Angus Willson: In the music section Simon Colbeck reminds us about ‘Grand Funk Railroad’ and also told me how it was used to great effect in a school assembly. I will obscure the name of one person (unless I hear from her), however, taking the stage was…
Ve Chamberlain: Giles and [xxxxx] were expelled, around our fourth form I think, for having sex. The whole year was really upset about the expulsions. We felt it was unjust and that Giles and [xxxxx] were, I believe, only caught because people were talking about the event afterwards and a teacher overheard – I don’t think they were caught ‘in flagrante’ though those involved may remember differently. We also thought (at least my friends, in their innocence, thought) that it couldn’t be true anyway because [xxxxx] had the curse at the time.
I was put up to this by you, Angus, and some other boys (maybe Eddie?). It was your idea that we should play Grand Funk Railroad, which was very popular in the boys’ common room at the time. In assembly I read some reading, which I don’t remember at all. I then paused and said as clearly as I could `This music is for Giles and [xxxxx]. It’s by Grand Funk and it’s called “In Need.”‘ The lyrics included the words “You’ve sure got a real good friend” which we thought apposite as John Woods had proved very far from a good friend. [Youtube 8 minute track. Ramp up the bass.]
You asked whether there is a connection between then and later events in our lives. Maybe I do still take risks, stick my neck out and then see what ‘authority’ is going to do about it! I think you are right about the liberal atmosphere at school. I felt confident I would not be punished, and in fact there were no repercussions at all. I think we were encouraged to speak out about injustice, in good Quaker fashion speaking truth to power, and perhaps the staff thought that what we did was a good outlet for our feelings.
Helen Kalf [Robertson]: My daughter persuaded me to put my name on the Friends Reunited list. I wasn’t sure if anyone would remember me as I only spent three years there. I seem to have a lot of memories of going out with a lot of different boys! Was I really that bad? It all came to a head when my mother found a letter from Malcolm somebody in the year above about some of our antics that she refused to let me return – this coming after her having been summoned the term before to see Mr Woods regarding my going to a party in the woods somewhere with Fifi (only I was recognised by a girl in the year above) and when she got into trouble named me – I hadn’t been drinking anything or smoking anything – but I was out in the middle of the night. That was it – with about a week left of the summer holidays of our O’level year she refused to let me return and told Mr Woods exactly why. She didn’t even have to pay the term’s notice!!
Angus Willson: Letter home from John Woods (9 July 1970)…
“I have received a report that Angus attended a party last night at the home of Peter Clifford. Although this was not technically a breach of school discipline as it occurred after the end of term, I am concerned that you should know the nature of the party. The provision of alcohol and the furnishing of the room suggested conditions which could well lead to a serious loss of control and restraint among the boys and girls present.”
Of more innocent times, I was reminded that we used to write notes to each other and of the role of intermediaries in courtship. Simon Colbeck remembers that he was ‘asked out’ by letter and replied that he couldn’t as he was too busy. David Stuckey told of being in the Sanatorium and receiving passionate letters from Louise Paolozzi until he mis-understood something in one of her letters and she wrote to tell him he was a moron. It hardly made him feel better.
Anna Roberts: Allocation of a “chore” for the term….I seem to recall having to do “drying up” after lunch on Sundays..which took forever!
The there was bath night… cubicled bath, where the water was tepid, and a cork bathmat to stand on… which was always damp!
Any other memories of boarding school life?