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The comments and opinions expressed below are shown unedited with the permission on the authors involved. The editor of this site does not believe it is our job to judge or agree / disagree with comments made and while we do carefully vet content should any member find and comments made offensive in any way then please e-mail us and we will remove the articles immediately.  Other than that - anything goes !

Feedback 1 : Observations : Author anonymous (details supplied to us)
Feedback 2An Old Veseyan in Africa : Steve Maynard
Feedback 3 : My first day at Vesey : Author anonymous (details supplied to us)
Feedback 4 : John "Rabbit" Harvey : Paul Kerriage
Feedback 5 : Happy halcyon days : Vernon Thornton
Feedback 6 : I love the 70s : Paul Kerriage
Feedback 7 : Taff Jones - The man and his methods : Paul Kerriage
Feedback 8 : Some Vesey memories : John Myers
Feedback 9 : Corrections, cuttings and other things : John Myers
Feedback 10 : My time at 'Vesey' : Philip Cunningham
Feedback 11 : Cricket info : Matt Brennan
Feedback 12 : Being Shown Round the School : Gary Carter
Feedback 13 : Bestial Behaviour : Dom Parker
Feedback 14 : Possible contact for Old Boys from 1914 ! : Mary-Ann Bloomfield
Feedback 15Grafitti !
Feedback 16: Oldest Old Veseyan in South Africa ? : Steve Maynard
Feedback 17: Marie Clarke Story : Steve Bradley
Feedback 18: Carols at Christmas : John Seales
Feedback 19: Naked at Wyndley Swimming Baths : Anon (name supplied)
Feedback 20: BVGS 1950 - 1962 : Chris Wood
Feedback 21: Betwsy-Coed : Anon : Name not supplied but what the hell !!
Feedback 22: Trips and Bops : Neil Smith

Observations

( Author anonymous : details supplied to us )

I am not entering the competition per se, but I offer the following details to help in completing the 'Spot the Masters' picture from 1973.

I have added some teaching subjects, where they are not included - even with the confirmed pix

2. Looks like an English teacher to me. Name escapes me currently. ('Peckhead' was a Maths teacher who was not at the school in 1973) 

5.David Hamilton-Jones (Geography and PE) - agreed. 

6. Definitely Gerry Imison. 

9. Mr Thorne's first name was John, I believe. This is him.

13. Yep - Mr Harvey.

14. This is John Wynchbold (I think that is the correct spelling - I could be wrong) - in 1973 his eldest son was in the 6th form - he taught Mathematics.

20. Mr Crook, I seem to recall, rather than 'Crooks' - could be wrong -taught Physics. (Sprayed himself and the front bench with mercury during one lesson. Nowadays, parents would have sued for replacement barathea but we just shrugged.)

26. Arthur Johnson was Headmaster and taught Chemistry. (This photograph was taken in his final year at school before his untimely death. The observatory was built in his memory but appeared to serve no academic purpose in the years that followed. Subsequently became used as a place behind which the smokers could hide.)

38, Certainly is Mr Terry - 'Sing up, Tommy!'

39. Taff once famously delivered a lecture to us in the third year on the dilemma we faced in adulthood. In his view, the cost of living would be so high that we would simply not be able to make ends meet. He reliably informed us that within 10 years none of us would be able to afford to own and drive a motor vehicle. It was difficult to tell whether he was attempting to deliver a party political broadcast or simply predicting the end of the western world. Either way, it had nothing to do with biology and we only learned this Mystic Meg revelation because our regular biology master had left the room for 5 minutes!) 

41 Harold taught classics with verve and gusto but got so excited during one lesson at the end of a tiring day that his false tooth shot out whilst hammering home 'Carthego est delenda'. Said tooth dribbled under desk, and one sporting pupil back-heeled it swiftly to the rear of the room (he knows who he is). Class was sharply dismissed whilst Harold attempted to retrieve the denture before the cleaners arrived with an industrial vacuum cleaner.)

42 - Ian Maddy taught French

43. Yes - confirm it is Mr Dimsey (drove an Audi and regularly extolled the virtues of the mpg he achieved. There seemed little point in paying attention given the sermon from Taff.)

48. Yes, Mr Jackson - but surely he did more than just teach PE???

49. Brian Walker - it was always hard to ascertain whether he was more interested in serving the English Department of BVGS or developing a career with BBC Radio Birmingham - had a penchant for Eric Clapton and slagging off poor quality local commercial radio broadcasting i.e. BRMB.

50. Chris Allery was RE.

That story about the John Harvey quotation is something you should add to your Cv - it's the sort of credential that gets you into investment banking in the city. Seriously, I think it's rich coming from Harvey - the man, in my opinion, was a very poor headmaster. I can understand his self-interest in wanting his son to do well at school (what self-respecting parent doesn't?), but the general opinion in my year was that his priorities were all wrong, centered on:

1. Winning 'Ask The family'

2. Making the observatory available for his son, but not using it for the benefit of the rest of the school

3. Securing Oxbridge places for the pupils he believed would win places 4. Not supporting other pupils who aspired for the same, but in his opinion would bring shame and disgrace on the school if they failed (and therefore reduce the chances of others he picked next). I know of one instance where a pupil was refused nomination by the school, but his parents put him through the general entrance exminations - he sailed through with impressive results. When harvey arranged for a photograph of the pupils that year who had successfully secured Oxbridge places, you can guess who wasn't invited to the photo-shoot! And so on.

I did not particularly enjoy my sixth form years in some respects - because I believe Harvey and some of his cronies were out of touch with how the pupils could best achieve - and in the end that was his loss too. I sometimes wonder, however, what damage that attitude did for other young people. I remember, for example, single-mindedly deciding I was going to secure a degree place in a difficult discipline at a highly ranked University. I knew I could achieve it. I was informed by one teacher whose photograph you have included that it was a reckless decision - and that was advice he gave as a self-styled 'careers master' off the cuff - no thought given to the effect it can have on an adolescent. I was filled with self-doubt for weeks, but like so many young kids i didn't know who to talk it through with, so I ignored his advice, but I lost all respect for the careers support that the school was offering. And I got my place. Sadly though, I look back and think I got that place despite certain people (and in fairness because of some very good and dedicated subject teachers).

Despite securing a number of 'positions' and 'honours' at the school, and with exam results which gave me two school prizes (prizes nominated by the teachers who knew the pupils far better) - Harvey still had to look down at a sheet of paper to remember my name on the day that I left: I wasn't even expecting recognition as we parted - he was too dumb for that, but anyone with half a brain cell would have memorised my name from the file before ten seconds I entered the room that day, and pretended he knew me.


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An Old Veseyan in Africa!  

(Steve Maynard : mwmayhil@mweb.co.za )

I was totally amazed when I stumbled upon your site this week and having spotted myself on the school photo taken in 1973 I thought I must send a few lines to you, but there is much more to follow! 

I started at BVGS in 1967 in class 1 Red . In those days there were 4 first form classes but don't ask me how we were allocated to a particular house.If a member of your family had studied at BVGS before then one automatically was placed in the same house.I left the school in 1974 and obtained a HND in Applied Physics at Sheffield Polytechnic. I spent 4 years in the 'black country' ie Wolverhampton in the ailing steel industry working as a welding technician and as redundancy looked like a distinct possibillity followed my parents to South Africa. In my travels through the RSA I have met 3 old Vs and still have contact with one.I will make sure he submits his details too! But back to my school days! I recognise virtually everyone of the teachers shown on your web site however cannot add anymore info. 'Slasher Slater' was probably my biggest nightmare and was deadly accurate with blackboard chalk and those wooden rubbers. He could also throw an exercise book clean through an open second floor window from 10 metres! If it was yours you obviously had that long walk to retrieve it.Indeed amo amas amat gave me most grief! Now 'dingle' Dan (the Chemistry man )also comes to mind.What he did for cross country running at the school was incredible. 'Taffy' Jones was my Biology master. His claim to fame was his late entry into the laboratory through the greenhouse at the back of his classroom. There he would quietly sit and watch his students actions.Of course eventually the class would become quieter and quieter as more boys realised he was in the room! Ron Homer taught English and the only problem I ever had with him was when I missed a cricket practice! 'Thug Wallace' was our form master and Geography teacher.Also not one of my favourite subjects!However I did manage to find my way to South Africa! Rex Wallbank took me through cricket and rugby with untiring enthusiasm ,encouragement and that will to win. There are others I will discuss in future communications however before I close here is a brief list of the other guys I enjoyed my time with at BVGS circa. 1967-1974 'Webby' Dave Webb (my scrumhalf halfback partner) John Oakes Clive Burkin Simon Berry Phil Kennington (now in Australia?) The Hulk-He'll know who i'm referring too Mick Burke (from wine bar days )

Let me pull out my old photos and i'll give you some more names !!!

Best Regards

More to follow

Steve Maynard

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My first day at Vesey

Author has asked to remain anonymous : This is a true story and to prevent any possible distress we have removed the name of the 'Master' involved.

Looking back through the photo's of the 1973 teachers, I was brought up with a jolt at the photo of (x).

I met him just once, in (year provided), when taking the entrance exam for the school. About ten of us with the surnames beginning O-R were led into the history room, Room 20. "Right, put your coats at the back of the room, and then sit down" he instructed us. And then, suddenly, only about six feet away from me, he made a slight noise, and collapsed to the ground. I remember it to this day - he went down like a banana so when his shoulders hit the ground, his legs flew up in the air. Some of us ran to find another teacher in the next classroom, and (y), the history teacher came running into the room, and screamed at us all to leave. We were moved to take the exam in another room, which gave a good view of the ambulance leaving taking (x) to hospital. But it was too late. (x) was dead.

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John Rabbit Harvey

(Paul Kerriage : paulkerriage@hotmail.com )

Following up on your feedback section - I recall the mixed emotions when Spock kicked off - he was a bit of hard case, but I suspect his heart was in the right place.

I remember when when Rabbit showed up, after a confusing interregnum, when Thug (or was it Piggy) tried to hold it all together. Suddenly, we had this bizarre Adge Cutler stunt-double wandering around.

There was a brief political flurry, when he allegedly came out in some meeting against Grammar School education (it was the trendy 70's after all), then suddenly realised that he was headmaster of such a school, and that 99.895% of parents (and therefore kids) were in favour of it, right or wrong.

My clearest memory of him was his skulking around school play rehearsals (Oh What a lovely etc) allegedly trying to curry favour with the kids by offering fags to sixth formers ( I was one). I refused, but fell victim later and now proudly sport a solid Marlboro Red Habit.

I'm sure he arrived wanting to be a modernising and enlightening force, but he was (allegedly) just too lightweight. Don't know what happened after I I left, but Baz Barrell will have all the facts, I'm sure.

Can I add, your site is pretty cool. Loved the 1973 teachers - spotted ? "Bobby" Fisher, English teacher and life member of the "Miserabilist" tendency.

Sad that the school hasn't got it's own site, and seems to be having a bit of an academic wobble. The Kids' piss-up site looks like a laugh. Why didn't we have co-ed in my day? Would have saved some lads lots of ... er... "confusion"....

Checking out the Friends Re-United site, it looks like loads of us BV's ended up in IT or web. Shame it's all going tits up...

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Happy halcyon days

(Vernon Thornton : thethorntons@blueyonder.co.uk )

I'm Vernon Thornton and I went to Vesey from September 1973 until July 1977.

In my times there were pupils in my year ....Dave Taylor (best mate) Tony Tompkins Greg Young Carlton Free Shufflebotham Johnty Hayes Mark Fuller Andy Bloomer The Parker twins Dave and Michael and in the year above was ex TV presenter Billy Buckley. Teachers were......H.M. Spock to start with then John Harvey. Tim Moore still around now down the local boozer. Mr Brookes, metalwork and H.B. woodwork. Desperate Dan, chemistry teacher Miss Etches, French.

Who was the teacher bootlegging jeans to the Russians in the summer holidays? Yes it's true! Taff Jones, biology teacher and his wife, the maths teacher, Ma Jones (fearsome). There was also the gaggle of teachers who went to The Three Tuns each dinnertime and rolled up well oiled for the afternoon session along with the pupil's shoplifting bunch in Sutton town centre who nicked a load of stuff from WH Smith and sold it to the German teacher, as I recall.

Did all these things really happen?

You betcha!......Happy halcyon days.

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I Luv the 70s

(Paul Kerriage : paulkerriage@hotmail.com )

Gather round, my little curly-headed ones and I'll tell you a tale to make yer blood freeze.

Of the Morris Marina, Spoon shoes, lyrically ambitious progressive rock, Vesta Beef Curry and other crimes against cuisine.

Ah, the 70's.

At BVGS, the best you could hope for was a quiet five minutes in the bogs twanging your wire. This would be executed while thinking either of Dora out of TV's Follyfoot, or the Foreign student with whom Chalky Mel was conducting Extra-Mural Studies.

Other than that, your options were limited. You could:

* write "Led Zeppelin Rool" on your school bag (WW2 surplus gas mask case, matched RAF greatcoat)

* get bellowed at by humourless Nazi masters or their prefect-catamites

* get food poisoning from the Spam Fritters at lunchtime, with disastrous consequences during Games periods

* smirk at various teachers' disturbing speech impediments and extremist political beliefs

* dodge Freaky Dave and his elite cadre of born-again christians

* extinguish blazing gardeners, trash your moped, drive teachers to early death and torture smaller boys with inventive skill.

* go home at 4.10 and watch the crap TV (which they now anthologise on BBC2 and C4 - NB - we'd have twatted someone like Stuart Maconie)

And, that's about it. Young people today - Just don't get me started....

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Taff Jones - The man and his methods

( Paul Kerriage :  paulkerriage@hotmail.com )

I was recently reminded by Charles Hinton's sister ( a former Brown Cow and S/C Love Goddess) of the classic Taff Jones-ism - "The penis is a wonderful thing, boys, up in the morning before you are."

His rather gothic approach to teaching Biology spawned other alarming views and anecdotes.

He once warned us of the danger of playing with the gas taps on the benches. With dark Celtic relish, he recounted the hideous tale of the two boys who banged a rubber hose up another's arse, connected it to a gas tap and (accidentally) killed him by inflating his colon with the North Sea's finest. This had not happened at BVGS, he explained, but was clearly a warning to us all to desist from such infernal practises.

It may be Alzheimer's on my part, but I'm sure he also wound us all up into believing we'd have to dissect the fluffy little chicks resulting from our experiments with eggs and incubation, etc.

Terrified by this I threw a sickie on the appointed day, to avoid the obvious horror of thirty boys hacking away at the chirping yellow fur-balls with scalpels, lancets, lawn mowers, spears etc,

The following week, I went to Double Biology to discover they hadn't been dissected after all.

But where did they go? I ask you again. Where DID the chicks go? More medication please...

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Some 'Vesey' memories

( John Myers : john.myers@cd-tr.wales.nhs.uk )

First of all, may I record appreciation for producing so excellent a site and for rekindling such vivid memories of from some very good times.

After leaving Four Oaks County Junior, I became part of Red House and thus entered form 1R, wearing one of the new house ties introduced that term, in September 1966.  The form room was one of the then four �Terrapins�, which overlooked middle field, and our Form Master was Mr. Patrick (Frog) Hall, who took us for English.  First lesson that Tuesday afternoon was Latin, allowing us an early introduction to the legendary Mr. Ron (Slash) Slater.  This lesson overran a bit, possibly because we were too much in awe of �Sir� to move after hearing the lesson bell.  Therefore, Mr. Anthony Holme-Barnett (HB) had to come over and collect us for the double Woodwork period that ended our inaugural day.

Gold House was also new that term and its only members populated 1G in the hut next to ours.  This generated the opportunity for some interaction between the two classes, especially when our Latin lessons coincided with 1G�s Maths periods, taken by Mr. Alan (Bogsy) Chambers.  On occasion, Slash and Bogsy would play to the gallery, much to our collective amusement and helping to demonstrate that, sometimes at least, Slash�s bark was worse, perhaps, than his bite.

My elder brother, David, was in 5Z at the time and thus well able to assist in my induction. Before us, our late father, Graham and his own younger brother, Chris, had attended the school such that, unsurprisingly, BVGS antics have remained a regular topic of conversation over the years. There were, after all, many classic events, quirks and anecdotes about the place, too precious to be lost in the mists of time but also unlikely to be considered for publication within more formal sources.

My time at BVGS fell within the Johnson years.  To use the school report clich� of the time, I fear that I could have done rather better both academically and in respect of sporting effort such that my pocket A&M hymnbook remains unendorsed, save for recording my date of entry.

I might have taken more to rugger had they taught us the importance of aerobics, the object of the game, the distinction between occupying different positions and how actually to play.  Instead, it was assumed one knew these things already so all but the future First XV, or seemingly those whom the games masters liked, became cast into Tamworth Road oblivion!  By way of illustration, perhaps my finest sporting hour came as a forth-former during a 'flu outbreak when, such were the number away with the ailment, I was called upon to play for the House.  The embarrassing bit came at the start when, along with others in my plight, I had to ask where I should stand....

Many good friendships were formed, however and I enjoyed membership of several societies that mirrored my interests in music and transport - interests that continue to this day.

         Choir: See below.

         Christian Union: Interesting films and discussions that led to a changed life, even though I left before Dave Isgrove came on the scene.

         Model Railway Society: Opportunities to apply and learn new skills or exchange ideas.  Some very reasonable displays were exhibited at the annual Parents' Association Bazaar.

         Operatic Society: I was a �gentleman of the chorus� in the 1971 Mikado production.  The "girl" lead ("Yum Yum") was played by Bill Buckley, who made his mark on TV and Radio later.

         Orchestra: I played 2nd Bassoon - consumables included double reeds costing three week's pocket money apiece.

         Railway Society: Real BR steam loco sheds to visit and many a fun story to tell from a different age.  Even some of the trains passing the school featured traction of sufficient interest to risk getting caught watching and to be told to run round middle field at the double!  �Frog� Hall, sympathised with the hobby, however, and appointed a form number-taker for his English periods.  There was even, for a while, a little narrow gauge track at the school, established mainly for amusement but used initially to roll chlorine containers to the swimming pool by means of a hand trolley.

         Tramway and PSV ( i.e. Bus) Society:  Again, today's vintage vehicles were then still new, the local corporations of Walsall and West Bromwich ran their own distinctive buses into the town whilst Midland Red designed and built unique classics in quantity themselves.  Nowadays, new trams operate a metro linking Birmingham and Wolverhampton.

Most people with whom I remain in touch were met through such interests and there remain some quality stories still waiting to be shared.

There were distinct advantages of being involved in some of the above, especially the choir as one sat on the stage behind the Head during morning assembly.  Here, after the service itself, he would rant on about breaches of discipline, "audacity and cheek" (as your earlier correspondent added so classically to the site) or just "sheer, er, er, VAINderlizerm" (his Estuary twang was accentuated when emphasising a point).  Thus one could risk a silent snigger or two without hearing the inevitable "Aind there's a boy over there who thinks it's funny.  Go an' wait outside my staddy!"

Choir practice at lunchtime also was amusing as Doc Terry got agitated, either by others pretending to conduct from the upper corridor ("GEDDOWT, or you�ll all be in The Jug on Saturday!") or when we sang out of tune.  "Oben yermowvz WIDE", he would shout, quite a feat as his own lips remained pursed so as not to drop his cigarette.  Orchestra practice provided similar fun.  This took place in the evening and after the stresses of the day had had more time to reach crescendo.  More than one baton was snapped in frustration, and there are several of the great works that, even now, bring tears to my eyes when I try listening to them whilst also remembering the versions that we used to turn out!

If only my memories about the former teaching staff were matched by more of that which I was supposed to be remembering of their lesson content.  Having said that, the school provided a most adequate education, aspects of which I apply almost daily in my IT Management work for the NHS in North Wales.

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Corrections, Cuttings & other things

( John Myers : john.myers@cd-tr.wales.nhs.uk )

Quote from Pictures Section:

"This is certainly an excellent piece apart from an error in the middle where the publisher made an error saying that Roy Cash was ...more recently the master." .... Master of what ? " In response to the above, and supplementing my earlier e-mail (copy below) about the date, I think that the missing word in the above is Careers. Roy took over as the school's Careers Master after Brian (Chick) Roberts left at Christmas 1967. Brian himself was a pupil at the school from 1947-1954 and returned to teach Geography in 1961. I hope this helps as "Woy" certainly still was Careers Master when I left in 1971.

I have the same cutting as Andrew Strathdee in my collection and, like his, I fear it has no date remaining upon it. However, I am pretty certain that it was taken at the end of the 1984/5 Academic Year as that was when most of those concerned are recorded to have retired, at least according to the listings within the Kerry Osbourne history. I say "most of", because only an arrival date of 1943 is printed for Ron Homer but 1985 is the leaving year provided for each of the other three. The fact that John Harvey was still headmaster at the time confirms that it was taken before Mrs. Marie Clarke arrived on the scene in 1990 (the date of another press cutting I have concerning that historic appointment). If my suggested year is correct then either Mr. Homer's starting date or the reference to 47 year's service, contained within the caption on the press cutting, is out by 5 years. I suspect the newspaper's figure to be the inaccurate one, myself.

Ron Homer was head of the junior section (first and second form) of the school when I arrived in 1966 and, as part of his duties, led separate assemblies on most days of the week. These were held in Old Big School until it closed to become the library, whereupon our gatherings took place in the new dining room, following its being commissioned in the summer of 1967. I thought Mr. Homer to be a calm, likeable and considerate teacher when he took me for English as a second former.

On Mondays, there was an all-school assembly so, for these, the first two years would occupy the side balconies above Big School. Proceedings were led either by the Head or his deputy, Mr. Alfie Dunnett, whose 39 years of service ended when he retired in July 1968. It was on such occasions when the aforementioned advantages of being in the choir become most apparent. Tales of woe were meant to be taken seriously, be they a misfortune attributed to an act of mischief or reports of a disaster experienced by our various sporting representatives when the previous Saturday's fixture results were announced!

In linking sport and the retirees in the photograph, a friend of mine informed me that, during a visit to Edgbaston this summer, he came across a more recent photograph of Rex Wallbank within the Warwickshire Cricket Club programme. Thus it appears that he is spending part of his spare time there in the capacity of a public address announcer. Additionally, the current OVA News indicates that Mr. Wallbank now has an e-mail address, (and thus might find your excellent site before long).

I've found a few more bits and bobs, including a September 1970 all-school photograph and several copies of The Veseyan, each of which contain interesting stuff on staff arrivals, departures, photos of new developments and other snippets. Some of these, from the 1966-1971 period, I'll try to scan, and I'm hoping also to track down some form photos quite soon.

Regarding the 1970 scroll, this photo was taken a second time after a small group of fairly hairy sixth formers was asked by the photographer if they'd mind not wearing their sunglasses. The Head and several of the teaching staff certainly were not amused by this inconvenience! Also, although he can be seen on the left of the 1948 scroll, I think this was the first such photograph upon which Mr. Rowley sat with the other staff. As I recall, a place had to be made available for him at the last moment, meaning all of the prefects on that side of the shot had to budge up in order for there to be sufficient room.

In those days, of course, such pictures were taken by moving a tripod-mounted camera through an arc and arranging the subjects in a matching crescent. Modern lenses and techniques, as used for present day shots at our local schools, appear to have made this method a piece of history in itself.


My time at 'Vesey'

( Philip Cunningham : phil@oakleafsoftware.co.uk )

Dear all,

First of all may I say how much I've enjoyed finding this site, the stories of teachers I remember have been great to read.

I was at vesey between 1971 and 1977, starting in the short lived 1F with Nick Malden. This class was an attempt to take all of us who'd done French at junior school and 'fast track' us to fluency. It didn't work, probably because we already hated French and this put us at a disadvantage. Back then French seemed to be taught just on the remote off-chance of finding yourself in France, probably as part of a future war effort. That we might want to go there and actually speak to French people seemed remote. In the early seventies a trip to North Wales seemed a pretty exotic journey to me.

I think for the fist couple of years I was terrified, all these huge men in cloaks walking around shouting at us and handing out detentions for not wearing caps, having ties undone, being a bit late or for no apparent reason whatsoever - wives giving them a hard time probably. Don Hardy took us for Latin and he scared the bejesus out of me. Ammo,Ammas,Ammat,.....

We had the headmaster 'Spock' (no-emotion) Johnson for Chemistry, "careful boy, I hate the smell of burning flesh"

Art was good fun with the worrying Mr Eudale, I suspect his cry of 'come-hither-worm' was just a warm up for his eventual career as Emperor of the Federation - if you do remember him, 'Return of the Jedi' will never be the same again.

I progressed to 2:1 with Rex Wallbank as form teacher. Rex's lessons were a cross between English Language and Top of the Form, if you failed to answer a question correctly and the boy behind was correct you swapped places. Lessons were pretty active with the chance to rise up to 'Millionaires Alley' or fall to 'skid row'. I'm not sure what the current thinking on English teaching is but feel sure Rex would be given a quiet talking to about his methods.

At the end of the 2nd year our art teacher (not Eudale) took a school trip to the USSR and never returned. He was arrested for either selling jeans or dodgy currency conversion. I remember mixed feelings about this as he had given me the slipper after mishandling a mop over someone else's water-colour. His arrest and detention made the national news and although he was eventually released he never came back to Vesey - cant remember his name.

In the 3rd year Freaky Dave Isgrove arrived, staged a bloodless coup on Topliss's Christian Union and immediately seemed to give everyone detention. Dave's detentions involved having to spend your lunch hour at the Christian Union in the hope that we would find Jesus. I did and became a real creep for a year until I lost Jesus again, at which point I remember a few of us creeping into the CU room and reciting the Lord's Prayer backwards with the cross upside-down - didn't seem to harm us too much, pass the Tannis Root. There were quite a number of us 'born-agains' who spent a few months feeling guilty about everything and seeing others that didn't seem guilty, we tried to convert them too. One of my more guilt ridden friends (nameless), worried about his masturbation activity asked Freaky about this was told that even he (Dave) gave in to temptation every six months or so. Dejectedly, my friend said nothing knowing that he had trouble not giving in every 6 hours.

Things picked up a bit for me when Doc Camplain (a John Lennon tribute teacher- see 'Name the Teacher' mug shot) arrived as he did seem to try encouraging us to learn rather than teaching at us - up till then I was about last in everything so I'm pretty grateful to Doc and his approach. His way of getting respect was to throw anyone misbehaving outside for the lesson until we stopped mucking about then he was pretty reasonable ("gedout boey" - sounded hugely Cockney at the time).

Piggy Nelson was an experience, his approach with us was to try humiliation, piggy to disruptive boy "go and stand in the bin, boy", disruptive boy "in the bin, sir?" piggy "in the bin!" or for a variation. "shut-up and lie on the floor"

I remember a particular fun activity in the 4-5th year which was to turn off the mains switch, stick a bit of metal wire between live and neutral then turn the mains back on with a stick, then run like hell. This progressed to putting stuffing from an arm chair around the wire for added specialFX. This was a stupid, activity which I had nothing to do with and thoroughly condemned (just in case). We (they) also seemed to have fun making bombs out of weed killer and sugar then letting them off down the park. It was the first time a chemistry equation ever seemed interesting. Sometimes, it is amazing that most boys make it through childhood.

At the end of the fifth year quite a few of our year left to do other things, and Phil Blick decided that as a farewell gesture, he was going to 'fly over the pool' and with an attending crowd that filled the surrounding area. He took a fast run up and, whilst he flapped his blazer for added lift, he soared across the pool, another couple of feet and he'd probably have killed himself on the concrete. Don Hardy arrived, believing Phil had been thrown him took quiet a bit of persuading that this was Phil own unassisted idea.

The main celebrity for the year was Bill Buckley who after appearing in several things including 'that's life' is now the continuity announcer for Channel 5, at least he sounds like Bill to me.

There's a lot more I could write about my time at Vesey and although I don't keep up with anyone these days I think it probably was a good time. Some of the teaching methods seem rather dubious by today's political correctness, I don't think Hamilton-Jones would get away with slapping me across the face these days (I was only 12 years old at the time and about 1/2 his size). Maybe it's age or time that makes it seem like fun but I think it was for most of the time, or maybe I'd just forgetting the worst bits.

If anyone remembers me do drop me an email

Phil Cunningham


Cricket info

( Matt Brennan : scalby1@aol.com )

I thought you might be interested to know that (although England are doing crap) the guy who got the 2nd wicket for England in the 5th test (James Ormond) is the the son of my sixth form chemistry
teacher (still there I think), just a thought you might think interesting since no-one else from vesey is doing anything special (except maybe Bradley Haye)


Being shown round the School

(Gary Cater : gary@carter43.freeserve.co.uk )

I well remember the day I was shown round the school by a couple of officers.
 
It was 1975, probaly June I think.
 
They stopped some lad and gave him a bollocking for running in the corridor, and then seeing he had red socks on, made him hand them over leaving him with bare feet in his shoes.
 
I knew from then on that petty rules were going to feature large for the next few years.
 
This site has brought back so many memories but here are a few to start with.
 
I am surprised to see Miss Etches in the 1973 photo.  She gave the impression that a nervous breakdown was only seconds away from the time I arrived in 1975 to whenever it was when she left - I am amazed she lasted more than 6 months really, given the level of control she had on the classroom (nil).
 
Does anyone remember Janet Cullings a rather attractive drama teacher in 1975-76 who I think went to live in Canada?  More to the point does anyone have a picture?
 
A few vignettes:-
 
Doc Host: "Morris, where's your book?"
John Morris: "It's in my desk sir"
Doc Host: "Well it's no bloody good there is it?"
 
Ian Perkins walks into big school with purple hair.
After the assembly, RJH drily says "Perkins my office now"
IP duly suspended
 
Piggy Nelson: "You forget boy, I was in the commando's".
 
Whenever it snowed I seem to recall a huge snowball fight with the college next door.  One memorable day RJH tries to break it up and both sides pelt him (mainly with snow - but whatever came to hand), then "Don" Hardy appears and without actually saying anything stops the riot - even the college kids were frightened of him.
 
Another "Don" story.  We were were waiting to go into RE in room 10 or 11 and there was a huge amount of noise and general mucking about, when the corridor starts to go quiet at one end and gradually falls silent as Don makes his way down - it was like the parting of the Red Sea.
 
Another RE story was in that attic room where Rio used to give his lessons.  It was our form room at the time and some lads got out onto the roof through the window at break.  Then Rio starts his lesson without noticing that there is anyone missing (the window was shut).  Cue downpour and then after much amusement there is a tap at the window and a couple of very wet guys enter the room - needless to say Rio did not see the funny side of this.
 
In the same room I seem to recall the freshly painted ceiling with boot marks all over it and no-one could work out how Andy Malloch (I think) had done it.
 
Anyway enough ramblings for now.

Bestial Behaviour

(Dom Parker : info@domparker.com )

There are so many stories I could tell but how about this for a starter. 

I am not sure when it was created but many of you will remember the �Raybould Room�, basically a sixth form common room. 

Well, every year, towards the end of term I think, parents would come round the school with their young sons who were doubtless about to sit the exam to try and get in. During this tour they would be shown the Raybould room, but only in so much as they were able to look through the glass at the top of the door to see us all inside. 

I think we were in the upper 6th at the time but when the parents came round we thought we would try and set a good example and make the parents aware of what they were letting their sons in for. As the parents approached about 8 of us sat on chairs in front of the door and then another 8 sat on their laps and proceeded to kiss and grope each other (graphically) and start taking each other clothes off !

As the youngsters we a little too short to see through the window one unsuspecting parent lifted their son up to look in. Dave Ward, who was sitting on my lap at the time saw the boy, pointed at him and shouted �He�s mine, I want him�. The look of terror on the young lads face was priceless and left my crying my eyes out laughing.      

Later that same day as I recall, someone brought in a picture of the Rugby first 11 from the �Sutton News�. One of us who shall be nameless thought they would test their artistic skills and drew massive appendages on each of the players. The picture was then pushed under the door of Don Hardy�s office.

The next day at assembly �Big John� produced the photo and, going purple as he spoke, said �This is totally bestial behavior from parasitical perverts leaching off the reputation of the school�. Classic statement John.

Is there anyone who remembers the �R.S.O.G.T.R� or better known as the Royal Society of Gas Tap Removers. The task was the unscrew the gas tap and actually remove it (que hissing gas) during a lesson. The job was then to get the tap back on before being caught (not easy when everyone around you is pushing you and waving their hands over the gas tap to stop you). Inevitably membership of the RSOGTR started with being ejected from Physics.


Possible contact for Old Boys from 1914 !

Editor (info@bishopvesey.co.uk)

(By the editor) : I recently noticed the following message while looking through the message board on the site:

Thought I'd try to beat the duck on really old boys! My father, George Edward Norton, has just celebrated his 90th birthday. He was a Veseyan from 1922-29 and won caps (glorious black velvet with gold tassels in those days!) for his rugby heroics. He was an active Old Veseyan well into his retirement and played rugby for the Old Boys into his forties. He was also a member of the Old Veseyans Masonic Lodge.

Sadly, I think he is the last of his 'class' to survive but is still moderately hale and hearty and living in North Wales.

As a teenager of the early/mid-60s I have very happy memories of dances in Big School - especially the one when the roof caught fire and we all had to zoom out PDQ. I went to John Willmott GS.

Mary-Ann Bloomfield (nee Norton), now in Devon.

PS. Vesey boys were always the best lookers.

 

Knowing that we had a registration from a gentleman from around the same time I sent the following e-mail :

Dear Mary, I noticed your message on the site today : I thought you may be (very) interested to know that we DO have a member from your father�s year at school (I think). The gentleman I am referring to is Eric James Mitchell who was born in 1910 and now lives with his daughter in South Australia. I estimate that he is now 91 years old so he may well be in the same year or one year ahead of you father. I would be so interested to know if you father knows him, please do tell me. Eric�s details are listed on the site at http://www.bishopvesey.co.uk (just go to the �search� page and click on �1910�) Many thanks for leaving your comments on the site; your contribution is much appreciated. Kind regards, Dominic Parker

Shortly afterwards I received the following reply :

Dear Dominic, Thanks for your message. I have now been in touch with my father - who was always known as Jock Norton (he's Scottish) - and he recalls Eric Mitchell. In fact, he thinks they were in the same class. Other names remembered from those glory days are John Slater (became one of Sutton's biggest estate agents - Slater Dann), Doug Sims (late pharmacist; his widow lives in Torquay or Paignton, I think) and Stuart Browning (who was a tad younger than my father). They were all great supporters of the Old Boys and my father, certainly, turned out for rugby for many years, as well as mixed hockey. I understand he was an utter tyrant at both and, though not of huge stature, was known as a fearsome rugby full-back. It must have been that stubborn Celtic blood! He was also a member of the Old Veseyan Masonic Lodge in Sutton. My father, despite some illnesses of age, still gets around in North Wales and way beyond, regularly taking foreign holidays with his wife Joan. His first wife was Olive Norton (nee Claydon), who came from a very old Sutton family. She was a writer and for many years her column was in the Sutton Coldfield News and other regional newspapers. She turned to writing and, as Kate Norway, Bess Norton and Hilary Neal, wrote novels prolifically right up until her death in 1973, at the comparatively early age of 60. She and my father first encountered each other when his family moved to Sutton from Scotland when he was a wee kilted primary school boy. She recalled that her first sight of him was a flurry of fists and feet fighting his way up from the bottom of a pile in a playground rumble! Hope this is of interest. If you get any responses that may be of interest to my father, please pass them on so I can tell him. Regards, Mary-Ann Bloomfield (nee Norton).

With this reply I fired off a message to Eric via his son in Australia. I have recently received the following reply from Mary-Ann again.

I have already heard from Eric Mitchell's son in Australia and it will be interesting to see what transpires! 
Regards, Mary-Ann

It is great to think that bishopvesey.co.uk may have been able to establish contact between Old Boys after such a long time.

Details: George (Jock) Edward Norton, born October 3, 1911. Left Bishop Vesey after matriculation. Former member Old Veseyans' Association.

June 2002 : It is with great sadness that we must advise that George (Jock) Edward Norton has recently passed away at his home in Wales.  i.bloomfield@virgin.net


Graffiti

(Nicholas Yapp : )

A visit to your "name the masters" photo section and the sight of this lady french teacher prompted a memory of some grafitti on the wall of one of the french classrooms.

"Meez Etches physicallee eez not so good"

You'll get no argument from me!

 

Oldest old Veseyan in South Africa

(Steve Maynard : mwmayhil@mweb.co.za  )

Hi Guys,

Have known this old buggar for probably 10 years and met him again last week in a drinking hole near me.Does anybody admit to knowing this old bastard ? Details as follows ;

Mr. S. M. Willmott, Age 72, First year at Vesey 1930 !!

Better known to his friends as Don Willmott

Marie Clark Story

(Steve Bradley : steve_bradley@mrn.co.uk )

Bishop Vesey's Grammar School headteacher Marie Clarke will retire at the end of the year, happy in the knowledge that she has engineered a quiet revolution in her time there.

Mrs Clarke steps down at the age of 55 to make way for new head David Iddon - but is proud of her achievements since taking over in January 1989.

The affable former King Edwards Camp Hill Girls' deputy head, a Brummie by birth, has made Vesey a friendlier place in that time, softening its hard edges and making pupils and parents feel more comfortable in the environment.

Change started as soon as she succeeded the long-serving John Harvey to become the school's first female headteacher.

Pictures were bought to adorn the school's bare, forbidding walls and, piece by piece, much of the teaching accommodation was rebuilt. A new art and design centre, library, and sports hall have been constructed, the sports pavilion has been considerably refurbished, the music accommodation has been remodelled and moved, and the sixth form common room has been extended.

The makeover didn't stop there. The new subject of Personal & Social Education was introduced immediately, tellingly not as an extra GCSE, but for pupils' well-being in a world in which she judged as all-important the ability to forge relationships of all kinds.

Information & Communication Technology and A Level Computing were brought onto the curriculum, where the school had previously remained steadfastly traditionalist and disapproving.

Astonishingly, when Mrs Clarke came to the school, there were no word processors and no photocopier in the school office, and secretaries were still using carbon paper to produce copies.

Law and psychology have also been added at the request of A Level students - furthering the partnership approach.

An OFSTED report, published following an inspection last September, has paid tribute to the strong relationships between staff and pupils, to the respect youngsters have for one another, and for their cheerful and purposeful nature.

Mrs Clarke is in the middle of a painstaking interview process in which she will meet in turn all 124 new pupils, due to join the school in September, plus their parents.

In days gone by, the school would simply invite parents to a collective question and answer session, and the youngsters would not get to join in at all.

She is a real "people person" who has managed to thaw Vesey's frosty image, to the extent that past pupils from her time are welcomed as visitors even when they drop in unannounced.

"When people say it's very relaxed, friendly and welcoming here, that makes me really pleased because that's how we've wanted it to be," she said.

"The growth in subjects like art and music has been amazing. Our art was very poor, and our boys didn't do it for very long. Now we've got large groups at GCSE and A Level, and the same is true of music.

"They get to do both subjects for three years, whereas before, they could drop them after just a year."

Another Clarke innovation was the abolition of the streaming process in which pupils were split into "mains" and "specials".

"People felt they weren't as good as anybody else, which simply doesn't make that much sense in this type of school," she said.

"My philosophy is more about looking at youngsters' strengths and weaknesses as individuals. Until 1992, when we started taking pupils in at age 11, that was something we had to do quite quickly.

"We've now got that much more time to get the measure of a youngster's learning potential and to try to fulfil it."

Results have matched the impressive initiatives. In 1997, Vesey was named as one of the 100 most improved schools in the country and in ten years up to 1999, the average GCSE points score per pupil had risen from 47 to nearly 60.

But Mrs Clarke said the school, which now provides work experience time for Year 10 pupils, was far from an exam factory.

"The most important thing you learn in your life isn't a subject on the curriculum. It is how to make relationships with people and how to work with other people.

"That's what we teach in Personal & Social Education - how to handle feelings and how to work with others who are different from yourselves."

She paid tribute to her "tremendously well-qualified and enthusiastic staff", who had seen the changes through in what had been a difficult era for grammar schools.

"We had this possibility of a campaign against grammar schools and ourselves and Sutton Girls' School put together an action group. We were ready to respond to any possible threat, and indeed we still are.

 

Carol at Christmas

It was in 1977 I think that Ron Homer stood in front of lower school assembly and congratulated an unlikely group of pupils for collecting some money for charity. He did not know the origin of this money, and it was clear that he was not happy in his (Piggy) ignorance.

The origin of the dosh, at a princely sum of 2p per copy, was the Vesey Carol book (can�t remember the proper title). Does anyone still have a copy of this precious work of parody? It was put together (I think) by Dick Mundye, Archie Stagg, Col Zetie and one or two others, and the carols were all traditional tunes with Veseyfied words. I can�t recall most of them, but a few lines still come to mind:

To the tune of �O Come all ye faithful�
O come, all ye smokers,
Suffering from cancer
O come ye, o come ye,
Down for a fag.

Come and smoke your filters and your king size
O let me have a drag,
O let me have a drag,
O let me have a drag,
You are me mate.

Go and get stuffed,
You scrounging little spastic,
Leave us alone,
And let us drag in peace��..

To the tune of �God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen�
God rest ye merry Vesey men
Let nothing you dismay
The snowball fight with the college
The highlight of the day��

(it then proceeded to detail this annual event, finishing with�) And so the battle ended The college they had lost But even though we�d beaten them It was at a high cost For Don had seen the battle fought And his path we had crossed But we�d all gone and killed those college prats (those college prats) Yes we�d all gone and killed those college prats.

Can anyone remember any more of this seminal masterpiece? Is the world ready yet for this work, so very far ahead of its time 25 years ago? Does anyone really care?

 

Naked at Wyndley Baths

Once every Wednesday would come another day of torment. I would go to the games session at Windley Swimming Pool, dreaming of what lay beyond this earth, the stars, planets, moons and space dust. Oh I had a time.

When I got there I would Slip into my retro swimming costume and slip gratuitously into the wet wet water, under the gaze of many boys. On this particular occasion I hadn't correctly fastened the buckles on my leather swimming apparel and the inevitable had finally happened! I was so embarrassed, the back slipped down and it was very very meager for me to be looking like this in front of all those admiring boys glances, I'm sure I saw their shorts become tented. With such grace I rose out of the erotic scene and retired to the changing rooms, through the small foot pool. Reclusive glances were given as I did so, I exchanged them for sultry pouts.

 

BVGS 1952-1960

(Chris Wood : cbwoodz@aol.com )

A few memories of BVGS 1952-1960 Can you get this checked by a lawyer?

Please correct any obvious mistakes (e.g. name spelling). 

Teachers:-

1. Who was the very bald music teacher? We called him "Baldy", until we  found out that the real "Baldy" was the French teacher of similar appearance, deputy head (Bridges).

2. Hardy was the stern Latin teacher with a bristling moustache. He used to throw board-dusters at boys who talked or fell asleep.

3. "Thug" Wallace (geography) did too, but otherwise did not fit his nickname. 4. On the other hand, I remember the small "Dinky" vigorously slapping the face of  Flavell (?), a boy much bigger than he.

5. We had a new headmaster Geoff (Black Pig) Cross. The nickname was pretty silly, but indicated a certain unpopularity. He was very religious, and contributed to my becoming an atheist. His education, especially regarding science, seemed to have finished about 1000AD. He lacked humour and warmth. He was mad about scouting. (The less popular head-boys were all keen scouts). But he did organise a swimming pool and tennis  courts, on a self-help basis. And the school was OK in his time.  I was not one of those who tried to start rumours that Geoff "slept" with his whippet, nor  did I paint slogans to this effect on some school buildings, but I knew some of the culprits.  One boy put a firework through Cross' letterbox (really stupid). Another organised things like a lorry-load of manure on his path (until the police caught him).  Geoff depreed me for a childish joke in connection with "mock" A-levels.  I was na�ve enough to believe that these were just unimportant practice. This was  propaganda spread for the sake of the nervous. But ceasing to be a prefect just freed me from responsibilities that I never liked. 6. Rex Wallbank (sport) was new at the time, not always friendly, but really very good.  BVGS already had a reputation for sport. Derrick Robbins had recently captained England at rugby, and John Young won the AAA 100 yards. But still Rex had a lot to do with my love of sport, which has kept me from taking other things too seriously. Past 60, I still ski, and play squash, tennis, chess, etc. 7.  Ron Homer (English) was a nice man. After I captained the second XV, at a ripe age, he told me he was surprised that I did not do it badly.

8.  I never had Piggy Nelson (German), nor was I good at languages, so why do I live in Munich? 9.  ? Terry (music) was also heavily involved in Gilbert and Sullivan, which was good.  He had worked as a musician on ocean liners. He ran the fencing club. 10. Bean Jackson (maths, another silly nickname) did a lot for sport, and was a nice guy, when one knew him. He earned my respect when he got me to help with another boy's  problem "because I understood it better than he (Jackson)". Garry Hargreaves (first XV) was depreed for using the opportunity to thump Jackson during a rugby game. I then asked the head-boy Phil Malim if I could still use the prefects common room, in case I was depreed. He said yes, and kept his word, after it happened. 11  Glimp Daniels (maths), liked the ladies and was a very good mathematician. He consciously organised his own harmless nickname. He never issued a punishment, even  when Roy Smith threw a dart that nearly pinned his hand to the blackboard. Roy was school tennis champion. He had good ideas. I remember a rugby match where  Jeff Davis, the school rugby captain, dived for the line with ball in outstretched hands, and Roy kicked the ball out of his hands into touch.

12  Udale (woodwork) was stern and pretty deaf. While demonstrating something, he  remarked that his chisel was too blunt. Roy (aged 11 or 12) said in a loud but normal voice "bad workmen blame their tools". We never knew whether Udale heard. 13  After Taffy Jones (biology) (enough said elsewhere) nobody else seems eccentric enough to deserve a mention.

14. O yes, there was a Polish Dr. (physics) with bad breath. Perhaps the Germans had been  nasty to him in the war. He used to say "Talking means walking....to detention". David Dunning and I let off small quantities of home-made gunpowder during his classes, but he could not find an appropriate rhyme. 

Thanks to them all, and to my school friends.  I enjoyed school enough to stay till the end of the school year, after getting a place at Emmanuel Cambridge. There again I had a wonderful time, at least for the last 4 of my 5 years. But sometimes I wonder whether there was much sense in all I learnt. Others with worse results have made much more of a mark in the world. Now I would like to contact Roy Smith, Colin Baker, Des Harris, Chris Webb, members of our chess team that came third in the national competition, and Keith Embry and Mac Grant, also chess players. (Frank Wood and Roger Impett also played in the team).  

I remember putting up tents for the boy scout Jamboree in Sutton Park. I was surprised to be told to put them up where the grass was a type that grows where the ground gets very wet. Sure enough, it poured with rain and the tents were flooded. Scouts had to sleep in the town hall. Regards, Chris Wood

 

Betwsy-Coed

(Anon  : Name not supplied but we liked this so much we decided to publish anyway :))

Well, we were about 15, so we did what any other boys of that age would do - we "compared" - you know? So M was leaning out of the top bunk doing the official comparison (I seem to remember I won on length but R won on circumference - but I could be wrong). Anyhow - M fell off the bunk, performing a somersault and landing on his back against the metal edge of the bed. He yells, we giggle like schoolgirls under the covers, and Nick Maulden (HCDC) bursts in - silence falls. I think he tutted, and left.

Ahhh- happy days!

 

Trips and Bops ...

Neil Smith ( na.smith@btconnect.com )

Just a couple of memory joggers for any of you that were on these trips between 1975 and 1979.

 TRIPS

Switzerland (can't remember the year)

Somewhere I have a photo of a bunch of us on the Switzerland trip with a group of Japanese tourists (all girls naturally!) who (whom? who cares) we had convinced we were 18 or so for various pecuniary reasons.  It was probably somewhere cultural, and the bear pits in Berne spring to mind but I could be wrong.  Anyway, totally unrelated but also on the same trip we discovered "Slime".  I think half the trip bought a tub - great stuff, almost made you feel like paying attention in Chemistry.

Bettws-y-Coed

Now anyone who was on this trip could not forget this.  Descending from the summit we went in for a bit of scree running, which is a great way of getting downhill rapidly.  Unfortunately one of our group, I think it was a lad called Patrick (Downes / Downey?)thought he could do it quicker than the rest of us and raced straight downhill, only to overbalance and bounce, landing several times on his face, to the bottom of the slope.  Screams to fill our darkest hours for several weeks ensued, we all thought Paddy had been blinded and he ended up being airlifted out by RAF helicopter (lucky git).  He returned to school several weeks later with some really cool facial scarring.  Way to go Paddy!

BOPS

Who can remember someone (for arguments sake lets call him Ian Weston) landing one on Nick Partridge in the dinner queue - I think he cracked Nick's cheekbone and ended up being suspended.

And finally, Roger Thom where are you?  From what I remember Roger you used to look like the tall skinny one in the Bash Street Gang - you gained my respect when Rex Wallbank introduced us to the noble art of boxing and you laid me out flat in about 10 seconds with a smack in the solar plexus - you were the great white hope of British boxing - where did it all go wrong Roger?