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 Roger Fuller (JRGS 1951-56) reports sad death of Vic Bivand (JRGS 1951-56)...

Vic BivandMy eldest son, my wife Anne and I attended the funeral on the third of this month in Whitstable of Vic Bivand, pictured left at the JRGS Reunion in September 2009. Vic and I were at Ruskin together from 1951 to 1956. He was the most popular boy of our year and the best all-round sportsman in the school. He starred at football, cricket, basketball and athletics. He was, incidentally, popular with the staff, including Mr. "Smut" Smith, Mr. Warne and others, in spite of testing them and their patience further than one imagines possible.
   Vic and I lost touch within a year of leaving school and only in 2009 - through the auspices of Brian Thorogood (JRGS 1951-56) - did we renew our friendship. We started meeting regularly for a drink and lunch in London, and started visiting him and his wife, Joyce, in Whitstable a couple of times a year. Vic was a generous host and much loved by three generations of my family. He will be much misse
d.

Roger Fuller, Basingstoke, Hants, April 2019 Email

Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65) adds: Back in September 2007, Roger Fuller shared some fond memories of his long-time friend. They related to music master Mr. Hancock who, because of his short sight and thick glasses, was nicknamed - probably by Vic Bivand - as "Squint." "Like a number of his colleagues, 'Squint' wore a gown in class," Roger recalled. "Some of the worst behaved class members, including Bivand and myself, would use chalk to play a game of noughts and crosses upon his gown as he moved around the room. Cruel sport, but daring as we saw it. That was over 60 years ago. Wrong it may have been, but happenings such as these were a part of what actually made schooldays the happiest of one's life."

  

 Roger Searle (JRGS 1959-66) discovers two vintage images from the Sixties...

When I was sorting through my mother's house after her death last year I came across these two photos from JRGS school days. One is a class photo of 1959/60's Form 1H with Mr. Hancock, and the other taken in 1962/63's Class 5U by Tommy Thompson. They brought back fond memories that I had completely forgotten about!
   Click on either image taken in the rear quadrangle to view a larger version.

JRGS Form 1H, 1959-60

BACK ROW: Richard Humphries; Rodger Holcolme; Andrew Robertson; unknown; McKinnon; Francis Harrison (?); unknown; Paul Graham.

MIDDLE ROW: Roger Searle; Bob White; Derek Smith; unknown; Holding; unknown; Kenneth Collins; John Melton; Kenneth Grant; Malcolm Lyons; John Byford; John Shrimpton; Mr. Hancock, form master.

FRONT ROW: Donald McLeish; Stephen Rawlings; Roger Hall; Peter Wilson; Ian Knight; Robert Seward; Julian Smalley.

JRGS Form 5U, 1962-63

BACK ROW: Geoffrey Farmer; Mel Lambert; John Heslop; Michael Hollidge (?); Peter Tomkins; Stephen Lander.

FRONT ROW: Derek Smith; John Byford; Roger Searle; Julian Smalley; Paul Graham - all former 1H pupils.

Roger Searle, Newcastle upon Tyne, April 2019 Email

 John Byford (JRGS 1959-66) adds: Wow, never before seen! Not much help, but I have made a start with two full names, one surname and one possible correction on the 1H list. At least two more faces are familiar and will give it more thought. (And proof that we had to wear short trousers!)

BACK ROW: unknown; unknown; unknown; unknown; unknown; (Looks like Francis Harrison); unknown; Paul Graham.

MIDDLE ROW: Roger Searle; unknown; Derek Smith; unknown; unknown; unknown; unknown (Kenneth Collins); unknown; unknown; unknown (Lyons); unknown (John Byford); unknown; Mr. Hancock.

FRONT ROW: Martin Loveday; unknown; Roger Hall; unknown; unknown; Robert Seward (?); Julian Smalley.

Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) adds: Both photos are new to me as well. Thanks, Roger, for unearthing them. Could the missing 5U name be Michael Hollidge?
   Re: The 1H photo: Back row, second from left is Roger Holcombe; Middle row: ninth from left is Kenneth Grant, 10th from left is Malcolm Lyons, 12th from left is John Shrimpton; Front row: second from left is possibly Stephen Rawlings, sixth from left is definitely Robert Seward.
   One thing I am sure of is that the 5U quadrangle photo wasn’t taken on a Friday lunchtime. We wouldn’t have looked so carefree with Mr. "Rhino" Rees’ double Latin looming!

Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65) adds: The lower 5U image is charming and just as I remember several participants. Julian Smalley, in particular, had a wicked smile, I recall, while John "Biffo" Byford was always up to mischief! I also note that several of us are wearing the new-style school badge on our blazer top pockets, while Paul Graham looks to be sporting the older, square design. Also, one or two are sporting the newer, wider ties - Terylene? - and others (myself included) favour the older, slimmer version with a more narrow stripe. Does anybody recall who the photographer was? Roger mentions Tommy Thompson, which doesn't ring any bells.

Grant Harrison (JRGS 1959-66) adds: Absolutely fascinating! I was in 1G so not all the faces are familiar. I agree with most comments so far. Definitely Francis Harrison, as we were often confused.
   How about Michael Horner for middle row 8th from the left? Stephen Rawlings and I used to go home on the bus together when we both lived in Croydon. Ken Grant and I were friends when I lived in Addiscombe. His dad was a POW after Dunkirk, and we had a mutual friend in our year, Glyn somebody? He was often called "Ernie" as he was believed to only have one testicle after an incident with a bicycle saddle. Can anyone verify this!
   Good to hear from Roger Searle, who might remember that he and I stayed at the same house during the French trip, and even shared the same bed.
   I will keep looking at the photo and come back if further enlightenment occurs.

Colin Taylor (JRGS 1959-64) adds: Looking at the top photo of 1H, I think the two tall boys either side of Roger Holcombe are Richard Humphries (left) and Robertson (right). Keep up the good work!

Roger Hall (JRGS 1959-66) adds: Well, as we are already partially immersed in nostalgia looking at the 1H photograph, Mr. Grant Harrison with one sentence and a question takes us all completely back into our 11-year old culture of 60 years ago.
   I can formally state that, despite having to endure the forced communal showers after PE, I never verified whether "Ernie" did or not [lack an essential accoutrement]. Yesterday Di and I landed in Mallorca where we are spending the week with 20 cyclists and walkers. I'll ask if anyone here has had a similar accident.
   But life in the communal showers did, in part, prepare me for a memorable experience that befell me whilst on holiday with Mr. Harrison in 1967. I still dream about it.
   Our webmaster has asked me: "What did happen on holiday in 1967?" Well, Mr. Harrison had seen this film of Bridgette Bardot emerging from the sea at St Tropez. So he bought a car for £23 at Croydon auction and we duly set off for St Tropez. We had read that not everyone wore clothes.
   The car staggered through France with various bits falling off from time to time. We hurtled down - because the brakes weren't too good - off the southern Alps to the sound of the newly released "Heroes and Villains" from The Beach Boys.
   We made it to St Tropez, and were told which camp to go to. We arrived and pitched our tent in the blazing midday sun. So now we get to the communal shower bit - which you have all been waiting for!! Needing a shower I entered the "Hommes," to be confronted by shower cubicles with no curtains and four stark-naked women showering. I did the double take of all times. It was a memorable holiday, but I kept my socks on at all times.
   Others, including Bob Seward (JRGS 1959-63), joined us, having come down in another car. Being the only one with a jacket that had a zipped pocket, I held everyone's passports. Trouble was that when one morning the local police stopped me and a couple of the others, I had too many passports so they took us off to the police station. One of the policemen buckled on his belt and gun and took me out with Bob saying loudly, "Don't worry, we'll phone the Embassy." But they just took me back to the camp site to find the others. They opened a tent and inside was Brian asleep. He woke up and, without hesitation said:, "Fair cop, I surrender," and held out his hands to be cuffed! Happy Days. (Incidentally, Brian was a friend of Grant Harrison and not a Ruskin bod. He fancied himself as the next Rod Stewart, and he was a car mechanic. With the state of our car, he became an essential team member! His instant reaction on waking up in the tent was extraordinary.)

Bob White (JRGS 1959-67) adds: I have more names to update the 1H photo which I have no recollection of seeing before. Front row: Forth and fifth from left are Pete Wilson and Ian Knight. Middle row: Fifth from left is Holding. Back row: Fifth from left is McKinnon.
   I remembered 16 names, including Mr. Hancock and myself - not bad after 60 years! Since I repeated the first year, I didn't stay friends with most of the guys, but there were a few good lacrosse players to be in that lineup.
   On Facebook search for me as Bob White Ashfield Massachusetts. I'm still skiing, playing football (over Forties, indoor, six-a-side, sailing) and generally being happy to be on the right side of the snow. Included below is a recent picture of our team, Arsenal, after winning the league; it helped having three Brazilians. I'm 20 years older than most of them, and twice the age of one; I'm third from left kneeling. Click on image to view a larger version.

Our Arsenal team, after winning league

JRGS 1963I repeated my first year at John Ruskin because I guess that I came last or almost last in class. I remember being overwhelmed with French, Latin, math etc., and did better staying back.

Maurice Whitfield (JRGS 1959-66) adds: Front left with grey socks, on the opposite end to Julian Smalley, is Donald McLeish, who lived on Ballards Estate near to the path that joined it to Monks Hill. I am 99% sure it is him.
   In this image that dates from, I think 1963, Donald is on the left, with Kenneth Love (JRGS 1959-66) in the center, and me on the right. Click on the thumbnail to view a larger version.

 

 Roger Hall (1959-66) is filmed by German TV for an unusual documentary...

Roger Hall pictured in January 2017Regarding the planned lunch in early May to discuss next year's JRGS Centenary Reunion - see entry below - I may well pop along from sunny Somerset. I’ll chat to my social secretary (Di!), and let Ian or Tom know.
   Last Friday, I was filmed by Spiegel-TV for a documentary it is doing for ZDF which, I believe, is Germany’s state-owned equivalent of the BBC. I thought the programme was going to be about the oysters, but when I asked Anna, the show's production person, she said that, no, it was about "The Ageing Brain" and they wanted to come over and film me. When I tell people this they all laugh. Life can be so cruel.
   The documentary, entitled Forever Young, is about how people remain active in retirement and sometimes, like me, have a total change of career. In my case IT morphing into oyster farming. Spiegel-TV had seen a series about retirement that The Guardian ran a couple of years ago in which I, along with others, were featured. I was mentioned in three of the episodes.
   You can see how old I look now, from the image shown right, taken at the oyster trestles in Porlock Bay. {Photograph: ©Sam Frost for The Guardian.)
   My summary of the experience might be something along the lines of: "Happy but confused.com – Roger bumbles along with retirement in Somerset!" ("It’s not my fault - they keep forcing me to drink scrumpy," he protested.)

Roger Hall, Porlock, Somerset, March 2019 Email

RH Adds: And here are two images we secured during the documentary filming by Spiegel-TV.

Image we secured during documentary filming by Spiegel-TV.

Incidentally, just before the German film crew arrived at our house, my wife, Di, asked me if we were going to offer them tea and coffee. "If so" she said, "I had better put away your Dad’s Army tea mug!"
   And that reminded me that, about three years ago, the Porlock Amateur Dramatics Society was rehearsing to put on a couple of episodes of Dad’s Army in the village hall. The cast's uniforms had arrived, so they donned them and, for fun, were parading around the village "in character." They marched into the car park just as a coach entered. They advanced on the coach with our "Captain Mainwaring" character shouting, ‘Now see here, my man, you can’t bring that coach here. There is a war on." A somewhat panic stricken coach driver leant out the window and quietly said: "No, stop it and go away. This is a coach load of German tourists!"
   Ho hum!!

    

 Ian Macdonald (JRGS 1959-65) announces JRGS Reunion planning lunch...

An informal lunch to discuss plans for next year's JRGS 2020 Centenary Reunion of ex-Ruskin alumni, staff and friends will be held at the usual venue of The Surprise pub, 105 Upper Shirley Road, Croydon CR0 5HF, on Thursday, 2nd May 2019 at 12.30 for 13.00. 2015 Reunion.
   Please reply to my email address below by 23 April to let me know if you are attending, and with/without spouse/partner. Replies can go to either Richard "Tom" Thomas (JRGS 1957-64) or myself.
   There is parking at the side and rear of the pub. Also, Bus 466 runs from East Croydon railway station to Shirley, while the 130 runs from Norwood Junction railway station. I am also willing to pick up and take to/from the venue anyone living within five miles of venue and who has restricted mobility.
Ian Macdonald, Shirley, Surrey, March 2019 Email

Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65) addsAs many of you are aware, 2020 is the planned date for our next major JRGS Reunion. It marks the Centennial Anniversary of our school's founding at Scarbrook Road, Croydon, in January 1920, together with the 85th Anniversary of its move to Tamworth Road, the 75th Anniversary of the school achieving Grammar School status, and the 65th Anniversary of its relocation to the Upper Shirley Road site, close to The Surprise.

Ian Macdonald adds: The original link to Richard “Tom” Thomas included above was faulty and is now corrected. If you had tried that link to respond about attending the lunch, please use it again. Also note that we have extended the deadline to 23 April.

  

 Your Webmaster recalls guitar-playing school chums from the Sixties...

The other day I came across a video on Facebook of American guitarist Neil Levang playing "Ghost Riders In The Sky" on The Lawrence Welk Show in 1960. I also remember a guitar version by The Ramrods, recorded in late 1960 and featuring the sounds of mooing cattle, bronco cheers and cracking whips. The song made it into the UK Top 10, and was covered by UK band The Scorpions.
   While I was in either 3M or 5U, two fellow chums played together at my parent's house on the New Addington housing estate; there is an image somewhere of the three of us - including Grant Harrison (JRGS 1959-66) and Bob Seward (JRGS 1959-63) - with me playing a very battered Rossetti Solid Super Seven guitar with three pickups, shown above right. Grant taught me to play "Ghost Riders;" given time, I can still pick out the first couple of bars on my Squire Stratocaster.

Mel Lambert, Burbank, USA; March 2019 Email

Grant Harrison (JRGS 1959-66) adds: What an amazing old clip featuring an original Fender Strat and what looks like segregated white musicians, complete with statuesque chorus.
   I remember playing round Mel's house with Bob. He and I were in the Sound City Five, and then somebody put a note in my letter box asking if I would like to audition for a band in Thornton Heath called The Villeins. I never did find out who this was as they were a bit vague themselves. Anyway, I passed and we went on to play all around south London.
   They had a agent which really impressed me at 17 and we often supported better known bands, including The Mindbenders. We also used to play for the Saturday morning pictures at the ABC Gaumont in Thornton Heath. We would get there at 8.00 am on a Saturday morning, practice for an hour and then play for the youngsters until 9.30. We often sat down afterwards with an ice cream and watched the show. I vividly remember listening to the ABC minors song as we put our gear behind the screen.
   Over the years I've played with soul bands, punk bands, blues bands and with the Chicken Shed Theatre Company, played (mainly bass) at the Albert Hall, Sadlers Wells and the Hard Rock Cafe.
   I'm still playing now at 70 with a local band of seniors; still the same old stuff but even young kids find it quite retro! So from humble beginnings so much fun.

Robert Seward (JRGS 1959-63) adds: I remember it well and still have black and white photos of the trio! In fact, I can remember playing synchronised chords because we couldn't do all the chord sequences! One did C and Am, and another did F and G7. I've still got about 14 guitars - and rarely play them - but still do open-mic nights once a month. Good days!

John Byford (JRGS 1959-66) adds: Great story! It brought back memories of Grant and Rob bringing the Sound City Five to play at the St Edward's Youth Club in New Addington.

Roger Hall (JRGS 1959-66) adds: Lovely memories. Sadly, I never played a musical instrument while at school - only pencils and biros on any object I could tap on when doing my homework ... or not doing my homework!

ML Adds: And here are the images I refer to above, taken at my parent's house. Grant Harrison is pictured on the left, and Bob Seward on the right.

Grant Harrison adds: Great photos. I don't remember what the make of my guitar was, but it tuned well. I then traded it for an Egmond bass guitar first used with the Sound City Five.

 

 Terry Weight (JRGS 1959-66) reports on a BBC article about Roy Hodgson...

I have just spotted an article on the BBC Sports website about Roy Hodgson (JRGS 1958-65). Titled "The Premier League's oldest manager - by those who know him best," the article by Simon Stone recalls Roy's managerial career, and his current success as the Crystal Palace boss - his fifth Premier League club.
   Reportedly, only Mark Hughes (with six) and Sam Allardyce (with seven) have managed more teams. According to former England defender Gary Neville, Roy deserves to be recognised as "one of the great English coaches," Stone writes
.

Terry Weight, Herefordshire; February 2019 Email

 

 Brian Weller (JRGS 1957-64) reports on a BBC article about John Ruskin...

I truly enjoy catching up with all the news of my old school from the regular postings on The Mill.
   The Alumni may have seen a recent article published on the BBC website about the artistic legacy of John Ruskin. The article's author, Daisy Dunn, asks whether Ruskin was the most important man of the last 200 years. "In the bicentenary of his birth, it’s time we looked again at the forward-thinking and influential ideas of the great Victorian," she writes.
   "If we think of John Ruskin at all today," Dunn continues, "it tends to be as the buttoned-up Victorian who was so repulsed by his wife Effie Gray’s pubic hair that he could not consummate their marriage. The anecdote, which was actually invented in the 20th Century, has overshadowed the fact that Ruskin was one of the most influential figures in modern history, inspiring everyone from Charlotte Brontë to Mahatma Gandhi and the founders of the UK’s National Trust."
   In my first year at JRGS I was selected by the celebrated British composer Benjamin Britten to be a soloist in his opera Noyes Fludde, which had its premiere at The Aldeburgh Festival in 1957. As an 11 year old, it was quite an adventure performing as Ham, one of Noyer’s sons, with Michael Crawford as Jaffet, another son. Incidentally, due to all the time I spent away from Ruskin, with headmaster Mr. Lowe’s permission that first year, rehearsing in London and then spending over a month at Aldeburgh. I was then put in the lowest grade class, 2F, because of missing so much schooling. It then took me a couple of years of academic success to be finally allowed to join Mr. Field’s class, the gaining enough O and A levels to be admitted to the Birmingham College of Art and Design.
   BTW: I’ve been living in Willits, Mendocino County, California, since 1995. I really love it here in the Redwoods ... clean air, star-filled nights, and wonderful organic food that we grow in our community gardens. After working in 20 countries since 1980 as an organization development consultant and executive trainer, I’m enjoying life as a visiting professor at a couple of universities, making art, teaching meditation and supporting my community any way I can.
   I last visited the UK in 2012 for a reunion at The Royal School of Church Music at Addington Palace, where I was head chorister during my time at Ruskin; in a way it was a parallel educational existence.

Brian Weller, Willits, CA, USA, February 2019 Email

Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65) adds: A new exhibition at Two Temple Place in London focuses on John Ruskin's influence on Victorian culture, while also exploring his contemporary legacy. According to the venue's website, The Power of Seeing, which opened on 26 January and runs until 22 April, 2019, "showcases significant objects from Sheffield’s Guild of St George Ruskin Collection whilst also drawing on the rich collections of both regional and national public museums and galleries." Newly commissioned works including site-specific installations by Timorous Beasties and Grizedale Arts, a new moving-image piece by Dan Holds worth; contributions from artists Hannah Downing and Emilie Taylor also will be featured. The exhibition will be complemented by a further exhibition continuing the bicentenary celebrations at the Millennium Gallery, Sheffield, from 29 May to 15 September. Formerly known as Astor House, the venue is located on Temple Place near London's Victoria Embankment, one minute's walk from Temple station on the District and Circle underground lines.

   

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