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   Rob Ryan


Rob Ryan

House: Junior/Intermediate/Hawke
Years: 1945-1950

  • BA in Geology from Oxford
  • worked around Australia (NT, WA, Qld. SA) since (after going there on contract for 3 years in 1955!)
  • led the team that found world class uranium mine Ranger in 1969
  • moved to Atherton Tableland in N Queensland (think Kenya Highlands) 1988
  • Geological Consultant since 1981

    Father, Bill Ryan, donated the Ryan Cup for Cross-Country Relay Competition, began from memory in 1949.

    Small and frightened, I arrived in Junior for the first term of 1945. Having had only the previous year at Nakuru School I had neither earlier contacts from school nor big brothers with whom to network. It was an alien world, made more so by 'initiation': this terrifying rite carried out in the dorm of Intermediate by enormous young men armed with hockey sticks and other implements. Does it still go on? At that time the School packed down the heaviest tight five in Kenya, adult or school.

    From there it got better. Sunday nights at 'Ma Lanky's', special for me as she had been the Matron at St Christophers where I had spent a couple of years. Promotion to Intermediate and then to Hawke: picked solely because it had the same colour as Blake, my house at Nakuru, but a fortuitous choice. I think we were Cock House on average two out of three every year I was there.

    We were certainly so successful that when Fletcher arrived he decided that Hawke had to be cut down to size. He was probably right.

    He was a bit of a change from 'Bushbaby' who had held the fort during the war years. Cambridge rowing blue and a way with the cane that was impressive, he towered above us and had an evil knowing grin that told you that he could see right through you and read all of your inner secrets. He was a bloody good Head.

    And then there was 'Mzee Kobe'. Eccentric. Loyal to his boys and we knew it and were loyal to him, but a just and stern disciplinarian. As a prefect in later years I learned so much from him. In my day we had as assistant housemaster 'Samaki' Salmon, Canadian ex-pilot who taught us maths by demonstrating navigation in class; and Madame Franco, Russian emigre who taught us French and maintained that so long as your pronunciation was good the grammar was less important but immaculate grammar was no good if the French had no idea what it was you were trying to say. Stood me in good stead when I worked for them in later years.

    Sending our suitcases to the station at end of term and 'catching' the train as it went by the back fence; the terrifying cry of 'raaaaaable' when you were on the losing end - and woe betide the last to arrive - and the satisfaction when you were on the winning end; 'Pansy' James, housemaster of Rhodes playing polo with his favourites on our hockey pitches, to our fury; Saturday mornings at Shankar Dass where we met the 'heifers', bought very few records but occupied the cubicles for long periods; masses of rowdy boys on Sunday afternoons in the cinemas; being a member of the team that won the Craig Cup in 1950, and more particularly beating the Old Cambrians in the final, a team made up substantially of the school team who had won the previous year and could not conceive that we would beat them; the Saturday Dave Forrester won the 100 yards and I won the mile in the Nairobi Sub-area Sports Meeting, both against all the odds, and the surprise when we were called up at prayers on the Monday and congratulated.

    And finally, to Fetcher's surprise (and mine), matriculating and getting to Oxford. Happy Days!

    (Registered 7th April 2004)

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