On passing my 11-Plus as a pupil of
Sydenham Road Junior School, West Croydon, my parents were initially
disappointed that my new school would be John Ruskin Grammar! My mother
had hoped I would secure a place at Whitgift Middle. However, I
received the customary gift of a bicycle from my grandparents, and was
duly fitted out with the school uniform at Hewitt's - including the
green Delta House shirt for PT.
I remember my first morning - proud that I walked to the school gate
without the embarrassment of having mother on circuit, as some new boys
did. We were called "brats" for the first year, and suffered taunts
from second year pupils.
Certain shops were out of bounds, including Kennards, and we always had
to wear our caps outside of school. The 6th form students wore a
tasseled skull cap, and seemed so grown-up to an eleven year old boy.
Indeed, one senior boy remarkably sported a moustache.
The tuck-shop opposite in Tamworth Road was run by a lady and her very
attractive 19 year old daughter. 2½d apple crush was the most popular
beverage, and 1d cordial drinks were also on offer.
Our class teacher, Miss Hickmott, made it quite clear she was to be
called "madam". She took the junior boys for French lessons and we had
to use a small mirror to practice vowel sounds in class. I did like
Miss Hickmott - she was a communicant member of my church, St
Michael's, where I sung as a choirboy. I was very proud to "walk" her
home after school on one occasion. I remember obtaining a book from the
school library for the design of a Greek temple which I made a model
of. She flattered me by saying that "it was too far advanced for my
Mr. Culcheth took me for History in those formative years. I liked him
immensely and made several historic models, securing an abundance of
"house points". Mr. Hancock, our Music master, encouraged me to play
the descant recorder for the school orchestra. We had tuition at Monday
dinner hour by an older boy, Maggs. I was better at Latin than French,
and the knowledge would subsequently prove valuable in my Jungian
psychoanalysis years later. I think we were all terrified of Mr. Smith,
a stocky man of solid muscle, whose mood could change from gentle
benevolence to acute sadism in seconds. I was never nervous of Mr.
Rees, the senior Latin master.
On the first day in the Science lab, Mr. Chaundy asked us "where babies
came from", and I spoke up in my forthright manner with the correct
answer. My best subject was Mathematics, followed closely by Art, and I
was obviously well suited to a professional career as a design
draughtsman. I also came top of Biology in the mock O Levels, and
received patronage from Mr. Whellock. I passed in 4 subjects at O
Level, re-sat one other O Level in the following December and soon
secured A Level Art with distinction.
I was not a happy boy, and did not like school, being a born
introvert with a strong independent streak, which did not adhere me to
the school ethos of being a sociable human being. It would take me many
years of hard analytical work to value myself as an "outsider". During
the summer of 1955 my mother discovered she had cancer and had drastic
surgery. This affected me adversely, emotionally. Mr. Murray did notice
a personality change in me.
Autumn 1956 saw me start employment as a trainee structural
engineering draughtsman with a company near Bond Street in London. I
completed four years apprenticeship with day release at Westminster
Collage. I was to subsequently work with several practices as a
competent senior design draughtsman.
Tragically it was in November 1958 that I was admitted to
Warlingham Park Psychiatric Hospital, Surrey, with the diagnosis of
schizophrenia, a devastating thing for a young man, as the illness is
disabling, involving intense suffering. From then on, I never expected
to have the things that most people take for granted, but it has made
me very grateful for small mercies. I am a competent artist, with
excellent taste and sense of design. I have had several one man shows
of my work, and also published a slim volume of my own poetry.
If the first half of my life centreed on Art, then the second must surely
be depth psychology, continuing my education over successive decades. I
have a large library and my knowledge of Jungian principles is second
to none in Scotland.
A recent image - click to access a larger
In 1974, with both parents long deceased, I inherited our family home in
Sudbury, Suffolk, a fine Grade II listed Georgian house, and in 1984
sold up and moved to a croft cottage in Stromness, Orkney, where I
lived for 11 years. For the past 8 years I have been back on the far
north Scottish mainland, living in Wick, where I continue to work,
albeit in more "menial" positions.
I was surprised to find Mike Marsh living in my home town in Suffolk, and
have also been in touch with Ken Woodhams, Vic Bivand and John
Costello. Reading my contemporaries' histories I welcome the huge
success they have made of their lives; but then, so too, have I, and
although I never married, nor entered into any form of relationship,
remaining an independent loner to this day, I thank God for my life,
and my memories of 1951-56 remain as vivid as ever.
Brian ("Bone") V. Thorogood,
Willowbank, Wick, Scotland KW1 4NZ, November 2003.