Do you remember?
Over the coming weeks and months we will be featuring stories submitted by OWs recalling memories of their time at school. To begin with, two articles which were featured in part, in this year’s Wulfrunian are reproduced in full here.
Firstly; Geoffrey Nutting (WGS 1947-55) has written a revealing and poignant piece about his life as a person with Asperger’s Syndrome and how his time at WGS prepared him for the journey ahead. To read his article go to Only Connect.
Then, Ian Elliot (WGS 1959-65) offers some recollections of starting at WGS in the late 1950s: Recollections
Do you remember… is a section specifically catering to anyone who has ever bumped into a former school friend and spent time reminiscing about days gone by.
Now the memories that emerge might involve trying to remember who sat behind you in third year history, or ‘what was that song at number one for about twenty weeks the summer we did our O Levels!’ Whatever your memories / questions/ revelations, we would like you to share them – with us – and other OWs. To prompt you we will be highlighting some of the key events from significant years.
To begin with we’re focusing on an iconic year – 1966: for English football fans a year to remember (and one that has haunted them ever since). But apart from that one Wembley afternoon, do you also remember…
…in 1966 the average price of house in the UK was £3,840, while a gallon of petrol cost 5 shillings (or 25 new pence)
- England defeated Germany to win the World Cup Final.
- Harold Wilson and the Labour party wins the British General Election
- The tragedy of the Aberfan disaster in South Wales
- Cassius Clay Defeats Henry Cooper in two title fights in London
- Tom Jones spent seven weeks at number one with ‘The Green Green Grass of home’, other chart toppers included
• Keep on runnin’ – The Spencer Davis Group
- The Beach Boys – Good Vibrations
- The Beatles – Yellow Submarine / Eleanor Rigby
- These boots are made for walking – Nancy Sinatra
On TV we watched…
- Softly Softly
- The Frost Report
- The Monkees
- Till Death Do us Part
…and at the cinema
- A Man for all Seasons
- Born Free
- Fantastic Voyage
- The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
- Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf
- 500,000 US troops are stationed in Vietnam
- The space race hots up: the Soviet Union lands Luna 9 on the Moon in February and the US follows in June with the Surveyor 1’s soft moon landing
- Indira Gandhi is elected Prime Minister of India
And here are some of your memories
1966.. ah yes, the year when (as Christopher Martin then, prior to a change of name to Payne) I started at the Alma Mater.
Mention of the fact that this was the year Chairman Mao launched his cultural revolution in China, inspire recollection of an essay I submitted which was to land me in deep trouble and a ticking off in the head’s office no less. Basically it occurred to me that, were a nation such as China ever to harness its energies and industrialise along the lines of the West, they would soon become a Superpower to be reckoned with…..ooops!..I was labelled a communist sympathiser and grilled rigorously lest my theories were more than speculative! Suffice to say, history has proven my theorising was correct and I hope that whichever master it was who dressed me down is still alive to recall how wrong he got it! Ultimately my Classics education stood me in good stead. It may not have been the avenue to a University place but next month I retire from the Police after 30 years, with a respectable pension and a very pleasant (if modest!) place in the country which suits me fine! So…if John Middleton, John Aston, John Martin (JC) or Colin Pettet or anyone else who knew me then wonders what happened to me…there’s your answer!
Chris Payne (formerly Martin) OW 1966-72
1966, my entry into the 2nd year, form tutor “Jack” Siveter. Although he had a reputation of being one of the Devil’s henchman you could not find a more fair, Christian minded person if you tried.
I remember him handing out apples (English Coxes), from his own trees, to our Form (Upper 2A). His wonderful saying (when teaching Maths, his subject) “Little boys make BIG mistakes with BIG numbers”. Then, when he resided over “Detention”. He would hand out pieces of 1/8″ graph paper and instruct all the detainees to spend 45 minutes “colouring” in alternate squares to produce a chequerboard effect.
He was one of those Masters that not only commanded respect but deserved it!
Paul Evans (L. P. Evans OW 1965-1973)
What do you remember about 1966. Which teachers inspired you, terrified you? Did you play in a successful sporting team in 1966? Whatever your memories, send them to email@example.com
Our second sojourn down memory lane has taken a literary reference as its inspiration:
1984, Orwell’s seminal novel introduced the concept of Big Brother, a terrifying prediction of life lived under a terrifying regime of endless TV reality shows. Despite this sobering thought, we hope that for many OWs now in their thirties and forties, 1984 was a year of huge excitement, huge discoveries and (quite possibly) huge hair. To rekindle those memories here are some of the year’s highlights:
The average house price in 1984 was £37,182, whilst the average salary was £16,135.07 and a gallon of petrol a mere £1.83.
The top grossing films of 1984 were:
- Ghost Busters
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
- Beverly Hills Cop
- It was Amadeus however that swept the board at the 1984 Oscars.
Frankie Goes to Hollywood ruled the charts for much of the year after their first three singles, Relax, Two Tribes and The Power of Love all reaching number 1. Other notable chart toppers were:
- 99 red balloons – Nena
- Careless whisper – George Michael
- The Reflex – Duran Duran
- I just called to say I love you – Stevie Wonder…
- Do they know it’s Christmas – Band Aid
In the news:
- The year long miners’ strike began in March – the longest and potentially most damaging industrial dispute ever seen in Britain.
- The Soviet block boycott the summer Olympics held in Los Angeles, whilst at the winter Olympics in Sarajevo, Torvill & Dean score a record 12 perfect sixes for their thrilling Bolero sequence.
- Five people are killed when the IRA bomb Tory conference delegates staying at the Grand Hotel in Brighton.
- Virgin launches its inaugural cross Atlantic service.
- Famine in Ethiopia sparks an international response. In the UK a high profile campaign to raise money begins with Band Aid and the release of Do They Know It’s Christmas.
- Indian Prime Minister, Indira Ghandi is assassinated.
- Satire rears its rubber head on television as Spitting Image is aired for the very first time.
- Long before the creation of the worldwide web, the term ‘cyberspace’ is coined by William Gibson in his novel Neuromancer.
- The biggest news event for many WGS students occurred much closer to home however, as the school finally became a co-educational establishment when girls were admitted to the sixth form, thus breaking with more than 460 years of tradition.
The 1980s…. Those were the years when the Husselbee brothers dominated every sport at the school that you could think of. Bene Polack ruled Latin class with a rod of iron. When Andrew Swift misbehaved in a Latin lesson he had to stand in the corner of the room with the waste bin on his head (including the left over lunch remains). Hoppy Hopkins was the greatest linguist the school had ever seen, at a time of Mme Mansfield and her husband and fellow language teacher who we called the penguin (don’t know why), and “Katy” Brockless. Jonny Johnson (PE) was “The Honeymonster”.
Steven Billing and Michael Bold were the brilliant scientists of their time (both went to Oxbridge) in fact they were good at everything….. Andrew Harbour was the rampant socialist of his time….. Simon Walker would not stop playing his OMD albums.
“Hoppy Hopton” was a great biology teacher, and then of course there was Piggy Lambourne. I know he got a lot of grief from later generations but he stands out in my mind for missing out the whole part of the geography syllabus relating to soil…. We just got thrown text books 6 weeks before the exam and were told to “do it in your own time”. Never forgiven him or “Jim Chugg” for that.
Duran Duran on the radio, Ultravox Vienna……..and a belief that the future was ours to unlock, that things were getting better all the time. I never made prime minister or the head of BP, but I did become a local city councillor.
The website asked for some thoughts, so there they are.
Mark Starling. OW, 1977 – 1984
Were you at WGS in 1984? Were you one of the first cohort of girls coming in to the school? Who were the teachers from that year that inspired / terrified you? Whatever your memories of 1984, why not share them with your fellow OWs.
Please send any stories and/ or memories to: firstname.lastname@example.org