JRGS News Archive Page 28
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Archived News/Activities

- Page 28 - Oct thru Nov 2005 -

JRGS Alumni Society

 

Lack of space prevents our including the following items on the main News Page, but here are some interesting
events/comments from the past several months.

  

 Brian Thorogood (JRGS 1951-56) remembers media icons of the 1950s ...

Wick Summer Gala

A recent image

By the time we reached the third form, boys were aware of major media figures of various disciplines, and a certain amount of punning and amusing comparisons were made of members of class 3M (1953-54).

   Both Roy Scott and myself were keen ballroom dancers and were affectionately referred to as "Victor Sylvesters". Jazz enthusiasts were called Glenn Miller or Stan Kenton and, if drums were mentioned, Gene Krupa was alluded to. One boy had an interest in Dixieland Jazz, but knowledge of this specialty was relatively absent, hence no nickname was given. Frankie Lane 78 rpm records were being collected. This was a year or so prior to the Bill Haley and Elvis Presley recordings of 1956/57.

   Film stars, of course, were well noted. Scott had a crush on petite Debbie Reynolds after seeing "Singing in the Rain" at the Thornton Heath Granada. Older Davidov (later to become Head Boy) went to see "Abbott and Costello meet Jekyll and Hyde" on his 16th birthday along with Scott’s elder brother. The film carried an X-rated certificate, which precluded the under 16s. Marilyn Monroe, Brigitte Bardot and James Dean were all icons. I went with Vic Bivand to see Norman Wisdom in "Trouble in Store" at the Norwood Junction Astoria.

   For sporting enthusiasts of our class, Johnny Leach and the Rowe Twins were likened to the keen school table tennis player Stewart. Billy Wright of Wolverhampton and Stanley Matthews were football heroes. Then there were the Bedser Twins for cricketing types like Lee. Gordon Pirie, Chris Chataway and Roger Bannister were on everybody’s lips during the 1953 annual sports day, with hopeful four-minute runners in the mile distance race. The senior Pike was called Reg Harris for his cycle racing skills. Keen swimmers such as Baylis were tagged Johnny Weissmuller, who played Tarzan in the movie films of that era.

   Boys concerned with their bodies and muscle building talked of Charles Atlas and his dynamic tension technique. And, yes, some of us had by now heard of Dr. Kinsey and his sexual reports on the human male and female – all from liberated America – very naughty!

   I wonder if school fellows today talk of their heroes? Boasting was inadmissible, of course. Bivand used to call any boy caught bragging “modest” – in reversible terminology!

   Incidentally, only two boys owned motorcycles with a licence to drive from 1951 to 1956, and in that same period only two affluent older boys owned cars. Davidov, our School Captain, drive a Morris Minor, and a sixth former at the Shirley Road school had a Ford “sit up and beg” Anglia. Roy Scott passed his driving test first time during 1956 but never owned a car then, although he did borrow one to take his girlfriend to the last end of term dance for our year.

   If anyone knows the address or whereabouts of Roy Scott, I should be keen to contact him. I last heard he was managing a public house in Norbury, south London.

Brian ("Bone") V Thorogood, Willowbank, Wick, Scotland KW1 4NZ. November 2005

  

 Mike Etheridge (JRGS 1963-65) reflects on the hand feeding of wild animals ...

ML notes: Back in August, Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) provided scans of the March 1958 school magazine. He pointed out that the edition carried a story about the unusual fate of a poisoned fox, and queried whether a school nowadays would take such an interest in the fate of a wild animal. Mike recalled a similar incident, and writes:

Just to pick up on the dead-fox issue, I remember seeing a fox for the first time on a fishing trip to the river Medway in Ashurst, Kent, in 1963, when I was about 15 years old. As far as I was concerned, it was a very special event. But, of course, over more recent years town foxes have increased in numbers and are commonly visible during the day and night; these days, they do not tend to warrant any special mention.

Badger   As they have been so numerous, I have tried to hand feed foxes in my garden in Sanderstead and, to date, have not been successful, although a few foxes have often waited in the garden to be fed - but I have never allowed me any closer than three to four yards. However, I have been quite amazed this year to have been able to hand-feed a badger from our back door, and have attached a photograph (right) of the animal - plus my left thumb! - taking a crust of bread, which it always does quite gently.
   Below are more images of the badger. As can be seen, he/she is becoming perhaps a bit too tame for comfort. I have been advised by the Mammal Society that hand feeding of wild animals is not a good idea as the animals may neglect their normal feeding habits. So far the friendly badger retains the ability to take food from the hand plus excavate my garden for worms, which is quite evident in one of the photos in which the badger is shown on a wet evening with its nose covered in mud. Click on any image to view a larger version.

Badger Badger Badger Badger Badger

   For me, hand feeding of wild creatures has probably followed on from my two years spent on the JRGS site at Shirley where many of us would feed the grey squirrels with sandwich bread or whatever during the lunch breaks. Often there were confrontations between the squirrels and the resident crows/rooks for the bread, as I remember.
   Other related creature feeding events happened for me during the summer holidays in 1964 and 1965, when I carried out experiments with hand-feeding wasps! Prior to the experiments I had read a book at JRGS entitled "In Defence of Wasps", which described how wasp colonies functioned, and also their benefits to include the killing of caterpillars and blue/green bottle flies etc. Also at JRGS we had the regular issues of the New Scientist magazine. I can remember reading in one issue how a professor (of wasps?!) had managed to hand feed wasps with honey.

   Armed with this information - and totally bored during the 1964 holiday - I remember dropping a live caterpillar in front of a wasp that was dive bombing various insects on rows of flowering Seedum plants in my parent's garden. The wasp immediately grabbed and murdered the caterpillar, which it butchered into portable lengths and, as described in the book, presumably carted off the booty to its nest to feed the next generation of wasp grubs. I witnessed the whole of the gruesome scene and then took my attention elsewhere after the last section of caterpillar had been transported. However, from that point onwards the wasp pestered me for more insects on a "minute by minute"/"day by day" period for about two weeks until the start of the 1965 school term. It would eventually rest on my finger tip and demonstrate how to kill and dismember a bluebottle to retain only the fly's abdomen for the wasp nest.

   None of this impressed my mother or twin brother, who was also pestered for insects by the wasp!. I repeated the experiment in 1965 after leaving JRGS and prior to starting work, and eventually had two wasps that would confront me for food. This was somewhat hair raising when they both arrived together and often fought for the unfortunate insects.

   I have recently been reminded of these experiments when leaving a swimming pool in Oakhampton Devon. A wasp flew out of a privet bush and was grappling with a crane fly. Both landed on the pathway. I had to restrain my two children from killing the wasp and eventually they witnessed the natural ritual of the crane fly's sacrifice!
   By the way, we have had no sparrows in the garden for several years but this year the ring-necked green parakeets have moved in. They are quite numerous in Shirley, and probably occupy and roost in Shirley Hills.

Mike Etheridge, Sanderstead, June 2005. Email

ML comments: During my time as a Laboratory Technician at JRGS from 1965 to 1966, I recall seeing a fox skeleton in Mr. Green's Preparation Room at the end of the Science Corridor, adjacent to the greenhouse. The left femur or upper hind leg was heavily calcified and thickened, as if the bone had either been shattered in a trap, or badly injured by buckshot or similar. It was a magnificent specimen, I remember, and carefully mounted in a standing position within its vitrine case. Biology Master Dennis Green was justifiably proud of it..

ParakeetPaul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) adds: As a keen natural history observer, Mike's comments are fascinating.
   Those ring-necked green parakeets (pictured left), natives of India and Africa, were first seen in the UK in the Thames Valley between Windsor and Richmond just over 30 years ago and are now spreading steadily. Richmond Park has huge flocks of them. We see them regularly around our house (Iver, between Slough and Uxbridge) and I have even seen one try and eat from a wire cage peanut feeder. They seem quite at home, almost aggressive, and I predict that they could become a pest in the future like Canada Geese did.

Mike Etheridge replies: Regarding Paul Graham's comments on the parakeets, I can report that I have had up to four on my garden bird feeder.

An Update Mike Etheridge from on December 17:

I call the fox pictured right "Shadow Fox" because he will often sit a few yards from the badger that I hand feed.
   The badger re-appeared just after I took this photo - I had not seen it for several nights.

Tonky and Fox

 

 Anne Smith, a former JRGS/JRHS teacher, adds some historical staff details ...

Here are some Bits and Pieces for the School Masters and Mistresses page:

  • Colin Chambers taught English.

  • Both of Brian Cook's sons came to Ruskin in the Sixth Form and played in the orchestra; the elder, Andrew, also taught physics at Ruskin for some years, and Peter became a teacher in Bromley.

  • Ken Cripps did not retire until some time in the Seventies.

  • Tony Davey is now fully retired and works tirelessly for his local church; his wife Ann taught at Ruskin after he had left.

  • Dennis Green did in fact die the week before he was due to retire, of a heart attack.

  • Terry James made several return visits after he had become white-haired and looked like Father Christmas. He had a habit of embracing male ex-colleagues such as John Rowlands in the corridor, to the amazement of students.

  • Ken Maggs also taught World Studies, French and Social Studies when Latin declined.

  • George Manning was later headmaster of Ashburton Boys' and, after retirement, taught part time at Monks' Hill.

  • Chris Marsden was still at Ruskin when I retired in 1999.

  • Walter McElroy was educated at Berkeley, Northern California, and died in Istanbul.

  • William Patterson, the fourth headmaster, came from Purley Boys, where he was Deputy Head. Originally from the north east, he was a pilot in the RAF before entering teaching (Geography, naturally). He retired in December 1989.

  • Charles Peacock became blind as a result of his diabetes but continued teaching Geography and also Geology.

  • Len Probert, in addition to Metalwork, was also responsible for Careers.

  • John Ratcliffe left to teach in Cyprus, but had to return after the division of the island.

  • David Rees was long remembered for his antagonism to the comprehensive system, saying on one occasion, "I am a teacher not a social worker."

  • John Rowlands was a member of the Senior Management Team of the college for some time and, before that, Head of Sixth Form.

I plan to update details of which staff were at the school when I joined in 1970, but will leave that to another time.
   By the way, I was at the school from 1970 until 1999, serving as Senior Mistress, Deputy Head and then Principal; Mr. Lowe used to introduce me to people as "my senior mistress."
  [ML adds: Anne joined the school from Selhurst Grammar School for Girls, and is pictured left in an image taken in 1992 with members of the John Ruskin Sixth-Form College governing body and staff, to celebrate the completion of the new school building in Selsdon Park Road. Ann and I are currently exchanging emails; expect a longer essay on her recollections from 29 years at the school - and experience as the fifth headteacher/principal - in the very near future.]

Ann Smith; November 2005. Email

  

 Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65) re-discovers "Bygone Croydon" memories...

Compiled from a unique collection of amateur film - and available on VHS and DVD formats - "Bygone Croydon" provides a nostalgic look at life throughout the famous borough. Much of this archive material was taken by local cine enthusiasts, who captured the essence of Croydon and surrounding areas.
   Highlights include Royal Visits, The War Years, Croydon Airport, Fire Brigade, Reedham School, Life at Healthfield, Millenary Celebrations, Redevelopment during the Sixties, plus a nostalgic look at trams, trolley-buses and steam trains. One of 40 available titles, the video was produced in 1995 by Anita Bowerman, and is narrated by Chris Champion.

More information from Bygone Films, Doncaster; 01709 869777.

Sample images (click to access larger versions):

North End buses Ponies in Kennards Trolley Buses

 Mel Lambert, Burbank, CA, USA; November 2005 EmailKennard's Donkey

Mike Marsh (JRGS 1949-55) adds: I certainly used to ride the ponies in Kennards!
   I believe they were just down the corridor from the paper dress-pattern department, where my mother used to obtain her patterns regularly.
   Does anyone know the cost of the Bygone Croydon tape?

ML replies: Kelkoo is selling the VHS video of Bygone Croydon for £11.04, with free UK delivery.
  And I, too, can claim to have ridden the donkeys in Kennards' covered walkway at the rear of the store, adjacent to Frith Street. The picture shown right was taken by my father in the early Fifties.

 

 Paul Winter (JRGS 1959-62) delivers the promised "Trouserless Prefects" image ...

Prefects 1960Paul Gurney has just given me his copy of the "trouserless" prefect's photo - a trifle faded and with a stain on the front. (Inadequate fixing by my younger self?)
   Click on the image shown left to access a larger version.
   As a keen member of the photographic society, I was delegated to the task of taking the official photo for the school magazine. I don't know if I was in the Fifth form (in which case these are the 1960 Prefects) or the Lower Sixth (1961). Perhaps when the prefects are identified, this will emerge.
   After I had taken about five photos, the accompanying member of staff said "That's OK" and I think I just hung around for a while. I was then "summoned" to take an unofficial one! They all seemed quite willing to do it and, as far as I could see, no coercion was used!
   The photo was taken and then there seemed to be a lot of consternation in the ranks. Evidently somebody's trousers had gone missing! A solution was devised - a whole gaggle of them surrounded the poor unfortunate and walked him into the school. On seeing the first member of staff, they all parted to let him let him gaze upon the trouserless one! (It must have been one of the more understanding members, because nothing came of it.)
   The "Photo" became common knowledge, but the print run was strictly controlled. (My life was on the line you must understand!) I ran off a very few copies for my best friends like Paul, but the rest went solely to the Prefects.
   The Staff (collectively) came to hear whispers about it and I faced rigorous questioning by Mr. Rees, but I did not, I'm afraid, tell him the truth! I remember showing a copy to Mr. Murray - which demonstrates how we held him in such high regard - but we knew our secret was safe.
   The full-size 1.2 MB original JPEG file can be found here: Prefects. (When I find the original negative, I'll be able to put up a better scan.)

Paul Winter, Ceredigion, Wales; November 2005. Email

Peter Wilson (JRGS 1956-63) adds: If my memory serves me correctly this isn't the ORIGINAL "Trouserless Prefects" photo. There was an earlier one of the Prefects of that year taken, I think, out on the playing field beyond The Mill. It included Graham Beales, for one, I'm pretty sure, and was posted on the notice-board inside the Prefects Rooms for some while.
   In a week or so I'll ask Graham what he remembers of it. He currently in the UK for the funeral of one of my chess-friends (no connection with the old school), who died recently aged only 53.

Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) adds: The wall might well have been near The Surprise public house car park, as the look of the buildings and age of wall is about right. But that part of the school is a blank spot in my memory.
   Weren't there houses on the left of the sports field beyond The Mill - what we used to called the Mill Pitch? - as you stand with your back to the school?
   The side of the field I'm thinking about is the one running from the long- and high-jump pits to near the metal/wood workshops. In fact, if you look in front of the prefects, you can see what appears to be a long jump run up.

ML adds: I think you might be correct, Paul. This does look like the wall that was to the left/east of the Mill Pitch as you look south away from the former school site. If that is true, the sun is coming from the east... which means that this picture was taken mid-morning, I suppose.

Paul Winter replies: I come up with the original "Trouserless Prefects" photo and already somebody questions its provenance! This is the GENUINE article - I was there; I took it! (When I discover the negative, I'm certain there are two or three takes and this was the best of them.)
   As far as I know, this was a first and only time this was done and it was my photo that was put up in the Prefect's Room. That's where Mr. "Rhino" Rees discovered about it, although I think he never saw it!
   What I remember is walking behind The Windmill - not that far - and there was a wall between our grounds and next door (a private house?). I remember the prefects taking off their trousers almost on the other side of The Mill, out of sight of the school.

           

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