Friday, 28 February 2020

OBITUARY - Willy Pfeiffer RIP 1996

An old extract from the Purley Old Boys newsheet has arrived - some 23 years after publication. 

"Members will be sad to learn that the final whistle blew for Willy Pfeifer last April. His funeral was on 28th April and several old friends including George Robson, Bruce Ayling, Don Reason, DonLeppard, Harry Flower, Mick Tidy and Dave Hastings were in attendance.
For those who did not know him, Willy started playing for the  club in the 1947/8 season, was skipper from 1950-53 and was  President from 1961-64.  Personal memories were of his massive figure backing a charge  against the School XV and the gasp of the spectators in those  days all the school would turn out to watch. Also singing The  Eton Boating Song in the individual baths in the mansion at old  Freemans  incidentally the first game  ever played by  Gravette when Gerry Woodage failed to turn up. And always his old  car seemingly self-navigating its way back to the Tudor Rose and  again on a Sunday morning for his traditional glass of French  Beaujolais.  I will miss you Willy and thanks for all the fun we had.  HARRY FLOWER.

Friday, 21 February 2020

Haircut Tom - Memories of Purley Grammar School in the 1960s

Martin Jones has at last put pen to paper and here it is at long last - Haircut Tom - his long-awaited book of memories of Purley Grammar School in the 1960s. It is now available to purchase!To whet your appetite, please find below the front and back covers and contents page. The actual covers are of course in school maroon. Over 200 pages and fully illustrated. There are far too many names and events to mention here, but if you were a teacher or pupil at the school in the 1960s, or attended any of the reunions, or been in touch with me, the chances are that you have a mention and/or a photo in the book, or at least something to interest you.
Please contact Martin directly on his email for further details on how you can purchase this blockbuster. He is

Thursday, 20 February 2020

A priceless extract of a lesson with George Nicholson circa 1962

Dave Reynolds has sent in this gem.

Mr Nicholson (Old Nick) was our history master around the time we studied for O Levels. He was a good teacher and really knew his subject, but classes tended to treat him cruelly. I did my best to take down part of one of his lessons, verbatim. Bits were inevitably missed out as I never learned shorthand. However, these fragments give some taste of the typical proceedings. Interesting to note the respectful use of ‘Sir’ whenever boys addressed him. Most of us probably went on to become perfectly reasonable and polite citizens. And to my amazement, I did scrape through ‘O’ Level history.

Fragments from an ‘O’ Level history lesson with Mr Nicholson in about 1960.

Nicholson … there were elections and they were generally run by the government and Cavour was not opposed to the working of elections - perhaps a rather natural temptation. Government candidates were appointed and elected Holman, Hill, I will not have this talking!
Hill: I haven’t said anything, Sir, honest. Have I, Reynolds?
Reynolds: No.
Anon: What about the elections, sir?
Nicholson: The Crimean War was brought about …
Anon: Ah!
Nicholson: … by Cavour …
Anon: I was Cavour’s double, Folks.
Nicholson: Now for the second topic. Woodgates!
(General chatter rises to a crescendo, rendering Nicholson inaudible.)
Nicholson: … economically restless and politically a crime …
Anon: It was Woodgates, Sir, not me!
Nicholson: … now, the attitude of the people towards the war would make all the difference. If you were Piedmontese, what would be your opinion?
Hill: On the export of spaghetti, Sir?
Anon: What about this book, Sir, is it any good? (Hands over a book.)
Nicholson: Ah, yes. We’ve got it in the school library. It has some rather unusual ideas in it but it may be some use.
Anon: What about the A.J.P. Taylor?
Nicholson: You’ve got your notes on Italy, have you, Frost?
(Shuffling. Frost borrows someone’s notes and reads amid general chaos).
Nicholson: Yes, Castles?
Castles (Amid general coughing.) The war was not … it was an English idea in the first place.
Nicholson: Yes, admittedly. They wanted soldiers in the Crimea to stop the preponderance …
Anon: Why didn’t they ban it, Sir?
Nicholson: … Britain might be prepared to prevent France …
Hill: You’ll get a punch up the p*** if you don’t stop, Woodgates.
Nicholson: …  but Austria may be on the same side and Piedmont would be opposed to them. Now, what about the war itself? Does anyone think he could comment on Mamora?
Reynolds: Would you spell that please, Sir?
Nicholson: M A M O R A
Anon: It’s top of the Italian hit parade
Nicholson: The Piedmontese army were brave. Admittedly they suffered from diseases …
Anon: What diseases, Sir?
(General disorder, rioting etc.)
Nicholson: Will you please SHUT UP and take some interest in what’s going on. Twelve hundred casualties were caused. It was a small troop but it did have the effect of getting respect from Britain and France will you please SHUT UP. I can’t understand what makes you behave like this. Well, Chadd, what have you got on the Congress of Paris?
Chadd: I haven’t got that heading, Sir. You didn’t give it to us.
Nicholson: Right!! Now, Cavour was, I think, a man … (rioting) … because Napoleon III himself was an emotional man, in a way, a man, anyway, who was impressed easily. Now, when it comes to Italy …
Hill: Get your hand off my knee!
Nicholson: … which is Papal territory … (general singing) … treaty with Papal rights.
All: Howl! It’s old Thompson! Bellow! Sh!!
Nicholson: Will you please stop talking.
All: Cheerio, Burns! It’s old Burns! Hm!
Woodgates: (Singing) I’m Mister Blue …
Nicholson: Nothing could be done without war and Piedmont … Oh! … must attack Austria. The Congress itself, then, was a disappointment to Cavour, who was only able to air his cause. Right!! Now for - HILL!! - the wooing of France. The biggest problem was France’s unwillingness to be wooed into war. One thing which must stand out in your notes is oh, will you please stop talking the hope of getting Austria to attack Piedmont, though he was by no means certain of French help. Napoleon thought Austria would not dare to attack …
Anon: Burp! got him!
Nicholson: (Leaning on the light switch in a classical Greek pose) … they would get it in the long run if they knew public opinion in Germany.
Anon: True.
Nicholson: They knew they would have Russian support…
Anon: High lift?
(Singsong at the back of the class.)
Nicholson: Let’s have someone read his notes.
All: Castles, Sir, Castles. Good old Castles! It’s old Castles!
Nicholson: Shut up!
All: Good old Castles! For he’s a jolly good fellow … (singing)
(General disorder drowns 90 per cent of Castles’ voice as he reads his notes.)
Nicholson: Er … the leading of this (cough) …
Anon: Dirty old man!
Nicholson: … liberals, yet Napoleon III hesitated, for Cavour … (Chatter) … Napoleon had his mind made up when a bomb was thrown at him …
All: Hurrah! Allons enfants de la patrie … (Singing) …
(Castles reads and finishes. Clapping and cheers.)
Nicholson: Quiet!
Anon: Cough.
Nicholson: Where is there anything written down about …
Hill: In A J P Taylor, Sir.
Nicholson: Look, if anything was said between Napoleon III and Cavour, what would Napoloeon III have said?
Anon: (Muttering.)
Pow: How obscene!
Nicholson: Who was king of Naples in 1874?
Anon: It’s old Castles, Sir.
Nicholson: … and if anything was done about Naples at all … (bell rings for the end of the period) … and the rest of Italy cough why was he so keen to unify Italy, because it all had to be done …
(Everyone charges out of the room.)

Friday, 14 February 2020

Form list of LVI Modern in 1960

Here is the list of LVI Modern in 1960:

Archard Mick
Brine Roger
Burns Terry
Chadd Ray
Durell Phil
Frost Chris
Giles Dave
Hill Mike
Holman Chris
Joseph (that’s his surname)
Mytton Graham
Ockenden Dick
Porter Vic
Pow Chris
Reynolds Dave
Rhodes Steve
Wise Dave

What happened and were are they all now?

Thanks to Dave Reynolds for this.

Monday, 10 February 2020

Dave Reynolds has sent in this gem of a photo. It shows Dave Wise, with Mr George Nicholson, who taught history.

Dave Reynolds has sent in this gem of a photo. It shows Dave Wise, with Mr George Nicholson, who taught history.

Friday, 7 February 2020

A letter of memories ffrom Derek Akers sent to John Davis

John Davis wrote to Derek Akers after finding out that he was living not so far away in his retirement.The information that he was living in Battle was given by an elderly neighbour who was a retired Master at Dulwich College. 
Here is his reply:
Dear John,

Many thanks for your letter; it is always a pleasure to hear how
former pupils are faring, and you have mentioned a few. It also explains a phone call
some time ago when I revealed the whereabouts of the PGS archives - was it to you or
perhaps Nick Peaty, whom I well remember for he played cricket for the O.P.'s against
the School for many years.

I have grateful memories of Anthea Shorter both as a great helper to Thelma Gibbs in
providing refreshments, and also as Casualty sister at Purley Hospital in dealing with
minor ailments; Stephen resembled his mother. Do please give them my warm regards.

As my computer, part of the PA's generous retirement present is after 14 years ailing
and obsolete, I have reverted to this Starwriter, much quicker and more reliable, and so
have not seen the 1970 school photo. on the web. Regarding former staff of your era, at
Arthur Jewitt's funeral (aged 91) three years ago, several were present, including Bill
Paterson, Bill Rainforth, Kingsley Gregory, David Shepherd. The funerals of George Winter
and George Love have also been well attended a just tribute for such invaluable
servants of PGS. I hear from Richard Mant, Irene Ananin, Peter Jeffrey, Bill Appleton,
David Pope, Alan Crosskey et alii and former pupils of that time who should be on the
photo, Chris Hendry - pilot, Martin Caddick - computers, Phil Janes, Christian Hoy to
name a few. As my copy od the photo is stored in the Library I can only speak from an
ageing memory, but copies of the 'Bourne' and lists would give you more detailed and
accurate information of that era.

For a number of years Joe Abbott published an Old Purleians Bulletin, but gave up in
1997, owing sadly to lack of support - that year the RFC combined with John Fisher.

Did you visit 'Bens', the Snowdon Mountain centre, the freehold of which I bought for for
the School for £100. in 1969 from the National Park ? When PHS closed we set up a
Charitable Trust for it to be used by Woodcote, Taunton Manor and the VIth Form
College; I am a Trustee and chairman of the Management committee which meets three
times a year. Sadly only two parties stayed there in too, so we have varied the Deeds
to open it to other educational establishments.

For five years after retiring I took sailing on Wednesdays at the College, as no one
qualified was available, so I kept in touch with Derek Eneas (Maths), John Sutherland
(PE), Lea Blyth (Econ), Michelle Tong, Garth Wright (now Head of a school at Frome),
and many others who would not have been in the '70 photo.

Saturday, 1 February 2020

Old Purleians Memories written to the Old Boys newsheet in 1996

From A E ( Ted  ) Purver
Woodman Rd

23rd December 1996

Dear Frank,

I enjoyed your letter in the last Old Purleians magazine. Like you. I've often felt grateful to the editor
( and here i ought to add the name of John Smythson) for their part in reviving the Old Boys Association since the War.

Which takes me back to 1938 Boxing Day, which is, I believe, the last time we met. Someone must
have overdone things on Christmas Day, or possibly picked up a 'flu bug. Certainly you were am
ont for the Boxing Day fixture at Grange Park. I remember your calling here, and refusing to leave
the front step until I'd agreed to play. After that my mind is a blank.

I'm sure I turned out at Grange Park. Just as I learned from an old diary of Pat Sellars a year or so
ago, I feel sure that I did actually cycle down to the Youth Hostel at Steyning in the New Year of
1939 and even drank beer in the company of lack Llewellyn, Ron Braybrook, Paul Sellers, Mick
Sellars, Brian Dudley, Dick Jennings ... although I cannot remember doing any such thing at all. Brain
deterioration due to alcoholism, possibly!

Tell, Frank, I hope you are well. I happen to know a corner of Wales within reach of Cardiff. A
Sister of my mother married into a family at St. Athan, and while her husband was away at sea in the
Merchant Navy, she ran the family house as a guest house in the summer holidays. I believe much of
St. Athan aerodrome was a golf course in those days (the early 'thirties). Certainly the village had a
shop or two, unless i'm thinking of Gilston, as I believe the next village is called. It was sad to revisit
a dead St. Athan in the 1970s.

I always associate you in my mind with Ray Burridge, Tom Wheeler and Cyril Andrews. I remember
one day being allowed to walk with Tom Wheeler and probably Ray from School to Purley station, and
'Dog' passed going back towards the School. They all touched their caps, and he gave a sort of
grudging acknowledgement. I was soundly ticked off by Tom for not touching my cap. In those days
used to walk with eyes on the ground on the off-chance of picking up a Players cigarette card! My
father said that was how I picked up scarlet fever on a holiday to Great Yarmouth, just before I started
at Purley!

Since I've nothing of importance to write about, let me ask how you got on at Ashford. I assume that
you'd been in the School Corps and were called up automatically? Or were you, like me, evacuated
as a civilian? In my case to Bristol. It didn't take the army long to sort me out. First class Boy Scout
counted for nothing. I was turned down for a commission during the Phoney War. Came Dunkirk, and
was transformed overnight from cleaner of filthy equipment brought back from Dunkirk (other men's
equipment, you understand: probably the blokes who befouled Exeter City Football ground (where we
privates had a weekly plunge bath). One week, Ian Hay, from Rugby, noticed what I believe was
known as a slipper bath, probably a referee's privilege. Normally half a dozen Certificate A public
schoolmen + plus me (candidates-for-a-commission) used to pay 1/3d for a tea in a smart Exeter
hotel and have a free bath thrown in, to clean up after the plunge bath! lan suggested we could save
the hotel hot water by cleaning up in the ref's bath. But an amiable regular corporal had other ideas.
He ordered us all back into the plunge bath! Overnight, as I was saying, I was made a corporal in the
A.P.T.S. I was 'stripped after twenty-four hours! And helped an Oxford graduate clean up the
football ground!

By 1941 i'd been found common at Sandhurst (in the first batch of wartime officer, as opposed to
gentlemen cadets); then an intelligent young officer who lacked personality; then given a beach hut on
Camber sands to wait for Germans; rested at Leeds (Kent); then driven in pitch blackness and dropped
in the dark somewhere in Kent with a platoon of Belisha boys plus odd survivors from Dunkirk. I feel
sure I had an Ordnance Survey map, but it was a pitch black night, and suddenly I found myself at a
T-junction in heavily wooded country. After leading my men to the left, something told me that I
should have turned right. "Just get behind that hedge, . Sir," said the sergeant. All for women
marched back, and here I have two versions of this true story: that they just took it in their stride, or that they
had been ordered to pass comment on that bloody fool behind the hedge.


Fas et Patria

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