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

Post by J.R. » Sun Jan 12, 2014 4:13 pm

eucsgmrc wrote:
sejintenej wrote:
michael scuffil wrote: ... the RSM would hand out three sheets and say: 'One up, one down, and one to polish!' ...
I don't recall that at our CCF camps but I had heard it was standing orders during WWI.
Standing orders? That would not have made it any easier.

Still, that kind of experience continues to come in useful in modern life. For example ...

In Scotland (and, for all I know, in England too) people in a certain age range get sent, every three years, a kit of poo-sticks to sample our own faeces and post them off to a lab for analysis. It's an awkward and disagreeable procedure, or it would be, if Housey and CCF camp and heavily glazed Bronco paper hadn't inured me to worse. I have even coped with the loo in a Chinese train (although not yet with one of their public toilets in the street).

A standing joke in our household.....

"I'm just popping upstairs for a quick game of poo-sticks !!"

I daren't even start to relate some of the mishaps !!!
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 eucsgmrc » Sun Jan 12, 2014 4:15 pm

... and, to return to the original topic: we used to believe that Kirby was taken very seriously by the Army as a consultant on the performance of their communications kit. His lab often had rather fancy military radio sets, big and small, and we understood that he was an expert in getting the best out of them, getting them to work at extreme range, and so on. We had an idea that the Royal Signals would sometimes send him the latest model to test.

That was in the last days of valve radios. I have no idea how, or whether, he adapted to transistorised and miniaturised communications.
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Re: Strange old man dressed in WW1 army gear / dog named lob

Post by DavidRawlins » Sun Jan 12, 2014 5:26 pm

During my time in the signals we took part in an experiment to determine the efficacy of the then current phonetic alphabet. One pair transmitted a list of letters and the recipients, on a poorly tuned set had to write them down. There were 6 or more pairs in this exercise; and the phonetic alphabet was subsequently changed. I do not know the current one, and fall back on to remnants of the old one, trying to avoid the one starting A for 'orses, and B for mutton.
Col A 1946-1953

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

Post by PeteC » Sun Jan 12, 2014 6:04 pm

Yes during my time in the signals it changed from "Able Baker Charlie Dog" to "Alpha Bravo Charlie Delta". I still think naturally in Able Baker, in fact I had to look up Delta!
Peter Cockshott. Prep A/Peele A 1948-1956

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

Post by rockfreak » Fri Apr 11, 2014 11:16 pm

He had a love of the Latin double i plurals. "Go and pick some radii and some lettii," he would command pupils helping in his patch of garden. To this day I find myself angrily inveighing against bankers' bonii.

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

Post by sejintenej » Sat Apr 12, 2014 9:16 pm

My phone book many years ago had the French phonetic code which, unfortunately I failed to learn before throwing out an out-of-date telephone directory.

Ergo I now have problems all too frequently so I use country names (the names as used in France) and French city names (such as P for Paris goes down better than P for Papua Guinea Nouvelle). My biggest problem is the letter F - France just doesn't work because in France it starts with an L !!!! as in LA France
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Re: Strange old man dressed in WW1 army gear / dog named lobster

Post by paulv » Sat Jan 24, 2015 2:47 pm

Bill Kirby, known to the 50's generation as Uncle, had two dogs, Chlorine and Iodine, He taught science, took us on long walks to study trees, and insects, kept bees, one hive of which was built into the window of his lab so you could watch them working. He would smack you firmly but not unkindly with a short plank called the Tickling Stick.He nicknamed me Berkshire, since he once scrubbed my neck which he declared dirty thus, he leaving a dirty body and a clean neck, resembling a Berkshire pig. We were allowed to keep pet animals, grass snakes, mice etc in his lab. He made Mead and was a real mentor to a lot of boys who had lost their fathers during the war.

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

Post by sejintenej » Sat Jan 24, 2015 9:51 pm

He had a slightly warped sense of humour (if you can call it that).
There was, in Col A, a boy whom I won't identify except that he was somewhat less than a month who had a rather forgetful habit. He was supposedly a year ahead of me but in the same class. Uncle decided that I should be this boy's minder, despite his being much bigger than me, and if he forgot anything, was late, stupid or otherwise for him normal, then it was my responsibilty and I would get the tickling stick.

I did have to sit out a lesson perched on a log thin enough as to be painful but Kirby was so human that I couldn't hold even that against him

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

Post by PeteC » Sun Jan 25, 2015 10:21 am

I like paulv's comments about "Uncle" - he was indeed a father figure to some of us (mid-1950's) at the time I was there. A profound influence in our formative years. I've probably mentioned his name for me, Henscold, a sort of convolute of my surname. Not sure about the identities of the dogs, incidentally: At the time I knew him there were indeed two dogs, Hibin (not sure how that was spelled, never saw it written down) and Hibin's offspring Chlorine. We understood that Chlorine originally had three siblings, named after the other halogens Fluorine, Bromine and Iodine, but I don't know what happened to them.
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Re: Strange old man dressed in WW1 army gear / dog named lobster

Post by eucsgmrc » Sun Jan 25, 2015 12:46 pm

I may have mentioned this before, but ...

if anybody feels nostalgic about Kirby's lab, there are a few photos from the 1954-62 era at
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jandsw/55 ... 099253537/

There will be a ">" symbol at the right-hand side of the screen. Click that to move from one photo to the next.
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Re: Strange old man dressed in WW1 army gear / dog named lobster

Post by PeteC » Sun Jan 25, 2015 2:34 pm

Great photos of Kirby's Lab. The glorious squalor of it! Did I spot in one of them the pressure cooker in which rabbits were stewed?
Peter Cockshott. Prep A/Peele A 1948-1956

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

Post by michael scuffil » Tue Feb 03, 2015 11:15 am

The 'tickling stick'? Surely it was 'Tickle-toby'?
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Re: Strange old man dressed in WW1 army gear / dog named lobster

Post by eucsgmrc » Tue Feb 03, 2015 6:37 pm

michael scuffil wrote:The 'tickling stick'? Surely it was 'Tickle-toby'?
Indeed it was! Until you mentioned the name Toby, the whole "tickling stick" thread meant nothing to me - just another feature of Housey life that I had forgotten, or never been aware of. But yes, I certainly recall Tickle Toby as something that other people were acquainted with. Kirby never actually taught me any subject, so I frequented his lab as a guest rather than a student, and was not subject to discipline.
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Re: Strange old man dressed in WW1 army gear / dog named lobster

Post by Richard » Wed Feb 04, 2015 10:11 am

CFK was certainly eccentric and also never liked to spend a penny more than was necessary. That's presumably why his everyday dress was ex-Army gear (but of WW2 vintage and not WW1 as the thread's title suggests). Another indication of his strong disinclination to 'waste' money was his objection to paying purchase tax on an ordinary car. So he always owned a van, which was subject to much less tax. However CFK also needed something to transport camping equipment, etc. Another person who owned a van for exactly the same reason was DCF Chaundy. CFK was generous too. He built his own house on Three Mile Ash and subsequently bequeathed it to CH.

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

Post by viejoazul » Wed Feb 04, 2015 3:52 pm

A while ago eucsgmrc asked if Kirby ever

“adapted to transistorised and miniaturised communications”.

He did. In the late 1950s there were supplied the first transistorised sets used by the Signals Section. They were “45” sets (I think) and were in a cube shaped container, with sides about 15 cm long. They rested on the belly, supported by a strap around the neck. However their aerials were longish, about 130 cm in length inclined upwards and forward at an angle of about 40o to the vertical. They worked well, though I remember their range was somewhat less than the standard infantry set (the “38?”, heavy, valve based and worn on a backpack frame), our usual wireless. The transistor set was much more frequency-stable. Their most memorable characteristic was a throat microphone, which worked very well. I have never seen such a microphone since, perhaps because it is uncomfortable to wear one continuously for many hours. (I'm not sure about tbe number designations of the wirelesses mentioned.)

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