The Maltonian Web


Maltonians' Memories

Dave Evans

Dave sent extensive recollections of his schooldays in August 2002.

I started at MGS in October 1958, when the "new" extensions on the north of the original Middlecave Road quadrangle were almost complete. I think the new classrooms were usable at the start of that term, but not the hall and dining room, or labs, so we still had the wooden building down from the quadrangle doubling up as the gym and dining room, with boys and girls dining separately! We moved into the new dining room not too much later, and went onto mixed, junior and senior dinner sessions, rather than the previous boys and girls lunching separately - co-ed had really arrived! The "prefab" classrooms further down the field from the old gym, which I think were science up till then, were also handed over totally to Art, and we got our own kiln and wheel for pottery. We were the first "bulge" year and took the school to the heady levels of 300 pupils. My own twin sons attended a high school in Johannesburg, South Africa, 30 years later which had 300 pupils in each year! We started very egalitarianly, with classes 1a and 1a (alpha - the Greek equivalent of "a") but by second form we were streamed into 2a and 2b, prompting the inevitable puns before we all knew which classes we were going to be in of "2b, or not 2b, that is the question."

One of the teacher's nicknames which I haven't seen anyone else mentioning was Mr Lumb, who was in the French Department in the very early sixties. He sported very luxuriant sideboards on his cheeks, which earned him "furniture face." Mr Lloyd was completely bald, and got "egghead", fairly predictable, as well as "Yogi" - because he was "bear" on top! We also briefly had an English teacher - Miss Roe, which mutated into "Ma" Roe and then "Marrow."

Pupils nick-names of my era, other than those mentioned below - Petronella Robertson was Nella, Danny (Really Peter, I think - his Dad was Danny, if I'm remembering correctly) Stead, Tumpy (Derek) Bayes, Cripsy (Mike) Smith, Doggy (Brian) Durno, Goggsy (Geoff?) Burr, etc. My nickname was Norman, after a radio comedian of that name, of "Over the Garden Wall" fame, and I had a class mate, Norman Jackson - we had a birthday card filled in with "To Norman, from Norman", which went backwards and forwards for years!

One peculiarity of MGS in the late 50s and early 60s, which I never came across anywhere else, was the slang of "razzing about." It related to playing the fool, and particularly being disruptive in class - we really used to "razz" Miss Roe, for instance (although never Miss Simpson, who must have been a similar age - in her very early twenties when she came to MGS, at about the same time as Miss Roe, but had a natural authority which brooked no "razzing" at all!) Presumably it shared a root with the old jazz age expression "razza-matazz", but how did it arrive at MGS as a verb with that connotation? Does anyone from a slightly earlier era than me know?

Miss Simpson's wedding was a major event, when I was in about form five, I think. It broke a lot of hearts, as many of us had fallen her on the day she arrived. We had somehow got a lot of balloons and filled them with hydrogen from a cylinder in the lab, and had them at the back of the hall, hidden, with banners attached for the final assembly before the holiday when she got married. When it got round to the point where Mr Taylor addressed the topic and the gifts the various "bits" of the school had for her, the balloons went up quite literally.

Another peculiarity, as I think Rosemary Taylor mentioned, was Quad football, with a tennis ball, and she was quite valid in her musings about the rules. It existed in two decidedly different forms - at lunch time, it was five or six a side, teams were picked in classical schoolboy style, with any spare players being "shown the door", and it was played along reasonably standard indoor football rules, with rebounds off practically any surfaces, including the Biology Lab windows! The goals were the centremost gaps between the "cloister" supports, with the one local rule being that a shot which hit the leg of the basketball stand in the centre of each goal and came out again was not a goal! As my mother would aver, it was murder on shoes, the asphalt of the surface wearing away rubber or leather soles at the rate of about a pair per term!

The other version was played before school started and during the morning break, and was essentially a total free for all, with very large numbers, although following a generally similar set of football rules (e.g. hands not allowed, except for goalies, who usually numbered about three a side.) New arrivals seemed to join whichever side they fancied, although the ratios somehow managed to stay fairly even, and from this distance, I wonder how we even knew who was on which side, as we would all have been wearing the same uniforms!

Someone else mentioned the winter snowball fights with the Secondary Modern which raged backwards and forwards across the fields at lunch times when there was snow. I remember clearly in my later years dashing through the second (senior) sitting of dinner so we could get back again as soon as possible to "rescue" the juniors that someone else remembers being in such retreat that they were surrounded in the old "quad." On one occasion, when I was head boy, we were driving the secondary modern pupils back in spectacular style when Mr Whiteley arrived, almost apoplectic about the mayhem and, quite understandably, I suppose, roped me in as head boy to help break it up. I very discretely dropped the snowball I was carrying, on his "blind" side. To this day, I still wonder if he'd seen it and decided to pretend he hadn't, as being the most pragmatic way of tackling the problem!

Mr Lloyd was a great chess fan, and the school had an exceptionally strong team in the early 60s, which I was not good enough to be part of. There was also a large overlap with the town team, which played in the York league. As I moved up the school and the elder, better players left, they resorted to me. I remember coming back from York after a town team game, late one winter's night, in the back of Mr Lloyd's car, with him driving, with a misting up windscreen. He was wiping it backwards and forwards with one hand whilst the other, holding the steering wheel, was moving in sympathy the other way, so we were zig-zagging along the A64 at about 50 miles an hour!

When I was in the Fifth Form, we got a new Sports teacher - Mr Pay, who had cut his teeth at one of the tough London inner city schools - Holland Park, I think. One of his many specialities - he was a wonderful person and a wonderful teacher, as many other reminiscences also comment - was to organise various unusual sports events, many of which werequite different from the ordinary "staff vs school" type matches.

One I remember was the school senior cricket team vs a "collected" teachers' team arranged by Mr Pay, with his other school sports teacher friends from around the region, which included our North Riding cricket coach, one Salim ud Din, I think, who happened to open the batting for Pakistan in those days. The teachers batted first, and he and Mr Rolls opened. Bruce had been a very good cricketer in his day, and had taught my mother, who had been at MGS 30 years earlier, but he was now very close to retirement. Salim was still very much in his prime, so as a joke, Pete Rolls, our captain and Bruce's son, set a "Brett Lee on a green top" sort of field - slips, gullies, silly point, silly mid on and off - the lot! Philip "Chip" Lonsdale would have bowled the first over. For the second, I think I was at silly mid on and expecting to die imminently, with Chip at silly mid off, and whoever bowled that over (Ken Rex, perhaps?) dropped in a juicy half volley fairly early on, which Salim leaned into, and hit like a bullet, straight into where one of Chip's hands happened to be - hysterics all round, but the teachers were one down! Mr Rolls went on to score an elegant 50! I have no idea of the result!

Another similar game occurred at basketball - the "neighbourhood teachers" team had a very unfair advantage in the form of Mr Bower, who was about 6 foot 4 inches, but as far as I remember, we used to beat them. I was a year ahead of Rosemary Taylor, and for anyone who's read her reminiscences on the web site, I had the privilege of captaining that "brilliant" team she referred to. We had about ten of us at 6 foot and the above mentioned Chip Lonsdale at 6 ft 2 in or so, so whilst we couldn't match Mr Bower, our average height was probably taller than the teachers. The first such game was hyped up tremendously. The school team ran onto court first to the strains of a tune called "Entry of the Gladiators", doing our best to look cool (and no doubt failing miserably) but we were hopelessly overwhelmed in that phase, as the staff team came out to "Sweet Georgia Brown" and proceeded to do a very well rehearsed warm up along the lines of the Harlem Globetrotters! Practically the whole school seemed to be crammed into the Hall to watch, and whereas for a normal game, the crowd was restricted to the stage, for this occasion, they also stood several deep round the walls. It wasn't a large hall for basketball to start with - for that game, it was like playing on a table tennis table!

We also had similar hockey games, with the girls' senior side taking on a totally internal mixed MGS staff team, which included Mr Lloyd in a pair of shorts which would have fitted an elephant, and Mrs. Jennings and Miss Simpson as she was in those days (probably very early 1960s) both of whom could have passed as pupils at 10 yards or more. Indeed, they did, as far as many parents who didn't know them were concerned - "No, no - that small lass on Mr Lloyd's right playing for the staff - Who's She?" was a frequent question.

One of Mr Pay's other ideas was a single wicket cricket tournament with the under 15s providing the fielders - very advanced for the mid 1960s! I still have the appropriate school magazine which says that I won it, although I have to confess no recollection of the tournament at all!

Another excellent example of how Mr Pay got everyone involved was a fascinating basketball tournament, probably about Easter 1964. Each member of the first team squad (we probably rounded that up to 16 of us to get a decent format for a knockout) had to pick a team which had one member from the upper sixth, one from the lower sixth, one from the fifth form, one from the fourth and another more junior. I was the eldest of 3 brothers who were all at MGS that year, so my team certainly had one of my brothers in it, if not both. With my nickname of "Norman" and my middle name of William, I couldn't resist the link-up with 1066 - our team was William and the Conquerors! Mick Dixon was school captain and his nickname was Louis, for some reason, and we met the "Louisville Rockets" in the final. As far as I remember, we scraped home as winners, and one of the more junior members of my side then asked if we were all going to get Basketball Colours as a result!

The cricket nets were at the bottom of the field, backing onto Broughton Road, and didn't have adequate netting roofs over the batsmen in those days, so it was very easy to get a top edge which went out of the nets, back over your head, and into the corn field on the other side of the road, as often as not, "never to be seen again." Harvest normally only occurred after school had broken up for the summer holidays, so there were always a few people keeping an eye out for when that field was cut, so we could dive in and see how many cricket balls we could now find more easily amongst the stubble!

The house sports matches were of very variable quality, because with such a small school and pupils being allocated when they started, by the time we had got up to the top end of the school, chance frequently left some houses a lot stronger than others. I remember in my final year, Willoughby, my team, went down 7-6 at football to Carlisle in one semi-final. I played right wing for the school team and had got 5 of our 6, so jokingly went to Mr Pay and said "How about a try out at centre forward?" to which Mr Pay retorted "No - Pete (Rolls - the normal centre forward) got eight!" In the other semi-final, Fitzwilliam had beaten Holgate 12-1. As some wag commented, both games had been decided by the odd goal in thirteen! They were leading 11-1 and after the eleventh, Mr Martingdale, who was refereeing, had said, "OK - one more, and we'll call it a day." The kick off went back to John Hanson, the captain, at centre half, and the only school first team player in the Holgate side, and he dribbled it back to his own goal, to the bemusement of everyone else on the field, and scored it himself, picked up the ball and headed for the changing rooms! Willoughby also lost a ludicrous cricket final the same year to Carlisle - we got them all out for about 60 but could only scrape together 26 ourselves!

Mr Pay had an incredibly open, approachable style, but he was always in control of how close we got - perfect for a teacher. One day after school, several of us were standing around and sitting on the "box" in the gym - we'd probably been doing circuits - and he joined us and there was a touch of horse play which he was on the edge of. Mike Hill did something which involved Mr Pay and which he decided was a bit too familiar, and like lightning, he elbowed Mike in the solar plexus - not hard enough to maim him, but certainly hard enough to make it clear to all of us that that had been a bit too far!

He died tragically at a very young age a few years after I left MGS - for anyone who hasn't read it, Mr Taylor did a superb obituary which is in the Maltonian section of the school's website. In it, he refers to Mr Pay's ability to get everyone involved in sport somehow, thereby building the self esteem of even the children with limited natural sporting ability. A fitting epitaph for a wonderful man.

Rosemary Taylor also mentions Simon Reed's death, in a car accident, just before some exams. Simon was one of my best friends, and I remember having to console some of the girls in our class who were going into the exam, essentially by lying about Simon's chances of recovery, when several of us knew that his chances of even living were very small. As Rosemary said, he was another wonderful person, taken from us at an even younger age than Mr Pay, as was Pat Youdan the previous year. I think he had been run over by a reversing tractor when he was younger, and was a paraplegic, but refused to let it get him down. He got around the school amazingly well with a pair of "forearm" crutches, rather than the full length shoulder ones, and also participated as fully as he could in school activities very cheerfully, even acting as scorer for the cricket team, but alas, his system gave up under the strain and he died whilst in the Upper Sixth.

Someone else of Terry Dyson's vintage mentioned his cricket abilities - he's better known for being part of the Spurs team who were the first this century to do the famous football "double", in 1961, of course. Like a lot of gifted ball players, the actual sport was fairly immaterial - he turned out for the Old Scholars in one of the cricket matches in the mid-sixties, when I was playing for the school, and probably having not touched a bat for years, proceeded to pulverise the bowling! That might have been the same game where Chris Clifford, who was by that time playing for Yorkshire, as a slow bowler, and was playing for the OMs that day, decided that Mr Dowding, the caretaker, hadn't mowed the pitch to his liking, and got the mower out and redid it! I bumped into Chris a few times years later when he was the resident professional at the Wanderers Club in Johannesburg - it really is a small world.

I don't know how often the school did trips to London, but I happened to coincide with two. The first was when I was in form 1 and the last when I had just left the Upper Sixth. Mr and Mrs Greaves took us on the latter one - quite brave, really, as I suspect half the trip was fifth or upper sixth formers who were technically no longer pupils and could have been difficult to control, but perhaps the sense of responsibility that MGS instilled so successfully could be depended on - I don't remember any major problems, although I do remember some of us who were legitimately of legal age trying to get one of the fifth formers (who wasn't) served a beer in a pub one lunch time and failing! On a vaguely similar theme, I remember us returning from a school basketball match in York one evening in the Greaves' Bedford van, with David, Mr Greaves' son, driving (quite legally - he had a licence.) We decided to stop at one of the pubs on the way back for a beer, which most of us would have been legal for. (One of the many advantages of growing up in Malton in those days, in addition to going to MGS, was a civilised and responsible introduction to alcohol.) A minute or two later, the staff who had been with us also pulled in, in Mr Pay's car, and we all had a mature drink together. I wonder who paid?

I saw a reference on the current school newsletter to a school jazz band - we also had one in the mid sixties, named very topically the Beatlecrushers, of a very interesting mix. We had Mr Greaves on piano, Mr Pay on double bass, Mr Bower on Trombone and Mr Whitely on clarinet, and then pupils John Dobson, also clarinet, Alfie North on guitar and David Greaves and me who between us alternated on trumpet and drums. John Dobson and Mr Whiteley used to take the clarinet and tenor saxophone parts - the latter is obviously scored for a sax, not a clarinet, even though it is the same key, so was a pig to play on the clarinet, and there were many debates over who would "suffer" the sax part for which tunes. Our first performance was at a school dance, which came to a complete stop for our "set." The theory is that you dance to a band, of course, even when it's playing Dixieland jazz, but the assembled pupils and staff were so totally dumbfounded that they just crowded round the front of the stage and gawped. We also had our own tame MC, Tony (Cush) Cadamy, and two guest singers, Pete Thorpe and Pam Thompson. One of our more blatant faux pas was when the rest of the band started up on Mississippi Mud, whilst the trumpeter started on the Darktown Strutters Ball!

We also had a school orchestra, although it battled to achieve the critical mass that that implies - particularly on the strings side. We had more brass and woodwinds than we knew what to do with, and probably outnumbered the strings on a straight head count - let alone the sort of ratio an orchestra should have! Miss Blake joined us about half way through my school career, as our music teacher, and valiantly tried to instill some feel for serious music into us, but I suspect for my class, she'd arrived a couple of years too late, although am still very fond of Smetana's Ma Vlast, and I am grateful to her for that. I remember her once playing us a piece of classical music and asking if anyone knew who it was. Paul Carr offered Prokofiev and she said something to the effect of "Good try - It was Rachmaninov." Paul said that would have been his next try, to hoots of derision from the rest of us, as I doubt if anyone else in the class had heard of either, but Paul's father liked classical music, and he was one of the very few who had some familiarity with it, particularly in our class. Miss Blake also tried to get some "adult" (i.e. "broken") male voices into the choir, but again met a barrier of perverse peer pressure, although Tony Cadamy, who joined us in the lower sixth when his parents moved to Whitwell, saw nothing wrong with being in a choir, as he had been previously in York. Prior to Miss Blake's arrival, I remember Mr Taylor had tried to look after music and Latin, as well as his headmaster's responsibilities, but not surprisingly had been less than totally successful with the music and Latin.

 

One of the glories of MGS was that it had an incredible spirit and was a small school , so anyone who was interested could participate in practically anything. I remember breaking an ankle at football, but still being regarded as adequate on one leg to keep goal for the second team in a game against our arch rivals, Lady Lumleys, of Pickering. I can't act to save my life, but got walk on parts because I was known to be enough of a swot to learn the few lines I had. I remember a Shakespeare performance on the open air stage - As you Like It, I think, which involves a wrestling match. On one evening, one of the wrestlers (Derek (Stoggy) Stearman, I think) was thrown too energetically, head first into the log which acted as a seat, and had to be carried off, semi-unconscious, whilst "the play went on." We also did a version of Macbeth which lived up to its unlucky reputation - practically everything imaginable which didn't quite involve fatalities went wrong. One soldier who was needed for another scene managed to "die" with his head still in sight, rather than behind the convenient wall where he should have been. Mr Lloyd, who was the stage manager, solved the problem by crawling out behind the wall, grabbing the soldier's feet, and dragging him out of sight - I've often wondered what the audience thought of the "disappearing head." Dave Thackeray was Macbeth, and Pete Rolls was Macduff, and in classical Elizabethan theatre style, in the fight to the death, they chase offstage, and then Macduff returns with Macbeth's head on the end of his sword. We were all wearing fearsome wigs, probably borrowed from the York Theatre, and Mr Lawley, the art master, had done a very good papier maché likeness of Dave Thackeray's head, "bald", which was jammed on Macduff's sword, and Dave Thakeray's wig was quickly transplanted for the triumphant return. Unfortunately, one evening, the wig was neither level, nor attached, and started to slide off in the middle of the scene! Pete Rolls showed tremendous presence of mind, and quickly threw the sword, head and wig off-stage - I have no doubt I would have broken down, giggling hysterically! Obviously, that's why he was Macduff and I was a courtier! Earlier on in the same protracted battle scene, I was a member of the relieving army who came rampaging into the back of the hall, through the audience, and fought our way up onto the stage. I had to fight my way up the steps against the school bully, and one evening, as the two of us were engaged in mortal combat, a small voice in the audience who had obviously been on the wrong end of the bully, and couldn't restrain himself any longer, piped out "Kill 'im, Norman!"

The choice of Macbeth as the play had been an interesting one - it was our "O" level year, and the previous two years, we had done first Macbeth, and then Henry V. For "O" level, inevitably, that was the choice available, so we did Macbeth on the basis of it being one year less familiar. We also saw the Lawrence Olivier film version, so by the time we finally did "O" levels, I suspect several of us who had been in the play could have taken on most of the roles at fairly short notice. Mr Wellard, one of the English department staff, indeed, almost had to. (His nick-name was "Ducky" - a play on the similarity of his surname to "Mallard.") Dave Thackeray, Macbeth himself, got flu at the end of rehearsals and there was a lot of doubt if he'd make it through the real performances. In practice, he did, just, and poor Mr Wellard, who had been walking round the school with the script for days, practically gibbering to himself, was spared being put to the test. There was an interesting side effect, though. The school was not insured for plays with naked flames on stage (Itself, an interesting oddity), but Macbeth was probably the most elaborate production the school had put on up till then (ever?) and we had a real boar's head and real, lit candles etc., for the banquet scene. During the appearances of the ghost of Banquo, Macbeth came and shook the table several times, and we courtiers with nothing better to do had been told to make sure we were discretely holding the bases of the candelabras, so that they couldn't fall over and start a fire. The night when poor Dave Thackeray's flu was at its peak, he got several speeches mixed up, and shook the table at unexpected moments, so courtiers were frantically grabbing flying candlesticks and getting sprayed with hot wax up to the elbows!

Banquo's ghost was undoubtedly the highlight of the show. The chairs for the banquet scene were high backed, and Richard (Bungy) Young, playing Banquo, was not that tall, so he didn't protrude above the back of Macbeth's throne. It was designed so that the back was a hollow "D" cross section of some darkish, semi-transparent material, and Macbeth never sat in it (he couldn't have if he'd tried, because of the bulging "D". Banquo was sitting in the back of the D, wearing suitably ghoulish make-up, totally invisible to the audience with the normal stage lights up, and with a torch in his hand. For the ghost scenes, the stage lights dropped to almost dark, and Bungy switched on the torch, shining up from between his knees and "voila" - there was a ghostly dead Banquo, half visible on the throne! It was brilliant, and bemused a lot of the adults in the audience, let alone the pupils.

Mr Lawley was famous for putting on "Less Obvious" plays, perhaps as a deliberate counterpoint by the school to the Shakespeares. The 1963 Yorkshire Life Illustrated article which is on the website has a photo of us rehearsing "Our Town", which was basically done with no props, I think in accordance with Thornton Wilder's original instructions, but a reasonably unusual choice for a school play in those days. I remember it ending with the six or eight main characters sitting on chairs on an empty stage, "dead", in the graveyard, reminiscing on what life had been like when we were alive, earlier in the play, and probably moralising to the total bemusement of townspeople and farmers alike in the audience. Another of his choices was a Chinese play called Lady Precious Stream, which involved me in four separate minor roles, one of which was a goose! I had to flap across the back of the stage in my moment of glory, squawking "Shey Ping Kway's unfaithful" at the crucial moment. The Shey Ping Kway in question (Pete Rolls again, I think) was at the front of the stage whilst this was happening, and had to draw a bow and an arrow and shoot me, at which point I fluttered downwards, to die in the wings, safely out of sight. Unfortunately, I was wearing a papier maché sparrow's head whilst all this was going on (Yes, I did say goose, earlier, that was as close as we could get) and it had eye holes in the neck, under my chin, so all I could see of where I was going was my toes. We'd rehearsed a neat routine, where an assistant got me started in the right direction for several yards off stage, so once I was on stage, I was hopefully flapping blindly in the right direction, towards the opposite gap, and Pete had some kind of cue when he shot me, so I knew when to get mortally wounded. Inevitably, one night, we hadn't got the angles quite right, I fluttered gamely straight into the edge of a totally rigid side drop and collapsed backwards into the middle of the stage!

Rosemary Taylor mentions in her reminiscence the mayhem at their house (i.e. the Headmaster's) when O level and A level results came out. We had a lovely incident around that in my year. We did English language in the fourth form, for practice as much as for anything else, and then "the rest" in the fifth form. I was lucky to get 9 O levels in the fifth form, and when sending the results to the Gazette, any fourth form ones were added, so mine went in as 10. The editor assumed this was a typing error - I think I still have the cutting with the rest of my class showing 7s, 8s, and a few 9s, and me with "1" !

Science lessons always produce memories - sooner or later, something dramatic has to happen. During our "O" level practical exam, whilst the external examiner was actually in the lab, I managed to mess up sucking up acid with a pipette and actually got some into my mouth. I spat it out as discretely as I could and rinsed my mouth, similarly discretely, I hoped. Not too long afterwards, I had to go up to the front for more acid! I knew Mr Greaves, our Chemistry teacher, extremely well, as I was very good friends with his son David, also in our class, and as Mr Greaves was standing there beside the visitor, pouring me some more acid, he gave me a very whimsical smile and said "What have you been doing that you need more, Evans? Drinking it?" He got a very weak smile back from me! I never did find out if that comment was innocent, or whether he had seen what I'd done, but I suspect the latter!

Turpentine is a very weak (liquid) reducing agent and potassium permanganate is a strong oxidisng agent, although solid crystals, so they should react. To put this to the test, one break, we poured turps onto "pot perm" crystals on a watch glass. Nothing happened. In due course, the break ended and someone moved the watch glass onto a side bench before the class started. However, the reaction is exothermic, and whilst it was starting very slowly, it was warming up as it went, and as a result, speeding up, and it went from being totally unnoticed to a raging conflagration in a couple of seconds in the middle of the class, to the consternation of all. In another Upper Sixth chemistry class with Mr Greaves, there was a steady pounding noise coming from the preparation room between the chemistry and physics labs. We had a science technician/assistant, Brenda Holmes, who was also secretary of the OM Association for many years, and that was her domain. Someone sotto voce wondered what the noise was, and someone else, equally sotto voce offered that thought that Mr Whitely was murdering Brenda! It was just the kind of infantile joke to produce hysterical laughter, which it did amongst the entire class. Mr Greaves had missed it, and was quite peeved, as he had to wait several minutes before anyone was composed enough to explain it, by which time, of course, it didn't sound in the least bit amusing.

I think someone else has mentioned Mr Whiteley's ability to get "too involved" in electricity experiments - he was for ever giving himself electric shocks, and trying to restrict his resulting curses to a level that was acceptable in front of the pupils. He often did the experiments one handed, with the other in his pocket to try and avoid making connections between the wrong bits of the experiment, but somehow it never seemed to help. I also remember him once demonstrating how "with it" he was by drawing a cliff on the board, presumable for some gravity calculations, and then labelling it "Richards." Our girls who really were "with it", instead of complementing him, pointed out that it was Cliff Richard, without the "s" - he was not amused!

I also remember Mr Reed, our Biology teacher of the time, taking a Field Club hike from Thornton Dale over the Moors to Lockton, with public transport to and from Malton at either end. It was a lovely morning, and the bus trip to Thornton Dale was as uneventful as one would expect. As the crow would have flown, up the minor road from Thornton Dale to the Fox and Rabbit pub and then on to Lockton would only be 5 miles or so, but apart from that only being a relatively short walk, it was also entirely along tarred roads - hardly the choice route for a serious Field Club hike!

Not surprisingly, Mr Reed had a much better (?) idea, (and a map) and a very short way up the tarred road, we swung off to the right to leave Thornton Dale on a farm road which followed the Dalby Beck , past the old Ellerburn church, in and out of farmland and the Dalby Forest. There were various crossings of the beck, some more formal than others. One was a fallen tree, with an "elbow" half way across, and I had the misfortune to be the first across - I stepped on a seemingly solid area at the elbow which was in fact nothing more than accumulated dead leaves and grass, and went straight through with that leg, up to my knee in the beck!

Our lunch time stop was at a stretch of relatively slow flowing beck, where we tried tickling trout. I have a clear recollection of a whole row of us lying perpendicular to the stream, each with an arm hopefully dangling in the beck - I suspect that not one of us so much as saw a fish during the entire 15 minutes, let alone got close enough to try "tickling" it!

The sun shone, the birds sang and the day meandered on, with that lack of urgency which school days seem to have, and we wandered in and out of woods and farmlands, with magnificent vistas opening up every so often as we re-emerged from the trees, although Mr Reed's consultations of his map were becoming increasingly nervous. Eventually he gathered us together and explained that we'd taken rather longer than he intended, and were in fact running a little late for the last bus back from Whitby to Malton, and would a couple of us like to run on ahead and see if we could intercept it at Lockton and get it to wait for the slower members of the group. Three or four of us were dispatched, and went galloping off up the valley, through undoubtedly surprised villagers' back gardens for the last hundred metres or so, until we reached the Lockton bus stop. Once we had decoded the timetable, it was rather obvious that we'd missed the bus by a large margin!

Fortunately, I was the school sports secretary and knew the phone number of the bus company that we used to hire transport for the "away" football matches, (Bentley's?) so we were able to phone them, and cajole them into sending out a bus for us. (Heaven knows what it cost the school!) I still have a very clear recollection of a tired, excited and almost hysterical bunch of schoolchildren, sitting on the triangle of grass where the loop road branches off the Pickering-Whitby road to go down into Lockton village, in the growing gloom, waiting for the bus, waving wildly at every passing car as its headlights swung across us. I would love to know what they all thought of us, as they sailed past on their way up to Whitby!

Prefecting during my final year was quite fun from two points of view. Firstly, several of the male prefects were going out with fifth form girls, so controlling those classes was difficult, to say the least. Secondly, we had several prefects who smoked, so controlling smokers was also problematic! What we did have, though, was a superb telescope in the upstairs physics lab, so we could keep an eye out for smokers in the trees down by the Broughton Road and send out secret raiding parties to nab them!

I suppose as in most years, the Prefects' Room was the site of several improbable experiments. We tried boiling milk in the kettle, which worked in a technical sense, but made the kettle unusable ever after. With all the embryo scientists around, we also tried every design of radio aerial known to man, even discretely running one up onto the roof of the staff room, but we had to concede that the most effective one was the hot water radiator. We also spent many fruitless hours in one particular experiment. One day, someone had been handing out Smarties and Simon Reed dropped one. Without batting an eyelid, he reached out a foot, caught it before it bounced with a flick of his shoe that brought it back up to about five feet high, leaned forward and caught it in his mouth. Do you think we were ever able to repeat it? On another occasion when I was in the lower sixth, Lynn Kirby and Pete Thorpe had had some light hearted falling out and Pete had shut Lynn's tie in the window and was beating her gently over the head with a school cap when Mr Taylor (the headmaster) walked in. Total silence and immobility struck. Mr Taylor looked round slowly, said "What is the meaning of this strange ritual, Thorpe?", grinned, and walked out again. They never did find out what he'd wanted!

One improbability which may amuse old scholars is we managed (small) OM reunions in Johannesburg, South Africa, in the early '70s! Pete Carr, who was two years behind me at MGS, (and also at the same college at Cambridge University, along with other OMs Paul Carr and Mike MacGuire) was working in Pretoria, and he and I played bridge together for a couple of years. Pete Coster, who was in the year between us at MGS (and I believe has now passed away) and Roger Nendick (the year after Pete Carr) were both working in Southern Africa and used to pass through Joburg from time to time. We certainly got three of us together a couple of times - I'm not sure if we ever managed all four of us.

I found leaving MGS very difficult in the emotional sense - it had been such a wonderful second home and "mentor" to me in so many respects. Throughout my university years, I would always drop in during the vacs, and have very mixed feelings, as I had very clearly turned into an outsider, even though everyone was always very genuinely pleased to see OMs, catch up on your news, tell you all the school's and make you welcome. The reunion dinners at Bowers were also always glorious. The year after I left, the school staff and senior pupils did a review, mentioned by other people in the reminiscences, and I remember wandering around the dressing rooms back stage like a spare part, wishing that I could still be part of it all. I suppose learning to leave that and move on is part of growing up. I was also lucky whilst I was at University, when I did a Christmas vac job at the Malton Post Office, and got a mail delivery round two years running which included the school and half the teachers' houses, so in addition to delivering the mail, I socialised my way round Mrs Williams, Mr Greaves, the school and several others I've now forgotten - Mr Taylor too, I suspect.

I suppose it depends on the school, but if you were as lucky as me, to be at MGS when I was, in some ways one never leaves - as you can see from the foregoing, I can still recall an amazing amount of it and all with total pleasure. Even sitting in the hall in summer, doing O and A levels, and the mild resentment that the rest of the world out there was clearly enjoying those idyllic days whilst we had to write exams! I suppose the "rose tinted spectacles" effect means we conveniently forget the similar days when it was chucking it down. I do remember before one exam, with the predictable nervous horseplay amongst the "cloakrooms" opposite room 10, someone hitting one of the coat hangers with their forehead hard enough to need medical attention! I also remember Paul (Spike) Hildreth, before O level geography, terrifying us all with the fact that he seemed to know every capital city in the world and the rest of us barely knew five between us.

Those really were the days!

DW (Dave) (Norman) Evans, August 2002


March 2004 Additional memories emailed in response to a submission by Tony Kirby

Tony Kirby’s (wonderful) reminiscences brought another point to mind. I remember Mr Lloyd’s car as a  Morris Minor (was it a different one, perhaps?) The school and town chess teams in those days had a huge overlap – I remember playing for the town on many occasions in the York and District League, which often entailed evening visits to York, in said car. On one occasion we were returning home in conditions where the inside of the windscreen was misting up and it didn’t have a demister. Mr Lloyd was frantically cleaning it by rubbing a hanky from side to side. His other hand, on the steering wheel, was moving in the opposite direction in sympathy, with hair raising consequences!

Interestingly, I remember the same books as Tony – Heroes of Asgard, The Warden, and Woman in White, although I was two years behind him. I also remember the poems – “The Golden Treasury of Longer English Poems”, if I’m remembering correctly.