C.E. Eley (1925-1932)

For me and my generation life was split by the 1939-45 war, and since then I have found it quite difficult to remember my schooldays in much detail.

When I was about 14 years old, I remember sitting in the old History room (tiered) doing an examination. Mr. Pitchford was invigilating. Another lower form was doing a Scripture exam. At the same time (my examination was probably History or Geography), and the two forms were mixed, to make cribbing impossible. Since I finished my paper in good time I sat doing nothing, and as I could see the paper of the boy in front of me quite clearly, being able to look down on it, and since he was not in my form, I was able to read it without any qualms of conscience. I was, however, astounded to read the following, which has stuck in my mind ever since, because it was so outrageous: “Moses was a good girl; she was a disciple of Jesus”. I will not name the boy although I remember it clearly.

I remember with nostalgia the old Tuck Shop in Bond Street where we could buy warm doughnuts and twists (Chelsea buns) for id. in 1925-27, during mid-morning break. To this day I search for that kind of luscious doughnut, instead of the stale, stodgy kind usually available. This summer I managed to find one, after many years’ search, but it was at Pontevedra, in Northern Spain.

In 1929-30, when I was in Form Va, two others in the form were F. Wheeldon and L. Webb, from Stapenhill and Winshill respectively. They had endless debates on political subjects, Wheeldon being distinctly left-wing, although this was not an expression used then, as far as I am aware. I used to call him a Bolshevik. It was my job to illustrate with cartoons the papers which they used to write and present to each other, for study and further reply. I don’t remember how long this went on, but I was a kind of go-between, very often able to add a twist to the arguments by my graphic illustrations, and usually to the benefit of Webb.

Before S. E. Wilson became Headmaster, sport was more or less for the gladiators only. When I was about ten or eleven, there was little opportunity to play games. A few of us in the 4th form decided to remedy this, so we acquired a football and a set of jerseys, raised a side and arranged a fixture. I believe it was during a holiday: certainly since the School playing field was deserted, we just went to the Rugby pitch and played our match. It must have been on a Saturday afternoon, because Burton were playing a match on Peel Croft, and this meant D. T. Hughes, who used to report the Rugby matches, saw us. Although we were not “molested”, at the time, presumably because he couldn’t leave Peel Croft, I remember the furore over this sacrilege of soccer by Grammar School boys, paricularly on the 92 hallowed rugby pitch. A hue and cry began at school, as soon as this was possible; this led to our owning up and receiving a tremendous lecture from D. T. Hughes. We were made to feel we had committed treason. This is the only soccer match I remember taking place on the school playing fields.


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