Monday, September 8, 2008

Wolverton Grammar School 1954

In 1954 the school decided to abandon the whole-school panorama in favour of class photos. I suppose the Headmaster thought that this plan was less disruptive, although the panorama returned the following year due to popular demand.
Our class was called 2M - M for Metcalfe, who was out French teacher as well as our Form teacher. Christine Metcalfe was the daughter of a Lincolnshire farmer who had studied French at a French University and was much more lively than her senior French teacher, the wooden Mr Thomas who had been at the school since my mother's School Certificate year - 1931. 
Mr Thomas had been our introduction to French the previous year. "Toto entre!" was the first sentence in French that we were taught. If we misbehaved in the slightest we would be required to stand: "Levez vous Monsieur Dunleavy!"
Miss Metcalfe was a breath of fresh air after that. A couple of years after this photo wastaken she married Harry Johnson, a Biology teacher who came to us (I think) in January 1955. Our first year Biology teacher was Miss Jones. She left and was replaced by a Mr White who was so terrified of us that he spent the entire lesson scribbling notes furiously on the blackboard leaving us to desperately catch up. His tenure was short-lived and I would guess that he was quietly advised to move on. Mr Johnson was a very different kettle of fish; he wasn't terrified of us - we were scared of him!
I should add that we had no text books in those days and notes taken from the teacher were our only record of new knowledge.

1954 Form 2M
Back Row: Anne Wyatt, Margaret Bird, Shirley Petts, Pamela Bellamy, Anne Adams. Mary Barnett, Margaret Skinner, Linda Gamble, Bryan Dunleavy, Roger Norman, Francis White, Marcus Towell, Robert Gentles, Michael Brooks
Middle Row:  Valerie Dufton, Sheila Clarkson, Janet Haynes, Margaret Mayo, Dorothy Bennett,Jill Carter, Linda Gilbert, Geoffrey Farrington, Roger Brewer, Christopher Thomas, Robert Crocker, Scott McBurnie, Barry Lines
Front Row: Julia Sharpe, Molly Holmes, Linda Grace, Mildred Willis, Christine Metcalfe, James Franklin, Peter Bush, Graham Lenton, David Wilmin
The cost of this photo, mounted in a brown envelope (in which it stayed for 50 years) was 4/-. (four shillings)


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for these happy memories, Bryan. I was Linda Grace. Miss Metcalfe was a delight, I remember her being a great fan of The Goons. Mr Johnson certainly was frightening, red hair and keen on throwing blackboard rubbers! I seem to remember that Chalky White had to leave because he declined National Service and was sent to do agricultural work

Bryan Dunleavy said...

Thank you Linda. How very nice to hear from you after all these years! I had quite forgotten about the reason for Mr White's short tenure. When I revisited this memory after many years I concluded that he had been let go because he was not very effective as a teacher."Slogger" Johnson was a teacher of a very different order. Do you remember the time when he rapped Jim Franklin on the back of his legs with a swordfish bone/ I think he drew blood, and I suppose it says soething about the tiumes we lived in that this event was not considered a sackable offence.
In recent years I have met Howard Cadman a few times and he ws quite friendly with Harry and Christine Johnson. They both died a few years ago in their early 80s.
This blog, and my activities in writing books and giving talks has brought me into contact with several people from our year. Last year I met Gill Carter when I gave a talk in Stony Stratford. She hasn't strayed too far from her roots.