Richard Statham 1947-52

  1)   Peter Pfaff
  2)   Bridges, Kiow, Edwards, Fabrega, Young, Griffin & Willis
  3)   6 of the best
  4)   Mr Thomspson and Mr Martin
  5)   The Kukri Incident

Pete Pfaff was our excellent English master and I well remember his two comments, the first on top of my essay: "Date, boy, will you never learn!" and second, on my term report, "He has rested on his laurels and have let him down"! My parents were amused.

Anyway, Pete, who could also play jazz/boogie on the piano like a good'un married the prettiest nurse at King's (Miss Anne Langeth) and left shortly after to join the Fleet Air Arm, now a shadow of its former self, but that's another story. He was killed doing deck landings, very sad, though I didn't find out any details (though possibly 1950 or 1951). 1953, by a quirk of his name is listed alone. Ed]

When I was in the RAF doing my flying training I flew a (piston) Provost from Ternhill to Syerston, where I was later to become a flying instructor. In the "line book" there, a photo/cartoon book recording various people and things which have happened on a squadron, I saw a photo of Peter which was nice though sad to see. I have recently wondered if I could get the details of his accident from Naval records as I have some close contacts in the Navy. I wonder what happened to his widow?"

I can supply the Christian name of Westhorpe - it was Douglas, or Doug. Bridges' (sic) name was Bridge without the 's' and for a picture of him see the pool building episode and he is the guy catching the bricks as they are thrown down to him. I remember it well. He had quite battered hands by the end but refused to hand over the task.

I went and stayed with OLK, Otto Lai Kiow in London many years ago. I think that must have been after I left because I drove up from Keynsham - spelt K-E-Y-N-S-H-A-M, for those of you who remember Horace Batchelor of Radio Luxemburg fame - on my 125 cc motor bike so I would have been 16+. I vividly remember being given a bowl of rice for lunch out of which stuck a chicken's foot complete with claw! This must have been considered a delicacy in Malay (?) cuisine but I politely declined. Otto had the misfortune or lack of driving skill when he overturned his car in the school drive. JHM was not amused. One has to remember that cars of that era were not fond of going round corners - straight lines is what they did best and there was gravel on the drive. But I have no idea what became of him.

Ted Edwards was a good friend of mine but I don't know anything of what happened after he left.

Who can forget the day Enrique Arturo Fabrega, known as Flabbyknackers, grasped his crotch in his hand and complained to the master present, "Sir, they say I have flabbyknackers but I prove to you I have not!" Collapse of stout party! Much merriment all round.

George Young's socks stank so frightfully that he was obliged to hang them out of the window of the Big Dorm at night to avoid gassing us all.

I remember Pete Griffin (sic) and David Willis by name though nothing more. I am sorry for those who did not enjoy school but I loved it. Is this a masculine thing? Both my wife and my mother were distinctly underwhelmed.

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Patrick Delaney's comments about canings remind me that on the last day of term, very shortly before we actually departed, George Young and I were ragging around in the Great Hall and JHM said, "Right, there's time yet!" and took us both upstairs and gave us six, though NOT of the best but more a token gesture.

I was hardly hurt at all and I remember seeing seeing dust come out of George's trousers and nearly burst out laughing! But the public canings were most emphatically NOT amusing and I have had a loathing of cruelty ever since, which in the one instance I witnessed it certainly was. I am not entirely averse to corporal punishment (it taught me a lesson once) but it has to be deserved and very carefully administered.

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In response to Patrick Delaney's anecdote about Mr Thompson or "Meeder Tompo" as he was called by us. A very placid and polite man who ran the Scouts with absolute integrity and enthusiasm. He once caught me in his room looking at nursing magazines because they had photos of women with "naughty bits" showing! I believed then as I do now that the reasons for the magazine being there were entirely innocent. He was perfectly charming and accepted without demur my feeble explanation even if he didn't believe me.

But my reason for writing this is to say that we were told, though I cannot vouch for the accuracy of it, that one of our masters, Mr Blisset-Martin had been a commando and had been badly treated at one time during the war. The rumour was that he had been put over the barrel of a gun when it was fired, but I find this very hard to believe - most unlikely.

I clearly remember that one day in class the newly-installed intercomm system buzzed. "Is the master there?", came the query. "Yes, Sir," replied Mr Martin. This query came a couple of times more with JHM obviously unable to hear the reply. When he got somewhat irate about the matter Mr Martin went to the box, wiggled the knob up and down furiously, and roared, "If you would tell me how to use this bloody system you might be able to hear me!" A sheepish Mosey replied, "Mr Martin, please come and see me and I will explain it to you". "Bloody", forsooth! And standing up to The Old Man! We were all stunned and delighted.

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I remember an incident which took place in a dormitory - second floor, we did have attic dorms, didn't we? - when a boy brought to school a Kukri. This is a short, heavy knife with a curved blade, wickedly sharp and a product of India. Many people will know of it. In a film, "Mondo Cane", (a dog's life) I saw one used to cut off the head of an ox with one blow. That sharp. Anyway, on this occasion one boy held up his tie (school, of course) and with one swipe the Kukri cut right through it - the tie didn't even twitch, I swear it. That a boy should have brought to school such a fearsome weapon is quite extraordinary, even by the standards of yesteryear. Any H & S inspector today would swoon at the mere thought. And the thought of would it could have done then doesn't bear thinking about. Does anyone else remember the incident and who the boys were?

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