Strange old man dressed in WW1 army gear / dog named lobster

Share your memories and stories from your days at school, and find out the truth behind the rumours....Remember the teachers and pupils, tell us who you remember and why...

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michael scuffil
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Re: Strange old man dressed in WW1 army gear / dog named lobster

Post by michael scuffil » Tue Sep 23, 2008 8:24 pm

A bit OT, but am I alone in having had a hornets' nest in my eaves for 20 years? These are pretty fearsome beasties, but I'm told they're not aggressive, so we live and let live. Occasionnally at this time of year they wander inside (I had three in my bedroom the other day), but we just catch them in a jam-jar and take them outside.
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Re: Strange old man dressed in WW1 army gear / dog named lobster

Post by sejintenej » Tue Sep 23, 2008 8:47 pm

michael scuffil wrote:A bit OT, but am I alone in having had a hornets' nest in my eaves for 20 years? These are pretty fearsome beasties, but I'm told they're not aggressive, so we live and let live. Occasionnally at this time of year they wander inside (I had three in my bedroom the other day), but we just catch them in a jam-jar and take them outside.
Lucky you - for not having been stung by one; it would likely be a hospital jobbie. (Despite my resistance those are things I keep clear of).
We have huge wasps (well, 1 1/2 inches long) in the attic and they seem to live on the grapes over the front of the house. Then we get what looks like a similar sixed bee except it is totally black. For 2 years I had nests of ordinary wasps in the pool cover roller and in the base of the pool shower; both are now well and truly past tensed! We have all sorts of wildlife which you don't get in England - stick insects, crickets in variety, a 3ft grass snake in the lavender hedge (SWMBO doesn't know about that!!!!) which has peacefully moved to different pastures, glow-worms .................
I'm sure Kirby would have been fascinated by everything
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Re: Strange old man dressed in WW1 army gear / dog named lobster

Post by adlop » Wed Sep 24, 2008 11:25 am

I remember the figure of Kirby walking around. On my year in our house Jon Armour had a scholarship (i think) from Kirby and so went to visit him every week in his room behind the science block. He took me along one time on the promise of some mead that Kirby had made from his honey. Needless to say no mead was forthcoming and Kirby seemed more interested in the fact that like Jon I was left handed. Not sure what it mean but I don't think it was positive. The room was fascinating, whoever had to clear it out on his demise must have found some very interesting things, both pleasant and unpleasant. On reflection it was a strange set up really but at the time it didn't seem so.
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Re: Strange old man dressed in WW1 army gear / dog named lob

Post by DavidRawlins » Sat May 01, 2010 5:39 pm

Bill Kirby, whose photograph in the leaving grecians group, used to hang outside the headmaster's study, went up to Cambridge to study medicine on a scholarship. After he finished his preclinical course he was due to go on to study clinical medicine at one of the London teaching hospitals. Unfortunately his scholarship did not continue for clinical medicine, and he could not afford to continue. He contacted the then headmaster, W H Fyfe I think, for advice, who asked him to come back to CH and teach. Bill used to describe how, in lodgings in Cambridge, he would put old newspapers under the blanket to try to keep warm in bed.
He was a great character, and,I think, a good teacher. Certainly I remember a fair amount that he taught me. On one occasion he made a mistake in what he was telling us. When he realised this he told us off for not pointing it out to him. A good lesson, not to trust any one implicity. The boys were divided in their views about him; some could not stand him, others got on well with him.
I am not sure what he did in the war; something in the Signals; it may have involved research. I know that when I was in the signals at CH he was involved in research into the phonetic language.
He kept in touch with a lot of Old Blues, and had several address books. Unfortunately, when he died, the book with my details, and others, was not found, so I did not hear of his memorial service until too late. His mind remained active, but he got weaker and weaker until he could no longer look after himself.
He had a sister who married a German (I think) and spent the war in Germany. He had a nephew born about 1935 whom I met at CH. He was a Donation Governor, and left most of his estate to the school; this included his bungalow on 2 Mile Ash.
Col A 1946-1953

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Re: Strange old man dressed in WW1 army gear / dog named lob

Post by michael scuffil » Tue May 04, 2010 10:38 am

Thanks for this post, David. I too think he was a good teacher, and in particular, I liked the fact that he kept open house in his classroom during out-of-school hours. It was full of interesting books (among other more curious things) and he always had time to answer your questions.
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Re: Strange old man dressed in WW1 army gear / dog named lob

Post by DavidRawlins » Sat May 08, 2010 9:21 pm

Another thing that I remember about Bill Kirby was that he had a seemingly inexaustable supply of jokes, all fresh. There was a theory that each joke would resurface after about 30 years or so, and that he had a good memory, and could tell the joke again before it became well known.
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Re: Strange old man dressed in WW1 army gear / dog named lob

Post by tomtomclub » Thu May 19, 2011 3:00 pm

He was as quirky a teacher as you could imagine. He would for example set up practicals for pairs of students but give no instructions whatsoever as to how to use the apparatus provided. He would then wander round taking pleasure in finding someone who was trying the conduct the experiment in completely the wrong way & invite the rest of the class round to view. I also remember that you could always interrupt during lessons to ask some tangentially related question. During a discourse on smallpox someone quite reasonably asked what greatpox was. He then spent about 10 minutes giving us a pretty graphic account of syphilis & other venereal diseases. This is one of the things that for me made him such an interesting teacher. So frequent could these "diversions" be during his lessons, goodness knows how he ever covered the syllabus. He probably didn't. On a number of occasions he mentioned to us that sometime during our lives we might be confronted with someone bleeding profusely from a major artery & told us in no uncertain terms what we should do. Fortunately this has not yet occured to me!!

What else? Well I shall probably take to my grave the fact that "A true fruit is a ripened carpel and nothing else" & that if you hear any mention of Nitric acid , you should immediately shout "oxidising agent"!!

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Re: Strange old man dressed in WW1 army gear / dog named lob

Post by sejintenej » Thu May 19, 2011 9:20 pm

I also appreciated him as a teacher. There was one boy from Col A (David Rawlings would have known him because somehow the boy was kept down a year) who had a habit of forgetting some or all of his books.
Kirby's response was to make me responsible for ensuring that this older boy had all the necessary books in Kirby's class on pain that it would be me that got punished! Somehow the books were always present thereafter.

One regret is that I was never involved closely in Kirby's bees. For two years I have had a large hive in my attic!

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Re: Strange old man dressed in WW1 army gear / dog named lob

Post by J.R. » Fri May 20, 2011 12:11 pm

sejintenej wrote:I also appreciated him as a teacher. There was one boy from Col A (David Rawlings would have known him because somehow the boy was kept down a year) who had a habit of forgetting some or all of his books.
Kirby's response was to make me responsible for ensuring that this older boy had all the necessary books in Kirby's class on pain that it would be me that got punished! Somehow the books were always present thereafter.

One regret is that I was never involved closely in Kirby's bees. For two years I have had a large hive in my attic!

As I have stated way way back, I absolutely loved working with Mr Kirby and his bees, until, unfortunately, on collecting my very first sting, It transpired that I have a severe allergy to their stings, resulting in several days in the sicker.

Strangely, I have no fear of bees at all today, and will even gently pick up bumble-bees that find their way through our patio doors, and take them back outside.

Honey bees are slightly more aggressive though, when disturbed and I tend to leave them to Jan, though I have been known to gently pick one up between thumb and fore-finger.
John Rutley. Prep B & Coleridge B. 1958-1963.

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Re: Strange old man dressed in WW1 army gear / dog named lob

Post by sejintenej » Fri May 20, 2011 8:38 pm

J.R. wrote:
As I have stated way way back, I absolutely loved working with Mr Kirby and his bees, until, unfortunately, on collecting my very first sting, It transpired that I have a severe allergy to their stings, resulting in several days in the sicker.
Strangely, I have no fear of bees at all today, and will even gently pick up bumble-bees that find their way through our patio doors, and take them back outside.
Honey bees are slightly more aggressive though, when disturbed and I tend to leave them to Jan, though I have been known to gently pick one up between thumb and fore-finger.
Kirby had the reputation (deserved or otherwise) that he had bred a bee which would not sting; I suspect that because it would not protect the hive that the colony was overcome. That said some races of bees are more liable to attack than others whilst a research institute in Recife has bred a really vicious race which alledgedly has gone feral and travelled north.

I've been stung enough in the UK so they don't worry me too much that way, though I still respect them. I think that they sense fear. Bee keeping is common over here; we have heather, thyme, acacia, lavender, California lilac and other sources of pollen or whatever.

In the house we have two attic tiny windows which are permanently shuttered. We get swarms from time to time but 3 years ago I had swarms in both window reveals behind the shutters and got a local bee keeper to remove them; he was fully suited, gloved, veiled etc and "knew" what he was doing. I by contrast was in slacks, long sleeved shirt and that was it; although we were working together and at one point my hair had many bees crawling in it he got stung and I didn't!!!!

Two weeks later I had two more swarms so I got a different beekeeper in (Jean Jaques was away). This bloke removed much of each of the swarms but I still had about 100 bees to remove!

Last year a huge swarm arrived and is still here; come autumn I suppose I will have to smoke them out and remove half the honey.

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Re: Strange old man dressed in WW1 army gear / dog named lob

Post by J.R. » Sun May 22, 2011 12:15 pm

I know there is a breed of bee known as the killer-bee which is apparently very aggresive and packs quite a sting. South American or African, if memory serves, so I suppose it's possible some idiot has dabbled with cross breeding.

Bumble bees are not at all aggresive unless REALLY aggravated. Incidently, they seem to be on the increase this year, which must be good news !
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Re: Strange old man dressed in WW1 army gear / dog named lob

Post by DavidRawlins » Wed Aug 31, 2011 6:05 pm

I remember going walking with Bill Kirby. On one occasion he told us of a scoring system that had been devised for where ever one urinated. The categories were Height, Running water, View, and Other factors. Each could score up to 5 points, making a maximum of 20. Does anyone else recall this?
Col A 1946-1953

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Re: Strange old man dressed in WW1 army gear / dog named lob

Post by TrueBlue » Wed Aug 31, 2011 11:51 pm

I only recall helping Kirby a couple of times towards the end of my time, but the memory has remained so strong and pleasant, that I have just implemented a policy of keeping bees here at my school for the pupils.

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Re: Strange old man dressed in WW1 army gear / dog named lob

Post by J.R. » Thu Sep 01, 2011 12:39 pm

TrueBlue wrote:I only recall helping Kirby a couple of times towards the end of my time, but the memory has remained so strong and pleasant, that I have just implemented a policy of keeping bees here at my school for the pupils.

Good for you ! Bees, especially honey-bees are having a rough time at the moment.

What people don't realise, that if their numbers keep dwindling, natural fertilisation of crops etc, may well become a thing of the past.

I might be allergic to their sting, but I have no fear of them and will still gently rescue one by hand if it comes in through our patio doors and guide it back into the garden.
John Rutley. Prep B & Coleridge B. 1958-1963.

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Re: Strange old man dressed in WW1 army gear / dog named lob

Post by sejintenej » Thu Sep 01, 2011 1:37 pm

J.R. wrote:
TrueBlue wrote:I only recall helping Kirby a couple of times towards the end of my time, but the memory has remained so strong and pleasant, that I have just implemented a policy of keeping bees here at my school for the pupils.

Good for you ! Bees, especially honey-bees are having a rough time at the moment.

What people don't realise, that if their numbers keep dwindling, natural fertilisation of crops etc, may well become a thing of the past.
.
Exactly. There seem to be two major problems:
commercial pesticide use, including aerial spraying (which seems to have been banned here at last)
a mite (acarine is a word which comes to mind) which will kill a whole colony in a few months. There is an old remedy used here but I don't think it has received approval for use in the UK

John mentions natural fertilisation of crops; our local farmers fertilise their maize by hand; given that it can be hot, sunny and the maize is constantly irrigated by sprays it is an unpopular job.

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