss every week with my housemaster – the same Burton. (he usually contributed more to the discussion than I did!)
  • In Rhodes the phrase “Gone for a Burton" had a particularly poignant meaning!

    There were of course more emotional moments like leaving the place for an exeat on Sunday and hearing the school rise to the occasion with a vast rendering of “Cwm Rhondda” which nearly blew the visiting preacher – the Rev. Edward Bennett-Rees from the DOY & obviously of the same origin as the hymn - out of his socks.

    Without doubt, however, the finest moment was returning from West Nile in Uganda via a Comet IV from Entebbe on the same plane as the Head. Although I looked modestly at the floor (I knew me place!) there was no escape and another boy and I – his name escapes me – were ordered into the estate car of “Fritz” Goldsmith who drove the three of us to the school in style. This was – marginally – surpassed the following day when a seething Bursar asked us why we had not met the bus sent to fetch us and how had we got back to school without it! Boys will be little bas boys and we explained straight-faced that the deputy head had given us a lift and if he needed further clarification we suggested he take it up with Mr. Wigmore.

    “OCW” was apparently not very sanguine about education in other “colonies” and on my last report expressed the pious wish that I would be able to continue “really academic schooling” there. To demonstrate this was possible I had to finish my schooling in two years in two different Australian states with totally different curricula, but matriculated finally and read Chemical Engineering in Sydney.

    Since then I have worked in the alumina industry in Australia, Germany (where I married a French wife!), Sweden and Venezuela and now live and work in the south of France. Our 2 children have left home and we have acquired a German daughter-in-law and 1 grandson.

    Even then the school was not perfect, but my subsequent experience both as student and parent never offered a better environment to learn and to learn to live, nor the same level of dedication and competence among the teachers – even my hopeless Latin stood me in good stead when I was forced to learn German in a hurry (Pansy Potter where were you!) and plunged valiantly into dative and genitive cases. The learning habits and ability to work under serious pressure from supervision and peers stood me in good stead for years after.

    (Registered - 20th November 2007)

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