Floreat Semper Schola


Schooldays - Happiest days of your life

No, they weren’t.


It started well,
Pinehurst Infant and Junior,
Knew everybody.
Learnt lots,
Extracurricular truancy and fighting.
Singing in the school choir.
Methodist Hall, white shirt, red tie
“When the wind gets up, it whistles round the pane”
Winning us first prize for Mr. Appleyard.
Lead in a school play
“The King with Green Hair”
Excited when I heard the audience’s delight at my entrance.


Eleven plus.
Sorting sheep from goats.
Sheep herded to Headlands.
Goats to gardening and domesticity.
Said farewell to my Goat Friends.
Three quarters of a mile apart
Separated for a lifetime.


Seven of us to the “Grammar”
Swinton to Old Town Commonwheel
Battersby, Butler, Cooper, Watkins, Horne & Whiting
to New Town Headlands.


Sheep herded into pens
1U, 1A, 1M, 1O, 1E.
Bleated apologies to my parents for being in 1U
Used to a catalogue of A, B, C, D
I didn’t comprehend the message behind
U - University
A - A Level
M – Middle
O - O level
E – who knows? Expendable?
(My wife thought it was Eejits).


Teachers wore gowns,
Pupils wore uniforms.
Uniformity and conformity all part of the process.
Caps. Blazers (mine too large – “You’ll grow into it”)
First long trousers.
Punishments for not wearing cap outside of school
Or removing your blazer without permission.
Even on blazing hot days.


Latin taught by a barrel-chested bully.
Asked me if a verb was transitive or intransitive.
Me, not knowing the difference.
Him, not knowing the difference between Pinehurst and public school.


I guessed: a 50/50 shot
(Thinking I was applying maths to language).
Wrong! No explanation.
Five more interrogations.
Five more wrong guesses.
Purple faced pounding on my desk
“You must know the difference”.
I didn’t then. I don’t now.
How could I if it wasn’t explained?


A lesson learned.
Avoid Latin but there was no escape.
Perhaps a “Wooden Horse” subterfuge?
Idea courtesy of the Film Society.
Lean back in your chair when asked to translate
Chadwick, a Latin genius,
(genius, geniī, geniō, genium, geniō, genie)
Would whisper the answer.


Teachers you hated.
Teachers you loved.


Miss Quartermaine - French
Unusual as she called us by first names
But giving us a French equivalent
John – Jean
Paul – Paul
George – George
Keith –
“I shall call you …. Daniel”.
Said in such an Gallic breathy way
That I loved Miss Quartermaine forever.


Subjects you hated.
Games with Bomber Brown.
No balance, no skill, no hope.
Herded by Bomber wielding a canoe paddle.
Algebra and Physics.
Letters for numbers? WTF2


Subjects you loved.
English with Miss Jacob.
Literature’s horizons opened up
Even if subjected to grammatical columnar analysis
And red ink on essays


Constant sieving of aptitude and ability.


Ability by examination league table.
Relegations from U to A.
Promotions A to U.
E to Secondary school but few the other way.


Aptitude by geometry.
Round pegs to round holes.
Square pegs to square.
Arts and Science.
But irregular shapes
Not excelling, merely reasonable
Dropped through the sieve.


The cup final of a university place?
Me: Not aspiring, not fitting.
Parents: Not affording. Not expecting.
I went to a careers interview.
“Any ideas, boy?”
“Navy, sir. Dartmouth College.”
“Father in the Navy, boy?”
“No sir”.
“No sir”.
“Thought about shop work?”.


Falling through the sieve again.


Articled to a Chartered Accountant.
First two weeks add columns in the telephone directory.
They didn’t trust calculators.
Tom Burroughs who married his wife for her money.
To find she didn’t have any and she had married him for his.
He didn’t have any.
Taught me how to produce a trial balance
And walk with an umbrella.


Falling through the sieve again.


Being articled was like being a slave
Only wearing a Burton’s suit.
£2 10s 0p a week.
Libra, solidus, denarius (still not escaping Latin)
Twist like, asking for more.
Bust like, leaving when denied.
No Pontoon, like my Civic Office mates’ £13 0s 0d, for me.


Rebellious to the end.
I left with a distinction
Only clerk to break Articles in the South West.
Seemingly learning words not moral lessons
From School Assemblies.


When Magson, crow like in his gown
Swept into the Hall.
Gown wings flapping
Whilst we respectfully stood.


To sing the school song.
Then obediently,
Now understanding the sub text.


Home of our youth
Was no place like home
Segregated by the 11 plus from friends


Our futures mould
Provided that you aspired to conformity and university education
They moulded Cooper into a Mining Engineer for the future closing mines


Our guide when young
By enforcing conformity with cane, slipper, detention and imposition


Our love when old
Distance lends enchantment for some. Clarity of views for others


Give us the strength to face the fight
Shun the wrong, uphold the right

The Right being conservative values Wrong being liberal left-wing views


Floreat semper schola
We sang Beer and Coca Cola
With greater emphasis on the beer.


Floreat semper Arkells.

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