Reminiscences of Alan (Tass) Taylor (HCS 1963-70)
I was at Harrow County from 1963 to 1970. I joined from Priestmead JM
Primary School with Graham Dawson, Philip Barnett, David Reast, and Brian Cunningham.
Particular buddies during my school career were Mike "Boris" Robinson (not
forgetting his younger brother "Little Boris"), David Passingham, Alan Kershaw,
and Don Murdie. Where are they now?
Cliff Meyler mentioned (in the Old Gaytonians Association Millenium Magazine - ed.)
being taught to sword fight for the School production of Macbeth. In fact the swords
used for practice were my father's and grandfather's dress swords. The fighting took large
chunks out of them. They were never meant to be used as two-handed broadswords. I
was Young Siward in a part that was so small many of my friends missed my entrance and
rapid death at the hands of Macbeth (Geoff Haines-Stiles). One night Geoff slipped and in
the process of killing me, the knife left a nice scratch along my nose. The only modern
day man with a scar from the Battle of Dunsinane. The use of blood frothing tablets
was a first for this production. One of the "dead" guys would be kicked
off the stage. I seem to remember he landed in a
blood frothing heap at George Cowan's feet. I think he got a detention as a result.
There were a series of photos in the corridor leading to the Hall showing all the school
plays. I have the dubious distinction of being one of the group of rejects from an Oxfam
advert as the Chorus of Oedipus Rex. Also on that photo, as one of Jocasta's
daughters is Philip Sallon, who ironically now is one of Boy George's inner circle.
Alex Buckland wrote about the CCF. I migrated from the army to the RAF very quickly
- anything to get away from RSM "Ducky" Thwaites. We had many day trips to
White Waltham. On the first one we went flying in Chipmunks. My pilot looped the loop for
me. He then asked what I thought of it. When I made no reply he asked if I was OK.
I said I was being sick. He said "Oh" and then "Would you mind
turning off your microphone".
The Navy gun was where all the aviation enthusiasts used to meet at breaks and lunch times
with their UHF radios to listen to the air traffic flying in to Northolt. How I wished I
had enough money to buy one of those receivers!
I too remember fondly Flt. Lt. Anderson as the Head of the RAF and my Art Master. I
noticed that Don Wilkie wrote the obituary (in the OGA Magazine - ed.). He was my
Spanish master. We had a really star pupil in Kim Rew. He was exceptional at all
languages, but with a very strong Bristol (I think) accent. Many people will
probably remember him in the Blues trio of Colin, Kim and Ian who were the
top of the bill at many a Chris Ent (Christmas Entertainments). In our Spanish set
we had someone with a very unfair advantage. His name was Michael Xavier Portillo.
My other claim to fame, vis-a vis Clive Anderson, was that he and I attended the same cub
pack outside school (4th Harrow Weald). We were both in Grey Six and I broke his arm in a
rope jumping game.
Hugh Skillen and Don Kincaid were my French masters. I always remember the language lab,
(was it B4 or B6?). You could hear when the master switched in to listen to you. As
soon as he did you just moved your mouth and made no sound. This would result in the
master tapping his own head phones to see if they were working.
Once the above-mentioned Colin Michaels was stopped in the corridor by a master, (who
shall remain nameless).
"Michaels have you a brother in the school?"
"What's his name?"
For German I was initially taught by Mr Attridge. A traditional approach to
languages! Every lesson was the same. "Welche Seite?" "Seite
vierundzwanzig" "Welche Absatz?" "Dritte Absatz".
Paul Roberts and Chris "Kipper" Paine would remember this. I saw
Chris once in London, where we were both working in banks in the City. The arrival of
"Wattie" Tyler was a breath of fresh air and certainly my marks in German
Colonel Bigham and Mr Neal. Happy biology memories. If you were to be caned by
the Colonel, a not infrequent occurrence, the secret was to bend down between the front
bench and the Masters bench. If you got it right, when the cane came sweeping down,
much of its force would be absorbed by the bench, rather than by your own rear end.
Jim Golland mentions Gerry Lafferty (in the OGA Magazine - ed.).
"Jock" always told us that Ian Fleming was a "durty, durty man"
and the reading of James Bond was strictly banned. Leading icons in English were
Richard Salter ("Dickie") and Stephen Games both referred to by Jago.
Stephen Wigzell was another name. He was my best man, when I married my wife, who
was a pupil at Harrow County Girls School (Jacqueline Moore).
Dr Simpson was frequently mentioned. His regime was initially off-set by the amiable Billy
Duke and later ably supported by George Cowan. How did he remember the name of every
boy in the school? One morning Dr S commented on the alarming rise in the
disappearance of cutlery from the school canteen to a silent and attentive school
assembly. At that moment a spoon was dropped on
to the floor in the balcony where the sixth form sat. The dramatic timing was
perfect. Who will ever forget the purge on "elastic-sided bootees" and the
many poor unfortunates who were made to stand at the front of the stage displaying their
unacceptable taste in fashion. It was my first experience of watching a catwalk show!
It was interesting to read that Nigel Scheinwald has a very senior position in
Europe. Perhaps our paths will cross. For the last 9 years I have been involved with the
single currency and the preparations for Monetary Union. From 1994 to 1998 I was in
charge of the settlement for all transactions denominated in the former ECU. Now I am Head
of Bank Relations at the Euro Banking Association in Paris.
Jago also refers to Donald Farrow. Dare I say it, but I think his brother John was the
brains behind the notorious publication "Slime". This satirical magazine,
which ran for all of one edition, attacked everyone and everything in the school
structure. I remember, on behalf of the school prefects, receiving the personal
apologies from the editors.
Finally rugby memories. Viv Edwards used to whip us on to new levels of exhaustion even
when our bodies had long since given up the fight. In particular I remember Phil Lloyd who
was a brilliant fast runner and physically strong, a sort of early Scott Gibbs. Phil was
Welsh too. Richard Salter used to play in the scrum and was often the subject of
Viv's favourite phrase to "stop seagulling".
I would be very happy to hear from anyone that still remembers me. My e-mail address
is firstname.lastname@example.org. My nickname at school was
Tass Taylor. How pathetic, but as Taylor is such a common name I could not think of
a suitable address name.