1954 – A faltering, rambling, fading look back into a murky A67 LWC past – 1961 By Pete Bunting (A067) I remember… ‘…When on my couch I lie, in vacant or in pensive mood’, these ‘Flash upon that inward eye…’ [Apologies to William Wordsworth]… …I cycled with Peck and Liddiard all the way to Aldershot to the town’s football ground and watched Peck’s Norwich City on one Saturday afternoon and Liddiard’s Reading Town on another. The teams played in the old Third division South. Both matches ended in victories for the home side. Norwich was a particularly good team at that time: they got to the semi finals of the FA Cup one year.
We pad-locked our bikes to some railings outside Aldershot’s ground and they were actually still there when we returned some two hours later! (the bikes and the railings!) I can’t imagine that being the case nowadays: we’d be lucky to be able to retrieve the frames, let alone the wheels, handle-bars and other essentials! The thing was, not only had we broken the school rules and gone outside the accepted travel zone, but also we dared to go and watch football – a banned sport! It was a fair old journey, especially homeward bound, when we struggled to find our way in the dark along the narrow, twisting country lanes, with what seemed like only one front light between us, and no back lights at all! We sidled passed The Headmaster’s driveway entrance as quietly as the proverbial church mice – with our hearts in our mouths.
The dear Lord only knows what punishment would have been meted out to us if we’d been sussed. ‘Sandy’ Henderson had once caught us playing an impromptu game of football near Sutton House and he’d actually punctured the ball, so we couldn’t use it any more. He seemed to have a pathological fear and loathing of soccer. Regretfully, I have to say I had a similar dislike of his obsessional love of ‘rugger’. I could never understand why we were not allowed to choose which game to play.
I played rugby under much sufferance: being perpetually skinny and underweight, I was no ‘powerhouse’ forward and I possessed very little, if any, three-quarter speed: I settled for scrum half and managed to stay out of trouble. I was a bit miffed, when, in my upper sixth year, Charlie Martin beat me to the first fifteen’s scrum half spot, and I had to make do with the second fifteen. Still, Peck and Liddiard and I could read all about our football teams on the back pages of the daily newspapers that were available in the common room up at the main school.
This was something I relished, not only because I could follow my team, Newcastle United, but because it did not come under the Headmaster’s: ‘Thou shall not have anything to do with soccer’ laws and regulations: we couldn’t be ‘touched’ for it, though I often wondered if the powers that be had realised how long and avidly we studied league tables and with what zeal we read every report, every goal-mouth incident, every manager’s or player’s ‘I feel over the moon, mate’ comments, I’m sure the said back pages would have been at least censored, at worst, torn out and ritually burnt! We also listened, with baited breath, to the football results and analysis on radio’s hour-long ‘Sports Report’ at five o’clock of a Saturday evening. We’d even miss tea to hear the entire programme or rush up the cinder path to Sutton House directly the meal was over, in time to catch the second reading of the results – and to celebrate a great victory or curse a pathetic defeat.
Though I detested rugby, I did like cricket. I was proud to be a part of a very successful first team that went undefeated for some considerable time – two years, I think. I opened the innings with Rebbeck, occasionally bowled, and fielded in the ‘gully’ – and loved it! I greatly admired Steele’s left-hand batting, and Bruce Norseworthy’s stylish fast bowling, oh, and Robert ‘Greg’ Peck’s tantalising left arm round the wicket spinners!
Visiting Lords – the headquarters of cricket – with the rest of the First Eleven, to see one of the last Gentlemen (amateurs) verses Players (professionals) matches, was a great occasion for me, not only because it meant a whole day’s release into the ‘real’ world, but it was a real treat to be in such a hallowed ground, watching the likes of Peter May, Dennis Compton, Len Hutton and fiery Freddy Trueman. And going to Guildford to watch a day’s play of Surrey versus Hampshire and at another time, to Southampton, to see Hampshire play the visiting West Indies tourists, were also days to truly savour: seeing Jim Laker, the Surrey and England off-spinner, clean-bowl Hampshire’s opener Marshall with a ball that seemed to turn at least two yards was something special; as was watching West Indian Roanne Kanhai dance down the wicket and dispatch the ball out of the ground and well on the way back to the Caribbean! His contribution was particularly noteworthy for me, because, years later.
I played against him in a Northumberland League fixture when he was our opponent’s overseas professional and I was a wet behind the ears upstart! I caught him in the gully! What joy! Mind you, he’d already scored a hundred in about five minutes, but no matter, the split finger was worth it! The summer terms seemed to flash by: time spent clobbering and chasing after a small leather cricket ball seemed to be time well spent – but I preferred to forget the two ‘long’ cold, wet, miserable winter terms, when I seemed to be forever chasing after and being clobbered by large, disgruntled giants, who carried or kicked an odd, egg-shaped ball over muddy fields that resembled the infamous Somme!
Whilst on the subject of cricket, the lawn at the front of Sutton House was the venue for many an afternoon or evening skirmish. A moth-eared tennis ball was used and a game began with sides of about two or three, but steadily increased, until on some balmy high summer’s evenings, it seemed like most of Sutton House were involved. Attempts at keeping the score were soon abandoned and it often became a question of how far some one could slog the tennis ball: on one occasion it bounced off the Stephenson screen in the fenced-off weather station and landed on a large horizontal ground thermometer and smashed it clean in half (the game was swiftly abandoned); on another evening, the ball sailed majestically right over the ivy-clad Sutton House itself – a prodigious clout!
I cannot remember who was responsible for either strike. I have to say, being a member of Sheephouse was something of an irritation: along side the other senior sports’ houses of Hyde, Hesters or Handcroft, it was somehow regarded as the ‘poor relation’. Not only was it the odd one out – beginning as it was with the letter ‘S’ rather than ‘H’- but it was regularly disparagingly referred to as ‘Sh**house’, and it was commonly said to have all the cast offs or rejects of the sporting fraternity – those that weren’t fit to be picked for the other three houses. But we weren’t that bad! We did win things and we did hold our own against the ‘big three’ – but still the stigma remained, undiminished!
That taught me a thing or two about prejudice and discrimination! Still on the sport’s theme, I recall the time when a few of the First Eleven cricketers were allowed to watch the Cup Final on Assistant Housemaster Seelig’s television at Sutton House, because the home cricket match had been abandoned due to a violent thunderstorm. Who we were in the process of playing at cricket when the storm arrived, or which teams were contesting the Cup Final and who won, I cannot recall: such details have long since faded from my sixty-one year old memory! I do know it felt great being allowed to watch football, without the fear of being told off! And talking of television, after our Sunday supper, whilst he attended that evening’s ‘special supper’, laid on for a ‘selected’ (some say, ‘press ganged’) group of boys in Les Bacon’s room, next door, Seelig generously let some sixth formers ‘take over’ his small sitting room and watch a few hours of ‘the goggle box’: the cowboy series ‘Maverick’ was a regular favourite.
Watching television was still something of a novelty in those days, and even though the screen was very small and most if not all of the programmes were in black and white, it briefly took us out of our surroundings and ourselves. I remember Sunday lunches! They seemed to be better than all the other meals put together! Perhaps it was that the roast potatoes actually tasted like roast potatoes, or that the walk to and from the morning service at the village church made be feel even hungrier than usual, so I wasn’t really bothered what I ate! Being a House prefect helped, because I sat at the head of a table and was able to supervise the serving out of the food – and to have first pick, particularly when there were seconds. On Sunday lunch times there seemed to be quite a few seconds.
It was also handy when your mates didn’t like the food you did like – roast potatoes, for example. This was also the case when we had supper at Sutton House and when there was a bowl of weetabix or shredded wheat on the menu. Skinny I may have been, but when my pals didn’t want their suppers, I wasn’t averse to eating three shredded wheat! It was as though I was one of a pack of starving animals on the African plains, scoffing down whatever I actually liked; to tide me over when I was confronted for long periods with ‘food’ that looked and tasted decidedly questionable. It was the ‘extras’ at other meal times that made life, and the meals themselves, more bearable. I refer to the butter, the jam, (strawberry, usually), the tomato or HP sauce, the sugar, and the cream-cheese triangles that supplemented rather meagre, bland rations – those ‘extras’ that were purchased at the village shop, opposite the church, with pocket money either sent from home or from school funds.
And parcels from home lifted the gloom: even though they might only contain fruit and a few sweets – and perhaps, a cake! This was high living! Letters from home – collected at Sutton House from the highly polished table outside Les Bacon’s sitting room – brought welcome news from the ‘outside world’ and as often as not, a postal order (several postal orders on birthdays) to cash at the village Post Office, and spend on …sweets and those ‘extras’ for the meal times. I always enjoyed the trips to Odiham: to the café that served tasty egg, chips and beans, and to the cinema, which first introduced me to Ealing classics, such as ‘Genevieve’ and ‘The Lady Killers’ (films which still, some forty plus years hence, give me enormous pleasure when shown for the umpteenth time on television).
Cycling there, or more often walking, was sweaty work, but enjoyable none the less. Whichever of the two routes were taken, I always liked watching the Hawker Hunters from RAF Odiham, either on the aerodrome tarmac or roaring overhead, so low they were virtually within touching distance. What beautiful streamlined ‘planes they were! Sometimes, if the fancy took us, we’d hitch a lift into Odiham – or get dropped off on the outskirts of the sleepy little town and then hitch a lift back the way we’d come! Often we manage to go backwards and forwards for most of a hot, sticky summer’s afternoon. Great fun! What daring! I don’t think I’d ‘dare’ these days. And now LWC has girls! Girls! The only girls I can recall coming anywhere near were those that attended the end of term dance. The dining room doubled up as the dance hall: I remember doubling up as a petrified, gibbering idiot, with two left feet and the conversation skills and chatting-up technique of a demented frog! But somehow contact was made; pleasantries were exchanged, if only for a moment or two, and bear white arms might even have been surreptitiously stroked and intoxicating perfume avidly inhaled.
Where did they come from? These girls, I mean. From outer space for all I knew. They flitted into out lives and flitted out again. Their names; their vital statistics lost forever! And what other female forms frequented our lives in the late fifties: none that I can recall. Okay, there were mealtime female staff and a matron – or two, and there were women who attended the Sunday services at the village church, but, without wishing to sound rude, there were precious few who stirred the imagination (or anything else for that matter) of any of we spotty-faced hormone-ridden adolescents. Come to think of it, there was nothing to really excite our young, impressionable minds.
Although, on one occasion, I do recall catching a glimpse of what I assumed to be matron’s rather voluminous, ‘old fashioned’ knickers. She was not wearing then at the time, I hasten to add, rather they appeared on top of a newly laundered pile of clothes on the Sutton House kitchen table. But although matron may have been a member of the opposite sex, I’m sorry to say that neither she, nor her knickers, set many teenage boys’ hearts a racing – least of all mine: her sergeant-major manner did not endear herself to me, and neither did her insistence on the entire House having to line up outside the surgery and one by one have her bawdily instruct us to ‘drop em’ and have our private parts inspected. I am not suggesting matron was not a warm, attractive person – I’m sure she was: it was just that having her stare at my sad, shrivelled-up appendage just didn’t do a great deal for my already blossoming inferiority complex. (I’m sure it did nothing for matron either). Not that we were ever instructed in how to conduct ourselves whilst in the presence of the opposite sex. And as for ‘sex education’, sure, we knew the anatomy of the humble flower and the sexual capabilities of a rabbit – inside out – and those who had the misfortune to dissect a rat, soon discovered its intimate parts and workings, but as far as being taught all about the human sexual parts and what they did or did not do, one five minute, mumbled, expressly delivered ‘statement’ from a red faced biology master was all we ever got.
No, it was really a case of ‘you’ll be aright on the night’: just concentrate on the flower, or the rabbit! It was certainly no thanks to LWC that I successfully produced two boys of my own. How things have changed! I read of how condoms are made available to modern day school children, with graphical demonstrations on how to put them on, no doubt! Would I have coped with girls at LWC when I was there? Who knows, but it would have been interesting to have had the chance to find out, and it would surely have been better than looking at a rabbit or a flower! The CCF (Combined Cadet Force) didn’t do a great deal for me either. I seemed to spend much of every Friday, before the impending parade, trying to think up a suitable excuse for not wearing boots and gaiters. The wonder was that a few of us managed to ‘get away with it’, week after week. In growing toenails was a ‘good one’, as was athlete’s foot and even common or garden blisters scored highly. It was sometimes suggested that we should ‘widen our horizons’ and introduce distemper or hard pad or a few tropical infections into the equation, but we never did. Strange to say, I did get a kick out of marching aimlessly up and down the main drive, and taking part in the occasional ‘night exercises’. Perhaps it was the macho ‘male bonding SAS’ kind of feeling it generated, or perhaps it was better than cleaning a rifle or learning how to read a map, or how to tie knots such as the ‘bowline on the bight’ or the ’round turn and two daft bitches’ – sorry! – ‘two half hitches’.
And what of fellow pupils? I suppose ‘Greg’ Peck was my ‘best’ pal at Sutton House – his love of football saw to that! Gentle giant ‘puffer’ Livingstone of School House was another great friend. He, along with ‘Greg’, usually studied in the same classes as me, especially in the upper years. ‘Puffer’ didn’t say a great deal, but neither did I, so we rarely fell out! I had a great respect for him: although he was big and strong and able, he never threw his weight around or showed off; he didn’t need to, he was the sort of bloke who seemed to succeed without appearing to exert himself – unlike me, who had to expend much blood, sweat and tears! This was especially true in Art: he was naturally gifted, being able to effortlessly compose superb, detailed drawings on virtually any subject, but as he was mad about athletics, what sticks in my mind most of all, is those wonderful sketches he did of Olympic sprinters, striving to reach the finishing line – so life like you could almost hear their thumping hearts and smell the sweat! Alan Dunns, Peter Anderson and Neil Hankin were a few of the boys who accompanied me on the long train journeys from and to Newcastle, at the start and end of each term. So did affable Gordon Bates; he was a year younger than me; a good rugby player, but a great fan of Newcastle United football team for all that! And there were: always-smiling ‘Tat’ Marks from the West Country; cool, calm and collected Charlie Martin from Nottingham; rugby league enthusiast Higham from Lancashire: and Afshar, who often used the Sutton House wash house water-filled sinks to ‘wash’ his superb array of black and white photographs; and Tunnicliffe, who seemed to know every chemical symbol and equation there was; Richard Steele and Bruce Norseworthy, who both excelled at just about every sporting activity LWC promoted; and ‘Yank’ Liddiard, who was affectionately likened to the stereotypical, gum-chewing American GI, much portrayed in the war films of that time.
And there was the pupil (name withheld, on the grounds that it may cause undue embarrassment!) whose night-time skill and stamina entertained a dormitory almost full of incredulous, vociferous supporters, as he proceeded to rent the cooling air with a variety of thunderous noises from his nether regions. In typical barrack room tradition, each effort was greeted with childish sniggers and guffaws; some even kept score. But not everyone was favourably impressed with these marathon performances, particularly those who were trying to sleep and those who were down wind: fortunately, I was well out of harm’s way – down the other end of the dorm! Forgive me for asking, but does ‘The Guinness Book Of Records’ cater for farting records? Perhaps not, but if it did, I wouldn’t be surprised if master ‘T’ would have held the record – then, and now! And what of the teachers? I liked, and respected, ‘Ducky’ James: he made his English lessons bearable and he was prepared to see the funny side of things, something that the majority of staff rarely managed.
And he was in charge of cricket too! Bill Fryer’s history lessons were sprinkled with a liberal supply of his dry, subtle humour: it was amusing for us to listen for the sound of his squeaky leather shoes on the stairs leading to his classroom, and to closely observe him as he meticulously laid his wad of study notes onto his desk and just as meticulously, turned over each page – one placed carefully, precisely on top of another – once he had first read out their entire contents, word for word, in a soft, hypnotic whisper. When he wrote on the blackboard, he would stand for what seemed like an eternity before he would write anything: his hand would hover a millimetre or so from the board; the tension became unbearable – would he, wouldn’t he? At last! The chalk squeaked its methodical, stylish way across the board, and we dutifully copied down every last word. Though Les Bacon had a reputation as being a somewhat miserable, bad-tempered and moody master, I liked studying geography and economics with him; in geography, especially, he had a wealth of knowledge, most of it acquired on his many trips abroad in the school holidays. We sometimes managed to persuade him to abandon the scheduled geography lesson and show us some of the thousands of slides he’d taken on these excursions: those of the Yellowstone National Park and the ‘Old Faithful’ geyser, were particularly enjoyable. And how his classroom bookshelves groaned under the weight of a huge collection of ‘National Geographical’ magazines.
I often passed away an enjoyable few minutes (or longer) sitting at the back of the room, (behind a partition) flicking through one or more of the magazine’s copiously photograph-filled glossy pages, when I should have been revising or doing private study. And I imagine I can still smell the printing spirit ink on the thousands of fact sheets he produced almost non-stop; sheets full of maps and plans, and charts and graphs, and hand written notes: ‘Keynes’s Theory’; ‘Malthus’; ‘The Law of Diminishing Returns’; ‘Supply and Demand’; on and on and on they appeared, sheets stored in tightly packed files and folders, and cupboards – full of them. But still they came…! I have Les to thank for introducing me to the comic genius of Peter Sellers, when he took a small group of us to see ‘I’m Alright Jack’ at a cinema in London’s Oxford Street, and for showing us what lay inside the capital’s Science, Natural History and Geology museums. I suppose I also have Buggy Warner in part to thank for my love of books and story telling: he only took us for a single lesson a week, for a brief time as juniors, but the big, blustering man – (my vision incarnate of Robert Louis Stevenson’s wooden-legged pirate, Long John Silver from ‘Treasure Island’!) – brought the printed page to life, particularly in his brilliant reading of John Buchan’s ‘The Thirty-Nine Steps’: – a corpse skewered to floorboards; spy planes; heather-filled Scottish moors; isolated hotels; cabinet meetings; tension; mystery; suspense – thanks Buggy!
But lessons were generally uninspiring. With the exception of a few masters, (in my case, Ducky James, Bill Fryer, Les Bacon, and Buggy Warner, and the professional artist, whose name I have forgotten, who came from without the school walls on a Saturday morning and, for a couple of hours, showed us how to draw), it seemed to me that we learnt regardless of the teachers, they rarely appeared to actually teach: it was more a matter of our reading from the text books or copying from the blackboard and doing our homework (prep). My work was invariably returned to me covered in a maze of the master’s crossings out and corrections, invariably written in illegible red fountain-pen ink. Okay, I may well have been stupid, or lazy or incompetent or all three, but it was very soul destroying.
Time may well have distorted the reality, but praise and encouragement didn’t seem to figure very highly. This lack of actual rapport between master and pupils came to a head one day in a fifth year English lesson. Our master, (who shall remain nameless) was, as usual, sitting at his desk as we filed into the classroom. He began the lesson in the usual manner, by instructing us to ‘complete exercises whatever’ and then he promptly carried on doing something else. Deadman, an outspoken, smallish, blond-haired boy, who sat to my right, and who was at that time was suffering very badly from hay fever, lost his patience. He enquired – in not the most polite terms – why the master did not actually teach us, but merely amused himself, whilst we did exercise after exercise from the textbook. Most of the class voiced their support. Deadman, bloodshot eyes and streaming nose, warmed to his task: the master, visibly shaken by the sneeze-ridden outburst, did not resort to the swishing cane as one might have expected, but listened, open-mouthed. This was something of a red letter day: the master may not have changed his spots and attempted thereafter to communicate the ways of the English language in a more exciting, informative, inspiring way, but it was, in my experience, one of the few occasions when a master was actually challenged by a pupil and the pupil lived to tell the tale! The cane or the slipper ruled! Few argued. If rules were broken, then you could expect a whack (or whacks) on trousered or pygamered behinds.
The pain was endured: the matter concluded, swift justice administered, without fear of favour – and without parental intervention or recourse to the European Appeal’s Court! What do the masters do now? Come to a compromise, agreeable to both parties, perhaps? Not in my day! There didn’t seem too much in the way of discussion. But for all that, we survived! Discussion was left to the weekly evening debating sessions, (or was it fortnightly, or monthly?) either in a classroom or, for the older boys, down at the Headmaster’s house. Few seemed to be brimming with enthusiasm or confidence: it was another chore; something else we were ‘made to do’ and once the motion had been passed or defeated, most of us breathed a sigh of relief, especially those who had had to prepare a speech to propose or oppose the motion. The Head also took the Sixth Form for a ‘current affairs’ lesson, once a week. This consisted of him talking non-stop, telling us what was happening in the big wide world. I have to say, I did not always concentrate on what he was saying, I was often more interested in the way, as he talked, he continually used a finger to collect up little pieces of paper and chalk dust on the top of his desk and I marvelled how he managed to build up such a sizeable pile by the end of the lesson.
The only other time I ever stepped foot in the Head’s large, secluded house was when I was included in one of the small, selected groups of senior boys who were invited there for a supper – or was it a high tea? I never said very much; I always felt very self-conscious in his presence, largely because he always said very little to me and when he did, it was usually to tell me that I was too thin and I needed to put on some weight. He used to repeat that every time he came up to Sutton House at the beginning of each new term. On one such visit I was instructed to visit the San (sanatorium) and have a thorough medical. I duly attended and was told to eat more! I have eaten well ever since, but have put on next to nothing in the way of extra pounds! The only time I can remember entering the Head’s study in the main school office complex was when those who had re-sat GCEs lined up at its door and entered, one by one, to be told their results. I had a second go at Physics: the head seemed surprised – and surprisingly pleased – when, after slowly scanning down this large sheet of paper on his desk, he announced that I had passed!
It was even more of a surprise to me, I can tell you! I’d only just scraped through, but if that was good enough for the Headmaster, it was certainly more than good enough for me! What else sticks in my mind from those far off days? …Well, I remember when the Long Sutton church organ was not electrically operated, but needed a boy to work a contraption that pumped air into it so that it would produce the required notes. Occasionally, the boy would forget his cue and when the organist applied feet and fingers to the instrument, a strange and wonderful cacophony of sound would emanate from its pipes, like some angry, prehistoric monster being woken from its slumbers. Inwardly, we chuckled: outwardly, the organist scowled and grew red in the face… …And I remember too, completing my Bronze Cross Life Saving exam, in spite of the freezing cold waters of the unheated, open air swimming pool and the fact that I had to dive off the top board when I couldn’t even dive and I suffered from chronic vertigo…and listening to Sir John Hunt describing to the whole school his climbing team’s successful ascent of Everest, marvelling at the achievement, and the superb slides he showed us… Never quite accepting the sight of boys performing girls’ roles in school end of term productions of plays such as ‘The Merchant of Venice’ and ‘Henry V’, although Shakespeare and his audiences accepted it without question…The small green hymn books used in school assemblies…Being awarded my cricket ‘cap’ and wishing I’d actually received a black cap with a gold tassel, like the rugby awards, instead of the garishly coloured cricket version.
(It made me think of ‘wet’ looking Edwardian toffs, posing in faded sepia photographs)… …And, the rugby sized cod liver oil tablets we had to take in the winter and the unflattering khaki shorts we had to wear once the Head had decreed that summer had officially arrived. I could never swallow the giant tablets whole, but had to bite the outer shell and with much coughing and spluttering, swallow down the offending, horrible oil; and I could never get away with wearing shorts – my grotesquely thin legs wouldn’t allow it! …And warm summer days spent sun bathing on the lawn outside the dining hall – when we were (supposedly) swotting for ‘A’ levels… Knowing that the barber had been about his work, when a section of the boys appeared around the school, resembling sheered sheep… Backing books with thick brown paper…Baths taken in Sutton House’s freezing, spartan bathhouse… Grey uniforms…My ‘A67’ identifying label, diligently sewn into every single item of clothing by my Aunt…Cross-country runs over stubble fields… …Watching, spellbound, as my physics master delivered a long, scathing attack on our work and behaviour, whilst leaning back on his stool at the front of the lab, (the back of his head resting on the blackboard), and then to witness the stool giving way and, with a resounding crash, the master disappearing from view, behind the bench:
the silence was deafening! Apart from a damaged pride and a non-improved temper, you will, I am sure, be pleased to know that the master escaped unscathed… …And what of ‘Hospital’ corners in sheets and blankets on beds, in ‘prisoner of war’ like dormitories (!)…Socks stuffed inside socks to use as weapons of war in attacks against younger boys in silent, night raids…And those neatly folded printed cards, dished out at the start of each term, detailing the ‘important’ events scheduled for that term, including the inter school sports fixtures …And the less than fragrant smells coming from the sewers and the farm silos and the dirty laundry baskets… …And the vehicles that some of the staff drove around in: I still have a black and white photo tucked away in an old shoe box of Oliver Tweedy Stoddard’s green open topped Morgan Plus Four sports car, and Buggy Warner’s ‘pride and joy’, an ‘ancient ‘collector’s piece’, its type and model long since forgotten. I do remember when the boot was opened, a long back seat magically appeared! Mr Seelig had a Ford, but its type too escapes me! The Head had a number of cars during my seven years at LWC, including Rovers (60, 75 or 90?) and Jaguars (XJs?)
In those days, owning a car was something of a novelty: there weren’t too many around and those that were, seemed to me to have distinctive, eye-catching, stylish lines: they had a bit of ‘class’! I swore to myself that I’d buy a Morgan like OTS’s at the first opportunity, but I later discovered that as each car was hand made it took a lifetime to build and they cost a fortune to buy, and there was a waiting list, measured in many years!
My first car was a little more modest – an Austin A35 van, but I did follow that up with a Triumph Vitesse, the nearest I’ve ever come to a classy, sporty roadster… …But perhaps most of all, I remember: ‘Free’ time – the all too infrequent moments when we weren’t called upon to do prep or CCF or sports or hobbies or letter writing or bed making or church going; in short, no one told us what to do, we were… free! This was precious time; gold dust time: something to be greatly treasured! It kept me sane.
These were the rare moments when I was free to listen to 45-rpm records of Elvis and Conway Twitty and Cliff Richard; to play table tennis and billiards; to wander around the estate; to read a book (like: ‘David Copperfield’ or ‘A Kiss Before Dying’); to listen to Radio Luxemburg; to play football; to pester ones friends; to sneak down to watch the Long Sutton village footballers play on the cow-patted pitch close to Junior House; or to just simply laze about and do precisely… nothing! …And though I didn’t really realise or appreciate it at the time, in later life I have realised that I was actually lucky to have been one of two boys from Newcastle who in 1954 were awarded a ‘free’ place at LWC. My memory may now be playing one or two tricks on me, so that recollections may not be entirely accurate, but on one thing I can be sure – this urban Geordie must have been subconsciously recording the sheer beauty of the Hampshire countryside into which the school had been placed, because its beauty lives with me still!