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   Stuart Thomas


Stuart Thomas

Nickname: "Tomcat", can't for the life of me think why!!
House: Clive
Year: 1952-1956

Somebodies climbing the Tower, & placing their underwear right at the top. From memory, I think they were found out, & sent to " Flakey's" & got 6 of the best. I'm not sure whether they were expelled or not, but I have a funny feeling they were from "Scott", that mob down the corridor.

I also remember, one of the boarders from Tanganyika, got themselves into serious trouble on the train coming to school, I think. May have had something to do with a young African girl, my memory is not that good, so I had better be careful. Anyhow, as soon as he arrived at School, he went straight to "Flakey's" office & was expelled on the spot, & given you know what, just to rub salt into his stupid wounds. I can only add to that by saying, he must have deserved it, because I believe that our Headmaster was a gem of a man overall, the same as our Housemaster Mr.Fyfe.

We used to sit in the middle of the grounds out front, down past the steps, at break time, & try to catch trapdoor spiders, & make them fight each other. But our real reason, was to have a "Drag" on a fag between 4/5 of us, & if we saw a teacher approaching from the main building we used to shove the fag down the spider's hole. Tricky little buggers. Well, we thought we were.

Sundays was another thing. From memory we were each allowed to go down town to the movies, probably once a month. I can't really remember, but I know of many individuals scarpering off on their bikes, many more than 1 per month, or whatever it was. How about Roger Whittaker, or "Hank" as I used to know him, playing in that jukebox place in town. Bloody great!! We were so lucky, to have been around then.

I remember being coached by Bill Watkins in either 55/56. He was fascinating to watch bowl at one in the nets. I remember he used to place a 10 cent coin on the spot where he used to bowl to you, & I can honestly say, I never ever remembering him missing that bloody coin. He was obviously a great bowler in his time, with the MCC. He taught me a lot anyway.

Who remembers Johnny Riddell. At one stage I was friendly with a bloke by the name of Campbell, who was a DAY BUG, as we called them. Anyway I very kindly took him up to Kitale, where I lived with my folks on our farm. I thought it would be nice for him to get away from Nairobi for a while, & we could do the usual things one did at that age on a farm. I loved it, but I found out very quickly, he hated it, me & my parents, so after a week or so, we put him back on the train at Lugari, & sent him home to Nairobi. I think his father was a police officer. The next term came around, & at lunch break in our dinning room, he started swearing about at my folks. I'm afraid that was it, because he must have seen the anger i n my eyes, for he got up from the table & ran out into the corridor, right in front of "Clive" house, where I got him. By the way, at that age, I was a tall skinny rake of a kid, & he was huge by comparison. Anyway I got him & beat the c**p out of him, which was very strange for me to do such a thing. He must have really upset me. The next day at PE dickhead Riddell saw that Campbell had a broken nose & a black eye from memory, & insisted that we fight in the gym again, which I could see no reason why, as far as I was concerned the deed had been finalised. But oh no, not Johnny Riddell he threatened me with "Oscar". So I ended up having to defend myself against this bully for 3 rounds I think.

I remember us finding this poor little African child that had been all trussed up & killed, down by the reeds behind the main building & chapel area. We all got a hell of a shock. Mau Mau.

I finished at the end of 1956, because I only got six O-levels, & that did not permit me to continue my education. I was considered a bit of a dunce in those days, however I was to find out when I went to England, they advised me I could have gone to Cambridge or Oxford. Could never work that one out. However, before all this happened, my folks moved to Kampala in my last year at Princo: I lived & worked in Kampala for a time with UDC, who then sent me to western Uganda, where I worked at Lake George (Tufmac), in the Queen Elizabeth National Park. Every week I used to go to the Congo, in these huge Mercedes trucks, delivering dried fish to the prisons. It was a fantastic time of my life, I loved the bush & the wild life.

It was during this short period that two things happened that I will never forget. The first was an International tragedy & still is in my view. I was witness to the Belgians literally walking out of the Congo over night, so to speak. I have never in my life seen such scenes that took place on the borders of Uganda & the Congo. Every white man & his family literally fled for their lives, across to our side of the border, selling everything & anything, to pay for an air ticket out of Entebbe. What a terrible mess, & it's still not right, & probably never will be. The other matter was one of what one might call Karma.

For all those that remember Johnny Riddell, let me tell you something about this man. You were all probably aware how he boasted consistently that he was an ex-Green Beret. For those of you that disliked the man, revenge can be very sweet, especially if it comes out of the blue. He was for me, the only person I did not like in my 4 years at Princo:

One day I was at work, in the middle of this National Park, & who should turn up out of nowhere, but his majesty Mr J.R. My boss took to him immediately, as he had found himself a drinking partner, & they proceeded to drink well into the night, at which point Mr J.R. demanded that I take him for a drive at about 11pm. Our power system was turned off at midnight, so after that the place was in total darkness, in the middle of a National Park. Anyway my boss insisted I take J.R. for a drive so that he could find some game to chase. I said NO WAY, my Boss said GO, so I did as I was told. I took him in a VW Kombi, & eventually we went straight into a very green patch of marsh, which is easily done, if you are not very careful. We sank up to the axels & there we sat, with one small torch. The factory lights were about to go off, & here we were about a mile walk back to Tufmac in the dark. I said, well lets go, because I'm not sitting here all night. By this time, J.R. was p**sing in his pants, (excuse my language) I'm not joking. So guess what, I got out, & took the torch & walked back. I left him screaming his head off. I admit I was very concerned, for my safety, never mind his, as I could smell lion, & there were hippo feeding everywhere, plus God knows what else.

Having been in the bush for must of my young life, I felt that if I was careful & did not panic, I would make it back, which obviously I did otherwise I would not be writing these memories to you. I returned with the night askaris, who had a couple of big lights. They laughed their heads off when they first saw Riddell. You know what the country Africans were like. That sort of thing really amused them. He was sitting on top of the Kombi by this time, as it had sunk lower, & he was in a complete mess. I told him to get down so that we could push the Kombi out of the marsh, but no way would he budge. So we pushed it out with him still on the top. I got it started, & we all went back to the factory. I got up the next morning & went to work, & never saw the J.R. again. He must have snuck out real early, because no one saw him leave.

I returned to Kenya, & volunteered to do my National Service in the Kenya Regiment: because I would have been called up in any case, if I had gone back into Kenya for work. I completed the course in December 1958. (That was the course where we did a sortie with the guys who were doing their annual 2 weeks. We went way up north, I remember it being very hot during the day, & freezing at night. It was at this exercise, that RSM, can't remember his name, had a terrible fight with one of the Yarpie guys from Eldoret, who eventually nearly twisted the nuts off the RSM. He was never the same again. In fact I think they sent him back to England for treatment. The guy from Eldoret went straight to the what we called the "Glass House" in Nairobi). I was offered entrance to Sandhurst, with Kelly Dow & one other, who I don't remember. Anyway I turned it down, wisely or unwisely. One will never know.

I returned to Kampala, where I worked for EAA, & took up hockey. Loved the game. Played against Pakistan in 1960, when they were on their way to Rome for the Olympics. They thrashed us, but the experience was great.

Went to England at the end of 1961 & joined BEA, & remained in the travel Industry until after I married & came out to Aussie in December 1967. Knew Brian Turner well in Sydney way back then, that's when "Hank" came out, & the Kenya Club, got front row seats. After the show we all went back stage & spent time with him. Neil Sedaka was on the programme as well. What a night. The club used to get together, about once a month from memory.

Changed my career course, & went into Real Estate in 1972. Moved up the coast to Coffs Harbour in NSW, then got divorced in 1979/80. Moved back to Sydney with my children, met a beautiful lady in 1985, & we moved to Queensland; changed career again, & went into Hospitality Management, until 15 months ago, when Jill my wife was diagnosed with liver cancer. I lost her only 5 months ago, so hopefully this will help fill some of my terrible emptiness, & sadness I have.

I live on the Gold Coast, in Queensland. They call it God's country, it's not that to me, at the present.

I hope that I have not bored you to tears with all this, but I am so pleased that I have found the website.

I have some contacts, who went POW & Kitale School. Anthony Disney, who I have known since 1946, he would be my oldest family friend, together with his sister. Ant was in Scott, went Oxford, now lives in Melbourne. The 2 Foster brothers from Kitale as well. They go back as well to 1947/48. There were many others that were at Kitale school as well.

(Registered - 28th June 2006)

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