The Goliaths Who Taught Us
Reminiscences of Bill Walker (1948-53) about the Staff
I can’t remember what I had for breakfast
And of yesterday I’m unaware;
But I can recall six decades ago at Harrow
And the masters who taught us there.
The teachers at Harrow County,
From nineteen forty-eight to fifty-three,
Had many peccadilloes
As you shall shortly see.
Most of them were talented
And some were not much fun;
But none were fazed by teenagers,
Especially those who’d faced the Hun.
Dr Bradley tried to teach us English,
But his sanity was on the brink;
His antics fuelled many anecdotes
And the boys all called him “Twink”.
Was it Mr Campbell,
Who had the fist of wood?
He used to bash boys’ heads with it
As often as he could.
Joe Brister was a gentleman
Into us, maths he tried to cram;
He called me “Johnnie Walker”,
Because I think he liked a dram.
When a boy moved a desk in the classroom
Killer King was heard to say,
“If you’d studied the laws of friction boy
You’d find another way”.
George Thorn knows my father
My father knows George Thorn;
“Look he’s feeling that boy’s buttocks,
His mother I must warn”.
“Every time I open my mouth,
Some fool is heard to speak”,
A remark by Mr Groombridge
Made the class with laughter shriek.
The headmaster was a Scotsman
He would look you squarely in the eye;
But Dr Simpson caused great hilarity
When he pronounced the letter “J”.
He was keen on cap, tie and blazer
School uniform you had to wear;
If you were caught out not wearing it,
A detention you had to bear.
Mr Morgan was a large man,
We often saw him on the train;
In the Latin class he would scare me
At least now and again.
Travelling to school on his motorbike
Was our RSM, Johnnie Carr;
He tooted the girls when passing;
What a character and a star!
He was an assistant in the chemistry lab
And on parade carried a big stick;
He kept the CCF on its mettle
And was up to every trick.
I can’t leave out Major Bigham
From Dumfries, he was another Scot;
He was CO of the cadet force
And with ARS was seen a lot.
Captain Dougie Allan
Was adjutant of the CCF;
Whilst the charming Mr Bomford
At the weekend was a ref.
For geography there was Mr Heaton
He taught us quite a lot;
“If snow melts off your roof quickly
Your loft is far too hot”.
Gerwyn William was our hero
For Wales he got thirteen caps;
He would have been even more popular
Had he played for England, perhaps.
Mr Amos we called “Swanny”,
He took rugby and PT;
Although he seemed quite old
He was still as fit as a jumping flea.
When playing rugby at Watford Road,
Dan Maskell always had a stick;
If you didn’t pack down low enough
He’s whack your backside quick.
Amongst the scientific teachers,
There was of course Spadger Heys;
When standing in the playground
We tried to avoid his gaze
Up would come his stick
“Yes, I want one of you two boys;
Go and stand under the clock
And don’t make any noise”.
Trying to look unobtrusive,
You would be standing there,
Studying your shoelaces carefully
Wary of the approaching “Square”
ARS would sweep up the stairs,
Wearing a terrible frown;
“I take a very dim view of this, boy”,
And would stride off in his gown.
In the fifth we needed a careers adviser,
Enter the not-very-helpful Mr Venn,
“Can you help me find an apprenticeship?”
“Yes, but I can’t tell you when”.
“Spider” Webb took us for tech drawing;
Career direction from him I got;
Instead of what I’d planned,
Engineering became my lot.
Mr Devonauld had a plimsoll,
Which was frequently in use,
To whack miscreants’ backsides with it;
It was blatant child abuse
Charlie Crinson, Beaky Fooks
Whiffy King and Harry Mees,
We were very fortunate
To have great teachers such as these.
I remember French dictation
With Mr Whiffy King;
We used to write it down
But didn’t understand a thing!
When Beaky Fooks took English
He would criticise our prose,
What he would have made of this poem
Heaven only knows.
Whether you loved or hated them
And even if they gave you strife;
They were very important people
Who influenced the rest of your life.
So with the benefit of hindsight
What did I get from HCS?
“A grooming in the basics
And the key to life’s success”.
27 June 2010