Soham Grammarians - 2020 Reunion Talk, via Zoom
Saturday, 10th October 2020

I have taken these stories - all except one - from our website, as examples of quirky and funny goings on at Soham Grammar School.

You may find more when you browse the website.

If you have more to offer, please let me know.

Please use the CHAT button on your Zoom screen to make comments to everyone so that we can go thorough them at the end.


Tony Noble (1968) wondered if SLUG - Mr Riley - used the same hairdresser as Patrick Moore!? [laughter]

He said:

“I remember him as being a very fearsome character, who took his French lessons very seriously - unless anyone spotted a squirrel outside, in which case everything stopped.

For some reason Slug was fascinated by l'écureuil.”

Wilkes Walton (1937)  “To us Mr Riley was known as Luke - Thomas Luke Riley

We had our share of aggro - and were quite happy that he should go and terrorise Adolf Hitler after the 1941 Summer term [laughter].

Luke had been good at dinning irregular verbs into us but then we got Miss Kate Goodison, a delightful 30-something (I suppose) lady, also from Sheffield University.

Mr Riley’s daughter Sue remembered:  "There was a story that as my father cycled to school, puffing away at his pipe, the boys watched to see whether the puffs were long, slow and contented - or short and sharp.  From this they predicted what sort of day lay ahead!

… and I recall an Open Day exhibition where a slipper was displayed with the caption Gospel according to St Luke." [laughter]


Dick Bozeat gave us an excellent talk in 2005 which I am making good use of.

He’s not feeling too well but sends us best wishes.  Dick says he checks our website from time to time, especially the In Memoriam page - I'm not sure why [laughter].

So, RAT v SPUD - “Autumn Term as you well know was football, soccer, and we had matches on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but some matches mattered more than others.

I always remember, Peter [he was known as Peter to the staff] Taylor’s philosophy , as far as sport was concerned, was that you tried to win.

Win fairly, but you tried to win - and if you couldn't win, you drew, but you never considered losing, that wasn't part of your vocabulary ... you drew, but you won at all costs.

Now some matches mattered more than others.  Yes, Newport.

Newport, for those who don't know, was where Peter's elder brother Spud Taylor taught and was also head of games. It was more than a match, it was, I suppose, war!

Usually Peter would try and have someone else refereeing the match so that he could give full vent to his feelings [laughter].

Spud would stand on one touchline, Peter on the other. A fair amount of invective would flow and I suppose the only fair result at the end of the day was a draw, so that they could both go away holding their heads up high - but it didn't always happen.

Summer term was cricket and again Newport was amongst the most important fixtures. I recall two occasions, one was a Wednesday, terrible weather, pouring with rain. Peter said to me "What are you going to do boy, I think we'll have to call it off?"

I said "Yes, but let's see if it clears up, the ground drains pretty well, then it'd probably be on."

We rang up Mildenhall to see what the weather forecast was like. It was fairly favourable, clear up by 10, fine for the rest of the day, so we decided not to call the match off. Newport duly turned up, Spud in charge. We won the toss and put them in.

The Soham 1st Eleven in those days had a lad called Martin Shalders from Little Downham. He was a spinner, and a drying wicket was his gift.

He didn't completely bowl them out on his own but was largely responsible for them being bowled out shortly before the official tea-time. We came off and decided we'd have tea and walked towards the dining hall. 

We had reached the Memorial Gates when a bellowing voice came "Where do you think you're going?"

Everybody turned round. It was Spud calling out to his team. "You're not having any bloody tea, you're coming with me to these nets and I'm going to show you how to play spin bowling!"

They spent the whole of the tea break being bowled to by Spud.

Unfortunately for him we managed to win that particular game ...

The other occasion was at Newport, I was with the Under 14 side, Peter was with the First Eleven.

The Under 14s had been defeated. I remember Newport had the biggest Under 14 bowler I think I have ever seen - he was as tall as I was. On an ill-prepared wicket the ball was coming off a length and going at your eyeballs among the lads.

I remember Bruce King on that particular occasion, he stood there and played one of the bravest innings I have ever seen by a schoolboy at cricket. There were tears rolling down his face with the fact that he was being hurt.

I said “have you had enough”, wanting him to sort of ... "No sir, I'll carry on." He carried on but it was to no avail, we lost.

We then watched the First Eleven game. We were doing rather well, Newport were batting. Anyhow it got to 7pm.  Peter called me over - "I've got to go, I have got a meeting in Cambridge, can you finish off umpiring the match?"

It wasn't due to last for much longer because Newport's last man was in, so I went on to umpire and was standing at square leg.

The bowler came in to bowl at this young lad, only about 15, which was unusual as they were usually sixth formers in the First Eleven.

He played forward, took an outside edge, and Rosbrook at short leg took a very smart catch.

Everybody appealed. Nothing [laughter].

Spud stood at the other end and glared, just stood there. Eventually this lad who was batting said "Am I out sir?"

Spud looked at him, pointed his finger ... "Piss off".

That was cricket at Newport [laughter].


In the School History Mr. Ford recalled that: "during the move one of the boys slipped and sat in a pool of concentrated sulphuric acid with disastrous results to his trousers, but fortunately without too serious consequences to his person.”

Claude Greensmith remembered moving the acid:

"The move was accomplished in a most economical manner as we boys did all our own dirty work. I have distinct recollections of carrying two Winchesters of sulphuric acid through the Churchyard and down the alley by the new Recreation Ground to Beechurst over the bridge across the river and down the Moat Drive."

from The Old Grammar School in Churchgate Street (L)
to Beechurst in Sand Street (R)

A.T. Tim Leonard in the Summer 1960 Soham Grammarian remembered the accident:
At that time we were in the old school buildings in Churchgate Street and we grew from about 100 to 120 during the five years I was at school.  A year or two after I started we moved to the present site, taking possession of a local mansion then called Beechurst.

During the move we lesser fry had to help in carrying things. I remember coming across one unfortunate youth, Rickwood, who was carrying a Winchester of concentrated sulphuric acid. He fell in Church Alley. He was badly burned and was away for months.


Dick Bozeat again [Dick was part of the Stage team for School Productions.]

“I remember one occasion before a particular Christmas play [it was The Winter's Tale in 1962], I was in the Staff Room with someone else [it was Bill Rennison].

All of a sudden a crack appeared in the ceiling and plaster fell down.

We thought that was strange ... and then we realised that there was an open space above us.

Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, Dec 1962:
(some people may think the Editor should have stayed in chains)

We went to the Housekeeper's room, which you would know as Miss Lowe's room, which was the access to the loft.

We called to see who was up there:
"You'd better come down because we are going to lock the room and you'll probably be spending the night up there if you don't come down."

Who should emerge but Mr Day ["I see him over there" said Dick at the 2005 Reunion].

We thought he must have had an accomplice, so we called again:
"If anyone else is up there, come down."

To my great surprise, and sadly to this day [for he died comparatively young] George Willett appeared.
I didn't expect to see him coming down, but there we are.

Mind you, Terence Day had a bit of a penchant for going into spaces in the roofs.  I'm not sure but I'm pretty certain it was he who went up in the loft of this Assembly Hall [Beechurst] and knocked a panel out up there which broke Christie's violin ...

Terry Day interjected: "I wish to kill that rumour ... I have a posse of witnesses that I was in Ely at the time" ...  "Oh well,” continued Dick “he did spend his life in the police force ..." [laughter]

Terry Day MBE SG57, a very distinguished policeman, who died earlier this year, wrote in 2005:

"My brother had preceded me in the school by 10 years so I was aware of a few of the oddities of the building.

One of these was the staircase into the roof void.

He was proud to boast that his initials were on the lead flashing on the roof.

A group of us were the stage team for The Winter's Tale. George [Willett] was Scenery and I was Lights, others of the team were present but not captured.

the turret above the then Staff Room
(partially masked by the Edward Armitage memorial tree)

Over time I had already explored parts of the void and the external inner roof area accessed from a further door in the loft and found those initials. This was casually commented on after we had eaten tea in the Dining Hall. I said I felt that in the 'spare' hour before we were needed I would match my brother's engraving. This fired the imagination of my colleagues rather more than the essential call of homework to be done.

The first task was to ensure that no prefects had retired to their sanctum beside the back staircase, then use that staircase to the Housekeeper's Room above.

The second job was to ascertain staff presence upstairs by creeping onto the main landing to listen at the head of the corridor leading to the Staff Room. Two voices were heard. We were reasonably certain of the whereabouts of the other staff on the premises. (The ACF had taught us a lot about tactics.)

All went well as we ascended the steep stair into the loft. My colleagues were amazed at the size of the space and the apparent complexity of it all.

It had by this time started to rain and I felt it would be unwise to go onto the roof and then leave a tell-tale trail of wet footprints on the floor below as we left. I was interested in the structure of the turret above the Staff roof and I made my way carefully across to that corner.

A bad move in hindsight.

I had the torch and the rest followed. At some point a heel went through the ceiling sending a pile of plaster neatly onto a pile of books Mr Rennison was marking at the table below.

Thankfully for some, we had the element of surprise together with forward planning. We made for the trap door at the end of the building that would bring us out at the farthest end of the upper corridor. It was hoped that the staff would know of the stairs but not necessarily the trap.

Messrs Bozeat and Rennison duly reached the stairs as Dick related. There would have been no answer to their challenge - except for the fact that George, being large of stature, could not make it through the trap.

That exit was quietly closed and we surrendered to inevitable chain of events that culminated in an open and frank, if somewhat painful, meeting with the Head Master the following morning. Sadly, George Willett died of a massive heart attack in about 1985."

Terry  revisited the school on a number of occasions.

“The first time I visited, Edward was still firmly in the chair. The Staff Room had become his office. I was ushered in and as the warm hand of welcome was extended I made a slight involuntary glance towards the ceiling. It was not missed, and the greeting was "Well, gone on to other things, but certainly not forgotten"." [laughter]

In 1980 we moved back to Ely and then commuted on a daily basis to London. One evening I met Albert Lawrance on the train. I had sat at his dinner table for large part of my time at SGS but had never been taught by him, so the relationship was not as frayed as it could have been (I am not mathematically inclined). I was invited to visit the College as our children were approaching secondary school age.

I received a similarly warm welcome but refrained from looking up, as the mark would surely by then have been repaired. I was shown around the College. Just as I was about to leave Albert casually remarked that he was frequently reminded of me because of the ceiling!

In 1983 I became a governor at the City of Ely Community College. In 1985 Alan Bullock, Head of Main School at Ely, was appointed Principal of SVC. I was asked to be that governor for SVC and duly made an appointment to see Alan. I looked up at one point and was immediately informed that he was aware of the history of the blemish.

I had mistakenly assumed that a forty-year-old slip was all behind me ... until Dick’s talk [laughter].


Sid Saunders taught many subjects especially RI in his long time on the staff 1947 to 1966.

In 2006 Rex Waller who taught Latin 1949 to 1960 regaled us with this Sid story:

"We did a play with the staff. 

In 1957 we were doing Busman’s Honeymoon by Dorothy L Sayers."

"Now, you all remember old Stuart Saunders - Stuart, who did a bit of Latin and a bit of RI was an absolutely marvellous actor, except ..

(a) he wasn’t very good at learning his lines
and (b) he liked to pop into the lav before going on stage.

Dear old Stuart was absolutely perfect, so what we decided to do was to paste his lines on bits of scenery [laughter].

All he had to do was to walk from one to the other, and there he’d be. It worked, he was word-perfect.

But what we had to do in those days was to take the scenery down each evening so that the place could be used as an Assembly Hall the next morning. E Armitage laid that down.

But on Saturdays another gang came and put the scenery up [laughter].

And so on the Saturday performance we started, but they hadn’t got the scenery up in the right order.

Dear old Stuart – why bother to learn your lines when they are provided for you? – when he went to the first bit of scenery, his words were from the last act, not the first. Somehow or other we managed to get through!

The funny thing was that on the way home, on the 9 o’clock news, Dorothy L Sayers had died! [17 Dec 1957 - Ed]


David Clayton SG54 gave us these memories of Sid:

Stuart Saunders was very much the same as Ken Holt, my teacher at Ely Silver Street - in slightly old-fashioned terms, civilised but also clubbable.

At least twice he sent me to the Headmaster for 'witty remarks' that he considered to be impertinent, only to send a classmate to haul me back before I had slowly trudged too far down the corridor.

Experience had already taught me that Mr Armitage wielded a heavy cane.  Sid’s short temper was very short-lived and he would be laughing as he told me to sit down and keep quiet.

These were the days when smoking was still considered to be a suitable occupation for a man, and doctors had ashtrays on their desks.

I acquired a lack of punctuality at an early age and often missed the bus from Ely to Soham so would walk and/or hitch hike (if I walked I could get to school in time for mid-morning break).

If I was only just too late for the bus I would usually be in time for Mr Saunders' Austin Somerset to be passing - he had a 'just in time' policy for morning assembly.

Knowing that I smoked, having apprehended me a few times (it really was behind the bike shed), he would ask if I would kindly light a Craven A for him so that he could keep his hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.

It would usually take me a few puffs to be sure that the cigarette was properly alight [laughter].

He once came into Mr Atkinson's music class (due to overexposure, it was twenty years before I could listen to Eine Kleine Nachtmusik again) asking to speak to me outside. I nervously followed him out, and was alarmed to be asked if, by any chance, I had any cigarettes because - and relief set in here - he had run out and couldn't sneak out to buy some. 

Fortunately I had liberated a few from my grandmother that very morning. O tempora! O mores! [laughter]

We’ve lost touch with David Clayton so if anyone knows his whereabouts please get in touch.


Rex Waller again:

Edward Armitage could be a tough cookie when required. However, one afternoon I happened to be passing his office to go through the Conservatory.

The door opened and there was EA:
“Come in, come in, come in”.

So I went in and there was EA with his cane.

In the desk there was a knee-hole and crouched in the knee-hole was a small boy - Ian Mitton [inset], crouched in fear.

EA said “What shall I do?”

Somebody, I don’t know who, whose discipline wasn’t up to much, had sent him to EA to be given a couple, which wouldn’t do him any harm.

While EA turned round to get his cane the lad had bolted into the knee-hole of the desk. Dear old EA was popping at him with the cane saying “come out, come out” [laughter].

“What shall I do with him?” says EA, and then “Well, I’ll leave you to negotiate with him.”

In any other school he’d have got in, grabbed him out and beaten the daylight out of him.

EA went out and I was left with young Mitton. I told him “if you come out and Mr Armitage accepts that you won’t get into trouble again, will that do?”

And that’s what happened. He told Mitton “Provided this doesn’t happen again, let that be the end of the story.” He opened the door and out shot Mitton.

You can’t conceive of it happening at another school, at that time, which is why he was an absolute gem to be head teacher.

as told by Dick Bozeat

Dick: "Well I duly arrived on my first day, it was bright and shiny.

Lionel Hart and I started at the same time, I with no teaching experience, he had three years teaching girls I believe, somewhere in Essex.

We were met by the well-established staff.

That was one of the things that made Soham particularly different and to my mind a great school - the staff who came hardly ever left.

There were people there, Mr Ford, Mr Thomas, Riley, Taylor, Tabraham, Lawrance and many others - they had all been here years. They gave the school a strong foundation I'm sure. It said an awful lot about what the school stood for.

Riley took me aside ... he said "Don't worry about all these others, there's two people you want to keep on the right side of ."

"Who's that?" I asked.

"The Headmaster, that's for obvious reasons. The other is the Caretaker .... you never know when you are going to need him!"

Well I thought that's a strange thing to say.

Some time afterwards - it was Peter Askem that told me this story - Peter said he'd been appointed here and came up to Soham during the summer holidays to have a look round the school. He saw two gentlemen standing out on the lawn out here where there used to be large greenhouses in my day.

They were talking and he went and introduced himself.
"I'm Peter Askem, I'm coming to teach here in September".

One of the gentlemen piped up and said "I'm Mr Hobbs the Caretaker … and this here is Rex, what teaches them Latin"
... so you can judge for yourself.
Rex Waller had another version of this story in which the visitor was George Edwards who had just been appointed as  Chief Education Officer:

"Now in those days the Chief Education Officer was really at the top, next to God.

He had come to have a word with the Boss. He got out of the car and Fred Hobbs, he was one of the real ['doff the cap'] types, said “Welcome to Soham Grammar School, Mr Edwards. I’m Mr Hobbs, the Chief Caretaker” ... and then as an aside “Oh yes, and that’s Rex, he teaches Latin here.” "

I couldn’t find a 1960s photo of this establishment but it’s the Cherry Tree pub in Soham, on the Fordham Road.

This story has yet to appear on our website.

Birmingham Daily Post, Monday 3 July 1961


After interrupting their private study period to break out-of-bounds and have a drink at a public-house, five sixth-formers from Soham Grammar School, Cambridgeshire, were suspended by their headmaster, Mr. E. Armitage, who said yesterday:

"This was unbecoming behaviour for boys of their standing in the school. They were allowed to return and sit for their examinations."

The boys, all aged 18, were studying for their G.C.E. "A" level examinations.

On a particularly hot day early last month they walked across fields to the Cherry Tree public house in Soham and were reported by a prefect who saw them returning.

Mervyn Pamment SG53 wrote:

This happened two years after I left SGS in 1959, but I remember it well.  I was a junior reporter on the Ely Standard at the time and, while I heard about it from an informant, my editor decided it was not the kind of story for the local rag. 

I recall that the pub was on the road towards Fordham, on the right-hand side just before the notorious Downfields Estate.  I believe the landlord at the time got a dressing down, too.

So I turned to Chris Jakes SG56 then at the Cambridgeshire Collection, for local coverage of the story. Chris replied: “We have no press cuttings on the Cherry Tree story - it may have been too shocking for my predecessors to consider!”


This article from the Daily Mail 3 July 1961 was provided by Robert Webb SG70

It names names. [laughter]

Geoff Davis was very large of frame, so big they didn’t make blazers in his size so he came to school in an ordinary jacket. 

When Dick Bozeat arrived in 1959 it took him a while to realise Geoff was one of the boys [laughter].

I worked at the Fine Fare supermarket in Newmarket during the Summer holiday. Geoff’s father was the manager there.

Our records show that there were two School Captains in the 1960-61 School Year:
GS Davis & A Folks.


Here are the 1960 and 1961 Cricket First Elevens.

You can see Chris Bull, Martin Shalders and Mick Morton.

There may be more to all this.


(see Chris Bull's addendum further down the page)


Dick Bozeat again: I think one of the funnier instances regarding George was a Sports Day, which as you know was a semi-formal occasion.

The staff got dressed up in their blazers and parents were invited to come along.

We were about to start; people were gathering when Mr Armitage came over to Peter;

"Taylor, have you seen Phelps's tie?" [laughter]


"You must do something about it.”

So Peter and I walked across to George who was standing on the apron outside one of the tractor sheds which was his domain.

He was dressed in his Sunday best, with a cap with a button on top ... and his Norfolk jacket … and he'd got a large kipper tie.

It wasn't the kipper tie, it was the biggest nude lady on the tie ... [laughter]

Peter had to prevail upon him to do something about the tie as it was offending certain people!

Frank Haslam: I’ll end with what Edward Armitage considered was one of the most celebrated Soham Grammar School stories.


In the final issue of the Soham Grammarian, Summer 1972, Edward Armitage wrote:

“We had a Frost Report at Soham Grammar School long before David Frost arrived on the television scene.

It was commissioned by me after an Old Boys' Dinner at which many of the principal figures in the incident were present, one that most Grammarians had heard about - but of which the exact details had always been missing.

I suggested that it was about time the incident of the 'cricket box' passed from legend into historical fact, duly attested by the participants themselves. To my delight they readily agreed. Alan Frost duly undertook the compilation of the 'Frost Report', dated January 25th, 1965, but referring the Summer of 1959.”

Here is a condensed version. Alan tells me he took some licence in making it amusing:

 You may recall that it was the custom (and still may be) for the fifth form to be set some menial task after the 'O' Level examinations each summer. It fell to the lot of our year to be given the task of clearing the perimeter of the games field, Mr. Riley having, no doubt, assumed that even Brickwood could do little damage in such wild surroundings [laughter].

It would, however, have been extremely unusual if a Form harbouring criminal names plus several reserves of note could not have risen to the occasion.

Sure enough, someone saw an opportunity to make use of the earth-levelling equipment - forks and spades - in an extremely useful manner
… and at the same time to score off a redoubtable enemy who had inflicted many telling blows in the past. The result you know, of course.

One of Mr. Taylor's cricket boxes was solemnly borne by four mourners from the old Games Hut to a large hole which had been lovingly prepared for it.

Here is a photo taken just before the burial [laughter].

[Frank: I’ll let you take in the names and faces.

Maybe we can get hold of the original photos one day.]

As can be seen Allen was appointed to perform the last rites.

He is seen reading from the school prayer book (which in itself was a novel experience for one who arrived late at school so often as Allen).

After Naylor had sprinkled ashes on the coffin the hole was covered and the ground levelled.

L-R: John Cornwell (with spade), Peter Deasley, Colin Murray, Geoff Allen (with prayer book), Chris Naylor (obviously delighted), Brian Halls, myself, Michael Brickwood, Michael Morton, Gordon Duffield, David Christie, Martin Shalders, David Plaice, Barry Ellingham (deeply touched), Paul Rolph (hiding his identity) and John Badcock.

photo courtesy of John Cornwell

I must apologise for the looks of glee on the faces of one or two of the mourners: but this is understandable from people who had such a love of games as to have their own points system on sports day.

Points were awarded for being told to leave the games field … and even more points for actually being kicked off … while the skilled athlete who could manage to put the shot actually onto a certain master's head was to receive not only the Victor Ludorum but also the Frost-Cornwell Memorial Prize [laughter].

The look of sadness on one or two faces may be due to the fact that only cricket had equipment that could be buried; cross-country running involved no such accessories.

[Frank: Here is a photo of the closing part of the service following the interment.

I’ll let you take that in.]

L-R:  Rolph, Gregory, Murray (?), Deasley, Morton, myself, Brickwood, Naylor, Halls, Shalders, Christie, the Rev. Allen, Ellingham (obviously by now almost overwhelmed with grief), Plaice, Cornwell and Badcock.

photo source Alan Frost, via John Cornwell

Alan continues: The story had an interesting sequel some weeks later when Mr. Taylor burst into one of our Chemistry periods just before the start of the lesson. He glared around the room then pointed to Cornwell and myself and said, 'I don't want to know who did it. Frost and Cornwell, find it and dig it up'.

We did manage to find the box after some exploratory digging and recovered it in a state of ill-repair, Phelps having driven the tractor over the ground several times. Mr. Taylor's comment was, 'Repair it and no more will be said'.

He was as good as his word and after being treated to the sight of Cornwell knocking screws in with a mallet (Mr. Tabraham would no doubt be happy to explain the significance of that [laughter]) the incident was closed.

Edward Armitage added:

"Alan Frost went on, with four others mentioned in the escapade, to University to become engineers or physicists or chemists.

The physics master of the time was the headmaster, the chemistry master was the deputy head and the mathematics master became the Warden of the Village College, into which rather astonishing series of facts no doubt much can be read.

Two others are teachers in the service of the Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely Education Authority, and one is an officer in the Army.

All were highly intelligent school­boys whose individuality merged on occasions into a corporate spirit of adventure against authority that gave a certain spice to life.

It needed school­masters of the calibre of R.A.T. to deal with such 'criminals' in the forthright manner described which ensured a quick return to law and order while leaving no ill-will on either side." [also see Alan Frost's addendum below]

I hope you have enjoyed these stories.

Are there more you can share with us, or as in the case of the Cherry Tree, add to?

For example, before we continue we'll unmute Alan Frost, who’d like to chip in here about The Cricket Box Incident - forgive the carpentry metaphor.

Alan Frost:  I'd like to say thanks to Frank and John Dimmock, who must have worked wonders to put this together. But that's apart from the hours they put in along with Chris Bent, in keeping the Old Boys Club going and the lunch for 48 years after the school closed. So I think we all owe them a vote of thanks.

The Cricket Box Incident. There are a couple of questions arising from the photos.

Who on earth had a camera and took the photos? I mean, no one had a smartphone in those days. Well, that's not too interesting, but you could work it out if you look at the faces, it was probably Mark Gregory who had the camera and took the first photograph, which was in focus. And probably Gordon Duffield who took the second one, not so much in focus. [Editor: John Cornwell and Gordon Duffield can't recall who took the photos and Mark hasn't yet replied to my query on this]

Now, the other question that struck me was Whose idea was it?  Well, it certainly wasn't mine. I've got enough self importance to know that if I had thought of the idea, I would have remembered it. I think it was, as Ted said, a bit of a corporate thing, it just arose in conversation.

Having got a letter from Armitage ...

... and I mean no disrespect, I was Frost, that's what they called us: we called the guys we respected Armitage, Lawrance, Riley, Hemmings, the guys who ran a disciplined class and were good at teaching. We knew Armitage quite well, because he took the Physics lessons with the Upper Sixth, he did theory and Lionel Fleet did the practical. We liked him and admired him very much. And he had a great sense of humour ... 

... when he asked me for the report, I knew I had to write a fairly accurate report. But I knew what he was after, he wanted something amusing, that made him laugh.

Judging by his reply I think I succeeded, but I had a regret for years. I could have made the report a lot funnier.

I was at Nottingham University when [Armitage] asked me to write this. Peter Deasley, some will remember, was also at Nottingham University. When I showed Pete the letter he said "Yeah, that's about what happened".

What I should have said to Pete, who was very humorous, he usually exaggerated a story just a little bit, "Pete, is there anything else we can put in here to make it funnier, more amusing to Armitage?"

[My other regret was that] I covered the woodworking bit in one  sentence. I just said I was treated to the sight of Cornwell knocking in screws with a mallet, Mr. Tabraham's equipment.

John and I delighted in showing off to each other our ignorance of Woodwork: we were part of the L stream and then we went into Science, we could do Mathematics. Woodwork was foreign to us, we had no skills at all. Of course we had to improve when we got older and got married. When you when you have a boss or lady you have to be better at woodwork and doing jobs.

It struck me that a bit of dialogue would have made it more amusing along the lines of:

AF: "Hey John, I'm 'aving trouble getting these screws in for these ruddy 'inges."

"We 'aven't got any glue, 'ave we?" [the box had been damaged]

JC: "Let me 'ave a look mate. "

"Oh, glue's no good. Glue won't 'old them 'inges. "

"I can see what yer problem is."

"Yer using the wrong tool, knocking screws in wiv an 'ammer."

" 'Ammer's fer nails, mallet's fer screws."

"Remember that. 'ammer fer nails, mallet fer screws."

AF:  "Thanks, mate, that's a lot better. You can get a really good whack at 'em wiv a mallet."

So we repaired the box. Anyway, I just wished I'd included that and one or two other things and made use of Deasley's sense of humour to maybe make it even a bit better. That was it.

Chris Bull: Do you want an addendum to the Cherry Tree?

Well, Folks, the snitch.

I duly went up to King's College, Newcastle upon Tyne, which was then part of Durham University [but soon after got its own Charter and became the University of Newcastle: Chris added later it could not become King's University Newcastle-on-Tyne because of its unfortunate acronym.]

I started rowing as soon as I got there, in the crews.

One of the events was our annual match against Durham. On the occasion I was rowing there we trounced them. And as victors do, we drunk some beer and peed on the lawn in front of the Refectory, to which we were denied entry. We hammered and hammered [the door involved was a massive mediaeval construction] until it was opened.

And who do you think opened it, but Andrew Folks! [laughter].

Unworthy thoughts of violence? He was after all a man of the cloth.
I refrained. My proudest moment. C'est la vie.

Chris has also added: We thought the Cherry Tree Incident was blown up out of all proportion. We didn't think that we had done much wrong and that there was more than a whiff of pour encourager les autres about the proceedings.

Who registered for the 2020 Reunion? And who sent apologies?

Report on our 2020 Reunion

Some Anecdotes from the 2020 Reunion

To comment on these stories or to add more to those shown, or to add new stories for our website, please contact the editor.

These are the source pages:
Cricket Box - Dick Bozeat/2005 talk - Terry Day - Mr Ford/School History - Mr Riley - Mr Saunders - Rex Waller/2006 talk

last updated 24 Oct 20