Some anecdotes as we chatted (edited)
On Stage Lighting - Mr Sid Saunders - The Van der Graaff generator - A Prize-Giving Sketch?
On Stage Lighting
Simon Thornhill SG65: All the stage lighting, I used to do from about Year 3 or 4 upwards, starting with others and then sort of did it on my own mostly after that. The scary ladders we had at Soham, I don't know if anyone remembers those. That very, very tall wooden ladder that you could just about manage to push up on your own.
I'd climb up that ladder with a big Furse Fresnel lamp, lamp in
one hand, a wooden chair in the other, place a wooden chair on top
of the platform of the ladder, climb on top of the ladder, on top
of the wooden chair and, on tiptoes would be hanging the stage
lights on the bar in Beechurst Hall. Scary really. Again, I don't
think anyone would be allowed to do that these days [laughter].
Geoff Fernie SG59: Simon, I also did the stage lighting at Soham. And afterwards, I kept the hobby up and I was responsible for stage lighting for Top of the Pops in my spare time for quite a few years. I also I lit Pink Floyd and Cream, Julie Driscoll and stuff - all as a hobby rather than studying when I was at my first university [Sussex].
But I remember the ladder well. And I remember John Dimmock
teaching me how to put a plug on to the end of a piece of wire.
[Editor: If you want to read all about it, go on the website and look at the talk that Geoff gave us in 2017.]
John Dimmock SG59: Remember when we were doing the
lighting, the old metal ladder? Now I know Simon mentioned the
wooden one but we had the aluminium one, where we had the art
stool on the top? [GF: Yes] And then the old wooden box on top so
it couldn't actually slide off when we went up and climbed up and
grabbed the rail with a light.
Simon Thornhill SG65:Yes. There were the dustbin lights as well Do you remember them, the square dustbin bins with a 500 watt light bulb [laughter] in the end of them.
Simon later added: The stage lighting equipment was made by Furse and we simply knew it as a Fresnel lamp because of the shape of the main front lens. It was a bit like the fresnel optics in a lighthouse. They were a gold colour and heavy.
The other lamp I referred to was a home-made, very simple flood
lamp made, I think, by 'Arthur'
Makin. There were several of them and we called them
Dustbin lamps. In truth a waste paper bin lamp (Sani-bin was the
name that I incorrectly said) would have been more descriptive.
They were a tapered square metal waste paper bin which was painted
silver inside and had a 500W light bulb in the bottom. They were
just propped up off the floor as a very basic flood lamp. The
Health and Safety guys of today would not have approved!
Mr Sid Saunders
Peter Smith SG59: I've got a brief follow up to the Sid Saunders Cherry Tree anecdote.
I'm not terribly sure if it's true, or one of these legends that grew out of just a bit of gossip. But I was reminded of it when John Dimmock talked about recording the religious programmes and then playing it back to Sid's classes, probably the early years. So Sid ran the recording on the radio player and left us to listen to this religious broadcast. He would disappear - the rumour was he'd gone to the Cherry Tree - who knows?
While he was gone, Terry Mackender SG59 got his own radio and put it in a cupboard just below the recording device that we were listening to, switching on his radio, [turning the recorder off or down] and closing the doors.
Sid would come back to switch off the religious broadcast. Terry's radio kept playing. Sid was poking every button on the top of the recorder "My friend", "My friend!" - exasperated because he thought he couldn't switch it off.
I can't remember what the dénouement was. Knowing Sid he probably found the radio and threw it down the end of the classroom. I think Terry Mackender was one of the the class jokers so half of that is true, the rest I think has been embroidered over the years, like most school anecdotes.
The Van Der Graaff Generator
John Dimmock SG59: Do you remember the incident in the
dressing room with the back of the stage with the generator
attached to the door handle?
Slug Riley came along - "Who's in there?" "Who's in there?"
The voltage was creating a spark across the entrance door handle.
Riley took his gown and sensibly wrapped it [round his hand] to
pull the door open. It backfired on us, because that broke the
wire and it then started floating around the room touching all of
us [laughter]. I remember that.
It got caught on his chimney or something. I don't remember the consequence, but I think it damaged his chimney or antenna or something [laughter].
A Prize-Giving Sketch?
Frank Haslam SG'59': One memory, that I haven't yet had
corroborated, was something like a Sixth Form spoof of a
Prize-Giving. Either it was a spoof or they had a rigged something
where Edward lifted up a cup to present it. Attached to the bottom
of the cup and to the table was a bra. That caused gales of
laughter as you can imagine. Maybe it was one of those things we
were sometimes encouraged to do to show that we had a sense of
humour [and, I suppose, our targets].
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last updated 23 Oct 20