Gruesome Encounter of the Newsome Kind

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Donsimone
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Gruesome Encounter of the Newsome Kind

Post by Donsimone » Thu Dec 02, 2010 8:43 am

Hello.

Glad to have the opportunity to dig up from the bowels of memory this personal anecdote which I'd like to share with you.

Michaelmas term, many moons ago....
I was bathing in the light of Bomber (Christopher) Nicholson's 3A, God bless him.
And God bless Mrs (Olive) Peto - I'd won the Second Form English prize and been instructed to choose a hardback book, which could be embossed with the school crest, for a frugal sum. From a filing cabinet of brochures outside the School Office, a task duly accomplished after much searching.
I had no inkling that my CH career was about to take a grim downturn from which I was never to recover..

Some weeks later, loitering in the pre-Chapel fog, I hear the voice of Killer Fry, gauntly handsome ex-military policeman and terrifying Dining Hall ogre, call out through the morning mist; "Anything on your conscience? The Headmaster wants to see you. In his study. Now."
The longest walk of my life. I knocked and was summoned in.
Gruesome Newsome was perched, batlike, at the far end of the aircraft carrier that served as a table, framed by velvet crush curtains. The walk down the length of that table, palpable trepidation abounding, was even longer than the walk from LHB had been.
I remained standing, apparently ignored, for a couple of minutes, may as well have been a couple of hours. A careful lowering of the spectacles...
"Are you feeling guilty about anything you've done this term?" The tone was not friendly.
A rush of panic for the second time - negative and nonplussed on that front I was.
At which point, after a discreet shuffling of the sea of documents laid out in front of him, a book appears, the cover of which is daintily adorned with a variety of images of fetching feminine breasts. Bust Up: A History of the Bra. By Otto Titzlinger. My English prize! The only hardback I could find for that paltry sum. From the brochures outside the School Office. As instructed.
Clearly a titanic error, albeit more misguided than mischievous.
The tirade that followed was merciless - "this was a direct attempt to cheek the school" and "an unforgivable undermining of the school's public image. What must the booksuppliers possibly have thought." Etcetera.
Punchdrunk, coat up, over THAT armchair, a wild flailing of arm/material/bamboo and six of the very best were applied with alacrity to my protesting buttocks.
I thanked him and slithered out like a wounded animal.
But only because I was 13 years old. And he was, after all, The Headmaster.

I eventually took receipt of the Collected Works of Shakespeare - a weighty tome to be sure and I still have it.
But I often think back to my friend Otto.

And I'm just as often still persecuted in my dreams by the Caped Crusader.

Love & Kisses to you all.

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Re: Gruesome Encounter of the Newsome Kind

Post by michael scuffil » Thu Dec 02, 2010 9:02 am

I knew Newsome as my Senior Tutor at Cambridge, and I have a great deal to thank him for (he also offered me a job at CH, which I gracefully declined). This story is entirely typical. (Were the Siamese cats in attendance?)

One of my contemporaries at Cambridge later became a Conservative minister, and the subject of a bit of tabloid tittle-tattle when it came out that he had an illegitimate child dating from his student days. This may be related to the incident when he was hauled before Newsome for having a girl in his room overnight, for which he was fined 50 pounds (about 1000 in today's money). "Of course, I could always send you down," said Newsome.

But let's not speak too ill of the dead. He was CH's academically most distinguished HM of the last century. And after the aridity of the Seaman years, he brought a bit of colour to the office.
Th.B. 27 1955-63

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Re: Gruesome Encounter of the Newsome Kind

Post by J.R. » Thu Dec 02, 2010 1:21 pm

A marvellous first post, Simon. Thank you.

I never had dealings with the subject of your post. C.M.E.S. was in situ during my whole time at Horsham. I think I probably only ever spoke to him a couple of times, and found him rather distant.

QUESTION:- In view of your experiences at the end of the cane from the then HM, did C.M.E.S. ever use the cane ? I can't recall ever hearing him using the ultimate form of punishment and to be honest, he never struck me as the sort of teacher that would approve or use it.
John Rutley. Prep B & Coleridge B. 1958-1963.

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Re: Gruesome Encounter of the Newsome Kind

Post by michael scuffil » Thu Dec 02, 2010 5:28 pm

J.R. wrote:A marvellous first post, Simon. Thank you.

I never had dealings with the subject of your post. C.M.E.S. was in situ during my whole time at Horsham. I think I probably only ever spoke to him a couple of times, and found him rather distant.

QUESTION:- In view of your experiences at the end of the cane from the then HM, did C.M.E.S. ever use the cane ? I can't recall ever hearing him using the ultimate form of punishment and to be honest, he never struck me as the sort of teacher that would approve or use it.
Yes John, he did. Not often, and not on me. But for example on a friend who decided to camp out in Shelley's Wood and had half of West Sussex police looking for him.
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Re: Gruesome Encounter of the Newsome Kind

Post by NEILL THE NOTORIOUS » Thu Dec 09, 2010 5:56 pm

"Oily" Flecker NEVER to my knowledge, used the cane, himself.
This was the duty of the School Sergeant, and, I believe was carried out in front of the Schhol , in Big School.

I think, in my time, it only happened once, and I forget for what ! --------- It was not I !

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Re: Gruesome Encounter of the Newsome Kind

Post by Donsimone » Wed Dec 22, 2010 1:47 pm

Buongiorno amici,

I suppose it's natural that the follow-ups to my tale from deepest, darkest 1971 have focussed on the crime & punishment aspect though at the time it was taken in the spirit of the times i. e. instant justice, forget it and soldier on.

DHN was an enigmatic sort sure enough and added an archaic style of management to what was already a seemingly outrageously anachronistic setting at CH during the 1970's. I remember Andrew Husband, newly arrived history teacher, having his mind blown at a staff meeting when DHN announced, “The question is not whether the world needs Christ's Hospital but whether Christ's Hospital needs the world.” Erudite yes, but regressive rather than progressive then – anybody remember the Flashman stories?

One summer afternoon I was sat on a bench under a tree on Big Side in a pre cricket-with-MikeBarford haze when I sensed Mr Newsome swirl up from behind and commence to sit down next to me sparking off a bout of instant panic – was he mentally measuring my hair length? Was the hardcore 'hair rebel' gonna get his collar felt? Never the most communicative soul, after 5 minutes of silent contemplation he declared, “ This is a most volatile bench” and, to my immense relief, glided off like a vicar at a garden fete.
He sometimes used to appear with his hastily shaved mug peppered with little bits of loo paper which was at least I suppose a rare glimpse of something approaching a human side.

In my case he was a radicalising influence – don't all memorable teachers do that? - and I took my business elsewhere on the Lower Deps in a huff of 'nihilism' ( thanks for that Rev. Rob ). But there's no doubt that despite being an erudite bloke he could also be a right royal, religious and ancient pain in the rear! Suppose that went with the territory though, CH in the 1970's seemed such a strange and paradoxical place – NO GIRLS for a start...And with more than its fair share of sanctimonious male prick-ery in evidence.

Maybe that explains why a part of me has never actually managed to completely leave the place...I mean, nothing really changes...does it??

Merry Xmas to One & All

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Re: Gruesome Encounter of the Newsome Kind

Post by michael scuffil » Wed Dec 22, 2010 4:37 pm

I met Newsome once when he was HM. My wife was writing a thesis on the Nuffield Science Teaching Project, and it occurred to me that CH might be a good place to see it in action. So using my prior connection, I wrote to DHN, who put me in touch with Chris Vincent Smith (whom I very vaguely knew from my schooldays). We arranged a three-day visit, and reported back to DHN, who seems to have commanded Pat Cullen (my old housemaster) to accommodate us. Anyway it was all quite fun. My wife was amazed at the spaciousness of the science classrooms and the antiquity (and robustness) of the equipment. I was amazed at the long hair. We were invited to the obligatory sherry with the Newsomes (but only that), and he reported that the school had just had "its first streakers" (streaking was the flavour of the month). I was able to tell him that they were by no means the first. Even in my time, it was a frequent ColB dare to run naked round the track (admittedly in the dark), and ThB monitors had a thing about cycling naked round Itchingfield loop (that's a few miles on public roads, quite something).

Newsome was Dr Newsome, and not just your common-or-garden PhD, but a real Cambridge DLitt. There aren't many of those. Did he keep either the Cambridge or his own private Scarlet Days at CH?
Th.B. 27 1955-63

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Re: Gruesome Encounter of the Newsome Kind

Post by Vièr Bliu » Thu Dec 23, 2010 1:52 pm

I may as well add some Newsome memories.

One of the initially scary things about him (apart from the reputation for wielding the "Grolli rods") was the way he knew your name. It turned out that he sat down with the mugshots of all the squits before the start of the year and memorised every boy's face and name. Most he remembered straightaway and he could address you by name the first time he met you - and for the few remaining it only took one meeting to have the name and face fixed.

To a squit he seemed very intimidating. I have a memory of being sick one morning (first term, I think) on the Back Avenue just as Newsome swept past in his headmagisterial car. It wasn't him, it was that morning's porridge. And, being porridge, the spew looked pretty much the same coming back up as it had going down (pale and green-tinged). Anyway, I threw up just as Newsome passed and his car screeched to a halt, he leapt out and rushed over to me in great concern. Actually, having just thrown up, I wasn't feeling up to dealing with the Headmaster, even a paternal and comforting one. I think, having established that I wasn't seriously ill, he packed me off to the sicker. But what's fixed in my memory is the combination of throwing up and the screeching brakes.

Having Newsome for Div was eye-opening. I doubt many teachers would think that a priority in religious studies for 12 year olds would be Synoptic Theory, but he had us doing textological diagrams of the relationships between Mark, Matthew, Luke, Q, and Proto-Luke (which actually came in useful, since it had stuck, years later at university - one never knows, does one?) He also introduced us to numerological symbolism in the Gospels. No dumbing down there.

A further Newsome experience indelibly engraved on my mind is sitting through a sermon which, as I remember, lasted three quarters of an hour and was on the subject of "a lodge in a garden of cucumbers" (Isaiah 1:8, if you need to look it up). This mindnumbing sermon was probably extremely erudite - it was certainly extraordinarily long and abstruse. What I can remember of it (apart from the watch-checking) is that it went off on excursive meditations, every so often returning to the phrase "a lodge in a garden of cucumbers" before taking flight again on an allusive exploration of something or other. It was rhetorically impressive but went right over my head and I didn't understand what the point of it was. Perhaps Newsome did it for some sort of donnish wager. Mind you, I've never forgotten "a lodge in a garden of cucumbers" even if it is irretrievably associated for me with excruciating tedium.
Jé l'dithai acouo eune fais: séyiz heutheurs!
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Re: Gruesome Encounter of the Newsome Kind

Post by wurzel » Thu Dec 23, 2010 2:50 pm

In the 1980's we had Rev Porteus for Div classes and they were held in his classroom next to St Edwards chapel in the Prep block. I remember there being a big ruckus as he was very pro-CND and showed us the film Threads during lesson time. The school CND club (i think it was just some Grecians from Lamb) then tried to show "when the wind blows" in the Science Lecture theatre and I remember as a 3rd Form/ LE (cant remember which it was) being petrified when Bob Sillett stormed in and demanded everyone return to house immediately or there would be dire consequences (as he was my housemaster i was doubly worried)

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Re: Gruesome Encounter of the Newsome Kind

Post by michael scuffil » Thu Dec 23, 2010 9:06 pm

Seaman once preached a sermon on the text "Canst thou draw out Leviathan with a fish hook?" (Job 41: 1). I cannot remember what he said, except that it included the word "ratiocination" (which I subsequently looked up).

The Rev. Ronald (alternatively Arthur) Pullen (aka the Chain -- Pullen the Chain, geddit?), chaplain 1960 +/- 5 or so, and by no means an intellectual, was also quite hot on numerological symbolism in the gospels. It is to him that I owe the basic and fairly thorough biblical knowledge which I deploy to this day in debates with Christians, who mostly have less. He would probably be amazed. He left before Newsome arrived; they would not have got on. Pullen was the epitome of "Low Church", an almost extinct breed.
Th.B. 27 1955-63

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Re: Gruesome Encounter of the Newsome Kind

Post by DavidRawlins » Fri Dec 24, 2010 7:33 am

Rev C A C Hann (the han of God) was chaplain in 1946, and I remember being taught Old Testament theory, and the various authors of the OT. He had left the Roman Catholic church because they objected to his OT research. May be CH has a long tradition of academic teachers of Divinity.
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Re: Gruesome Encounter of the Newsome Kind

Post by postwarblue » Sun Jan 02, 2011 2:17 pm

Pullen replaced Charlie Arthur Cuthbert Hann about 1953. I remember Hann's digressions more than his formal teaching - a tale of a Red Indian squaw tied up to a tree with her hands above her head to give birth, "I have seen ten thousand men die" about a troopship in the war and "I have seen camels sliding in their bottoms on the ice".
Come to think of it I do remember something about Deutero-Isaiah and a lesson about Savanarola but only those names survive, not the content. Van Praagh used to play cricket to himself during Hann's sermons - a run each time he metioned himself, a wicket if he ever mentioned God. There was a second dickie to Hann on the premises in the 40s/50s, Rev. W C ('Boggy') Johns but I can't remember how he fitted in.
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Re: Gruesome Encounter of the Newsome Kind

Post by sejintenej » Sun Jan 02, 2011 10:23 pm

DavidRawlins wrote:Rev C A C Hann (the han of God) was chaplain in 1946, and I remember being taught Old Testament theory, and the various authors of the OT. He had left the Roman Catholic church because they objected to his OT research. May be CH has a long tradition of academic teachers of Divinity.
That is the one compulsory subject at CH about which I remember absolutely nothing - not who taught or when, not what was covered, nothing. I suspect my knowledge of the Bible comes from long before CH (but it was a bible from shortly after the King James version), and I don't know where my slight knowledge of other religions was inculcated.

I enjoy some RC writing such as the description:
In Australia, the church was an old hag, without make-up, thin, dry hair, drab clothes, without jewels. She was a wrinkled spinster intent on preserving her virtue, with thin, pursed lips and full of suspicion... Our church in Australia was still wearing her chastity belt, long after the barbarians had lost interest.
I suspect the writer - an ex priest, seminary teacher and a highly respected man - and Hann would have found much in common

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Re: Gruesome Encounter of the Newsome Kind

Post by Kim2s70-77 » Mon Jan 03, 2011 12:45 pm

I think I have enjoyed reading this thread more than any other! Please keep them coming!!

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Re: Gruesome Encounter of the Newsome Kind

Post by michael scuffil » Tue Jan 04, 2011 10:20 am

In total I can remember the following occasions when I was entertained to a meal by a master:
1. Sunday afternoon outing and tea (for new boys) with housemaster J.H. Page
2. Sunday breakfast as a 1st P. grecian with JE Massen, my head of dept.
3. Various evening meals (two or three) as monitor / house captain with housemaster Pat Cullen (at which wine was served)
4. Dinner with four other house captains with Mrs Johnson

I've mentioned 2 and 4 above.

1. was an introduction (for me) to the way of life of the English middle-classes during that strange false dawn (for them) between the return of the Conservative govt. in 1951 and the Suez fiasco in 1956. Page drove all six new boys to Chanctonbury Ring (giving us a geography lesson on the way). We climbed the hill, identified the Water Tower, climbed down again, and were taken to tea in a very genteel place in the nearby town of Steyning (the epitome of gentility, with the council houses well hidden). Of course we had to start with bread, butter and jam. Page expressed (presumably mock) horror when we started spreading the buttered bread with jam. Apparently we were supposed to cut it into fingers and apply a dab of jam to each bread-finger in turn. I had never heard of this custom, but was a little heartened that my middle-class contemporaries had not heard of it either. Neither have I heard of it since.

I returned to Steyning in 1999 to view a school for my daughter. It hadn't changed much. But Chanctonbury Ring had been blown down in the 1987 hurricane.
Th.B. 27 1955-63

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