David Mann (1956-62)......I spent two years in the 5th Form to be told by Plug that my brains were in my feet and although I was invited to trials with Fulham and QPR, I was not asked to sign on, hence Shene Old Boys misfortune. I am married to Karen (Alan Bloxham was my best man) and our daughter Charlotte (11)is a county standard swimmer (Dorking SC) and could progress even further. Lived in Sheen from 1973-1978, Kingston from 1978-1980, back to Sheen 1980-1987, then married and on to Worcester Park from 1987-1994. Settled in Dorking in 1994. Currently self employed running a travel retail sales consultancy after being made redundant by Allied Domecq in 1999. Spent over 30 years in the duty free liquor business....... What else would you expect of me....? Played for Shene Old Boys for over 30 years, and the Old Boys League 46 times, now a level 5 referee still officiating 2/3 times a week and recently took the Arthurian League Vets Cup Final at the Bank Of England. I mainly referee in the Arthurian League, players as committed, but far better educated and generally no problem at all. Honoured to be manager of the Old Boys League Rep Team for 6 years 1995-2002, played 50 matches only lost 8. Excellent to see the efforts made to establish the web site and all success to it.
David's update on 7th March, 2008..........................
I am still a senior Referee on the Arthurian League, whilst never attaining much academically at Shene School, I now hob nob it with the Old Boys of Eton, Charterhouse, Harrow, Westminster, Lancing, Winchester, Tonbridge etc, Players are as committed, but accept decisions more easily.
Still working from home, though really wishing to retire, get Charlotte off to University then I can think about it.I have spent most of the evenings during the last 10 years ensuring Charlie gets to swim training firstly at Dorking and the past 4 years at Guildford City, the top club in the South East Region of UK.
Peter O'Brien (1950-55).............................. (see Peter in Photo Gallery)
Married in Sheen in 1967 to a local girl Vivienne Harmer and, because of high house prices in Sheen, settled in the Tolworth/Surbiton area. Joined Castrol International in London and moved to Highworth (8 miles N of Swindon) when Castrol moved HO to Swindon in 1970. We have a married son and grandson and a married daughter.
I took early retirement from Castrol 6 years ago and am a Governor at Swindon's 6th Form College, Secretary & Treasurer of Highworth Running Club and a season ticket holder at Swindon Town FC.Still in touch with Old Boys David Lines and Colin Enderby on a regular basis.
Christopher Cooper (1952-58)...................My memory stretches back to the last years of HH Shepherd, deceptive but perceptive Headmaster. We were fascinated that he was also an expert on slugs and snails and we had vivid fantasies of what he must have been doing with all his little creatures out of school hours (counting them, naming them, feeding them?) In those days the lovable, white haired old gentlemen was affectionately known as Creep and the school his Academy. Editor's Note: HHS had an innate capability for appearing out of nowhere at the commencement of, or during, a pupil's misbehaviour. When word got round of his imminent retirement we got very interested in all the visitors to the school and listened for rumours. It wasn't long before we heard that a man from a Naval learning institution had been appointed and there was a frisson of fear and trepidation when one senior boy reported seeing a man with vivid red hair entering the school with a cat and nine tails hanging from his briefcase. This rumour spread like wildfire and some of the more unruly boys made efforts to mend their ways before the new era of terrible punishments began. I well remember the much awaited day when Mr. Rawlings (who later became "Rawplug" thence "Plug" for short) was due to make his very first appearance in the morning assembly. There was an unusually tense silence as we heard the fast click, click of his metal heeled shoes coming along the marble corridor. Over 300 pairs of eyes were straining to see what he was carrying on that first morning. Bets had been laid as to whether he would be holding the cat and nine tails or not and how long it would be. To our relief there were only a couple of books and a few papers. With his gown billowing behind him he sailed in to front the stage with his four stern housemasters backing him like sentinels. These were Mr. Hyde (Popeye)", Mr.Bacon ("Bill") Mr.Goodbourn ("Gore") and Mr.Burridge the mathematician, known as "Bert".
Thus in 1953 a new era had begun, not as fearsome as some had expected, but one which brought some significant changes: The spelling of the school name changed from Sheen to the older form :Shene. The outside toilets got a roof at last(yes, all the toilets were outside!) Lunches at the girl's secondary school next door began to the great amusement and satisfaction of all concerned. Editor's Note: This had started prior to this, trust me..!! I remember long files of boys being marched through the girls playground to the dining room every lunchhour. In those days most schools in London seemed to be single sex ones. How things have changed!
Physical punishment was still very much in evidence and an invitation to visit the Office of HHS usually culminated with the dreaded cane. Some teachers had their own form of punishment. The fearsome Latin teacher Reg. Brigden ( known to us as "Reginald Rubberneck") had an outsize plimsoll which he ceremoniously placed at the front of the teachers' desk whenever he entered the lesson. He wasn't called Rubberneck for nothing as his long sinewy neck seemed to allow his head to turn 360 degrees and spot misdemeanours quicker than any other teacher.
Music was at a very low ebb in the 1950's. I remember the hapless Mr. "Stringy " Smith trying to teach us the next week's hymns and also the rudiments of Do, Re, Me. This wasn't very successful as he had an unfortunate habit of involuntary spitting. Whether the naughty boys or the strain of the singing affected his saliva glands or not, one will never know, but there were gales of laughter whenever someone was hit by Stringy's spit.
As the Rawlings era progressed some became a bit more audacious and hatched a plan to sing in the final assembly : "God Shave the Queen", to see if anyone noticed the new version. When the fateful day came some of us who had been pressganged were decidedly weak at the knees. To our great relief the staff must have been too tired to notice it and the travesty passed without comment. Many bottoms were spared the stick.
In our final year or two most of us rose to Prefect status complete with lapel badges. The top scholars would get their names written on the Honours Board in gilt to show they had gone on to Universities. Lesser mortals had to be content with being Captain of House or distinction in sports competition. We parted amicably in those balmy days at the end of the 1950's. Little did we realise what enormous changes and challenges would meet us in the coming decades as adults.
George Thomson (1951-54).........................David, Many thanks for your kind letter pointing me to the Old Boys website. Reading it brought back many memories - talk about a blast from the past..!!
I wondered how you managed to obtain my mailing address but after reading the list of attendees at the Reunion there are some names of people there that I recognise and no doubt that was the source of the information.
Once again many thanks for your letter and I will continue to look up the website in future.
Rob Vaughan (1951-59) ......................(Rob appears a few times in Shene Sportsmen in Photo Gallery).....................The general economic situation had improved by the early 1950's and Mum no longer had to sew the school badge onto the most serviceable jacket. Blazers were becoming universal and the prefects even sported pale blue braid on their lapels. Rationing was nearly a thing of the past although 'You've never had it so good !' was still some way off. Milk, if not 'gold top' was plentiful and ice cream vans were now in evidence.
'Sandwich boys' who did not take lunch at the Girls School had time to wander down to the confectioner's at the foot of Wallorton Gardens or visit 'R. Atkins' on the Upper Richmond Road. 'Ratters' was more popular since queuing there afforded the chance of a quick squint at his dubious publications. Both shops, which amazingly still exist, were in receipt of competition but not for long.............
A rival had appeared at the gates of the upper playground on Park Drive. In those days the Royal Mail and the GPO respectively had fleets of smart red and bottle green vans. The contraption which appeared one lunch time was only similar in size. Otherwise it looked home made, was a three not four wheeler and of a a mauve hue. On one side it had a serving hatch and on the other was written...'Louis' Ices'. A curly haired, small man scrambled out and joined his tubs of ice and scoops in the back from which he began to proffer wafers, cornets and oddly coloured lollies for a couple of old pence. He was immediately dubbed 'Lick Lap Louis and began to do a reasonable trade over the next few days.
On his arrival at about 12 50pm the cry would go up 'Lick Lap, Lick Lap' and a queue would form. One lunch time it gradually became more boisterous and those unwilling to wait longer or without the requisite twopence decided to rock the unstable jalopy which began to sway. Louis was thrown to the floor of the tiny vehicle in a sticky heap with his wares and, once recovered, he sought an audience with the Headmaster who was just arriving back from his lunch time walk on Palewell Common where he daily observed species of flora and bug. Louis left unhappily and at the end of assembly the following morning HHS gravely made reference to a complaint from the ice cream vendor and advised the School , in sonorous tones, that the mobile parlour would only resume if behaviour improved in it's vicinity. (Editor's Note: Dick Strevens remembers the occasion well and HHS is reported to have said "So I am placing out of bounds the itinerant ice cream vendor's machine")
Briefly this was achieved but the temptation to rock 'Louis' Ices' rather than purchase them proved too great and after a few more shakings he disappeared towards Palewell Common for ever in search of a less hazardous environment undoubtedly less profitable.
We had to seek our comforts elsewhere in what the new Head was wont to refer to as 'The Village'
and more from the prolific Rob Vaughan......... about David Potts and Mr Blacklidge
'Potty and 'Blacky.............This incident sometime during the interregnum of 'Bill' Bacon as Acting Headmaster after the retirement of HHS and the arrival of Mr. Rawlings, the future 'Plug', concerned two characters separated by almost half a century in age and had nothing to do with snooker. Mr. Blacklidge was the long serving PT master from pre-war days who would roll up very punctually three days a week in a large, ancient, red snorting horse of a roadster festooned with 1930s AA and RAC badges. He would park by the Library before greeting Mr. Sheppard or Mr. Rawlings with "Headmaster!" in the style used by the local comedian 'Professor ' Jimmy Edwards in 'Whacko'. The immaculately turned out 'Blacklegs', a real fruity colonel of a man, in trench coat and trilby in Winter, regimental tie, blazer with pocket handkerchief and sharply pressed flannels in Summer would then change into a blue track suit of soft material or a black waterproof outfit ready for action.
The Hall could never have been described as a modern gymnasium but there were wall bars, let down ropes, a vaulting horse and the dreaded beams. Many of us were not keen on these items of torture and constantly asked 'Blacklegs' if we could play football. He would ignore these pleas and demonstrate 'press-ups' and other stretching exercises, becoming more florid by the minute and would be requested to do it all again when some innocent seriously claimed that he had missed the demonstration or could not get his legs flat..........."Simple, my boy....Now it's your turn!". For a man in his late fifties his agility and fitness were amazing.
David Potts of 3A, one of the 'Kingston Mob' of the 1951 intake, was rather less athletic and slightly bulky. We had persuaded him to become a reasonable right back but he preferred chemistry, doing his own experiments in his desk where he also had the occasional smoke. He could infuriate the most patient of pedagogues and - nomen est omen - frequently lived up to his name....
One fine day we were pleasantly surprised to see 'Blacklegs' had not put up the gymnastic equipment but was dribbling an ancient football across the Hall. At last we were on for some indoor 'footie' or so it seemed. He appeared to be on the verge of picking teams when he was called into the corridor.
"Hold on to that ball for me, my boy!" he said to Potts.............................. He had hardly turned his back before 'Potty' turned into Frank Swift and punted the ball from hand and it sped like a rocket into the gallery above the back of the Hall. 'Blacklegs' returned within thirty seconds...................................."Give me that ball, my boy"..........................."I can't, it's gone"........................."Gone?...what do you mean it's gone...?".... no doubt thinking that it was being hidden behind someone's back. "Tee hee, it's gone" said 'Potty' who sometimes slipped unwittingly into Billy Bunter mode.
'Blacklegs' was by now beetroot of face and ordered 'Potty' to go and find the ball wherever it was, not noticing some thirty boys in a state of collapse or that the culprit had now slipped out of the Hall. There was a brief and embarrassed silence broken only as the leather whistled past the head of 'Blacklegs' and bounced on the Hall floor. With the agility of the former England goalkeeper 'Blacklegs' plucked the ball out of the air and locked it in the Hall cupboard.
"Start running on the spot" he ordered, not noticing that 'Potty ' had rejoined the back line. The latter saw that we had had it for the day as far as indoor football was concerned, and remarked..............................."Sorry, Blacklegs"......................."What did you say, my boy?"...................................."Oh, sorry, sir"........................"Never mind, you couldn't have played football anyway, none of you are fit...!"
No doubt Mr. Blacklidge found life easier at more normal Grammar Schools on the other two days of the week and the young men of Blackheath Rugby Club were undoubtedly more responsive to his expertise during the evenings.....................
Richard Simms (1952-59).........................................I re-visited the Website, David, with great interest and enjoyment. It is wonderful that you have taken such considerable time and trouble to pull so much together. It is interesting to note how much affection remains for the old School and (most of) the masters. I certainly share it. It is also interesting to note that I was not the only one that has taken a little trip back to East Sheen to see the old School.................. or at least the buildings.
I don't know if I told you or not....Alan Kingwell and I went to see Ron Friggins (the Physics master) and his wife. They both made us very welcome indeed and seemed genuinely pleased to see us. It was intriguing to learn of his experiences and catch a glimpse of life from the other side of the fence and it was great to be able to say "thank you" and tell him how much we appreciated what he had done for us. I wish I had shown more appreciation for the masters at the time.
Dick Lee (1953-61)...................................I took a look at the list of those who attended the Reunion in 2002 and, off the top of my head, I'd guess that I knew at least half of the group. I will do all I can to come to the Reunion in 2004. It would be great to see you all.......
I stayed on in the 3rd year 6th Form......Mr. Rawlings ('Plug') felt I should stay on to be School Captain and improve my "A" Level results. They were actually worse the second time around.
After attending the University of London (Northern Polytechnic) from 1961-64 and graduating with a degree in Chemistry, I left for the USA with every intention of going back to the UK which I did in 1966-68 but was to decide that the USA was the place for me. I am involved with two companies Value Innovations, Inc. (I'm their President and Chief Executive Officer) www.valueinnovations.com You'll find a photo of me on the Site. I am also the Managing Director of EdgeGuard International Ltd www.edgeguard.com
I married Lin in 1966 (an American) and we have two daughters, Sonja 34 and Alyssa 32 who are both married. We all live in the Greater Denver Metro Area in Colorado. I am still very proud to be a Brit and am a 'Resident Alien' in the USA. You can catch up with Dick on his Company's website http://www.valueinnovations.com
Jeremy Chapman (1957-61) Congratulations and many thanks to David and John for setting up this fabulous Website. I thoroughly enjoyed the Reunion of 2002 and will definitely attend the next one in 2004 at Foxhills.
It was particularly interesting to read about my old best chum, Dick Lee, School Captain in my final year and the last time I saw him was when I ran him out (judging a run was never my strong suit) in an OG cricket match. I knew he had gone to the United States and was really pleased to see that he had done so well. I often went to his home in Barnes for tea with him and his widowed mother when we were in the Sixth Form. He was probably the one who made me feel most at home after my Dad moved down from a job in Scotland.
I was to stay on for a third year in the Sixth Form to play cricket, table tennis, chess and take part in drama productions (I don't remember doing too much work. !) and also support the football team every Saturday morning. I joined the Buckinghamshire Advertiser in Amersham as a trainee reporter and moved on to become Sports Editor of the Middlesex County Times at Ealing. After a row over being paid insufficiently to write and edit the the Film Page in addition to writing and sub-editing 40 sports stories a week I stormed out but instead of playing cricket all summer as planned, wrote off for a job in Fleet Street. Much to my surprise as I had no daily or evening experience in the provinces, the late Daily Sketch took me on (probably because I was cheap). After five very happy years there as a sports and racing sub-editor the staff merged with the Daily Mail and being the youngest without family I was paid off. After a year on The Guardian I joined The Sporting Life and was to stay there for 27 years being deputy to five different Editors during that time and was Executive Editor and Golf Correspondent before I managed to get the Bible of horse-racing closed down as well in 1998......!! Since then I have worked as a freelance golf writer for the Racing Post, Golf International and other magazines, have written books and parts of books and also compiled odds for bookmakers on golf tournaments throughout the world.
I married a beautiful German girl, Christa in 1968 and we are still together after 35 years having produced two stunning daughters, Sarah ( a TV presenter on attheraces, a dedicated racing channel) and Stephanie, a biochemist. Fortuntely they take after their mother with their looks. With any luck they will both be married during the next 12 months and life will be a lot less expensive. I live in Walton on Thames and recently renewed the acquaintance of Roger D Smith, a recently retired solicitor who lives just around the corner. We were both members of our pretty successful chess team and he and his younger brother Graham were two very solid chess players.
Many of my happiest recreational moments before discovering golf came with the OGs for whom I played for a couple of years while still at School and thereafter until work too me away from the area. I was astonished at the Reunion that so many old school and OG colleages looked just the same as they did when I last saw them 35 years before.......
I gave up regular cricket in my 20s only to play since for the Daily Sketch and the Sporting Life. The great Ken Barrington, our cricket columnist at The Sketch, ran me out in one match because I was scoring faster than him...........at least that's what I told myself at the time.........!! Golf has been a great passion since........I got down to single figures for a time...and I've been lucky enough to have played with many of the greats in Pro-Ams...Tony Jacklin, Lee Trevino and Nick Faldo among them.
It's been a great life and, at 61, I hope there's plenty more to come........
Editor's Note......3 years later and this is what Hugh McIlvanney had to say about Jeremy in the Sunday Times of 23rd July, 2006
"Not every champion in action at Hoylake this weekend is swinging golf clubs. Jeremy Chapman, of the Racing Post, would shy away with a shudder from any suggestion that he is the Tiger Woods of golf tipping but he has enough extraordinary success in the game's betting market to make most other professional forecasters seem the equivalent of public course hackers.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the week in which this column chose to add its tiny salute to the plaudits showered on him has seen a blight descend on his selections, His strongest advice for punters in the Open was to have two points each-way on Vijay Singh at 16-1 and 1.5 on Phil Mickelson, with recommendations for taking a minor interest in Padraig Harrington, Luke Donald and Angel Cabrera.
Singh and Harrington were dumped out of the tournament at the halfway stage, Donald barely survived the 36-hole cut, Mickelson is hopelessly out of contention and only the small stakes on Cabrera remain alive. So Chapman is entitled to suspect the influence of the McIlvanney curse, which many have credited with being able to keep Pegasus out of the frame in a Folkestone seller.
But it would require a lot more retaliation than the bookmakers can hope to muster to inflict a noticeable dent in a record whose overall excellence is conveyed by one remarkable statistic: in the eight years he has been counselling Post readers, the tips aimed at naming the winners of tournaments show a profit of well over 1100 points.
Though the best of the Post's racing analysts can have the bookies running for cover, the editor of the paper, Chris Smith, acknowledges that Chapman is the outstanding tipster on the staff.
He has been strengthening his reputation since he joined as an established asset after the closure of The Sporting Life, where he had worked with distinction since 1971. At the Life his promotion of golf bettng was so active and effective that he likes to think of himself as the godfather of the growing enthusiasm for wagering on the sport.
He says his guidance is rooted mainly in experienced interpretation of both a player's current form and the man's achievements on a specific course, with the implications of what he has done lately always carrying more weight. Some of us, however, cannot avoid feeling there is an element of mysterious inspiration at the core of a method that has enabled him over the years to land outrageous coups for his followers.
Operating on the basis of identifying several golfers as appealing investments, he has three times picked a 100-1 winner. All kinds of tournaments, from majors (he gave Mark O'Meara at 40-1 to win the 1998 Open at Birkdale) to pro-ams, have received the Mystic Meg treatment.
His favourite hunting ground has been the Pebble Beach Pro-Am on the California coast and it was there in February of this year that his tipping reached a supernatural level of prescience. In a field of 180, the season's biggest, he put up four names and three of them finished first, second and third: Arron Oberholser won at 33-1, Rory Sabbatini was runner-up at 50-1 and Mike Weir completed the tricast at 33-1.
Afterwards, Simon Clare, of the Coral bookmaking organisation, said: "It is undoubtedly one of the greatest tipping performances of all time." With characteristic temerity, for the very next event Chapman advanced Sabbatini as a probable winner and he duly came in at 40-1.
Fortified by a long history of such amazing results, the 64-year-old seer and his disciples can well afford to absorb a few hits at Hoylake."
Rob Steggle................Fascinating website, it has updated me on what happened to the old pile after I moved away in the mid 60's. It has certainly survived many changes.....pity nobody could come up with a better view of the buildings than that awful entrance. (Editor's Note: It's about the only recognisable view left...). Is the greenhouse on the end of the Biology lab still there? I helped to build that, laying bricks, glazing and sealing the thing - and growing freesias in the first year. Never had any success with 'em since.
Rod Saar (1954-57)..............After A levels I joined the RAF graduating from the RAF College, Cranwell as a navigator in 1961. I had an enjoyable 20 years in the RAF, flying in the Mediterranean and based in Malta, instructing at the RAF College, doing a short stint at the British Embassy in the Congo, adjutant of Experimental Flying Department at RAE Farnborough (with opportunities to do trips in Hunter and Lightning fighters), Special Forces unit based in Berlin working in East Germany (I was made persona non grata by the Russians and collected an MBE by way of consolation).
On leaving the RAF as a Squadron Leader I joined IBM and spent the next 20 years as the Managing Director of a number of subsidiaries of IT companies (British, American and German) visiting more than 30 different countries which included very contrasting places..Moscow, Tel Aviv, Johannesburg, Mumbai, Singapore, Jakarta, Bangkok, Saigon, Peking, Las Vegas, Seattle etc.
I retired just over 2 years ago and still do some work as a Non Executive Director and Consultant.
I have fond memories of Shene Grammar and remember teachers Rawlings, Burridge and Chisman but can only recall the name of one person in my form. This was Pearson who was a maths genius doing A levels when the rest of us were doing O levels. A year ahead of me was a chap called Maddox. In my last couple of years he always pushed me into 2nd place in the Annual Cross Country Race around Richmond Park.
My parents left Kew for Orpington in the year I left Shene which meant I was to lose contact with my contemporaries.
Ian White (1956-63).............................I've just visited your brilliant Website and it's brought back those memories and names I actually recognise. I must dig out (from somewhere) my old school panoramic photos..........you know...those where the camera starts at one end and by the time it has arrived at the other end some comedian has been photographed twice............and, of course, the Scout camps...I didn't particularly excel in anything but enoyed school tremendously. and was in the Scouts under 'Mr Mac' and have fond memories of Friggie, Chalkie, Rubberneck, Shmoo, Rasher, Rocket, Chippie, Green. Turner, Goodbourn et al.
I was there when they installed the mosaic to the right of the front entrance and extended the stage on to the North end of the school hall. I also remember Chemistry in the Girls School in Hertford Avenue and the House Captains' Common Room at the end of the Biology Lab.
Peter Flewitt (son of Paul) (1958-65)..........I've just found the Site - very scary.....! I'm another ex-pat and living in Geraldton, West Australia. I was a keen follower of the Old Boys soccer team for a number of years both then and thereafter so it was good to see photos of Rob Vaughan (I'm in touch with his brother John), Alan Bloxham, Eddie Roberts, Morgan Reynolds and some others at the Reunion.
I came to Oz in 1980 after several years as IT Manager at Moulinex in the UK and sort of wandered my way around the country as an IT contractor until the end of 2003 when I retired....................the last five years at a major winery which was handy.........
I doubt I'll get to any Reunions but you never know. If anything is known of the whereabouts of Neil Heath, Steve Austin, Paul Hudson or Malcolm Rylance I would be pleased to hear. They were all in my school year.
Editor's Note: See a later contribution from Peter
Tony Giles (1958-65)....... Tony is the son of Hugh (deceased 1981) who was a keen Shene Old Grammarians footballer /cricketer and former SOG Chairman
When I left School after a mediocre A Level performance I had a stint in France working as a salesman in a Department Store and found my way to Hong Kong where I still live. I joined the Hong Kong Police (later the Royal Hong Kong Police) and reached the rank of Chief Inspector taking invalid retirement in 1988. I am now the Editor-in-Chief of Marketplace Publications Ltd.
I cannot claim to have emulated my father's prowess as a sportsman but won a few medals for swimming following my mother's example
Roger Houghton (1957-?)................I was born on 7 November 1944 and grew up, like so many of us, in the years of post-war austerity. All in all, my recollections are of a very happy childhood and, in any event, I’m still growing up!
The Primary School Years I started school at EastSheenCountyPrimary School in 1949. I sat next to Stan Crockett who I still see today.
In 1951, at the age of 7, I contracted polio. How I contracted this dreadful disease is a mystery. There had been something of an epidemic in parts of the country since the late forties and swimming pool closures were quite common. Thankfully, no-one else in my school or, to my knowledge locally, were affected.
I can remember one night, just before Christmas 1951, as vividly as if it were yesterday. My father had been sleeping in my brother’s bed in the same room because I was feverish. My brother slept in the spare bedroom which probably prevented him from being infected. I wanted to visit the bathroom in the middle of the night but I was unable to move my legs. Dad lifted them over the edge of the bed and stood me up. I went down like a sack of potatoes!
Few houses had telephones in those days and I believe Dad went to a public ‘phone box and dialled 999. I can remember the ambulance arriving and we were taken to WestLondonHospital at Hammersmith (which is now an up-market block of flats!). I remember vividly the blood-curdling screams of a child coming from beyond my cubicle and recall thinking “I hope they’re not going to do to me whatever it is they’re doing to her”.
Into Hospital It took some time for them to diagnose my illness but when they did, I was transferred to WestMiddlesexIsolationHospital at Isleworth. What a terrible night that must have been for my parents. It was bad enough for me, of course for although I can remember the nurses as being very kind, the sight of the iron lung next to my bed made me shiver (or, rather, it would have done had I been able to move!). Fortunately, the infection stopped just below my chest so I did not have to endure long spells inside the iron monster. The “ward” consisted of a number of small rooms with glass partitions (to prevent the spread of infection) and I can remember lying there looking along at the other poor souls on either side, some in a worse condition than me.As soon as I was no longer infectious, I was transferred to Heatherwood Hospital at Ascot. Here was a long ward, Sister’s office in the middle, with boys to one side and girls to the other. There must have been about 20 beds on each side.
Opposite me and my fellow victims, was a row of about 10 very strange looking beds. They were wooden framed with several adjusting wheels, enabling them to be tilted into a variety of positions. I discovered that these were children who were suffering from tuberculosis. Every morning and afternoon, a stern looking man with a trolley would appear wielding a large needle. He injected these poor kids with a drug called streptomycin, which was extremely painful. I prayed that he wouldn’t come near me! Ironically, one of these children came from Railway Street (now Westfields Avenue) in Barnes. Although I haven’t seen him since, I can still remember his name, David Bush.
At one end of the ward was a large school-type clock and one day, at about noon, we were all told to be absolutely silent for one minute – not easy for some 40 children! It was the day of the funeral of King George VI. I wrote a letter to my parents (visiting in those days was one hour on Sundays only) telling them that “…the King was burrid at Winzer”. Mum & Dad kept that letter and I have it today. It still brings a lump to my throat after all these years.
My treatment consisted of massage, exercises and being held in a large steel tank full of warm water to try to achieve a response from the muscles in my legs and right side. My parents were warned that I would probably have to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair. They didn’t reckon with my father!
As soon as possible, which was after some six months, Dad persuaded the doctors to allow me home where he and Mum would build on their good work. I can remember thinking that Dad was hard at times and didn’t understand that I couldn’t always do what he told me. We had a few heated exchanges! What I didn’t know until Mum told me in later years was that it broke his heart to push me the way he did but he knew it was the only way to get me through it.
We can’t choose our parents. I was not just incredibly lucky. I was blessed.
Back to School I eventually managed to walk reasonably well and after an absence of about a year, I returned to school. The illness had affected severely the thigh muscles in my right leg and the stomach and back muscles on the right side. The result was that my spine began to curve, leaving me with a pronounced limp which steadily grew worse.
All my school friends were incredibly supportive. I was given a healthy start in races, sufficient to enable me to compete, sometimes successfully. Due to my limp, I was given the nickname “Hoppy”, after Hoppalong Cassidy who was one of the cowboy heroes of the time. Far from being upset by this, I seemed to revel in the celebrity status.
The curvature in my spine became so pronounced that I had to wear a steel brace. This comprised a steel rod at the back and a wide, hard leather belt around the middle. It was extremely uncomfortable and I don’t think it did me any good at all. Then came a breakthrough.
One of Dad’s colleagues had read in one of the newspapers of an operation which was being pioneered in the United States to correct curvatures of the spine by means of a bone grafting technique. Dad approached the doctors at WestLondonHospital where I attended weekly for physiotherapy. At first they refused to entertain the procedure, partly because this surgery was still under development but mainly because it could not be considered until the patient was at least 12 years old. Until that age, the body would not be sufficiently strong to withstand what was then a major operation.
Dad, however, would not take no for an answer! Eventually, he persuaded them to refer us to The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital at Great Portland Street in London where we met Mr James and Mr Manning, the only British surgeons who were then qualified to carry out this surgery. They agreed to perform the operation after I had reached the age of 12.
In the meantime, I had to take the Eleven Plus exam. I don’t know whether the Examination Board were sympathetic to the fact that I had missed a year’s schooling but I managed to scrape through on the second interview and won a place at Shene County Grammar School for Boys. I am eternally grateful to those gentlemen for giving me the chance to experience a fine school. I am only sorry that I failed to reward both them and my parents with better academic achievement.
The spinal surgery would mean an absence of a full year from school and so it was decided that I would not start the new term at Shene in 1956. Just as I was about to be admitted to hospital, however, my Grandfather died and so my admission was postponed for a couple of months. The HeadmasteR, Mr Rawlings (“Plug”) suggested that I might like, after all, to attend school at the start of the term to get the feel of the place and the curriculum. I started in form1 West, the Form Master for which was Mr Peel, who I remember as a kind and gentle man.
Into Hospital – Again I was eventually admitted to The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital at Stanmore where the operation was carried out in November 1956.
The hospital is at the top of Brockley Hill and the journey by public transport was something of a nightmare. Dad managed to buy a car after I had been there for about four months which made their journey easier. Visiting times were half an hour on Wednesday evening and an hour on Sunday afternoon. They were rigidly enforced! In all the time I was there and whatever the weather, Mum & Dad didn’t miss a single visit!
I was to spend 9 months in a solid plaster cast which went from my neck to my knees and in which a panel was cut from the back to perform the operation. There were some painful and unpleasant experiences, as might be expected with surgery of this magnitude. My abiding memory, however, is not of the unpleasant times but of the birth of skiffle and rock & roll!
We had a record player in the ward and parents and nurses would bring us records (78’s in those days). I served my time as ward DJ and still play many of those recordings today, albeit on CD. The artists included Pat Boone, Bill Haley & The Comets, The Platters, Lonnie Donegan, Frankie Vaughan, Tommy Steele and, of course, Elvis Presley. Prior to hospital, my musical experiences had been Saturday childrens’ radio programmes, such as Uncle Mac and records such as “How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?” This was indeed a magical transformation!
One of the nurses was going out with a member of a skiffle group called“The Vipers”. They used to visit the ward periodically and play to us. One of the group was Wally Wyton who in later years became a presenter on childrens’ television with Muriel Young and puppet characters called “Pussy Cat Willum” and “Ollie Beak”. Wally had heard of my love of pop music and the guitar.
One evening, after they had played for us, he came over to my bed. He was confronted by a rather scruffy 12 year old boy lying flat on his back in a solid plaster cast and there he stood clutching this very expensive guitar. He and one of the nurses doubled the blankets over the plaster and he laid his guitar across my chest. He put the first finger of my left hand on the top E string at the first fret and told me to hold it down and strum. “You’ve just played G7”, he proclaimed. He moved my finger up to the third fret, I strummed and he said “Now you’ve played G”. Wow! That was easy! I was hooked.
When I came home, Mum & Dad had bought me a record player – remember the Dansette Major? My grandmother gave me the money to buy a guitar and off we went to Selmers in Charing Cross Road where I bought my first guitar, a Hofner Cello model.
Following my discharge from Stanmore, I had to wear a steel frame for six months to allow the remaining torso-supporting muscles which had been dormant for so long to strengthen. This comprised a heavy steel bar at the front and two steel bars at the back, all joined by a steel ring with pads for my chin and the back of my head. It had a wide, hard leather waist band with double fastenings. I had to return to the Outpatients’ Department in London every 6 months for X-rays and to have the frame adjusted. Playing the guitar would be somewhat difficult for a while. How would it affect me when I returned to school, I wondered? The school, however, was one step ahead.
Shene Grammar – At Last! On learning that I would be wearing this cumbersome frame which would make it difficult to look down at the desk top, the woodworking class of 1956 were tasked with making me a specially adapted desk. This was basically a standard desk with an elevated frame at the back in which was fixed a hinged easel with a pen tray at the bottom. It worked a treat and I was very grateful to all my old chums who contributed to its design and build.
Returning to school was not an easy experience. For a start, I had had virtually no education during the previous 12 months and found concentration difficult. I was also with children who were a year younger than me and the difference seems more acute at that age. It didn’t last long and I soon made new friends.
The big passion in my life was football. I first went with my Dad to Chelsea in 1954 and absurd as it might seem, I think I harboured a deep ambition that one day I would be sufficiently fit to play for them. Most of my energy at school and at play was spent trying to be physically equal. Sadly, this affected my academic performance. After achieving only three O Levels in the fifth form, I was faced with the prospect of remaining there for another year, this time with people who were two years younger than me.
This, of course, was the start of what came to be known as “the swinging sixties”. Outside school, all my friends were earning and had scooters or motor bikes. I decided to call it a day. Mr Rawlings was, I believe, sympathetic to my circumstances. I remember him saying to me “Well, Houghton, with a bit of effort you could have started your career half way up the ladder. Now, you’ll have to start at the bottom. It will be hard work but I wish you luck”.
He was right. It was hard work. There was also some fun along the way and I have few regrets. I don’t think that one appreciates all that is sinking into that grey matter during school years, regardless of academic success. I am forever grateful to Shene and all that it gave me.
Paul Meakin (1954-58).............................In about 1963 I received an invitation to express interest in joining the proposed Shene Old Grammarians Rugby Club. The initiator presumed that a number of Old Boys had played rugby at University or College. I learned to play rugby in my first year in the Navy and had more success in this than soccer so I responded and waited eagerly for a reply. Some months passed until a letter arrived informing me that I had been the only person who had responded and as it was not likely that the two of us would be in town on the same weekend it would not prove possible to make up a team.
I went on to have some minor rugby success in both the Royal Navy and the Royal Australian Navy as well as coaching juniors and refereeing in Australia and New Zealand.
Have there been any other Old Boys involved in Rugby Union, the game they play in heaven.
Editor's Note: I always understood that 'Plug' Rawlings had introduced the School to Rugby Union. Alan Bloxham tells me that the Old Boys ultimately fielded two fifteens for some years but the Section is now no more. Shene Old Grammarians is now an 'open' club and still puts out soccer teams. Apparently the Rugby lads still meet socially.
Paul: Here's the answer from Bill Holmes (1958-64)......................I was interested in reading Paul Meakin's notes regarding the Rugby Club, maybe this will jog the memories of a few people. In the Summer of 1965 with the prompting of Dick Fash the following, all names to conjure with, met and agreed to form a Club with everything geared to kick-off in September 1965. Hugh Coulston, JohnSallis, Max White, Brian White, Graham Hale, MikeKendrick, Mike Fash, Phil Shuttleworth, Brian Clymer, Roger Morgan,Wally Browett, myself as Captain and a few more. Apologies to any not mentioned but age and memory isn't a good mix. Wally was despatched to the London Fixture Exchange and returned with a 90% Card for the season and we were committed.
The Club never set the world on fire but I think that over the years everybody that played enjoyed themselves.
Alan was correct we ran two sides from around the early seventies and for a couple of years in the early eighties managed to put out three. It became increasingly difficult to bring in new blood theGrammar School being closed in the Seventies but the Club hung on until the early nineties when it finally folded. After we stopped playing Roger Morgan and myself took up the whistle and in different ways made our impressions on The London Society...,we both enjoyed the 'poacher turned gamekeeper' role.
Some of the old stalwarts do still get together at various times and locations and guess what we talk about .....? the "Old Days", of course Again apologies for missing out some names but they were good times.
All the best to everyone connected.............................
David Lovejoy.........taken from the website of the Northern Rivers Echo published in Australia....................
Between Dark and Dark
By David Lovejoy
Echo Publications $22.95
Anthony Newall (1957..?)………………..recollections in a correspondence with David Richardson in October, 2016
57 Intake, John Sallis in 1 West and Roy Barnes.
Barry New in the previous year (56) intake
The Sheen Old Grammarians 3rd eleven team when I played was as follows: Eddie Roberts, Trevor Legget, Terry Fix, Gerry Fitch, Mick Walsh, Mike Grinter. There was also Dave in defence, Alan, Ted ...read more