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Farnborough Grammar School

Prospect Avenue, Farnborough, Hampshire

Telephone : Farnborough 539

More Memories and Anecdotes

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Since first publishing my collection of school photographs a number of old school friends have contacted me with extra information, clues to names and reminiscences etc. I have incorporated their comments into existing pages where possible but in some cases there wasn’t a natural place for them; hence the ill-structured collection of memories that appears below; I hesitate to use the word facts given the long passage of time.

One thing that struck me while reading back through emails received over the last few years is a universal disdain for the headmaster, J.A. Bourne Esq, Cantab, otherwise known as The Jab or The Prod and, so I am told by those who were at F.G.S. after I left in 1961, The Prick. I have to say that he never picked me out for special attention. Whilst I am happy to go along with the consensus that he was “a thoroughly nasty piece of work” he took no action on the occasion that Jack ‘Frost’ the caretaker reported me for treading mud from the playing field into one of the rear doorways.

Several names have been passed to me some of which I had forgotten and some not. One definitely in the latter category and a face that I remember well is that of Michael Cleare. There are two good reasons for me to remember Michael; firstly he and I were the only two pupils in our first year class to start our F.G.S. careers before the age of 11. His birthday was to the best of my recollection in the middle of October making him my junior by a handful of days. Ian Johnson in another first year form was even younger. My second recollection of Michael is that in one of Jonah’s classes we were all asked what our lifetime ambitions were. Michael’s was to earn £20 a week and then do as little as possible. A Google for his name will see that he appears to have realised his target salary. Apart from the beard he still looks much the same too!

Other well remembered names but for whom I have no photos are Patrick Chillery, Denley Cole, Fish, Hughes, Alan Lathan, Barry Nugent, Posnett, Renouf, Clive Strutt and Graham Wickham. Clive later encouraged Nuncs to write his autobiography and Graham Wickham was, I am told a fine cricketer, but as you may have read elsewhere, balls and I did not mix too well so that is a detail that had escaped me. Denley Cole owned the most amazing Hornby ‘O’ gauge railway at home with which he and I several times whiled away a school holiday afternoon. Richard Springate, is apparently the same Richard Springate who became a leading orchestral violinist. I recall someone at school composing classically styled music, maybe that was Richard.

My recollection of the school house system is far from clear. I remember Athens, Corinthians, Sparta and Thebes but I have been informed more than once that this is wrong and I do wonder whether my junior school is the root of that memory. However the evidence of Trevor Durbidge’s photograph (and the note that accompanied it) of a cross country race would appear to be conclusive evidence that Kingsley (green), Beaufort (red), Dickens (yellow) and Wykeham (blue) were the house names in use at F.G.S. Trevor won that race which probably explains the photograph’s survival through 64 years!

Expulsions seem to figure largely in people’s recollections possibly because they were not an every day event. One that sticks in my mind was of someone (I think I remember the name but it’s probably best not mentioned) who was expelled for nothing I could understand just before he was due to take an ‘A’ Level vital for his intended career as an airline pilot. Is it any wonder that so little good has been said about The Jab? I am told that others suffered similar fates after supporting the C.N.D. with the aid of a can of paint and a brush or, as if to reinforce the lack of sense of proportion of too many teachers, for buying an ice cream in the wrong circumstances.

Another story related to me was that a prefect on bell duty, towards the end of the lunch break, decided to create a bit of mayhem by firstly locking the staff room door from the outside and then setting off the fire alarm. The whole school duly assembled in front of the building in time to see the entire staff climbing out of the window accompanied by clouds of tobacco smoke - almost enough to justify the alarm. I have withheld the prefect’s name to protect the not-so-very innocent. The culprit was expelled within the hour.

I have mentioned elsewhere the perverse punishment inflicted by Boris and the infamous 12.30s and 1.20s of the knee fondling Barrett (the Beeb!) but others have contributed recollections of the temple hair pulling by Tommy Junior, the head knocking of Moggie Morgan (maths) and the board rubber throwing of Dr. Sewell (also maths).

Beeb baiting took several forms and this contribution brings back memories… “Other lunch time tricks paid on The Beeb included having a couple of boys holding open the swinging doors onto the balcony at the end of which was the door to Beeb’s music room. A third boy would bounce a heavy ball-bearing ball along the corridor. It would smack into the door making a terrible racket and bounce back to the swing doors which were then closed behind it. By the time the Beeb made it to his door everyone had disappeared.”

On another occasion someone sabotaged his piano at morning assembly so that when he trod on one of the pedals the front of the piano fell off. As I recall, Beeb stormed out and Nuncs took over.

Please keep the stories rolling in; contact details are on the Home page.

Malcolm Knight

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