JRGS News Archive Page 59
JRGS Alumni Society

Archived News/Activities

- Page 59 - Dec 2009 thru Jan 2010 -

JRGS Alumni Society


 Geoff van Beek/Downer (JRGS 1962-69) displays his considerable artistic talents...

No schoolboy magazine, comic or even website, is complete without cartoons....
   Click on any thumbnail to view a larger version.

Mr. Lowe Mr. Cracknell Mr. Nunn Mr. Pearce

Mr. John "Joe" Lowe

Mr. William "Wally" Cracknell

Mr. Martin Nunn

Mr. Ronald "Puncher" Pearce

A note about the Mr. Lowe caricature: if you say his first name quickly, it even sounds like a product from the British Rubber Co. Ltd.
   If anyone has a request for other caricatures, just let me know!

Geoffrey C. van Beek, Rotterdam, Holland, January 2010 Email.

Mike Etheridge (JRGS 1963-65) adds: Excellent cartoons from Geoff, the sort of thing my youngest son has done in the recent past at Riddlesdown School by request.
   I especially like the one of "Puncher" Pearce which, I think, is a "Masterpiece."
   Or should that be a "Schoolmasterpiece" or, perhaps, a "Schoolmasterpearce"?

Mike Marsh (JRGS 1949-55) adds: With regard to "Puncher" Pearce's blackboard:
   If a+b=c, then (a+b-c)=0
   Only then can 4*(a+b-c)=3*(a+b-c), because 4x0=3x0.
   But you can't then cancel the zeroes to make 4=3.


 John Byford (JRGS 1959-66) reports the sad death of Michael Gibbs...

Michael Gibbs (JRGS 1960-67), died at home in Amsterdam on December 23rd, 2009, aged 60, after a long illness. Michael - pictured left in 2005 - grew up in New Addington, attended Fairchildes Primary School followed by seven years at John Ruskin Grammar School. He went on to become a leading European sound poet, an eloquent writer on digital art, an accomplished translator from Dutch into English and an important figure in European small press publishing. He was also a very good person who will be deeply missed by his family, and friends throughout the world.
   Michael’s time at Ruskin was as much about the alternatives as the predictable; he successfully passed eight O-Levels and left with A-Levels in English Literature, History and German. Perhaps surprisingly he first came to prominence as a very good long jumper and received due praise for achieving house points for Beta in the school magazine “enthusiasm without ability and practice, does not win cups, but there were some worthy results from... Gibbs” . High praise indeed from the House overseen by Mr. Smith!
   As he progressed through the school, Michael’s artistic side steadily came to the fore and his poetry achieved recognition; entertaining and witty was a delightful pastiche of Shakespeare’s Henry V speech before Harfleur, taking inspiration from the then Mods and Rockers Bank Holiday bust-ups in Margate and Brighton . Michael was the first boy to wear a Dada badge to school. As an alternative to being sent home with long hair, it was suitably intellectual.
   Intellectual yet full of good humour: on New Year’s Eve 1966 several of us braved the cold and joined in the Trafalgar Square celebrations. Not content with just being there, he and I jumped into the fountains (sadly the last year the fountains weren’t boarded up) and arrived at Les Cousins club somewhat wet. We gained admittance and were rewarded with hearing Paul Simon sing at 3 am. Michael always seemed to know someone who could get you into rather different parties in Croydon where Ska was the only music played on very loud sound systems and substances were available of which Mr. Lowe would not have approved.
   An early association with publishing alternative material was made with friends of Tony Elliott, founder of Time Out. Michael and I gave out free copies of Time Out in Hyde Park prior to the Rolling Stones concert. Hitchhiking in Europe in the summer of 1967 I missed the rendezvous with Michael at Rostock, perhaps fortunately for me as Michael was arrested in Istanbul and spent the night in an infamous Turkish prison. Ever the archivist, he managed to acquire a copy of the newspaper containing details of his arrest.

Life after JRGS

Michael read English and American Literature at the University of Warwick. He found it stimulating, not only for the heated differences of opinion with his English tutor - one Germaine Greer - but also for the contact he had with other visionary poets. During his time at Warwick Michael started Kontexts, a magazine of visual and concrete poetry. First published in 1969, a total of 10 issues were published until 1977, by which time Michael had moved to the Netherlands and was publishing other poets. Realistic as to the potential difficulties of being able to live solely on income from writing and publishing, he quickly learnt Dutch, initially teaching English as a foreign language and becoming an accomplished translator.
   Kontexts was followed by other publishing ventures. In 1978 he issued Deciphering America, a travelling collection of new poetries and artworks from Canada, USA and Mexico. A feature of Michael’s work was regular trawls of related publications appearing throughout the world as well as his intention to publish the works of artists and writers who were expanding the boundaries of linguistic expression, both verbally and visually. In more recent times this was expanded to include the now recognised and highly regarded field of digital art. Michael’s first major website remains a highly charged and innovative example of pushing back traditional boundaries. A particular favourite from the site is exlibris - a photograph of a section of his bookshelves. Click on a title and there’s a description of the item and sometimes a short piece on how he acquired it.
   Michael was fond of collaborating with others, whether in publishing, performance art or the creation of installations. Heaven and earth, in collaboration with Claudia Kölgen, focused on bungee jumping!, and was well received when shown at Camerawork (London) and Street Level (Glasgow). For many years Michael helped run Other Books and So, a space for exhibition and distribution of all manner of printed and sound material. He also became a much in demand speaker around the world.
   His reputation in the brave new world of the internet became greater when he started to write for the UK publication Art monthly (long available on the web). He was a regular and important contributor on digital art. His critical writing has attracted much praise not only for the quality of his writing but also for his encyclopaedic knowledge of the subject. This essay is a good example of his work.
   National and academic libraries throughout the world have acquired his publications since the late 1960s, many of them are worth far more than he would have envisaged when he commenced publishing. A large portion of his archive has been acquired by the Tate Gallery’s Department of Modern and Contemporary Art. The Dutch Royal Library (Koninklijke Bibliotheek, the National Library of the Netherlands) also received much of Michael’s digital work for use by future scholars.
   Michael had many friends around the world who will be saddened by his death at, in this day and age, a relatively young age. Our thoughts go out to his family, especially to Brenda, his mother, Gordon, Nicholas, Neil, David, Eva, Lonneke and June. Many years ago, probably over a beer or three, in Amsterdam we talked about his love of words, their place on the printed page, the spaces in between, the beauty of creating something new and different. Rest in peace, man of letters.

John Byford, Camberwell, London, January 2010 Email


 Bob Wane (JRGS 1945-53) seeks news of former schoolmates Rigden & Smithers...

It is somewhat nostalgic to read the various contributions from Alumni old and new. Pity we cannot get more "old" contributors. I have recommended the site to some of my old school chums, but they seem unwilling to take it further. C'est la vie!
   As I was ruminating in my chair watching the snow falling, I wondered whether I could put out a request to the Alumni for any news about what happened to Dane Rigden and Alan Smithers (JRGS 1952-53).
   I recollect they both joined us in the Science Sixth in 1952 from external school(s) and maybe were some of the first so to do. I have a very vague thought that Rigden eventually went to the States, but I am not sure. 

Bob Wane, Bedford, Beds January 2010 Email

Ernie Clarke (JRCS 1935-39) adds: I can sympathise with Bob Wane. I've been waiting for some time for just a word from any pre-WW2 students - but nothing comes!! So I'm nearly 86 now - but I can still hope.
   My sons cheered me up this past Christmas with the following dissertation on the four stages of man:
   1. You believe in Santa Claus.
   2. You don't believe in Santa Claus.
   3. You are Santa Claus.
   4. You look like Santa Claus.
Have a good day!

Tony Childs (JRGS 1947-53) adds: I agree it would be nice to hear from some more of our (pre-Windmill) generation.
   In answer to Bob's query, I also don't know what happened to Jameson Dane Rigden or Alan "Bodger" Smithers. As you say, I think Jim went to America. They both came to JRGS from Archbishop Tennyson School.
   Another ex-pupil I would like to hear of is John "Bunny" Warren, who also I think went to America.

Bob Wane replies: Great to hear from you and thank you very much for your response. I thought I was the only oldie left! Yes, it would be great to hear from some others and I would include Alan "Nunc" Webster to the list.


 Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) unearths a vintage article about Roy Hodgson...

1996 Spring - Croydon Reports article on Roy HodgsonI recently came across an old article on Roy Hodgson (JRGS 1958-65), dating from 1996, but of interest in view of his current success with Fulham FC, and also because it has a fair bit about John Ruskin school.
   The article is from a Croydon Council magazine called Croydon Reports, which was given to me by an ex-infant school colleague, Heather Harris née Parks (St Mark’s Infants, South Norwood Junior Girls, Ashburton Girls), who lived in Cromer Road, South Norwood.
   Heather still lives in Croydon and is in touch with ex-JRGS pupils Mike (Jack) Horner (1959-64) and Graham Fentiman (1950s-60s), who was best man at Heather’s wedding in 1972 to John Harris. Click on the thumbnail to view a larger version.

Paul Graham, Iver, Bucks, January 2010 Email


 David Preston (JRGS 1968-75) unearths a music program and his school reports...

I have discovered a number of old documents from my days at JRGS, including this program for the John Ruskin Dramatics production of Salad Days, which includes a sheet of last-minute cast changes for the night I went.
   Unfortunately, the program does not indicate what year the concert took place; I'm guessing around 1971, '72 or '73 - perhaps someone else knows? Click on thumbnail to view a larger version. And here for a combined PDF.

ML adds: Steve Saunders (JRGS 1968-75), who appeared as The Tramp, reports that the production was staged in the summer holidays of 1976, the year after he and Dave Preston left the school. Producer was Mr. Vernon Rees.

JRGS "Salad Days" program

JRGS "Salad Days" program

JRGS "Salad Days" program

JRGS "Salad Days" program

JRGS "Salad Days" program - last-minute changes

I have also unearthed copies of my various school reports from the first year/1969 through my fifth year/1973. I can't decipher a lot of the signatures. I seem to have started quite well, but went down hill until the 5th form O-levels. Click on any thumbnail to view a larger version.  And here for a combined PDF.

JRGS School Report

JRGS School Report

JRGS School Report

JRGS School Report

JRGS School Report

Cover page

Spring 1969

Summer 1969

Spring 1970

Summer 1970

JRGS School Report

JRGS School Report

JRGS School Report

JRGS School Report

JRGS School Report

Spring 1971

Summer 1971

Spring 1972

Summer 1972

Spring 1973

David Preston, Brisbane, Australia. January 2010 Email

Peter Hurn (JRGS 1967-73) adds: I had a look at the Salad Days programme to see whose names I recognised. I left in 1973, and I can recognise one name from my year - Julian Chenery - and one from the year below: Peter Ward. Which would suggest this production was held after I left - i.e. in 1974 or so.
   Also, the amount of girls in the cast exceeds the numbers there while I was there - or perhaps I just didn't notice them! That would fit in with David Preston's own dates.


  Anne Smith (JRHS/JRC teacher/principal 1970-99) reports an MBE for John Rowlands...

1967 1981

John Rowlands, who retired from John Ruskin in July 2009 after 43 years service, was awarded an MBE in the recent Queen's New Years Honours List. The citation read: "John Rowlands, Economics Teacher, John Ruskin Sixth Form College, Croydon, London. For services to Education." An ex-pupil master-minded the award.
   John was Head of Economics, Head of Sixth Form, Head of the Faculty of Economics, Business Studies and Mathematics, Assistant Principal with a number of responsibilities. When it was necessary to develop the Business Studies courses in the college, John became a Business Studies teacher too, and was assiduous in learning and presenting these new courses; later he added Accounting to his repertoire. As well his teaching skills, John will be remembered for his example in service to others, high personal integrity, punctuality and sheer unremitting hard work. More

Anne Smith, Croydon, Surrey December  2009 Email

Roger Adcock (JRGS 1963-69) adds: The Alumni might also like to see news reports of John Rowlands' MBE in The Croydon Guardian and TimePlan websites. John was one of three teachers to be included on this year's New Year Honours List.

David Scovell (JRGS 1967-74) adds: John Rowlands was the best teacher I ever had. He taught me in Commerce to O-Level and Economics to A-Level. It was the most useful education that I could have had in later life and it was enjoyable to go to lessons. When there was an issue he was the only teacher that I could talk to.
   We had an issue at the end of term in the Sixth building which involved filling condoms with water. John got a little bit angry with the joviality and he banned me from going out of school. I am not sure whether I hit him with a water-filled condom or not. But he was big enough to come back and apologise, and that counts a lot.
   He is a person that I won't forget.

Croydon Advertiser - 8 Jan, 2010Graham Donaldson (JRGS 1962-69) adds: In case the Alumni haven't seen it, there was quite a prominent article about Mr. R's MBE in a recent Croydon Advertiser, shown right.
   Click on thumbnail to view a larger version.
   I was one of John's very first economics students as he joined Ruskin in September 1966, which is when I entered to sixth form. A truly well deserved award, I'm sure.
   My thanks to Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) for carefully scanning the cutting for me.

John Heath (JRGS 1969-71) adds: John taught me "A"-Level economics from 1969 to 1971.
   What I most remember about him is his energy and dedication. He was always willing to go the extra mile to make a point clearer to a student who was having difficulty understanding. He had great panache and was always coming up with telling and amusing anecdotes. I was in Peru on a mission in 2008 and I remember emailing him from my hotel bedroom that I had suddenly remembered his grave announcement in one class that the Peruvian economy was founded on guano.
   I believe he was an undergraduate at LSE and seem to remember him talking fondly about being lectured by Richard Lipsey (author of the text book we were using - and which I was still referring to many years later). John and I had another email exchange recently about how the wheel had come full circle. When John was teaching me in 1971 the Keynesian consensus was starting its long slide. People were asking why we had inflation and low growth at the same time: they weren't supposed to be bedfellows according to some readings of the standard model. (It was from John that I first heard the word "stagflation"). Well, almost 40 years on, Keynes has been rediscovered and we are suddenly remembering that running a budget deficit might be a legitimate response when the bottom falls out, and the "animal spirits" of the capitalists are flagging.
   I was extremely pleased to hear that John was awarded the MBE for his services to teaching. For the great commitment he has shown he deserves every honour that is on offer and I wish him the very best in the years ahead.
  Incidentally, I was only at Ruskin for "A"-Levels from 1969 until 71. Before that I was at Ingram Secondary Modern for Boys in Thornton Heath, having failed my Eleven Plus. The other day I was amused to discover belatedly from the Internet that Ingram featured as one of the 18 Worst Schools in the country, according to a list drawn up at the beginning of the Blair administration; it was shut down in 1997.


 Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65) attends an Alumni Meeting in Coombe Gardens...

During a whirlwind visit to England to celebrate the holidays with my family, I managed to squeeze in a trip to Croydon to meet up with some members of The JRGS Alumni. Our chosen venue was Coombe Lodge, not far from the former JRGS school location on Upper Shirley Road; the discussions ranged wide and far, encompassing the current status of secondary education, the fate of the former school premises, and our hopes for the future.
   We also got to exchange a bunch of silly jokes, and generally behave in a far-from-adult way!
   From left-to-right: Mike Etheridge (JRGS 1963-65); John Byford (JRGS 1959-66), Anne Smith (JRGS teacher and principal 1970-99); Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65); Merelyn Davis, Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) and Roger Adcock (JRGS 1963-69).


A JRGS Alumni Gathering at Coombe Lodge
Here is the group before ingesting a few adult cocktails...

A JRGS Alumni Gathering at Coombe Lodge... and afterwards, following the opening of a few Christmas Crackers.

JRGS School Magazines
Roger Adcock has also loaned me the school magazines that he discovered recently amongst his father's papers, dating from December 1936, April 1938 and July 1938, and which are now available on the website. Roger's father, Brian Arthur Adcock, attended JRCS from 1931 to1936/37.
For comparison, I included above a copy of a smaller-sized magazine that dates from 1959, the year I
joined JRGS, and which was given to me last year by Alan Wilson (JRGS 1957-62).

Mel Lambert, Burbank, CA, USA, December 2009 Email


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