Memories of school:
........ Where to start?
Junior House, not a happy time, but enlivened by the housemaster (surely James Roberson Justice?) who once assured
me I should wear a hat because "the sun will addle your brains, boy!" Making crystal sets to listen to the radio station
beyond the top playing fields. The splendid scandal of Mr McCullock, our lay preacher, who left with the young wife of
a newly arrived teacher. Enjoying relaxed rules at the end of term when we had to stay on for our Wednesday train to
Kisumu . The staff and even matron turned out to be quite human for a few days.
Slow progress through mostly forgotten stages to senior dorm in Scott. I believe I had the end bed, next to Ron Bullock,
opposite Roger Whitaker, and in the opposite corner, Brian Gemmell. By then discipline was easier. Sometimes the lights
came back on after lights out for late reading, and there was dissention, so someone stood on Bullock's locker to remove
a lightbulb. "Get off my locker" said Bullock, twice, and then much louder, "my hand's in it!" You had to be there!
Sankey, I think it was, collected some mushrooms, and three of us had a fry up, using all of a quarter of lard borrowed
from Mrs Heathcote, for very few mushrooms. My first experience cooking and of indigestion!
For some reason being rewarded by Mr Walmsley with the key to the Radio room; I never understood radio beyond the crystal
set, despite Rushworth's efforts to explain to me how he did circuits in his head. But the room had a vice, which could
be used to undo Sturmey Archer three speed hubs, and tools for repairs. The apt student could also make copies of useful
keys, and we soon had a master which fitted almost every lock in the school. Smoking became easier and safer.
The school bus, a red Ford V8 truck with benches round the open back - Johnny Ridell's spirited driving, he who
married (?) the pretty art teacher who replaced Mr Simm during his leave. Mr Simm's wonderful elephant paintings, and his
new Standard Vanguard and his lovely daughter Alison, who found Brian Gemell of more interest than me.
The choir with Bertie, and Flakey trying to be unobtrusive. We had great fun practising and then singing in Nairobi
Cathedral, Hyden's oratorio "The Creation" although the professional soloists were long and dreary.
End of term and a three day journey to Mwanza, via Kisumu and the SS Usoga or Rusinga around Lake Victoria. The remains
of a term's spends for smoking, experimenting with firecrackers and so to cordite and detonators from ammunition,
playing around the jumble of enormous white rocks at Msoma during loading and unloading, shooting pigeons with a .177
airgun and insisting they were cooked for dinner on the boat - excellent but thin pickings. Sometimes, not often
enough, we travelled with the girls from the Convent or the heifer boma. Lack of experience and nerve kept me from
learning too fast, but still there are memories of moonlit nights on the lake!
Wonderful teaching of Maths (Flakey and others) and Physics (First Joey - JH=IVT where J is a constant, 4.2 joules per
calorie- Joey takes Ivy to tea- then Mr Heathcote), chemistry by the very able and commercially oriented Mr Watson,
French and English by Mr Cobb and others, all helped me to School Cert and a good Higher ("we always knew you worked
harder than you cared to admit") and a place at Manchester University to study Chemistry. So much of what I learned is
still useful, it was the best grounding one could have had, except for the cloistered and institutionalised social life.
But never forget school had a darker side for a nervous ("Hayward, do you wash sufficiently?" asked Mr Cobb unkindly) and
disorganised student, always late, always without the due prep, not great at sport, and by nature questioning of
discipline. Certainly not the best days of my life.
The freedom of university and no real interest in chemistry led to distractions such as cars, girls and rag stunts. I and
my flat mate - still a close friend - were sent down at the end of year two, following dramatic failures in exams and
rather too much notoriety elsewhere.
After a year working, and more or less living, in a garage in central Manchester, I was called up and served three years
and six months in the Army, some on Christmas Island with the dizzy rank of corporal, and the rest in Somerset. The Army
was sorry to see me go, but I managed to get a job as Gopher in an engineering works in Lancashire.
Slowly I learned and progressed, office manager, salesman, then to Belgium as European Sales, now with a wife and two
children. Then Sales Manager back in England and lots of transatlantic experience, until after 21 years, redundant!
The following 25 years have been great fun building up Bailcast, a supplier of replacement parts for cars, mostly to my
own patents. A talented staff and my children who have a successful printing business close by, allow me to spend a
month - sometimes two - in Las Vegas every year, where I can be completely irresponsible and play blackjack, as well as
looking after our American business.
My declared intention of retiring at 55 has failed, I still interfere all the time, and over the last ten years I have
found time to rebuild a farm in Spain, producing almonds, olives and wine.
Divorced but still friends and happily remarried, as my 70th approaches all too fast, this is pre-obituary from a boy
whose school report once said, "would rather spend time trying to avoid work than get on with it".
Plus ca change……..
I'd love to hear from anyone from those years - Sadly, except for Roger Whitaker in his early days, I have never come
across anyone I knew at school.
And now to the harvest and another vintage!
(Registered - 18th August 2006) (Updated - 4th Sept 2006)
If anyone wishes to contact Philip, please e-mail email@example.com
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