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Farnborough Grammar School

Prospect Avenue, Farnborough, Hampshire

Telephone : Farnborough 539

George Frampton (Memories) - 1965 to 1972

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First memories? Kitted out courtesy of Edgar Jerome (gentleman’s outfitters) in full uniform and waiting outside the Gale & Polden’s printworks for one of four of the oldest Aldershot & District Traction Company double-deckers to take me the five miles to Farnborough – only to discover my new found colleagues from Yateley and Fleet arrived by coaches. What luxury!

The first year form rooms were the portakabins on the west field. This always flooded in Winter. On Friday’s, we had the spectacle of the C.C.F.’s M.T. unit manoeuvring vehicles around the boggy perimeter. There was a legend that first formers had to wear short trousers, so they could be easily identified. This was not so, but guess who wore shorts during his first term? Some of the less attractive ‘customs’ of school life appeared when waiting for the school bus home. Wearing caps was mandatory, and you were always prey to the school bully snatching yours and ripping the bobble out in a ritual ‘debobblisation’.

First year assemblies took place separately in the Old Physics Lab (later the Small Hall) led by Jo Thomas.

Main Hall assemblies were ritualistic. If the singing was poor (which it was frequently), Peter Mound would make us all stay behind to do it properly. Wally Cotgreave would do his annual Empire Day sermon. Then there would be the ritual of someone elected to fetch headmaster Dr. (always Doctor, never Mr.) Bourne (‘Prod’) from his office, to face we Mongol hoards. Very occasionally, you’d get the odd committed Christian like Jim Payne doing a more enlightened assembly which included music: he once played Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Castles Made of Sand’.

In the Summer in Year 4 (I think), we were treated to the delights (or otherwise) of Friday afternoon C.C.F. – which, to me, was an unfortunate throwback to the days of National Service, which I, as a member of the Scout Movement, saw no cause for. All staff members who were able would swank around in military khaki with fancy bamboo canes. You could opt to join the welfare Group under Bernard Holley, but there didn’t seem to be any option – or if there was, it was never explained to us. Somehow, I got into the Duke of Edinburgh’s squad under Ernie Bunting, and attained the Gold Award – others regarded it as a skive.

Characters and special moments? The looks on our faces when Eli taught us how to prepare nitric oxide, only for it to instantly oxidise to the odious brown nitrogen dioxide form when exposed to air. The sight of maggots dripping from the squirrel in Jonah’s biology lab. Jonah’s one joke: Q - How do you tell the difference between a weasel and a stoat? A – One’s weasily identified, while the other’s stoatally different. (Boom! Boom!) The usual humiliation of someone’s hair being made to stand on end when the Van der Graaf Generator was demonstrated. The day our form finished the cross country course in record time – only to find that Trevor Westwood had rumbled our short cuts, and made us do it all again!

Overall, up until 1970, the atmosphere was oppressive – then ‘Prod’ retired, and a new age beckoned in the guise of new head Arthur Frankland. As a sixth former, you had special privileges anyway, and were treated like human beings. On Thursday lunchtimes there was Music Club in the Small Hall which usually was led by a clique of sixth-formers playing the loudest rhythm and blues available, such as Cream, Free, Taste, early King Crimson and Led Zeppelin. Outside Miles Booy’s room was ‘Newswall’, a notice board which took a satirical-ish swipe at school life. Frankland introduced ‘liberal studies’ into the sixth form curriculum: one memorable one was led by Gilbert Rowland who did a term of jazz – which opened our blinkered eyes to those wise to The Beatles, Stones, and other Radio One pap. This was slightly surprising since Mike Sadler led a Jazz Club, but didn’t take the initiative here.

My fondest memory came towards the end of my sixth form year when I cycled up from Aldershot for the Sixth Form Union’s ‘Folk Evening’. There were a number of high quality turns from local singers, some current and former students there. Mike Sadler turned up, and was persuaded to sing his ‘Frimley Green Bog’ song. In fact, since that day, I have become something of devotee of ‘Folk’ music around the clubs and festivals as both performer and pundit. I was soon to learn that Mike Sadler was a doyen of the Southampton folk scene, where he is better known as ‘Gutta Percha’, writing satirical songs on local life, topping the local pop charts with his song mourning the passing of the Itchen chain ferry.

Missing staff from the 1968 photo: was the unidentified teacher fifth left on the second row a Mr. Withington? He was certainly there in 1965, and staff turnover didn’t seem to be that great. No Trevor Westwood (head of P.E.)? No Mr. King (physics) – when did he arrive? (He got me through my A-Level Physics at my second attempt).

Wasn’t Mr. Holley’s first name Bernard? Ernie Bunting’s was Geoff – he did try to explain how he earned his nickname, something to do with declension of German nouns, he thought. I think Mansfield’s name was Ken, but we all knew him as ‘Masher’. Colin Wilson was ‘Bruiser’. Bullock’s was ‘Daddy’. Brian Duke’s was ‘Peasmould’ which, I believe, was actually his middle name – and my, wasn’t he weird? Our first Maths teacher was a Mr. Boorman, who had a heart attack in 1967 and took early retirement. Wasn’t Billington’s name Mike? I don’t know anyone who actually liked Jo Thomas – he seemed to have vendettas against anyone who didn’t conform to his way of thinking – at one time, anyone found with sideboards longer than three-quarters of an inch would be frog-marched to the vestibule for a dressing down. However, he was well-respected and received the M.B.E. I later met his sister Thelma whilst at a folk festival in Sidmouth where I told the lady concerned that I came from Aldershot (“really? My brother was a teacher near there!”)

After F.G.S., I was at Birmingham University studying Biochemistry, receiving a bachelor’s degree in 1975. Today I work for Thomson Reuters as a technical information scientist – a position I’ve held since 1976. I live in Marden in the Weald of Kent, father of two daughters – both in their twenties. My mother, and two brothers still live locally, and I occasionally return for the odd Shots home match.

George Frampton : October 2010

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