Tag Archives: teachers

Staff v Prefects Football Match Christmas 1980 (3)

These are the last four of the ten photographs I found recently of the Teachers v School Prefects football match.  This keenly fought fixture took place probably just before Christmas in 1980, give or take a year either way. My beautiful new wife was watching the game, armed with my camera, if I remember correctly.
This first photograph shows myself and Ron Gilbert, the ex-Chemistry teacher who retired recently. We look as if we are holding a quick debate about who is going to chase after the ball:


The second photograph shows the then Head of Music, Stephen Fairlie, and the red shirted referee, Richard Willan. Red Fourteen is a Prefect playing in a staff shirt to make up the numbers. Incidentally, the staff are playing in the shirts normally worn by the school Second Eleven Football Team. These, in their turn, were, for reasons that must surely remain unknown now for ever, the second, change, strip of Sunderland A.F.C.


The third photograph shows three members of staff. Number Three on the right with his back to the camera is Paul Morris, the now retired Physics teacher. I myself am Number Two in the middle and Number One is Andrew Ayres, a native of Hartlepool if I remember correctly, a young teacher of Chemistry and a colleague of Ron Gilbert. Andrew moved on to Wisbech Grammar School in Cambridgeshire, where he became the senior tutor and examinations officer as well as continuing as a chemistry teacher. He retired in July, 2014. Once again, the Prefects will have to remain nameless:


The final picture shows Stephen Fairlie, the then Head of Music, as Number One on the left, and Bob Howard, Geography teacher and Best Man at our wedding, as Number Three on the right. In the centre is Number Two, Phil Eastwood, who was the then Head of Chemistry. Phil is a very keen supporter of Manchester City and that is where, I would imagine, his socks came from:


I would like to finish these three blog posts with a piece of medieval poetry. Medieval French poetry, no less. Well, from 1533. It was written by François   Villon. (You can click on both names)
The days when I knew about such things are very distant, but ironically, that is the whole point of the poem:

Dictes moy où, n’en quel pays,

Tell me where, in which country

Est Flora, la belle Romaine ;

Is Flora, the beautiful Roman;

Archipiada, né Thaïs,

Archipiada, born Thaïs,

Qui fut sa cousine germaine;

Who was her first cousin;
Echo, parlant quand bruyt on maine

Echo, speaking when one makes noise

Dessus rivière ou sus estan,

Over river or on pond,

Qui beauté eut trop plus qu’humaine?

Who had a beauty too much more than  human ?


Mais où sont les neiges d’antan!    

Oh, where are the snows of yesteryear!


Où est la très sage Heloïs,

Where is the very wise Heloise,

Pour qui fut chastré et puis moyne

For whom was castrated, and then made a monk

Pierre Esbaillart à Sainct-Denys?

Pierre Abelard in Saint-Denis ?

Pour son amour eut cest essoyne.

For his love he suffered this sentence.

Semblablement, où est la royne

Similarly, where is the Queen

Qui commanda que Buridan

Who ordered that Buridan

Fust jetté en ung sac en Seine?

Be thrown in a sack into the Seine?


Mais où sont les neiges d’antan!    

Oh, where are the snows of yesteryear!


La royne Blanche comme ung lys,

The queen Blanche, white, as a lily

Qui chantoit à voix de sereine;

Who sang with a Siren’s voice;

Berthe au grand pied, Bietris, Allys;

Bertha of the Big Foot, Beatrix, Aelis;

Harembourges qui tint le Mayne,

Erembourge who ruled over the Maine,

Et Jehanne, la bonne Lorraine,

And Joan of Arc the good woman from Lorraine

Qu’Anglois bruslerent à Rouen;

Whom the English burned in Rouen ;
Où sont-ilz, Vierge souveraine ?

Where are they, oh sovereign Virgin?


Mais où sont les neiges d’antan!         

Oh, where are the snows of yesteryear!


Prince, n’enquerez de sepmaine

Prince, do not ask me in the whole week

Où elles sont, ne de cest an,

Where they are – neither in this whole year,

Qu’à ce refrain ne vous remaine:

Lest I bring you back to this refrain:

Mais où sont les neiges d’antan!         

Oh, where are the snows of yesteryear!


Filed under Football, France, History, Humour, Literature, Nottingham, Personal, The High School

Staff v Prefects Football Match Christmas 1980 (2)

These are three more of the ten photographs I found recently of the teachers playing the School Prefects at football, or soccer as some might call it. The photographs show a game from the early 1980s, when my wife took a few pictures of the match.

This photograph shows the Staff goalkeeper kicking the ball downfield. This is the legendary Chris Mann, a young chap from Liverpool with the accent to match. He eventually left the High School to go to teach at Staffordshire University, where he remains to this day, as far as I know. The last time I heard, he was doing very well as the Senior Lecturer in the School of Engineering (Maths & Statistics) in the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Sciences:


This photograph shows myself shielding the ball against a defender. In just a second, I will pass it on to the other player in blue, who is Paul Morris, the now retired Physics teacher:


This final picture shows proceedings when players are perhaps beginning to get a little tired. There are four blue shirted members of staff on view. I am Number Four counting from the left and Paul Morris is Number One. Number Two is the then Head of Music, Stephen Fairlie, a young man far too gentle to be playing football. Not long after this game, in 1985, he was to found the Nottingham Youth Orchestra which still continues in existence to this very day:


Player Number Three is Ron Gilbert, an ex-Chemistry teacher who retired recently, and whose first love was actually Rugby Union, but he was always a very good sport, and willing to turn out for the staff when the occasion arose.
Yet again, I am not able to recognise any of the Prefects who, by now, must be in their early fifties with not just children but, conceivably, grandchildren.


Filed under Football, History, Humour, Nottingham, Personal, The High School

Staff v Prefects Football Match Christmas 1980 (1)

At the end of either the Christmas Term or the Easter Term or sometimes both, there used to be a tradition of the Teachers playing the School Prefects at football, or soccer as some call it. The very first one took place as far back as the evening of Monday, March 9th 1959. The staff triumphed by a single goal.  Nowadays, Health and Safety Regulations have put paid to such risky and dangerous pursuits.

The game used to take place here, on the Forest Recreation Ground:




When I was a lot younger and a lot, lot, thinner, I used to play in such games, and these photographs show a match from the early 1980s. I was newly married and my beautiful young wife, as one of, admittedly, very few spectators, was given a camera and the freedom to take a few pictures. In total, there were only ten, because in those days, there were no digital cameras, and people were not in the habit of shooting hundreds, if not thousands, of photographs on the off chance that three or four might be good ones.
This first photograph shows my good self in the blue shirt and green shorts. The other player in blue is Paul Morris, a teacher of Physics, who, like myself, retired within the last two years. Everybody else is a Prefect, although I am sorry to say that I could not put a name to any of them.


This photograph shows a young red haired gentleman playing for the staff team and running off with the ball into attack. He is Bob Howard who had been Best Man at our wedding. To his left, in red, is Richard Willan, one of Bob’s colleagues in the Geography Department. Richard retired in the same year as myself.


This final picture shows my unbelievably thin self, still in my green, blue and red outfit. I somehow seem to have acquired a mop of curly, dark brown hair, instead of the white ensemble I now have. On the right, in front of the goalpost is Best Man Bob Howard. The other player in blue is not a member of staff, but, presumably, a Prefect playing for the Staff Team to make up the numbers. Again, I could not name any of the opposition, but I do recognise a couple of the spectators. The red haired young man with the non-regulation brown scarf is Dave Beech who played for the school First Eleven at football on around half a dozen occasions when I was the team manager. To the left of him is Russell Poole, a superb young cricketer, whose Dad used to come down every games day to the Games Field to coach cricket to the more talented young players.










Filed under Football, History, Humour, Nottingham, Personal, The High School

End-of-Year Hootenanny

Recently, I was invited by members of staff to attend the end-of-year buffet. After serving thirty eight years hard labour at the school, I could hardly refuse.  Given my disabilities, though, I thought it best to treat it as a pop concert. There should be a continuous medical presence, preferably with pessimistic posters…
These are the people who really run the place. Today they will judge the acts…
You will need a fabulous sound system and an expert to run it…
And will you need reliable security…
The first two acts were real blasts from the past…

A critical audience prepared their ammunition…

B1Expectations were high, after that wonderful food and the odd snifter, all on offer at prices to suit the teachers’ pocket….
First, a familiar warm-up act…
…introduced the most cultured man I have ever met…
He spoke wise words for those with power over education at a national level…

By now, a slight shuffling feet of the audience betrayed their desire for something a little lighter, perhaps. A country-and-western singer?
Or perhaps a stand-up comedian?
Reactions were varied. Some seemed not to really like that kind of thing…

Others were even more disapproving…
Simon’s disappearing microphone trick was completely lost without trace…
But thank goodness, though, not before he remembered to introduce, in the most moving terms, Jim, one of nature’s true gentlemen, and a man who lives up to his faith every single second of the day…
Finally found the microphone though…
Just in time to bring on the star turn, Old Whispering Jim…
The inventor of the paper aeroplane…
“Order!! Order!! Order!! Quieten down please!! You’ve all seen a paper aeroplane before!!
And then the familiar music echoed forth, as we awaited some death defying stunt…
Next it was Paul, with the prototype of his recently invented self-camouflaging tie…
An Everton supporter then suddenly rushed on stage, trying to re-enact the events of the 1966 F.A.Cup Final, attempting vainly to gate-crash the whole event…..
The jury were by now ready for the “Best Dressed” contest. Their empty flying bottles of Budweiser, however, would not be allowed to affect the result…
Would it be the same winner for the previous six years?? A lucky seventh triumph?? And would she want a croquet set as first prize??
But no, controversy then ensued! Professor Major’s hat took all the votes, but should he have been wearing it inside in the first place??

Still, at least Everton Mcgibbon can give us a song…

It hasn’t been easy to turn all these different photographs into a coherent story. I hope nobody has been offended. Let’s finish with a slide show of the others that didn’t quite make the cut. There were quite a few suggestions to explain away the occasional blurring. A room that was surprisingly dark for photography? A lens which had to be open for as long as one eighth of a second? Or just a camera with beer goggles?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Happy retirement, everybody. You have more than earned it.





Filed under Nottingham, Personal, The High School

Brahms and Liszt

I adore History, but most of all, I adore the bright, vivid, and O so human figures who populate those dusty days of yesteryear. One such was Mr Sparey, who, with his friend Mr Hewson, burned like blazing comic meteors across the drab High School skies of the middle years of the nineteenth century. This, of course, was when the old Free School was in Stoney Street in the Broadmarsh area of the city, ten or fifteen years before it moved to its present location.
free school
Mr Sparey taught just one class, which was in one of the two downstairs classrooms. He was a “splendid writer, and a fair arithmetician and grammarian, but a rather rough man with a love for the cane.” He was ably assisted by Mr Hewson, “…a teacher of a more patient temper”. Mr Hewson taught not just English but also French, teaching grammar, setting exercises and marking them.
In late 1854, the pair of them caused great scandal in the town when they decided one Saturday evening to seek prolonged and alcoholic refreshment together in a local tavern on Long Row. It may have been near here…
long row 1
Or it may have been further down…
long row 2
Over the course of a spectacular evening, Messrs Sparey and Hewson grew progressively more and more drunk, and eventually managed thoroughly, and publicly, to disgrace themselves.

InebriatesThis was an escapade, though, which they might well have got away with, had it not been for the fact that their appalling behaviour coincided more or less exactly with the arrival of a Government Inspector, who had recently come to the town. He soon found out about this debauched episode, and, as might be imagined, a great deal of embarrassment was caused for the school.
Mr Sparey was told that if the offence was ever repeated, he would be instantly dismissed. Mr Hewson fared even worse. A witness in the subsequent inquiry actually said of him that “…I do not send my boys to this School. I should not like to so long as a character like Hewson’s taught there.” Hewson was then forced to resign.
In 1858, after almost five years of, hopefully, temperance and model behaviour, Mr Sparey, the remaining member of the Long Row Two, himself resigned. No reason was ever given for his departure.
It was not, however, as if Mr Sparey was unused to criticism. Two years earlier, the Headmaster had written to the Governors about “Mr Sparey’s bad English”, and when, later that same year, it was suggested that no member of staff should ever be allowed to keep a public house, for some unrecorded reason, it was Mr Sparey’s name that happened to crop up. The Writing Master countered this foul accusation by saying that that the inn was in actual fact not his, but was held in the name of his wife’s sister.
History is such, of course, that the fate of the Long Row Two remains unknown. But just for a moment they must have lit up a dreary, provincial town in a wonderfully spectacular way.




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Filed under History, Nottingham, The High School