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 Martin Burl (JRGS 1961-63) recalls A-Levels at the school and offers a poem…

John AdkinsDuring our recent table-tennis match at the Redhill Methodist Church Hall, Mike Etheridge (JRGS 1963-65) told me about The Mill. I'm afraid that my memories of the two years I spent there doing A-Levels are very hazy. I came with a great sense of inferiority from a secondary modern school. I scraped through a couple of A-Levels, and did the first year of a general science degree at West Ham, but dropped out and got a job.
   My most important influence came from Mr. John Adkins, my physics teacher, pictured right, who was involved in running Croydon Schools Camps - a Christian organisation - to which I was invited. I think I also went to Christian union meetings at school. John also ran Crusaders, a boy's bible class, which I joined later. At my first camp at Brighstone on the Isle of Wight, I was a tent officer, as I was a sixth former. I was responsible for morning devotions in the tent, yet was very ignorant of the bible. I was a choir boy at St. Luke's, Woodside, which was very high Anglo-Catholic! I became a real Christian at the camp at age 17, and it was the most important decision of my life.
   The following poem is about the famous windmill, which I hope will be of interest.

Roses, Rings & Parakeets

A windmill still stands on the site
where I once went to school.
Now houses, streets and gardens crawl,
extending left and right.

That windmill has some residents,
who flew in recently.
Their ancestors across the sea
had no malign intents,

but their descendants, thriving here,
although our climate’s cool,
don’t care for history at all,
and pecking without fear

at sails becalmed upon that mill,
to sharpen up their beaks,
breed consternation in antiques
who have to pay the bill.

These immigrants are colourful,
most numerous and shrill;
grey squirrels, knotweed, crayfish,
fill the spaces which they rule;

likewise these birds have joined that roll
of foreign creatures known –
Elstree, not Luna House has sown
them, breeding now beyond control.

As the JRGS Alumni may know, rose-ringed parakeets have made their home in the windmill on the site of the old John Ruskin Grammar School in Shirley, Croydon, which is now a housing estate. The birds have done about £50,000 damage to the sails.

Martin Burl, Woldingham, Surrey; November 2019 Email

Mike Etheridge (JRGS 1963-65) adds: I remember Martin telling me, with a smile on his face, about school trips to Croyde Bay in North Devon with John Adkins and Mr. Anthony Davey, and their excessive driving in Adkin's Morris 1000 and Davey's Triumph Herald. (I also remember a trip in the latter.)


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