Memories - transcriptions from the recordings

as these were created using speech to text software, the transcriptions are not 100% accurate.

Right, Well one thing we used to do was to get up for breakfast, and get into our dressing gowns, and go and swim in the pool at the top of the hill by the main road. And Mr Lovell used to come up, we used to ask what the water was like, and the only answer he ever gave us was “ there’s water in the pipes”. And then we would go swimming without trunks, and come down absolutely freezing and go to breakfast basically.

The day I came to Sidcot, the first Sidcotians I met were on the platform at Paddington Station. And the boy came up to me and introduced himself to me as my escort, he was going to show me around the school and get us settled in, that was the theory. And then we all got on the train, the train came down, we changed at Bristol Temple Meads, got another train I think that changed at Yatton, and then we got on the Cheddar slug which brought us down to Winscombe station which is sadly no longer there. And then we got off the train, and then we walked up to Sidcot with our freedom from infection certificates in our hands while all our luggage was brought up on a horse and cart. Dear old Mr Henbury, absolutely lovely man, great long white flowing hair underneath is peaked cap. and we came at the front door of the main school, into the drawing-room and handed in freedom from infection letters and we were then let into the school with all the horrors that we dreamt were going to happen after that.

One afternoon we managed to turn the chemistry master Aubrey Hopes’s car around sideways in his garage and when his wife came to do the shopping she was confronted with the car sideways on so she immediately went to the chemistry lab to report it to him and he immediately came into the upper sixth form room to get us to turn the car around which we managed to do by bumping it around.

During the war a stick of incendiary bombs was dropped near the school in the Combe and we happen to find these one morning and took at least brought several of them back to school. They had hit trees and turned upside down so in actual fact the tails were knocked off and they didn’t go off so we brought them back, to the metal workroom, and then thought about how do you defuse them. Discovered that it was relatively easy to unscrew the nose take the detonator out and then empty the thermite out and you are left with a hollow tube of magnesium which we then turned on the lathe into serviette rings for the girls. Now one idiot came up to the metalwork room one day and he had found some of the stuff and he put it in the forge and he decided that it might be nice to light it, which he did, and he filled the whole of the science block with this white cloud. And of course we were caught and the police were called and all the rest of the bombs were confiscated. And by that time they were all made safe because we had taken the detonators out, and we had taken the thermite out.

Interesting aside - in the local newspaper this week (2nd week in May 2009) a story about a local walker finding two incendiary bombs in the woods were I walk the dogs.

Also during the war we decided that we would make a searchlight to see if we could see the German bombers coming over. In actual fact we had to go and buy a car headlight from the scrap merchant at Coomesbury. We brought it back to school and we re-plated it, I am not going to tell you how it was it was highly dangerous using, oh what was the chemical, potassium silver cyanide. I you plated them by filling the headlight flat ways on, put a cork in where the bulb used to be, and suspended a silver sixpence or shilling that was a solid silver sixpence or shilling into the silver cyanide and passing an electric current through so that it was re-plated. We then fitted a 12 V bulb and got a 12 V battery which was quite difficult during wartime, and we then tried to see if we could see German planes with it. Unfortunately it wasn’t powerful enough, and of course we were caught in the end, I won’t say who by but somebody caught us and we were gated.

When I was at school I spent a lot of my time in the woodwork room and various times we needed glues and things of that sort which you couldn’t buy in wartime. So a certain member of the school in the form above me broke into the poison cupboard to get some amyle acetate which also was acetone which is a solvent of a celluloid and he got this out of the poison cupboard we made the glue out of it and then he came to lock the poison cupboard up again and broke his key off in it. Panic! So he then went down to the head who lived down the road, the other side of the main road and confessed to this, and nothing happened in the end so we had glue and the poison cupboard lock was changed as a result.

This is not particularly relevant but when my dad was at school they used to have pointed knives and if you didn’t like a piece of fat that you had in your meal he would stick the piece of fat on the pointed knife and jam it up underneath the table so at the end of the term there was sort of forest of knives with rotting meat underneath the tables. the other thing was that when the holes appeared in the floor because being the original floorboards they would sometimes drop the meat and the knives down through the holes in the floor so when the floor was renewed they discovered quite a number of these knives lying underneath the floor.

When I came in 1939 the gasworks was already out of use and the house where the gas works were was still standing and still smelling of gas but opposite was Jimmy Wear’s workshop which was haven for me because I used to go down there quite frequently and he taught me a considerable amount of things about how to paint and woodwork and all sorts of things of that sort. He was a real friend, he had actually known my father who was at school from 1899-1904 and I was here from 1939-1944. And also around that square there was the coke store, and the coke store was held up by rails that came from South Wales in the 1860s also there was the bicycle shed which I think is now used as a stable there were quite a number of buildings around there and the place that fascinated me more than many was the paint store because when the painters had painted some part of the school they used the wipe all their brushes out on the door and the door had this paint on it which must have been 2 inches thick at this time quite a fire hazard these days

In Middle dorm after lights were out we used to do what was called Jerry rolling. You got a jerry can to try to roll it from one end of the room to the other under the beds without hitting the beds then get it back and someone else would pass it over the partition and it would be rolled again. One night unfortunately Jerry rolled round but didn’t take the usual trajectory it rolled round and hit the radiator very slowly and just quietly broke into two pieces at this point George Laughlan happened to come in through the door and he couldn’t keep a straight face we were just howling with laughter the most amusing incident. In the end someone took the jerry down to housekeeper in two halves and asked for a new one. But she didn’t ask any questions.

The thing that happened in my first term at school when we were in long dormitory which is as you got the boys staircase was on the right it had a big roof trusses and we used to try and throw oranges from one end of the room to the other through the roof trusses and one day Richard Harmand came up and looked out of the window and saw a rather soggy looking orange sitting in the hedge in the announcement he said I didn’t know oranges grew in the hedge where’s it come from? and someone had to own up that they had taken it from a meal up to the dormitory purely to throw through the rafters.

Trolley skating on the boys playground. A trolley skate was made up of a piece of wood which to ordinary skates were screwed to some boards were added to it and one skate to steer it. And you used to come down the playground towards the boys shared which is now the refectory at high speed and try and turn the corner without hitting the wall of course one or two people almost knocked themselves out by going into the wall. And at one time the great Western lorry turned up with the dry goods for school and it was a small flatbed lorry and we used to try and trolley skate underneath it and often do it while it was moving and think that that was a great sport because if you could get underneath it cleanly without getting hit by the prop shaft or anything else you were really in you were the cats whiskers'

During the war we had lectures by various people and one particular man came in Jowitt which was a two cylinder car rather basic and we stuck to potato up the exhaust and he couldn’t understand why he couldn’t start it until suddenly there was a big bang and the potato flew out and went through one of the meeting house no the committee rooms next to the meeting house windows we weren’t very popular. also in regard to the meeting house one of the things we used to do was to put tin cans with a small hole at the top large hole at the bottom filled with coal gas and let the little hole at the top so the thing was bound to go off sooner or later and usually halfway through meeting there was this loud explosion and the trouble was that George knew what it was and the culprits were finally caught I wasn’t one of them at the time.

On Saturday night used to put roller skates on and a great many boys had rollerskates and some girls and we used to skate round the boys shed. Now after skating round for an hour or so the shed was full of dust ground up from the floor with the rollerskates now today this would be a health hazard because it was particles of I assume brick that they had built the floor with it was literally you could hardly see from one end of the room to the other and people used to skate round continuously without stopping

During the war one of the big tanks down in the boiler house sprang a very bad leak and couldn’t be repaired. now they couldn’t buy a new boiler we had to get a second hand one and the trouble was it took at least six months to get this boiler is to tank the result was there was no hot water on the boys side so in the end we had to go across to the girl’s side and we had to have baths in the girls changing rooms which was quite exciting for boys of that age in actual fact after a time they did get a new cylinder and to get it into the boiler house they had to cut large pieces out of the entrance which is now I suppose underneath the edge of the refectory.

When I was in the fourth form we had a glass blackboard which had a little hole in the bottom which is quite insignificant but we used to put notices behind the blackboard and they were held on thin strings and around pully’s in the corners of the room so the person at the back of the class could pull the strings and the notices would come up behind the blackboard such as laugh and of course the whole class just laughed or clapped all looked out of the window or some ridiculous things like that until finally a prefect came in to take prep one-day and realised that this was happening and quietly brought out a pair of scissors and cut all the strings, misery!

At the end of final summer term there was going to be a lot of building work done and there was a huge pile of bricks outside the boys shed so at about two o’clock in the morning I organised a party to transport a load of bricks and we bricked up the Masters common room door from the inside the two people then climbed out of the window we then bricked up the centre of the door we then bricked up the outside of the door and then we thought it would be a good idea to do the dining-room door so we did that and when David Murray rust was in his last term was on his early morning rounds he immediately came up to us to remove these bricks which we so did and as I was leaving from breakfast he said to me Jeremy I know you have nothing to do with it but thank you very much removing it and I said that’s quite all right Sir and managed to keep a straight face

I thought it was David pantry’s bed no no we put Geoffrey Pearson he was asleep on it anti went to sleep in the dormitory and he woke up on the shed roof

At the end of the domestic block they used to be the potato peeler there was also a room there where Billy Hares used to keep all his gear for cleaning the school also one night a certain girl than myself were out there snogging and the headmaster appeared round the corner also snogging with the housekeeper Miss Shaw as she was then.

At the end of the domestic block they used to be the potato peeler and it was a sort of covered area and Billy Hares used to keep his gear in it I think originally it was keeping the horse stuff but one night a certain girl and myself were out there and who should turn up at the senior French master Richard Brayshaw also snogging with Miss Shaw who was the housekeeper at the time which is really rather amusing

When we wanted to have a smoke in school we always checked to see if the boiler house was open and occasionally the Boilerhouse being open we went down there and we opened the doors to one of the boilers and smoke into the boilers so the smoke would not appear in the rest of the school

during the war at the school the boys and the girls had to do the washing-up amongst other things and the boys did the dirty washing up, the meat dishes and the aluminium pans and the things that the suet puddings were cooked in and at that time the Cook lady named Miss Ballbank was reputed to be profoundly deaf so we thought we would test this out so we collected all the pans and things that we could lay our hands on and as she walked through the area where we were doing the washing-up we hurled all these on the floor everyone in the music schools stopped playing the piano, windows went up all round the place and she didn’t even turn round.

We would have sausage rolls lunch, but not enough, and in the evening when we had finished our prep, we sneaked around, because it was black out so it was not difficult to sneak around unobserved, and we went down the central corridor and broke into the store where all the sausage rolls that we hadn’t eaten were kept and helped ourselves to handfuls of these things and came out happily ready to eat them and when we got out into the boys shed we bumped into Richard Brayshaw so that was a bit heart stopping but he helped us he said huh taking sausage rolls out of lunch and we immediately agreed that is what we’ve been doing.

This is a music school memory the old music school I had a friend who want to join the Army which is a peculiar thing to a friend school I used to think but he used to like me to play marching tunes on the piano so that he could march up and down the corridor his name was Greg Hale

Another memory of course is bombs dropping behind Sidcot somewhere and I must have been I suppose a new dorm at the time because I remember looking out of the window’s and of course the lights were’nt on and seeing Bristol on fire that was sort of not so much worrying as very exciting. And I know that the next day the boys went out scavenging the incendiaries and anything that remained which was probably against the rules.

In the summer we used to go swimming in the old swimming pool before breakfast in the nude and the changing facilities were very primitive the girls used to go first and the boys used to come afterwards and there was always a lot of jollity about whether or not we could see the opposite sex in the nude. And the famous thing about the pool is that it always had a lot of dead wood lice swimming in it or rather not swimming which made it rather revolting but nevertheless we enjoyed swims.

Well here I can standing outside the director of curriculum’s office which in my day which I think was 1974 and I was 14 was a sort of clinic where matron used to give us all cough mixture and aspirin and so on and I used to queue up after school every day I usually had a headache or a stomach ache or something like that to get my little thumbnail thing of cough mixture brown cough mixture and I think I must have been addicted because I did it without fail every day until one day she said you’re not ill you’re just homesick and I was too embarrassed to go after that.

This time I’m standing by the painting by E Compton of mountains and I just remember a remarkable girl I think she must have been a junior because I don’t remember her name now sitting with her boyfriend on the banisters here squeezing his spots and she had had an amputation and I think she didn’t have the leg on but she was always a remarkable young woman young girl I guess as she was in those days and she was always cheerful and very sociable I can remember being very impressed by her courage and spirit.

sitting under the chestnut tree up at Newcombe and trying to be as quiet as possible in my mind and everything because I thought I could kind of blend in with a background and I could see what the world would be like if I wasn’t there see if the birds with come and land near me and lambs would just come up and graze near me. and I can also remember a very spiritual moment when I think there were clouds scudding across the sky and the sun had been in for a while and was a time when the sun suddenly broke through and I was bathed in the holy spirit is the only way I can describe it and it was a very precious moment moments at the Combe on my own were a real balm.

I want to tell you about the very beginning of the autumn term it must have been September 1939 and we went to um we were all us new comers upper third were in the wing with Miss Rowlands living in the main part of the house we were upstairs and it is just that sort of changing room which was a long narrow passage had no black out and of course blackout had only just just become necessary and we had a blue light bulbs lighting us that was all very very low lighting and what I particularly remember is this combination of blue light bulbs and feeling very homesick as everyone was in the dorm at the wing

outside the physics lab and I don’t know why George Hutchinson was in charge of these experiments but he was I didn’t think he was a physics teacher and of course you know that we called him him tulip which was rather hard but anyway that was his nickname and he bought form out onto the playground onto the boys playground to witness an experiment in exploding a tin it must have been part of some course we were doing I think it was coal gas in the tin but anyway were stood in a wide circle on the playground presumably too dangerous to have it in the labs and exploded it another time we had to come out into the boys playground and we were also put into a circle in order to have an electric shock passed from hand to hand I remember I felt extremely fearful about that but perhaps I was rather timid anyway that must have been about lower fourth I suppose

F When we were down below what used to be lower fifth classrooms level with the upper fourth and above it new wing dormitory in which I’m sure I wasn’t until I was in the lower fifth but on the ground floor there we had to do sewing on Saturdays and darning of our clothes I remember my sister darning her bra and it was almost held together with darns it was so meticulously darned because we had to be incredibly careful in wartime of all materials and another thing I remember doing an that downstairs sewing room I forget who is in charge of us but we had to do it on a Saturday morning and it was not any thing any of us were keen on but I remember unravelling wool because of course wool was desperately scarce so any garment that was a bit outgrown or not in use could be unravelled to reuse the wool. I remember doing that because I was quite keen knitter but also any official sewing we were meant to do I disliked so much, which is funny in retrospect because I enjoy so much but anyway at school I certainly didn’t like it on a Saturday morning so I opted to be the one to read stories to other classmates because we were allowed to have someone else interesting us in something else so I always opted to read the story to the form rather than to my darning. But of course this was girls only, I don’t think boys were involved at all.

I can remember the time when I was a boy at Sidcot not wanting to go to meeting with some of my friends, classmates so we went up to the gym and got into the horsebox and waited there till 10 past 12.00 and then came down whistling as boys will pretending there was nothing out of the ordinary and Mr Harman was waiting the senior master and he said where have you come from? And I said we just come from meeting and he said no you haven’t meeting hasn’t finished yet so we realised we had dropped a clanger and he said you’re gated telling lies not not going to meeting.

this goes back to the early 1950s when I was at Sidcot the dining room was not in existence as it is in its present form but there was a much smaller boys shed that ran along with the pillars separating it from a corridor and it was used mainly for rollerskating and we had tuck boxes along one side the step up at the end of the present is dining room wasn’t there the boys playground slopes quite steeply downwards to meet the present main floor level of the dining room. We used to go out on frosty nights with fire buckets of water which we slooshed down slope and then slid down the ice the next day with more junior boys lined up against a brick wall at the bottom to save us from a nasty bump. those of us who had metal wheel roller skates usually split them and made them into go-karts which the main thing then was to use a smaller boy to push up the slope and to come down the slope and to go into a violent skid towards the bottom. We also spent quite a lot of time playing hand cricket, marking out a pitch or tennis court on the boys playground with chalk which was roughly 2 m x 1 and 1/2 at its smallest I gather that this game is still very popular in Australia. just inside the wall heading down to Rose cottage at the end of the sports hall was a much older building and the side nearest the lane had a room for photography it was horribly damp and the abode of toads and courting couples. it had a black-and-white enlarger which also suffered from the damp, but we provided our own chemicals and printing paper although the dishes and measuring cylinders were provided, we certainly produced some very good black-and-white photography some of us even won prizes and this was despite some others having what we called Brownie box cameras which were about the most simple cameras you can possibly imagine.

In the old gym which would have to be pointed out you there was a flight of steps leading up to two rooms and the sixth form boys, particularly upper 6 used one of these as a common room where we could separate ourselves from the rest of the school. At the time the gardens grew extensive areas of rhubarb, and we made a rhubarb wine which we put into bottles which we stupidly corked and put in a cupboard. Then one day we came back to the cupboard to find that virtually all the bottles had exploded with considerable violence and embedded glass into the ward and into the walls. The present president of the all scholars use this in his university lectures to demonstrate the considerable pressure which can build up with fermentation.

in the central block of the school there was a rope operated lift which had 2-3 shelves on it which went up from the ground floor kitchens up to the top of the building. the Upper Sixth girls used a small room at the top as their common room and Sunday tea was something that they had up there. We organised ourselves one day one Sunday in the boys linen room which was about halfway up the central block and as the lift trundled by us we seized all a drink and food off the trolley as it passed through on its way up we then enjoyed listening to the uproar that followed this unexplainable loss of tea.

The other memories were unafraid all strictly illegal like sledging after dark and mainly members of the caving club who knew quite a lot of climbing techniques and exploits across the roofs of the school including a memorable one to the far reaches of the girls side to see if we could see down into were then the girls changing rooms unfortunately these were of course entirely frosted glass but it was good fun reaching it especially as you had to crawl under one of the masters rooms.

Memories from the book

What sort of memories do you want?

Two supposedly respectable prefects sunning themselves on the ‘V’ between the two routes of the domestic block. What edging along the cornice of the boys block ( opposite the meeting house ) -- admittedly in the hols -- we were the domestic staff, volunteers, conference. Fanny May saw us and nearly fainted. She, who walk uphill backwards because of her weak heart.

All the day I knocked over a fire bucket of full water, on the second floor landing (accidentally) and watched, fascinated, the resultant cascade. ECR

It was exciting to be in the school (Lower Sixth) for the 150th celebrations. We mingled with all scholars and parents. The production in the marquee at Whitsun and the conducting by Brian Priestman were memorable. We learned a new word “Sesquicentenary” and often quoted Richard Brayshaw’s plea that people should wear their name labels ” all over the week (Weak) end”!

The view of Dunkery Beacon (on a very clear day) from New Dorm, showing between Crooks and Caterpillar. And on ordinary days, the view now hidden by the evergreens at the bottom of the garden.

The snows of 63 came and stayed for weeks. It rose above the hedges and it introduced me to a winter landscape I shall never forget. We had heating and light while a lot of the country went without and of course after lessons came snowball fights, sledging and just great gains in the snow and stop top fields of the Combe took on a new perspective as sledging runs, down at speed into the valley through the gates, hedges and gaps. All I can remember and now it’s so many purples in winter light, cold hands and feet but so excited.

Sitting on the seat in a sunshiny school garden, listening to the victory peal of bells from Winscombe church.

Sitting on the ground in top field, with current girlfriend, besides V.E. day bonfire. Home-made fireworks going off all around.

It’s Monday was the date of the old scholars versus the school first X1 cricket match. It was the only match to begin in the morning. What excitement! Keith Linney, who had played the Somerset, would be playing Windsor Grace perhaps, whoever Dilks wicketkeeper, Geoffrey Fox maybe. The school X1 were allowed to come into lunch wearing their whites. What admiration!

As a non-caver, being taken down a few classics in the last days before leaving.

Bats in the school!

One day ‘Sam’ Stanton, coming across a lot of bats in the course of his caving exploits, collected a sack full of them and release them on the girls side! Chaos! They all seemed afraid the bats would tangle in their hair. I remember a lot of the bats found their way into the Holly hedge outside the meeting house beside Oakridge Lane, where they could be found in quantity, hanging upside down.

Sliding on a frozen pond one Saturday afternoon in either 1947 or eight we were joined by Betty a substantially built girl who promptly fell through. She softened the upset with “I will swim -- I will swim!”

Each and every day, the view across the valley to wavering in the changing seasons.

Incendiary bombs in the Combe during the war. Collecting some and hid them in the metal work room, defused some, setting off the detonator on the anvil.

Making serviette rings the girls out of the body. Somebody split on us and they were removed by the police! Tough!

The deep frost in January 1940, all telegraph wires were down with the weight of the ice.

Making gunpowder in the laps and testing it in a small cannon, hell of a bang!

In 1943 -- 1944 group of us were in the sand, as we were recovering we were allowed to go out for a walk -- you went to the pond up the Combe. We found a frog which we took back to the sound and put it in the commode with some stones and earth. The commode was to some reason worked by sister war her uniform and decorations with pride. She opened the commode out jumped ‘our’ frog “ who put the frog in the commode?” No one admitted the offence. On return to school we all received a caning from George Hutchinson, headmaster! I now plead guilty!

Some of us were keen photographers in the 1940s -- even though photographic materials were very hard to come by and stop there was a darkroom under the stairs on the boys side which wasn’t much use. But there was a much better darkroom just behind Rose cottage with an enlarger and it was heated by gas fire. This was a very cosy spot in cold winters. We never knew whether the gas bill was paid by the occupier of Rose cottage -- but since he was Mr Pask the bursar, it didn’t matter too much.

The present junior school used to be the sanatorium (known as the ‘San’) where pupils were sent to be cared for if they were ill. In 1950, when I was 16, I called scarlet fever, a disease not often heard of these days, and so I had to be isolated in the San. The problem was that this happened at the time of the School Certificate (former GCSE) exams. Each day a member of staff would come down to the san with my question paper and then sit outside my room to ‘invidulate’ while I scribbled away. In this way they hoped to avoid my Germs! Because scarlet fever was a very infectious disease, my answer papers had to be baked before being sent away from marking. On one occasion sister Gregory, the school nurse, forgot the papers and, when she eventually remembered them, found them browning nicely, and curling at the edges! I am thankful to say that I was successful in passing my School Certificate.

Making gunpowder in the Chemistry lab, and stuffing it into a small brass cannon, with a steel ball bearing, that fired with such force, that it buried itself into the bench at the front of the lab. I suspect that it is still there.

We got hold of a cooker for the 5th form common room, and wired it into the lighting circuit. But as the cooker was 35 amps, and the lighting circuit only 5, it kept blowing the fuses. So we ran a cable from the main board, under the floorboards in the dorm, distracting the master on duty as we laid it.

F The central noticeboard just near the old library and the old surgery was a place of the reverence for some. I was never good at reading notices so found out about exams and other timetables via others will stop when I left I turned all the notices to face the board and pinned the blank sheets neatly. Just nearby was the subway the scene of romantic liaisons.

M The art school, which in our day was upstairs above the physics lab and chemistry lab was where I spent much of my time. We had “curator” jobs to the arts and sciences -- a job hotly contested, so I felt honoured. In the mornings when I was pugging clay or polishing the brass -- a daily chore! Jimmy ware would come up in his navy blue bit overalls and white shirt, rolled up sleeves, to wind the school clock. I once went up there unofficially and found that the gas lighting was still live!

My mother Joan Price (Crew) who was on the staff here drawing the war remembered standing on the boys playground and watching bombs fall on Bristol. The subway was used as an air raid shelter -- did the whole school managed to shelter there, I wonder?

Going to meeting was quite an occasion for non-Quaker as I was then. In the third form and lower fourth we had a meeting in the library (the old library!) With the speaker. I remember someone with a strong Bristol accent talking about an ideal idea(L) the Bristol accent added the extra L

There was a middle school meeting with meetings held in the classroom block and then the upper fifth and sixth forms went to proper meeting in the meeting house. These meetings were in life and by Dr ... lifting the huge Bible and leafing through the passage he wanted. Also Mr and Mrs Dare -- Dan Dare was a large gentleman who once broke a meeting house chair and Mrs Dare would minister with tears rolling down her cheeks!

M While I was a pupil at Sidcot the school celebrated the 300th anniversary of its founding in 1699. There were days of celebrations (about a week in all) which ended on a Saturday evening. On this evening, a group comprising staff and students took three firework rockets and went to the late evening torchlight procession up to the top of callow hill. When we got there, speeches were made and then three rockets were let off one that every hundred years at the school had been in existence.

After this had been done, we made our way down the lane towards the school and found that there was a police car! The sole policeman inside the car wound down his window and asked what was going on. The teacher at the head of the procession informed the policeman of where we had been and why. Whereupon, as we all gathered around a large group, but the policeman replied we had a report of an illegal rave up in the Combe. We all collapsed in laughter!

Every day after breakfast we had to dust and sweep classrooms. Also there were people nominated to do other housekeeping jobs. One of the worst in winter was scrubbing potatoes in the yard between the girls and boys sides. Washing-up was also done on a rota basis.

F I remember the school garden straw in the war -- the province of Mr Lindsay -- who provided vegetables to the kitchen and fruit in season. There were also magnificent greenhouses on the site of the present swimming pool, which provided a splendid display and a haunting scent -- and also a fresh buttonhole but the headmaster. We didn’t learn anything about horticulture at one of our tasks was to scrub the flowerpots which we did reluctantly. I remember one occasion when we were asked to pick the luscious desert gooseberries which grew on cordons beside Sidcot Lane. Mr Lindsay spied from afar that someone had dared to help themselves. I was too ashamed to admit it, but I was saved when someone else owned up and I have felt guilty on and off ever since. The strawberries were highly prized, and were passed around the dining table so that each pupil could help themselves to one fruit at a time.

When I first came to Sidcot a group of us created a go-kart driven by a petrol engine that we got from an old lawnmower. When it was built we wasted around the top yard. But that was a younger boy who had a go, his name was Luke Wallich-Clifford, he was a bit of a prat, the accelerator got stuck, and instead of putting on the break and stalling the engine he stuck both legs and both arms in the air and shot across the hall playgrounds at high speed smack into a brick wall. He took all the force of this crash in his feet which were both broken at the ankle and left dangling at 90° to his legs. The master on duty on seeing the injuries fainted, going down like a ninepin, and bumping his head on the tarmac.

We went caving, but instead of going down the cave we built a bonfire fried up some sausages, and got drunk on wine. Back in school on Sunday evening meeting, and Richard was sick down Mr Trows neck. in was this