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Farnborough Grammar School

Prospect Avenue, Farnborough, Hampshire

Telephone : Farnborough 539

Richard Scutter (Memories) - 1958 to 1965

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I started in class 1M in October 1958… the M stood for Mitchell… I think it was his first term at the school too… his nick-name became Scarface… I forget the exact reason but have a notion it was connected with an escapee of the same name from the Broadmoor detention centre.1 He was thorough and disciplined. He took us swimming at the Army Command Baths and after our lesson when getting dried I watched in awe as he swam slow controlled breaststroke laps. Other pupils in the class… Holmes, Stephens, Randall, Austen (with nick-name Bunny)… a polio victim who had a walking aid (Neal?)… and a contributor to this website, Andrew Leishmann. He was in 1M for the first term; I vaguely recall that name… a tall boy. He is quite right, 1M were not bright enough to do Latin.

I was part of a small band of boys that came from the Hartley Wintney area. This involved a two mile cycle to Winchfield station to catch the 8:15am, getting off at Farnborough and walking a mile to the School. This restricted after-school involvement… we caught the 4:50pm train home… unless put in detention and had to suffer the late train and a wait in the cold… the station waiting room fire always ineffective. Other boys who did this daily trip included… Andrew Bradley (his father a minister), Clive Hughes (in contrast, his Dad a publican), David and Derek Ives, John Shepherd (Fleet)… also to be avoided Chicken Watts in third year, squeaky voiced and a bully of new boys. Some days I used to cycle to school and back, not in winter! Sometimes snow trudging days made attendance difficult but fun.

I went on to 2R and 3G. In the second year I had my first overseas trip, an excursion to Switzerland – I remember playing chess with Derek Strange… I took black and white photos with an old box camera and still have them. I experienced my first illicit cigarette on the ferry crossing. Another school trip remembered was a week in the Wye valley – a geography excursion… completing a field book and interviewing local farmers.

Mr. Smith, the physics teacher… well, I remember him, already old in my day with white hair… authoritarian and had to have quiet… I remember him walking into our classroom one time… immediate silence as he went to the board and started writing… then he turned around to our attentive faces… then the sudden realisation he was in the wrong class. He wasn’t the best of teachers… one time he put up some theory on the board… something he had been teaching for many years… stood back and said aha! He had understood it for the first time. I bought my own physics text which I was studying in class… when he realised what I was doing I thought I was in deep water… he just told me quietly to close it and pay attention.

Little Richards… the Religious Education master… no control whatsoever… I remember some of the boys locked him in the book room one time… with no punishment.

There was some physical abuse… in my time the worst offender was the music teacher, Barrett, who used a leg from a broken chair as a weapon.

Nuncs was the user-friendly voice from Staff and I can remember going on an after-school cycle excursion organised by Mr. Eversfield, a history teacher nick-named Cake. We cycled to Crondall to do some brass rubbings and ended up at Nuncs’ home in Church Crookham 2 for refreshments… a copious supply of cordial, much needed on a warm summer evening. He pointed out the pitted bricks at the side of his second-story bedroom window - the machine gun discharge from a fighter plane during the war. I’d love to go for a cycle down old familiar lanes and see if is still in evidence. I missed out on having him as a teacher as I escaped Latin.

Mr. Thomas took P.E. sometimes along with Mr. Bishop… he always liked wearing his army uniform… you always felt you were up against intractable military… he took delight in giving cold showers… I hated the exercises in the assembly hall with the ropes and using the side-wall-bars… he would always say “once more because it’s Tuesday”. I think he was the teacher who admonished a boy for continually looking at his watch “I don’t mind you checking the time, but not checking it’s still working”. He lived near the school and when some boys picked flowers overhanging a brick wall on their way home he made them face the owners to give an apology.

The Jab (headmaster) occasionally filled in to take an R.E. class… he presented some interesting material… but was hopeless in any encouragement… when I wrote to him from university with details of what I was doing… I guess it was naïve to expect a reply! I remember one morning assembly when he complained about acorn throwing… “this activity is illegal, illicit and totally unlawful”… however a boy had incurred an eye injury.

There was a maths teacher who had a glass eye and used to take it out to show… I never saw it… I was at the back of the class – the infamous Dr. Sewell… anyway instead of teaching himself he introduced a student teacher who took over his class for a term. Next term the student teacher left the school to take up a job on a building site. We were not to blame but not helpful.

Mr. Foster was the art teacher. He had a much repeated saying when the noise accelerated - can anyone remember? Other teachers in my day… Jones, Eli, Boris, Sadler, another Richards and the nick-name Iggie Bunge keeps tickling the tongue.

Cadets filled the last two periods on a Friday. I was not military minded so I joined the first-aid unit. I hated wearing the uniform; it was always itchy. I can remember doing gardening work for the local community on Friday afternoons too…. I don’t know exactly how that came about. On one dreary Friday afternoon some of the boys threw worms through the open windows to unsuspecting residents, not good but I can’t remember any repercussions.

I didn’t attend the dances, but I can very much remember the Film Club and the Friday evening showings. It was a long day, I stayed at school catching the very late train. It was worth it though for such marvellous screenings as Ben Hur and Quo Vadis.

The school had an excellent academic record. School Speech Day was at the Royal Aircraft Establishment. I may find some old programmes. One year I won a form prize and chose my own book. I note that the current Sixth Form College has a high standing too. Incidentally, the old honour boards and records, does anyone know if they are around somewhere?

Other things seep into the mind… The Jungle 3 where we used to play soccer… dislocating my thumb trying to catch a cricket ball (still fat and thick as I look at it now)… milk at recess… the tuck-shop… school lunches with the fried egg deserts (cream-spread pastry with upturned half peach) … sometimes we would cadge leftovers at the end of the day… the rifle range… and of course the background of Beatles and pop… well those were the days my friend and at the time we thought they’d never end.

After Farnborough I went to Bradford University, then worked as an analyst with Lansing Bagnall at Basingstoke followed by a 3-year contract with the Australian Public Service. This resulted in a life-career at the Bureau of Statistics. Trying to define reality in terms of numbers was not an easy job. The reality in my recollections above after half a century is another matter. I am now retired and Canberra is home… but I still remember the old school song!

Richard Scutter
14 April 2009

Richard’s Army Proficiency Certificate.

1. Frank Samuel (Scarface) Mitchell escaped from Broadmoor in the early hours of Tuesday 8th July 1958 and made his getaway in clothes and a car stolen from a nearby house. He was pursued by police and 400 soldiers from Arborfield barracks armed with sten guns. Questions were asked in the House of Commons!

2. Nuncs’ home was ‘Corydon’ in Crookham Village which pedantically local residents distinguished from Church Crookham.

3. The Jungle was the name given to the small playing field to the east of the main school building and adjacent to Prospect Avenue.