Harrow County School for Boys

1971 - One Man’s Year - A Last Retrospect


NOSTALGIA is the prerogative of old age. And having been put out to grass this year, with my editorial reigns taken over by a team of young and headstrong colts, I have time to pause and reflect on the Jubilee Year as it seemed to me. I have kindly been allowed a brief space for my swan song, so this is my sad look back at what seems now to have been a watershed, as we slide pell-mell into our co-ed unselected future. All Comers welcome, provided you live this side of the tracks. Enroll here for Needlework. Pokerwork in the Prefects Room. But of course there won’t be any Prefects. In the New Democracy we shall all be equal.

The idea that last year saw the end of an era comes not only from the fact that our Death Sentence was announced during our Birthday Celebrations: nine members of the Staff left in July, making the School poorer by the loss of their eager participation in so many activities. And this term marks the departure of a group of boys who have also given so much to Harrow County.

Every few years, a generation arises that leaves its mark on the School, and this was one such. In Drama, by the founding and successful operation of Convergence, in the General Studies Library, in Debating, in the Christmas Entertainments, in the Jubilee Celebrations, as well as in academic work of the highest calibre, they have all done so much that it is difficult to be moderate in their praise.

Some of them started to serve the School in Form Two by helping in the Bookroom, and over the years they have transformed the dark cellar of A2 into a busting powerhouse of Private Enterprise, part committee-room, part box-office, part Slav Society store. They have advertised, typed and sold Gaytonians, amassed enormous dramatic surpluses, prepared exhibitions, indexed poems and made films. Without any apparent detriment to their GCE results, they have won County Scout Tennis Championships, and become Drama Editors of National Magazines.

Inspired by the Youth Theatre success of Francis Matthews, whose Hamlet is reviewed elsewhere, they have all ventured onto the stage. Sheer exhibitionism, their detractors will say; but in their own highly individual ways they have imprinted their personalities on audiences and committees alike. Frances Matthews not only founded Convergence, with Suzanne Finch, but he has been the driving force behind most of its successes ever since. His tact will be sorely missed.

The irrepressible Sewer Men, Clive Anderson and Geoffrey Perkins, with their pawky sense of humour and impromptu repartee, have supported him well. In "Happy Poison" and in the Jubilee Birthday celebrations they gave great joy. Clive does will in partnership: with Stephen Games in "The Audition" and "Black Comedy", and of course with Matthews in the breathtaking duel scenes in "Hamlet".

A newcomer to the boards this year was Matthew De Lange and although his jolly Thesius was not quite to my taste, his Rosencrantz was effective and his Fireraiser most effective and enjoyable.

Nigel Sheinwald organised the production of "Hamlet" as he had earlier run the advertising and selling of Gaytonian: his untiring energy and zest ensures success in whatever he touches. Philip Smith was to be seen in "Hamlet," even if he could not see much himself; but his real strength lay in his work with the Box-Office and with the cataloguing of the General Studies Library, two onerous tasks that he made his own; his efficiency will be hard to match. rarely was a Merit Award Tie more richly deserved.

Though his natural reticence would demur, Michael Portillo has long been the leader of this wild bunch of entrepreneurs, aesthetes, clowns and committee men. He too has dabbled in acting -- as a corpse last year among other parts -- but apart from his complete re-organisation of the Bookroom and his mammoth feat of typing the whole of last year’s Jubilee Magazine, he was also remarkable for his ability to make a profit on any School dramatic activity, and hi complete inability to score anything less than a Grade ‘A’ in the GCE. His selection as the British delegate to a CWEC Conference in New York next term is richly deserved.

To these names must be added the Finch sisters, Suzanne and Katie, and Ann Goff. These three have not been alone in working for Convergence but their drive, personality and charm have ensured that the first three years in the life of the new club were secure and exciting ones. It was Suzanne’s fiery determination that led to the foundation of the joint dramatic society; and Katie has done much to ensure its success by her acting in many delicious roles such as Mrs. Drude in "Inspector Hound", and by her costume design and set painting. Ann Goff has distinguished herself in acting, too, whether as a martial Warwick or as long-legged Messenger in "Antigone"; fewer will, perhaps, realise her immense contributions to the organisation of the Make-up Department. Her influence was felt, too, in committee work, where making-up was often very much needed.

To all these and others who have accompanied them, we offer our heartfelt thanks: thy have earned their place in the history of Harrow County, and we shall no doubt be able soon to look on their generation with awe and wistfulness.

 J. S. Golland

Gaytonian 1971

return HOME