Clive Perkins 1959-63

  1)   Staff
  2)   My arrival
  3)   Lower 5c; my air rifle
  4)   Poaching
  5)   Scrumping in Sherborne Gardens
  6)   Cycling; Girls; Japanese Sword
  7)   Tractor borrowing; In need of discipline
  8)   Practical Jokes
  9)   BSA riding with Clive Sinclaire

""I Started in lower 5C >upper5c>5B>5A.
I Can recall all masters and nurses:
Jefferson Winn,
Peter Thomas ENGLISH,
Micheal Airey GEOGRAPHY,
Peter Thompson.
Bob Wellings HISTORY,
Frank Gatesman MATHS.
Rutherford CHEMISTRY.
David Jamieson MATHS.
Walters SCIENCE.
Rosser ART.
Nurse Smith and Nurse Gibson.

The school chef always seemed to be drunk when he had finished making the staff dinners as he never caught on that we were always taking our share during prep. Remember Stan who worked in the servery being balled out by one of the staff for the lack of food. The butter ration was always an issue as frequently people seemed to lose theirs or have had it covered in salt.

My Arrival October 1959

I was the sole arrival at Kings that day; it was a late October afternoon, damp and misty. As the taxi drove off I remember being intimidated by the sheer size of the building that confronted me. Matron was standing in the huge entrance doorway ready to welcome me, I had now become Perkins2. Already the feeling of being a new boy became uncomfortable.

During my first dinner and after finishing my issue of marge and butter I was told that "Oi mate that's supposed to last you a week!" I was surprised to find that three other pupils from prep school namely Cameron, Crosthwaite and Hoare were here as well. I had left Hawkhurst Court with a reputation as being a bit of of a scrapper, sadly my standing was no longer of consequence. Dorm 54 was where I was to sleep, it had originally been the Sherborne's ballroom.

I was soon absorbed into the system joining Edington Ross and Lower 5C. Our form master was a Mr Noble who seemed to be quite tollerant. I can remember the intercom system by which we were listened to by JHM. To me this seemed very Orwellian at the time.

My first term was uneventful, albeit I discovered the estates game birds that were easy prey to my catapult. We used to pluck, gut and roast them in the woods to be readily consumed by us hungry boys. On occasion I would send a pheasant home to my grandparents in a biscuit tin which sometimes would arrive full of maggots. At this time I had not been caught by the estate keepers namely Jim Farrell and Foxy Saunders.

However my luck did run out several terms later when we were found hiding up one of those magnificent beech trees adjacent the middle wood. The keeper noted our names and we were duly reported to JHM. To this day I can still remember the feeling of dread when during that night the fire alarm sounded with the school assembling in the Great Hall. JHM glared and in a very stern voice said, "Would the four fools caught by Mr Saunders stand out." Needless to say we were in deep trouble culminating in a vicious hiding with a carefully selected cane delivered to our naked rears.

I did not learn from this and continued my pursuit of both fin and feather. One occasion I was caught red handed by the art master Alan Rosser stowing my air rifle under the floor boards in Upper 5C.I was again in trouble but got away with having an illicit weapon, as it was deemed that if the gun was taken away from the school no further action would be taken. I put this let-out down to the fact that I was good at art and was the producer of the film night posters. The air rifle was taken on exeat by Martin Cash never to be seen or heard of since.

The following term I was able to obtain from John Bennet an old Webley bolt action 410 this was used effectively but due to the loud report not that often this again was replaced with a folding Belgium doubled barreled 410 which was easy to conceal on one's person. In our pursuit for excitement we cycled all over the immediate Cotswolds chasing game; we even tried to catch deer on the Barrington estate.

Clive Sinclaire and I lassoed a heifer up the valley which took off with the pair of us hanging on for grim death. The beast was very much stronger than us so we had to release our hold after being dragged at speed some distance even through cowpats and nettles. There was no report of this escape so we were very relieved as no doubt it would have meant a hiding and expulsion.

These escapades and many more I recall, although chronologically may not be correct - I put that down to my age!

To be continued...Crump

I should have mentioned that my Grandfather gave me a copy of The Poacher's Handbook by Iain Niall one Christmas, which was probably the main reason for my keen interest in "field sports." I also had several adventures on the Windrush and Sherborne Brook with the "usual suspects". I am reminded that I had tried to tickle trout without any success but finally succeeded with both worms and spinners. We even at one time had our fishing line passed down through the trouser leg attempting to discreetly hook a trout; I remember it was in the quiet part of Bourton near the bus station that we tried this latest idea to no avail; I think Garry Yates was with me when we were chased off by a very angry resident.

Many years later Clive Sinclaire and I went on a camping holiday to Westward Ho, we seemed to have walked most of the way. However we did spend our first night on the banks of Sherborne Brook having fortuitously bumped into Foxy who allowed us to pitch our tent there. He did remember me and warned us not to take any fish, this we ignored and duly caught a brace of brown trout that became our supper and there is a photograph to prove our catch.

On one Summer's day our gang found in the Windrush a sunken duck punt that had seen better days and was probably used for shooting. We hauled this out and began to make the repairs over the period of several weekends, finally launching the craft and enjoying the Summer weekends navigating the river that passed in front of Barrington house.

We were having a great time until the Landrover appeared on the horizon. We hurriedly made downstream to a bridge and moored up by holding on to the inside of the bridge, the ends of the punt overhung the river. The Landrover and its driver had stopped in the middle of the bridge and he said that he would wait there until we landed. The person in question was the landowner a Col.Wingfield who had had a steel plate in his skull as a result of a WW2 injury. He was very angry and said, "One day I find the punt up stream and the another time downstream, and today you boys are in my punt." Although he had taken our names this incident was never reported - probably because we had repaired his craft.

Classic pupil teacher windups:

  • The time Batman made a radio with a pile of junk and tricked Mr Gatesman that it worked when simultaneously playing a hidden portable.
  • When we had a Daffy Duck toy rigged up to jump about in one of Mr Walters lessons who was partially deaf and gave Crosthwaite a thump who went down like a sack of potatoes and feigned unconsciousness, this worried the hell out of poor old chap.
  • The time Mr Weston's piece of oak from Nelson's Victory did the rounds of the class returning to its keeper substantially reduced in size having been whittled down.
To be continued......Crump.

It was a warm and bright September's afternoon when we returned to Kings from our summer holidays. I remember that I been kitted out with a new uniform including a blazer, suit and sports jacket from Daniel Neals or the Famous. This new kit was bought due to the fact that my height had increased by 3 inches during the previous term.

It was not long before before our gang was looking to do something mischievous so it was decided that we would go scrumping in the school gardens for apples and other fruit. We approached the estate garden from the lower wood and fields in an endeavour to hide our progress, you may remember that the garden had a very significant solid wall which we had to scale. To access the fruit trees I was elected to crawl along the top of the wall and drop the " "forbidden fruit" to the other boys.

This worked well until I lost my balance a fell and landed right in the middle of chicken "sh12" slurry that over the years had been disposed of in this area. At first I could not understand why I was not in any pain. However the realization that I was now covered from almost head to foot in the proverbial and reeked like you would not believe, added together with the new suit was now a serious problem for me. The howls of laughter that followed when I emerged over the wall was not in any way helpful it only added to my predicament as I now was going to have to explain the soiled clothes.

It was suggested that to clean me up I should to take a shower fully clothed leaving the wet clothing in the boiler room to dry out. This operation was successfully carried out and subsequently the dried clothes sent out to the laundry and dry cleaners secreted away in a linen basket. Well it did not end there as when the suit came backed it had shrank considerably as it was one of those heavy grey flannel materials. Miss Gibson was not convinced that the dry cleaners had ruined my suit despite my insistance that "I dont understand this what has happened". Another suit was ordered which ultimately my father had to pay for which would be another score he would settle with me when he was next in the UK - that would have been a year or two later before he could confront me. However there was no escape as he had a very good memory when it came to any unnecessary expense which I had caused.

To be continued Crump

I enjoyed playing rugby for the first team as a wing forward (flanker) and football for the seccond eleven as a rightback. On a memorable occasion we played Sibford a coed school a soccer match, one of the few teams we were able to beat. I had met a girl at a return match, she was an Erica Robinson and of a similar age. Her parents had a farm somewhere near Stratford on Avon; when it was suggested the following term that we could cycle there and back in the permitted time, a team of us that included Garry Yates, John Hobhouse, Chris Tomkinson and I think James Parkinson and the writer actually made the trip with no hitches. I was hoping to meet up with Erica but knowing that no arrangements had been agreed it was more a dream than a fact. I do remember that this was a long ride and I had bought a Brookes racing saddle from Chris Tomkinson and a lot of other bike parts and converted my Raleigh roadster into a Derailleur Sturmey Archer multi geared spoof racing bike.

During my school holidays I would be sent from my paternal grandparents home in Bexleyheath to stay with my maternal grandfather who was a widower and lived by the sea at Leysdown. During WW2 1943 they had been evacuated out of Burma and lost everything. Grandfather Croft had been a civil engineer working for the government. They had several properties in Maymo a hill station, which had a very temperate climate highly regarded by europeans. In fact the house that was built for my uncle Henry 'The Eagles' became the japanese high command HQ. I believe Clive Sinclaire has the sword taken from a japanese officer that Henry had shot before he and his two friends escaped to join up with the Indian frontier force, he was just eighteen then. Clive Sinclaire researched this piece which is now in his sword collection and produced a fantastic report which could be added to this anecdote (Clive Sinclaire).

Sorry about the digression but as a youngster I used to cycle a similar distance with a rucksack on my back with a twelve bore strapped to the cross bar in the winter months. We would shoot the Sheppey marshes for wildfowl and hare for the pot. I expect that if you had read my previous notes you will not be surprised to know that the Poachers Handbook came from Grandfather Croft.

Coming back to Kings Garry Yates took a fancy to a Shelia and I to her friend I can remember, the girl in question she was a Valerie Mills her Mum used to leave me food parcels hidden as she worked in the kitchen and thought I needed feeding up. I would add so did nurse Smith as I was painfully thin, which meant that I would be also be swallowing a couple of Complan meals daily!

Years later when we used to visit the Fox at Barrington when it was a village pub run by Pat and Bill Mayer (b&b at 17/6) each, I bumped into Mr and Mrs Mills who still lived in Sherborne but always used the Fox on a Sunday morning. Jean and I spent many a weekend at the Fox and even when the girls arrived continued to do so. The trout fishing was always good; not many people realised that this small stream could be so very productive; I once caught dinner for six which was generously cooked by our host. The Haig book of Trout Fishing reccords the 5lbs+ brown trout caught by me in 1983.

Our gang had now a new trick we would find a tractor parked up in a distant deserted farm yard and drive around at speed - what fun we had and we were never caught. Opposite top road cafe there was a disused aerodrome that was littered with many old huts which had been long since deserted. We used to hunt pigeons in these huts and rabbits in the nettles and long grass that edged the old runway. Usually we would be armed with catapults to do any destruction or killing of game; we always kept a look out for the farmer or keeper's Landrover.

I am aware that whilst at Kings School and having been expelled from one of my prep schools for leveling the toilet block with a home made device employing gun cotton, that I must have been a real nightmare for my parents. As originaly my father had registered me with both Cranbrook and Sutton Valence when born. I rather suspected that after three years at Hawkhurst Court (a crammer) running wild through the West Sussex countryside, it was arranged for me to attend King's School regardless of any common entrance grades. I never attended an interview nor had my parents even conversed with JHM. However I do remember my father mentioning that I would benefit hugely from the disciplined regime. I am convinced that my experiences at King's made me, hopefully a worthwhile person; and that my less than serious approach to life and to my education, on reflection, was my way of dealing with an uncertain future in a rapidly changing world.

To be continued Crump

The other memorable joke played on Grandad was after a particularly disruptive start to a lesson. Crosthwaite was singled out as the culprit on this occasion and made to stand up, on doing so was the recipient of blow to his chin following which he collapsed like a sack of potatoes feigning unconsciousness.The effect on Grandad was one of total shock no reprisals this time. Can you Imagine what would have happened if JHM was listening in on the intercom.

Clive Sinclaire was with me on that very memorable day. The BSA would take you anywhere but seldom make a return journey. As we made our way back to London on the lower Burford road the clutch burnt out. We left the bike with a farmer and made arrangements to collect the following weekend. We hitched a lift to Witney and trained it home.

I returned to the farm as arranged to repair and collect the BSA only to be be told that it had been fixed. The repair the farmer had executed was to say the least "agricultural " he had drilled through the clutch plates and bolted the lot together. I had a very memorable journey home on the A40 jumping traffic lights as well as breaking the chain several times I was saved by a passing generous motorcyclist who had a spare link. I eventually arrived at the Park Royal underground station with a dead bike after six hours of suicide riding. I decided to dump this now lump of junk hoping it would be devoured by the urban vultures.This was wishful thinking as I duly received a notice from the Met to remove it or be fined.

My love of motorcycles was not daunted by the ownership of the BSA if anything my enthusiasm was enhanced. When I next made a visit to Kings I had a Velocette Viper in full racing trim , this was a superb machine which always got me home.

Updated 13 September 2016
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