The school mainly catered to the Children of leading Methodist's, Methodist Ministers, Civil Servants, Rich Foreigner’s and Military Officers (who got a fee subsidy from the government now cancelled by Labour. This was good as Military families got re-posted about every 3 years meaning Military Children kept few friends thus damaging their childhood, the School provided a stable environment). Parents still have to pay Taxes for State Education even if their Children are Privately Educated. One Foreign pupil took a year of to take flying lessons. The Son of Sir Terrance Conrad founder of the Habitat retail chain was in my class. Sir Terrance directed the Robert Palmer Video: Addicted to Love, and he owned 7 houses!
What we did during the Week:
We always liked getting post, the School Secretary put the mail out and there was a bit of a melee to get yours first. Also towards the end of term the senior pupils used to gather up all the trunks (used for your books, clothes etc...) to make a 'fort' to attack junior pupils with milk etc... Once I was playing golf with a guy standing behind me, unfortunately he was too close and when I brought back the club it hit him hard above the eye. It bleed a lot and left quite a scab. It was announced that night to the whole school in Bison, they didn't say who did it but I couldn't stop blubbing with guilt.
My old friend Mazda Abadian, an Iraqi Christian I think who's parents died was adopted by the Headmaster Mr. Mountford was always first in the queue for every thing with his sister Nazarene. A while after I had left I saw Mazda and another friend in WHSmith in Bath (the home of the Senior School). Instead off telling them what I had been up to (which was basically that I had acquired a VIC20 computer which I used quite a lot), I just said 'Who are you?' I've done this kind of thing a number of times due to having continually moved from one place to another nuking old relations in the process and because I am a little bit autistic, well Higher Functioning Autistic actually.
My Commodore VIC20 only had 3.5Kbytes of Memory, and a tape drive to load programmes which you had to wait quite a while for. So you could only play games like Amok (shoot 8 Robots in a Room then go on to the next very similar Room), Bomber (Bomb all Skyscrapers before your place got too low and crashed into them), Bat & Ball, and Mines (complete the requires workers to mine and sell ore, re-invest profit, from a BASIC Book, my first resource management game). You also got cartridges with built in ROM for better games like Gorf and Galaxia. I pulled one out while the computer was operational and fried it. Everyone else waited 6 months to get the much better Commodore 64 with an amazing 64Kbytes of memory!
We had four Clans from Wind in the Willows: Moles, Rats, Toads and Badgers. I and my Brothers were Moles. My character was a bit like a Mole with somewhat withdrawn and 'spring cleaning': cleaning a Classroom every night and getting pass or fail written on the blackboard by a senior pupil which we checked in the morning. If leaves fell and you managed to pick them up before they hit the ground, that was good luck, if you missed then you got bad luck. There was also a broken electrical wire next to one of the classrooms and pupil's took both ends and electrocuted themselves, clearly it couldn't have been at full voltage so I don't know what is was meant for.
We used to have all our meals together at long tables and if there was anything left over the head of the would shout 'any more for any more'. I used to trade my biscuits if someone would eat my Banana custard which I didn't like. Once the entire table played a prank and kept going to the kitchen to order more and more milk, they eventually told us to get lost. We had a massive tea urn to provide for the whole school. My Birthday is in July so I never got to celebrate it at School. We also had initiation ceremonies called 'the Mill' and 'the Rack'. The 'Mill' was where you got slippered, and 'the Rack' was when you were put between the mattress and bed and sat on by a fat kid called 'Pressy'. My Brother Jonathan boasted he got whipped to the bone with bracken in the woods, but they had outlawed this kind of thing by the time I got their, if in deed it every happened. We also had a School Ghost who came out every evening on 'Jasper Night' the 1/1, 2/2, 3/3... We also had stories of Headless Tractor Drivers, a Phantom cottage, a Hot Air Balloon landing in the field next to the school and a race to get up earliest to collect the Conquers after a storm. I also used to wear a chain with a copy of the Lord's Prayer on it, I not quite sure what happened to it. I got homesick quite often. Generally when I first arrived back.
The boys didn't get carpets or curtains in their dormitories named after birds: Swan, Curlew... And one Master used to come round after lights out to check we weren't talking. We had our own school slang: 'Kid' was Brother, 'Nefag' was something amusing I can't remember but which everyone said, 'Taxi' was when you went for a dump, 'Mow' was having relations with a Woman which caused great amusement when we sang 'One Man has to Mow has to Moe a meadow. One Man and his Dog has to mow a Meadow' by the time we got the 'Ten Men and their dog...' everyone was in hysterics. We also used to sing 'Lilly the Pink's Medicimal Compound'. Also there were rommers that the 5th form played strip poker in Prep. We also had one hour's reading in the evening. Very little television (a bastardised word half Greek: Tele and half Latin: Vision) only the News and once we were allowed to watch the Italian Job in instalments with Michael Cain. Who was also in 'the Man who would be King', a film have greatly enjoyed. We were also awarded G's for good deeds and got S.P.'s (Special Permit's) to go out when our parents visited for the weekend. My Father sometimes came to deliver a sermon which made me very proud or umpire the cricket. If you were mis-behaving senior pupil's could 'send' by saying the letter S-E-N-T, generally by the time they got to N the pupil would start getting worried and stop what ever they were doing. If not it was off to the Staff Room. Junior pupil's could say R-E-P-O-R-T-E-D but no ever took any notice of them.
I left party because I wanted to find out what the outside was like. Unfortunately I found out. We only left school grounds to go to church in the village once a term when we were given money to put in the collection. We never really needed money, tuck shop worked by noting how much you had to spend, and other items were bought from a list like writing paper, fountain pens (which I kept using for a long time after P.C. (prison camp we using to call it jokingly ;-) ), combs etc... We played many games like British Bulldog on the front lawn where one kid had tackle as many others as he could and they then joined until there was only one left who became the next kid, 40-40 out a tag and hide game, table tennis, indoor bowls, boardgames, space invaders where we all moved around like they do one the screen and someone had to hit you with a tennis ball... I also played carpet Bowls in one of my House Groups.
We had to write letters home every Saturday Morning. My mostly consisted of 'I am OK. How are you.' or some rubbish like that. Once I sent a letter of learning to write the alphabet properly at I arrived home before it did. I used to enjoy playing with Lego then (and brought some with me), I built a castle once and a fire engine. Unfortunately I lost the instructions so couldn't make them again, it would be good if they could publish them on the internet. We also went to Lego land in Denmark on a Liner which was good. Now you only have to go to Windsor.
I also liked Playmobile but some kid draw all over them. Some Civil Servant's kid from Hong Kong brought in some half marbles and funny tasting food (I think one being seaweed), and I tried roller skates once but wasn't very good at them. We also chased some girls with nettles once which we had dug up by the roots. And I also had a Bible which I don’t every recall reading, put I took great pleasure in writing my name in it ‘David Magnus Ledgard’ and writing the compass rose in it, North-East-South-West. A prediction about my involvement in Adventure Games?
Our Sports teacher Mr. Lines used to take junior and senior cross country. In junior cross country we ran from the front lawn, round the woods twice, then on round the main playing field, and finally along the Tree Lined main entrance road. You always got the infamous stitch, I generally came in the last five. Mr. Lines just waited by the entrance to woods then went to the main playing field. In senior cross country he just went round in his Mini checking the pupils were doing the course properly. My Brother Jonathan saw him at his stall in the Market in Newbury, and he said he had never seen him so embarrassed, not wanting the pupils to know he also worked on a stall. He liked me even though I was useless at Sport. Another time I had a special 1 hour lesson with a few other pupils while the rest has to go out and play Ruga on the main field. When we got there they were freezing and most displeased that we had escaped their fate. Another time we were out in hail storm.
We also had a Matron. Her deputy was found and saying 'put some nivier on it', what ever the ailment. And she liked giving out iron pills. She was a rather large women and once one pupil 'measured' her girth in a joking manor with out her noticing. Once I was in Sick Bay and there was very little to occupy your time but read a book about Red and White blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen, and White blood cells kill invading Bacteria and Viruses. All our clothes had to have name tags stitched into them.
Another kid broke an arm falling of a tree stump and had to wait in casualty for hours with Mr. Mountford, who was nicknamed Monty after Field Marshal Montgomery and the Desert Rats who eventually beat Rommel, the Afrika Corps and the Italians who didn't win a battle in the war except to take the streets of Italy. This was due in part to most of them note wanting to fight, the daring British torpedo attack on Toranto, Italy’s southern Naval Base which knocked out much of their surface fleet. The Japanese studied this tactic and used it to great effect a Pearl Harbour. Luckily the American Aircraft Carriers were out on manoeuvres, and it was they that won the war. The Italians still managed to get a British Battleship in Alex. using mini-subs. If you're at all interested in this sort of thing you can visit the Imperial War Museum near Lambeth North, tube station. It has some huge guns from a battleship positioned outside.