Poems in “The Nottinghamian” 1922-1946 (3)

There were many other fine poems published in “The Nottinghamian” during the 1922-1946 period. Not all of them were linked to the war. Here is a selection of some of the best of those.

This one is written by Peter James Middleton, the son of a chemist who lived at 36 Devon Drive, just south of Haydn Road in Sherwood. It appeared in July 1937, when Peter was in the Fourth Form A. Peter left the High School in 1939 after passing his School Certificate.

ADVICE

If I had known Pythagoras,

Two thousand years ago,

And I had known his tendencies,

(As their results I know!)

“Pythagoras,” I should have said,

In firm though kindly tone,

“You stick to Greek philosophy,

Leave triangles alone.”

If Julius Caesar I had met

In some forgotten year,

His trusty sword clasped in his hand,

His pen behind his ear,

I should have said, “Look here, my friend,

Fight, if you must, indeed ;

But don’t write books about yourself,

That no one wants to read !”

In April 1938, we had another poem on a Latin theme, written by Neville Eric Stebbings of Hillcrest, on Sandfield Road in Arnold, to the north of Nottingham. Neville left in August 1944. He was a Prefect with 2nd XV Rugby Colours, 2nd IV Rowing Colours and a JTC ‘A’ Certificate which would entitle him to be an officer if he went into the army.

MY LATIN.

Of all the lessons taught at school,

“Latin” takes the biscuit;

I think I’d rather learn Chinese,

Anyhow, I’d risk it.

With “pugnabis” and “pugnabat”

And second declensions,

I’m always getting a hundred lines

Or else a few detentions.

Why can’t we study “botany”,

And learn about the “daisies”

Instead of swotting “G.N.C.”

And learning “Adverb Phrases”?

They say that Latin clears the brain,

That may be – but I doubt it;

I would not like to see in print

The things I think about it.

The memorising is the worst,

T’would make a Polar Bear grunt;

Fancy learning things like this: —

“Imus istis erunt.”

Oh, Latin gives me sleepless nights

The Grammar – I could burn it.

The hardest task the Romans had

Was when they had to learn it.

David James Hitchin was the son of an overall manufacturer. The family lived at 45 Austen Avenue in Forest Fields, on the far side of the Forest Recreation Ground from the High School. David is another boy who would rather stay in bed than get up. Notice how he gets up as late as eight o’clock because he lives so close to school.

ON GETTING UP

It’s eight o’clock in the morning,

A boy is asleep in bed,

The clock has given its warning,

“I’ll smash that clock,” he said.

“I’m tired of school,” said lazy bones,

“I think I need a rest,”

He gave a grunt, he gave a groan,

He eyed his chilly vest.

His dreams of ease were soon cut short,

The breakfast gong had sounded,

With unwashed neck, and unbrushed hair,

Right down the stairs he bounded.”

The last poem is a masterpiece, some  thirty or forty years before its time when it appeared in the Nottinghamian in July 1948

It was written by Geoffrey Edward C Woollatt who lived, fittingly, at 7 Wordsworth Road in West Bridgford. I think that his father’s job was unique in the history of the thousands of boys who have come to the High School. He was a philatelist.

MEMORIES OF SCHOOL

 

Down in the High School,

Working all the day,

What do you think we’re working for?

—No pay.

 

Racing round the busy streets,

What do you think I got?

—Ten times thirty-one,

What a lot.

 

Outside the Pres’ room,

Writing on the wall,

I’ve been caught without a cap

—That’s all.

 

Inside the Pres’ room,

Looking at my feet,

Guess what the sentence was,

—One beat.

 

Down in the corner,

Reaching for the floor,

What do you think I’m looking for?

—The door

 

Inside the D. room,

I’ve got a date,

When do you think they’ll let me out?

—Too late.

 

Silence in the D. room,

Working all the time,

What do you think I’ve written?

—One line.

“Ten times thirty-one” means a punishment of writing out the school’s Rule 31 ten times

“The Pres’ room” means the Prefects’ Room. The Prefects were responsible for the school’s discipline outside the classroom and in the absence of a teacher.

“One beat” means one stroke of the cane (on the hand or the backside, not the feet)

The metre of the poem is remarkably similar to a song written by the late and extremely lamented Ian Dury of “Blockheads” fame.

The song was entitled “Jack  ****  George” :

What did you learn in school today?
Jack ****
The minute the teacher turns away
That’s it
How many times were you truly intrigued?
Not any
Is boredom a symptom of mental fatigue?
Not many
When have you ever been top of the class?
Not once
What will you be when you’re out on your ****?
A dunce
What are your prospects of doing quite well?
Too small
And what will you have at the very last bell?
**** all

Here’s the usual link, to Volume 3, currently on sale:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13 Comments

Filed under History, Humour, Nottingham, The High School

13 responses to “Poems in “The Nottinghamian” 1922-1946 (3)

    • There certainly is, Derrick. 38 years have taught me that the one thing schoolboys do not lack is a witty opinion of events, followed closely by helpful suggestions about what you should have done to get the slide projector/ DVD player/television to work.

  1. A very amusing post John, those young lads showing their humorous sides. I’m so glad I never had to do Latin, even the sound of it frightens me.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it! I did Latin at what was then a Grammar School and I must admit I really enjoyed it. The problem with Latin is that you have to know what subjects, objects, adverbs etc all are, and in years gone by, it was English that dealt with this and then Latin took it up a second time, so most children had some idea of how such things work. The sad thing is that without such knowledge, people will find languages such as German, Russian, Polish and many others very difficult to learn.

      • I’m sure you are right. I think it was said (as you say) that Latin was the base of all languages and those who mattered it, could master pretty much any language. Probably why I just couldn’t. Languages were far beyond me!

  2. Those are great poems. Fun read, thanks.

  3. Thanks for sharing the poems!.. this ole world could use a few laughs and chuckles!!… 🙂

    Hope all is well in your part of the world and until we meet again..
    May your troubles be less
    Your blessings be more
    And nothing but happiness
    Come through your door
    (Irish Saying)

    • Yes, we certainly could. The present situation of new variants of Covid occurring every six weeks or so could go on for ever. I have always thought that one day we might have to pay a price for kicking Mother Nature in the teeth so hard and so often.
      The secret, though, is to keep looking at the beauty of the leaves on the trees and listening to the happy song of the birds.

      • Thank you for stopping by!.. yes, change is in the winds but “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain”. (Author Unknown)… 🙂

        Until we meet again..
        May the sun shine all day long
        Everything go right, nothing go wrong
        May those you love bring love back to you
        And may all the wishes you wish come true
        (Irish Saying)

      • Thanks a lot for that cheering quotation. I think that if I was as clever as that I wouldn’t remain “Author Unknown” !

  4. The poems made me smile 😊. Thank you.

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