Email From Derek Hawksworth (KES 1939-45)

Not on the High School Certificate list for 1945 due to an unfortunate concatenation of circumstances.

Being back on line after my antedeluvian computer died last year, I have been browsing our website and here are a few random thoughts.

Marcus Watling

First. If either the library or archives would like them, I have copies of the Penguin editions of his translations of Sophocles ‘Theban Plays’ and ‘Electra and other plays’; they are not in pristine condition and I expect that the school has them.

Richard Lamb’s appreciation reminded me of the shame I have always felt about the way we ‘ragged ‘ this gentle man.

On one occasion he went through the Latin version of ‘the young lady of Riga’ with us: we were suspiciously silent when he arrived for our next Latin verse class and he found us trying to translate the scurrilous doings of the lady (?!) with ‘the young man of Baroda’. He went through it with us and, for once, his class was hard-working and attentive, producing a polished translation with the help of Marcus’s knowledge of rude Latin words. But, regrettably, only for once.

On another occasion we were translating Cicero and he said ‘No, Webber [I think], while very ingenious, I cannot accept “Ye gods and little fishes” as a satisfactory translation for”O tempora, O mores!”’

Triggered by the December 1939 and spring 1940 magazines, are memories of the ill-fated Trial by Jury which, I believe, he produced and in which he played the judge; I was one of the bridesmaids but my voice had broken by the time we returned after the two ‘blitzes’. (And here also a reminder of ‘Gilman the porter’ saving the props and, probably the school – formerly Mr Gilman the caretaker from my old school, Fir Vale.)

And I think that Marcus was responsible for the following, sung to the tune ‘Moscow’:

Glorious AWB
From blessed Trinity
He must be right.
Straight from sciatic bed
Comes our illustrious head;
Say have you ever read
Textbook on Light?

There were reputed to be verses for Textbook on Heat and Textbook on Sound but I never came across them.

The school song

Somebody produced a cartoon of a man wielding a pick-axe ‘Perce Pickaxe’.

And, of course AWB was known as ‘artium bonarum’.

Teachers – sundry memories

Mr Scutt was given to making puns; but his jokes were funny, ours were insolence. Trotter arrived late for class one day: ‘I am sorry, sir’, ‘You will have to trotalong next time’, ‘Yes sir, I’ll scuttle along’,  ‘Go and get the cane boy’.

Joe Clay walked with an ash plant with which he pounded the desk rhythmically when making a point – Ticonderoga went well to his stick. During one English lesson, in despair, he said ‘You lot of toughs; the only clause you know is santa Claus.’

Janet Manners and Rae Horne. Straight from college, they bore up well. But one of them blew up at a class that was acting up and shouted ‘I can’t bear children’: the class exploded with unseemly laughter and she ran out scarlet-faced.

Roger Bowman was (without foundation I believe) reputed to be involved with Janet Manners. At a School Shout our form ‘did’ Assembly and, portraying AWB, I had to announce ‘There has been an explosion in the Chemistry Laboratory and this year’s charity is raise money for a new pair brass ears for Miss Manners’. I ruined everything by blushing.

Willy Moles had an ulcer for which he received a special milk ration; from time to time he had to take a drink, upon which we would chant ‘La biere, la biere, la gloirieuse biere’.

He would tell you to get the cane from the office and, when you returned, tell you to take it back and ‘consider yourself beaten ten time harder than I could have done it’.

Ah! Happy reminiscences in one’s senility: Badger’s Green (in which the colonel – Peter Barthorpe – had to say ‘bloody’) and Dante Campaila – and not forgetting all my contemporaries in the obituaries column.

Derek Hawksworth, S7, hawksworth*at*; July 2008