Cabinet of Curiosities

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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Donsimone
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Cabinet of Curiosities

Post by Donsimone » Tue Feb 08, 2011 10:21 am

Hello.

Allright, let's power up the Tardis and set the controls for the heart of the '70s one last time. Hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.


I spent my three years in Hunt B skating on thin ice, two of those in a running battle with Housemaster Killer Fry who was my Dad's top CH ally ( presumably swapping WWII experiences during the long, lingering drop-offs before my Dad motored his way back to London ) meaning that, like it or not, I was effectively restrained from going off the rails; hearts of gold they may have been, but you crossed them at your peril. In hindsight, it was my happiest time at CH.
The ride was to get decidedly bumpier and more messy with the move to a Senior house.
I'd been allocated to Mid B with the newly-appointed Reverend Ian Atkinson presiding. The gimlet-eyed clergyman was clearly not, even to the uninitiated observer, cut from the same ecumenical cloth as those other priestly sunbeams John Hall-Matthews and Rev. Rob. With his stuttering, mechanical gait, he was a shining example of simmering ecclesiastical menace. The world was his to exorcise. Unfortunately that included me.
We got off to a bad start. Senior Housemasters customarily invited newbies, still do for all I know, for a fraternal chat the summer prior to moving up. Deeply wary of this impending change of the guard, I couldn't bring myself to attend the veritable vicar's tea party instantly gaining black sheep status with the irksome shepherd. Antipathy established, steering clear of trouble post-move didn't prove too painful for a while – busy with impending exams and sport, I was getting along fine with my new housemates.
But like a holy hand-grenade, Python-style, he blew up in my face before long.

Heaven alone knows what fanciful notion possessed him but, in a surreal turn of events, at one point he took it upon himself to arrange a hockey showcase with, goes without saying, himself the star. Word was he'd been pretty useful in his youth though the sun had presumably long set on that score. Doubtless the presence of Gerald Davies as Mid B House Tutor, then in his Wales rugby prime, was the spark that relit the blue touchpaper.
Whatever...his 'I'm Spartacus' moment had come.
Participation was compulsory, the alienation for non-hockey players automatic. As I stood clueless with the despised stick in my hand, it was mind-boggling to occupy a reluctant ringside seat as his immaculate white socks flitted skilfully about, scoring a string of goals like pearls in a private fantasy.
( For the record, I was captain of school year soccer under the excellent Bob Hailey, played fly-half in the rugby side and opened the bowling and batted no.3 in the cricket XI - and I KNEW that hockey was a girls' game! )
This bid on the part of the bearded wonder to sieze the limelight amounted to an affront to the natural sporting order. The Cold War had well and truly begun and the atmosphere of animosity gradually escalated into all-out psychological warfare.
Blue-eyed boy I was not. He used to look at me in that tone of voice that screamed 'heretic'. I half-expected to turn a corner down by the changing rooms one day only to be stoned to death by a bearded mystery assailant. Like an irrascible Scots headwaiter with a troublesome customer, what was left of my time at CH soon saw him flicking flies into my soup at every opportunity.
This was a teacher who liked to make his politics very personal, a trait which made him widely reviled. After a term-long series of mindnumbing psychic assaults masquerading as 'career talks' in his study inevitably punctuated by awkward neverending silences and mutually uncomprehending exchanges of perspective, my parents – cunningly unannounced to me - were called to the school to discuss my future.

In my mind's eye I can still clearly picture myself emerging from the house into the Avenue post morning school one Saturday, and being adrenalised to see, unscheduled, an all-too-familiar car sitting outside Head Newsome's house. And not the beloved Jag, oh no.... the company Ford, a very bad omen indeed. The troops were deployed and I was to be mown down in the holier-than-thou crossfire that ensued.
My Mum, bless her heart, upon being informed that her youngest son had been referred to by the Vile Vicar as a “rotten apple”, in a cavalier attempt to re-educate the troublesome priest, went for his jugular and had to be physically restrained as the fur flew. What should have been a turning point became the nadir of my time at CH.
Shortly after, Newsome, in his typically embalmed-in-a-bygone-age Pharaoh-like way, intoned a monologue to me about 'Dep's malaise' and 'supporting his staff' and not being in a position to make 'special priveleges'. I was left bemused as to why he didn't simply suggest a change of house, but there again, I suppose that would have been a little too free-spirited for the CH of the mid-seventies.
A reincarnationist wag might have pointed out that, in a peculiar reversal of the norm, karma had been run over by dogma. The point of no return having been breached, the relief of the Christmas holidays brought with it the imperative for fresh horizons despite the resulting minor earthquake that was unleashed in our house – CH was/is after all a very useful recommendation for uni. places and careers.
Later, while at Warwick University, I spoke to Ray Chatlani, also ex-Mid B, who had suffered a similar fate. We weren't the only ones to be burnt at the stake. I missed the excellent teachers and the budding friendships sure enough. Dave Angel, Andrew 'Brian' Holgate, Frank MacDaid, Andy Fryer et al. where are ya?!

But Eros had taken flight and parted company with CH's archaically patriarchal civilisation and I escaped down the existential tunnel I'd dug for myself.
An imminent future populated by shapely hips and perky breasts beckoned and Punk was just around the corner in a world that was yet to hear of either Star Wars or the tragic Lady Diana Spencer....let alone the Internet or social media - or old-school forums for that matter.

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Jo
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Re: Cabinet of Curiosities

Post by Jo » Tue Feb 08, 2011 1:06 pm

As a Hertford girl, I don't know any of the personalities involved, but I enjoyed reading it enormously :lol:

If you don't already write professionally, you should.
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Re: Cabinet of Curiosities

Post by Angela Woodford » Tue Feb 08, 2011 1:29 pm

I loved it!

But some sensitive paragraphing would give this splendid piece extra impact!

That Newsome - sounds like a parallel DR West experience.
"Baldrick, you wouldn't recognise a cunning plan if it painted itself purple, and danced naked on top of a harpsichord singing "Cunning plans are here again.""

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Re: Cabinet of Curiosities

Post by michael scuffil » Thu Feb 10, 2011 3:42 pm

Now I knew "that" Newsome, and I met DR on two occasions -- I can't imagine two people more different. We always said that Newsome kept Siamese cats because he was a Siamese cat in a human body. That is not how I remember DR.
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englishangel
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Re: Cabinet of Curiosities

Post by englishangel » Fri Feb 11, 2011 8:21 am

Now there's a thought, what animal was DR?
"If a man speaks, and there isn't a woman to hear him, is he still wrong?"

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Re: Cabinet of Curiosities

Post by icomefromalanddownunder » Fri Feb 11, 2011 10:29 pm

englishangel wrote:Now there's a thought, what animal was DR?
Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, let's see.

Definitely not feline (no evidence of sensuality) or equine - just not.

Canine? Definitely not a hound or a gun dog. Rottweiler came to mind, but not correct. Dobermann? Corgi - no, legs too long, which brings me back to Dobermann.

Liz???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

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MKM
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Re: Cabinet of Curiosities

Post by MKM » Sat Feb 12, 2011 10:04 am

englishangel wrote:Now there's a thought, what animal was DR?
A labrador? Loyal, hardworking, sporty but not playful, slightly stocky, good with young children.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Endal_Dickin.jpg
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Re: Cabinet of Curiosities

Post by Liz Jay » Sat Feb 12, 2011 5:51 pm

Hi

Labradors are kind, and boisterous, so no, in fact I think not doglike in any way.

Not cute or fluffy. Something imposing with rather mean seaching eyes, that could turn at any moment...

I am put in mind more of a primitive bovine, perhaps a water buffalo or wildebeest, snorting, pawing the ground, sizing you up whether to charge or not

Or maybe a rhino, she certainly must have had a thick skin in her prime!

Scary! I tremble in my Miles-with-Smiles....

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Re: Cabinet of Curiosities

Post by Ajarn Philip » Sun Feb 13, 2011 5:08 am

Liz Jay wrote:Hi

Something imposing with rather mean seaching eyes, that could turn at any moment...
I am put in mind more of a primitive bovine, perhaps a water buffalo ... snorting, pawing the ground, sizing you up whether to charge or not
Liz
How dare you malign the magnificent water buffalo, madam! A docile and gentle creature.
Just a tad heavy, that's all...

How about a wild boar?
I know exactly what words I am wanting to say, but somehow or other they is always getting squiffsquiddled around

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Re: Cabinet of Curiosities

Post by Katharine » Sun Feb 13, 2011 8:24 am

I seem to remember from a talk I attended in Brunei that buffaloes are one of the few mammals that regularly from gay relationships - might not appeal to DR!
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Re: Cabinet of Curiosities

Post by anniexf » Sun Feb 13, 2011 11:13 am

I would have suggested COW if it hadn't meant maligning such a useful & mostly self-effacing animal. VIPER, maybe? :evil: But if we have to stick to the dog family, how about jackal?

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Re: Cabinet of Curiosities

Post by englishangel » Sun Feb 13, 2011 4:25 pm

Only one animal sprung to MY mind. A bull terrier.
"If a man speaks, and there isn't a woman to hear him, is he still wrong?"

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Re: Cabinet of Curiosities

Post by anniexf » Sun Feb 13, 2011 5:37 pm

:lol: :lol: :lol:

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Re: Cabinet of Curiosities

Post by fra828 » Sun Feb 13, 2011 7:03 pm

Eagle-(eyed)! Never missing anything from her position 'over us' !

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Re: Cabinet of Curiosities

Post by midget » Sun Feb 13, 2011 8:52 pm

englishangel wrote:Only one animal sprung to MY mind. A bull terrier.
I think you have the truth of it, Mary.
Thou shalt not sit with statisticians nor commit a social science.

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