Friday, 11 January 2008

Mr Flood

John Flood had a room at the bottom of the hill near the shooting range, and as far as I remember we always went there to be taught by him, instead of staying in our normal classroom.

According to the 1968 Stouts Hill Magazine, he taught science, geography, and scripture, thereby covering a considerable amount of ground. I don't remember whether he taught me scripture, but (coming from a non-religious family) I was never very receptive to that subject. I do remember that we touched on the subject of biology once — and we went to the lake to look for specimens — but I think that was only for a short period of time.

He was mainly memorable for taking us sailing. On Sundays he would take a few senior boys in his car to Frampton, where we sailed on a lake that was part of a wildlife sanctuary. The lake wasn't very large, but it was larger than the school's own lake, and had a couple of islands in the middle, which made it more interesting. We used to hope for bad weather, because in good weather there was no wind and we'd have to paddle slowly around the lake.

Apart from the sailing, the other attraction of Frampton was the packed lunch, which was different from regular school food and therefore greatly enjoyed.

Mr Flood had a small printing press with movable type, which was used to print some notices for the school. Boys who felt interested could participate in using it.

It was kind of him to give up his Sundays to take us sailing, and we appreciated it as a treat at the time. I was a bit wary of him because he came down rather sharply on any misbehaviour; but I suppose that's fairly normal for schoolmasters.

I wrote to Mr Flood in December and received a long and pleasant reply in January, most of which I've added as a comment to this post because it seems too long to add as an indented quotation. He seems to have prospered well enough over the years.

9 comments:

Julian Williams 1962 - 67 said...

Mr Flood used tell us that there would be a solar eclipse in 1999 which he would be viewing from a certain pub in the west country. I always wanted to keep that date but I did not remember the name of the pub. I have been wondering ever since if he went and if anyone from the school rememberd to make the redevous.

One term I brought back some pupae which I had bought from a catalogue from "The Butterfly Farm" in Bexley, Kent and they were housed in a muslin cage in Mr Flood's science lab. The whole school were amazed by the beautiful swallowtail butterflies and puss moths that emerged from the little chrisalids.

Following terms I brought silk-worms which we fed with leaves from the mulberry tree. The worms grew and spun silk cocoons and later emerged as wingless moths which laid eggs which hatched, so I suppose Mr Flood had endless years of looking after silkworms after I had left the school. I might also have had stick insects, I certainly had terrepins which we kept in 5B and raced across the cricket pitch.

Julian Williams 1962 - 67 said...

I think there was also a Mrs Flood who taught us in 3B

Julian Williams 1962 - 67 said...

It has just come back to me that Mr Flood taught us Scripture as well as Science

John M rris said...

Silkworms yes. Bombix Mori?
I had some in perhaps 1970 and they were still "worms" at the end of term and had to take them home, but lucking there was a lady near my home who had a mulbery tree! The moths were awful though and very smelly and they died within a day.
There was a boy in my class, Mark Lloyd who lived in Brunei and came back once with some massive turqoise butterfly wings.
Didn't John Flood have a silly walk before John Cleese. I seem to remember him (deliberately) running with his back ramrod straight and his arms straight at his sides, he would also have been wearing large wellington boots.
He lived opposite the school.

Anonymous said...

He shared with Mr.Cromie a temper that manifested itself by a sudden and alarming flush of red spreading up his face. I think he may have meant well, but really couldn't control his temper.I vividly remember all sorts of occasions,including once when having headed downhill for a chemistry lesson I greeted the prospect of an experiment with 'oh good, there's nothing I like better than a good bang after lunch' which looking back I think rather witty for an 11 year old.He went quite berserk, and was very keen on administering what I think is known as a chinese burn,something his wife was particularly expert in.I think in fact she was rather sadistic, and I have often wondered what their story was.She seemed considerably older, and they seemed to live in rather grand circumstances just outside the school grounds.I remember see
ing their tractor type lawn mower mowing the enormous garden quite often. I had great difficulty eating the food in Top dining room, and often existed entirely on mustard sandwiches,but woe betide me if there was none left for Mr.Flood.

John Flood said...

I also enjoyed the sailing trips to Frampton. Cricket was rather a bore and it was much more fun to go sailing. If you left in ’67 you may have missed the best of the sailing. We moved to a new and much bigger lake where Major Clifford had sold gravel and stone for building the M4 and M5 motorways. We helped to found the Frampton Sailing Club which is now very big and active. He gave us a barn to convert to a club house where we could change etc. and we had some fibreglass boats, rather like the 420s which were much better for teaching than the old Cadets.

Grant Needham became a very talented helmsman and I went and sailed with him in the Saundersfoot Regatta. I went up to the London Boat Show with Grant when he chose his next boat. This was a 420 and we raced it at Lyme Regis in the National Championships. It was interesting to be crewing for a 15-year-old whom I had taught to sail only a few years before. His father became my stockbroker; and a very good one he was. Sadly we have lost touch with the Needham family, but we might find news of Grant on your Web site.

The year after you left [i.e. 1968], my wife and I bought the Stouts Hill vegetable garden: a two-acre, derelict walled garden. We built a bungalow there, restored the garden, dredged the ponds, and made it a delightful 'pleasure garden' which we opened to the public every year in aid of the Red Cross or some other charity. My wife continued to teach part-time and she loved Boston Terriers; we also had a collection of ornamental waterfowl.

It was rather a blow when the school closed and we had no wish to move from Uley. By then I was 50, but as there was a shortage of experienced prep school science masters I got a job for a while at a very weird [?] place called The Old Ride and then moved to Tockington Manor, a lovely school much like Stouts Hill, where I had several very happy years until I retired. I then spent all the summers gardening and the winters hunting (beagling).

My wife and I organized the Berkeley Show for 13 years. This was a big, one-day agricultural and horse show. This was very interesting, and very enjoyable most of the time.

In 2004 the large garden was getting difficult to keep in perfect condition—so we moved to this small cottage—where we are always pleased to see old Stouts Hill boys. I am still beagling (strictly within the law, of course!) and still sing bass in the Uley Church Choir.

We still see Anthony and Sue Cromie, Paddy Scott-Clark and Jane. Sadly, Mr & Mrs Angus, Mr & Mrs Kemp, Ian Scott-Clark, Major Dobson, Jim Bruce and Carol Angus have all died.

Alas, I have never learnt to use a computer, but I hope my wife can get to your Web site. Please use any information in this letter.

[Handwritten letter typed in by Jonathan]

Alan Davis said...

I did go too see the Floods before Christmas just on the offchance, but only Mrs Flood was in at the time and it wasn't convenient as she had a visitor, but she did suggest I phoned and arrange a time to see them both. It seems that Mr Flood took a lot of photos for the school magazines and he may still have a collection that, hopefully, he may lend us for this blog. I shall make an effort to see them soon.
Alan Davis

John Morris said...

I too am pretty sure Mr Flood must have photographs by the score, as he was often to be seen with his camera (in a leather case I think). Wasn’t he listed in the credits for many of the photographs in “Colditz Calling”?

Interesting that he recalls sailing at Lyme Regis, that is where I am from. My mother still lives there, and often talks to me about the sailing boats she can see from her window. I remember him also telling me that he had been to Lyme for 505 races.
I remember in carpentry lessons boys would often be making or mending paddles for use in boats.

The Flood's bungalow and garden were also great. I seem to remember on or near the day I left Stouts Hill being among a group of leavers who were all invited over by the Floods to drink cider.

He was one of my favourite teachers ever. I also owe him a big thank you for the carpentry lessons; they laid the foundations for all that followed. It was of course called “woodwork” at Blundell's. Since then I have made load furniture both for my own use and for others. And skills learnt with his printing press were added to after Stouts Hill and still come in handy when using computers.

When the science lab moved from the little room near the rifle range to the larger classroom level with the “Cottage” a group of us helped Mr Flood install the self-assembly workbenches, shelving etc. (So maybe he's also the reason I'm okay assembling stuff from IKEA!)

Mr Flood used to deal with athletics too.
We would get roped in to make and or mend the hurdles. He set us an exercise once to work out all the radiuses, distances etc that needed to be marked out on the grass for the running track so that the straights were 75 yards and the total length 220 yards. (My maths got it all wrong.
I horrified Mr Flood on numerous occasions by not even being able to get as far as the sand when doing long jump. (I think I was relegated to doing the raking)

william greeves said...

I remember Mr Flood for his tirades of frustration and anoyance that we could not remember the Periodic Tables (which I have never used since) - he would grasp you by the side-burns and say "bicycle ride boy" twisting the hair, causing excruciating pain! Wonderful teacher - would love "Bang goes the Theory", currently as popular show on the BBC