Reminiscences of Monty Maizels 1934-39...for I dipt into the past (Nosynnet Drol, Derfla)
I dipped into the HCS website at random (not Random Williams) and found much to stimulate the memories.
It is a pity that there is not a wealth of input from pre-war Gaytonians, because it seemed to me that caning was the exception rather than the rule, and would have been commented on as such by all of us if a classmate were "for it".
I went through almost 5 years without getting the stick. Although I thought it was a near thing once when the headmaster put his head round the door during the momentary absence of Hippo Jones and caught my deskmate and me laughing out loud over the pronunciation of the Latin "causas". We were directed to await him outside his office, and spent a half-hour trying to think of a plausible reason for our hilarity. When Randy eventually arrived, he merely dismissed us. I suppose he thought the suspense was enough punishment.
45-minute detentions were another animal entirely and seemed to be handed out indiscriminately. Yet impression and reality must have been some distance apart, since a day's punishment for the school's total misdemeanours didn't produce enough bodies even to half-fill the detention room. The average encountered on my naughty days would have been six to ten. On the whole I was a quiet and submissive student but occasionally would indulge in an outburst of cheek, which might have been seen as giving the cue to unbridled excess on the part of the entire class and was therefore firmly nipped in the bud. My first detention was on my very first day. Our Latin master in 2A (as well as Form Master) was Wiffy* King, who was declaiming "O Graeci". The innate rhymester within me, which took at least a further decade to unleash itself to any creative purpose, burst forth in a cheeky: "Oh, crikey!". I think I managed to avoid any further dets. from WFK until Form 5, when I was translating aloud a rather lengthy passage from a French novel by Alexander Dumas, I think. I was negotiating the text pretty well and, intoxicated by my competence, I rendered the last sentence, "le Duc rendit son ame", as "the duke kicked the bucket". Ignoring the goals I had already kicked to the glory of France, Wiffy* awarded the penalty against me saying "you can kick the bucket in detention for 45 minutes!"
(* Ah, yes, the asterisks ... and the aspirates. I notice that younger pens than mine refer to him as "Whiffy", a sobriquet one would expect to be more suited to a Chemistry master. In fact, his given name was Wilfred, and the "h" consequently superfluous.
George Thorn was a teacher I could take or leave ... I was never going to be a genius at Chemistry anyway. However, I think I owe a significant part of the development of my musical taste to him, and the gramophone console which stood in the rear corner of the Chem Lab upstairs. (I can't recall whether that was the New or the Old, nor whether the gram was acoustic or electric). Here I heard for the first time Mendelssohn's 4th Symphony and Dvorak's 9th among others. There was even a Gramophone Club which met on some Friday evenings. Mr. Thorn, who must have been a rolling stone since he gathered no nickname that I know of, was a thorough musician and had the gift of imparting enthusiasm for the music itself, although I found the formal classes in which we copied down the dates and birthplaces etc of the Classic Greats dead boring. And writing the stuff out on the blackboard must have been equally tedious for him!
I didn't encounter "Spadger" Heys as a teacher until Lower Sixth Science when I failed Physics dismally. He struck me (oops, wrong word!) ... impressed me as being a totally inoffensive person. However being small of stature, having a limp, and mostly encountered in the somewhat forbidding surroundings of that lower corridor may have given him a somewhat sinister aura in the eyes of whoever coined the nickname.
As appetite is said to grow with eating, so it seems that memory grows with attempts to recollect. I just hope this proves nutritious to the reader and is not mere fibre!
(Since the above was written two weeks ago, you could possibly extend my metaphor uncomfortably to suggest that it had already progressed a fair way through the digestive system.)