Friday, 31 October 2008

Mr Woods

David Woods was known as Peck, Pecker, or Pecker Bird — because of Woody Woodpecker, of course, not because of any personal characteristics.

He was a keen young man who taught Latin to the younger boys, invented educational games to be played in class, and organized voluntary sports out of class.

Mr Woods in action

Jonathan Marler remembers that he taught Greek as well as Latin.

He was interested in photography, and developed and printed photos himself in a darkroom at the school.

The 1967 Stouts Hill Magazine reveals that Mr Woods was a pupil at the school in 1938-41, so he must have been born in about 1928 — not as young as I thought. He went to teach elsewhere in 1967.

Mr Woods has the ball

I must admit I had a brief urge to caption the above photo “Pecker has only got one ball”; surely I can't be entering my second childhood already?

Mr Quick

I must admit I'd almost forgotten Michael Quick, who I think taught the younger boys. He was known as Inky, perhaps because of the Parker Quink fountain pen ink that I think was in common use at the time.

A vague sense of Mr Quick

The 1966 Stouts Hill Magazine reveals that he taught at the school for five years, from 1961 to 1966; so he was no longer there in my final year. The 1967 Magazine reports that he was enjoying teaching older boys at Dover Grammar School.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Sue Angus/Cromie

Sue (Susan) was the third of the Angus daughters, and a pupil at the school from 1945 to 1952. She married Mr Cromie in 1960, and they had a son named Andrew. During my time, they lived in the Cottage, on the school grounds, part of which was a small dormitory with bunk beds. I slept in that dormitory for one or two terms, I think.

John Morris remembers that Sue taught him to dance the Charleston for Salad Days.

The Cromies still live in Uley.

Friday, 17 October 2008

1968 school fête photos

I've added to the photos a couple of the 1968 school fête, provided by John Morris today. These are much higher-quality versions of two of the photos that appear in the 1968 Stouts Hill Magazine.

After the opening (with Mr and Mrs Angus):

Stouts Hill fête: after the opening

Boys selling in the rain:

Stouts Hill fête: boys selling in the rain

Mr Angus

Robert Angus (known as Boss) was the headmaster of the school until 1969: a tall commanding figure who seemed so central to the school that he must have been there forever. Indeed, according to Nicholas Barton's history of Stouts Hill, Mr Angus founded the school in 1935, at the age of about 29.

Stouts Hill fête: after the opening

He ruled from his study, on the ground floor at the back of the school; an old-fashioned comfortable room that most boys visited only in order to be caned. With occasional exceptions, he was the only person in the school who wielded the cane, and so he had to spend a part of each day caning boys. He seemed to take no pleasure in it and presumably regarded it as a necessary chore.

Headmaster's study

He taught maths to the 6th form, and did so rather efficiently, concentrating on geometry in particular. Strangely, although I later specialized in maths and took three different maths 'A' levels, I don't think I ever encountered the subject of geometry again after leaving Stouts Hill.

He was married to Joan, who seemed not at all well during my time at the school, and they had a collection of quite young and attractive daughters: Carol, Paddy, Sue, and Jane, in that order. I believe that some or all of the daughters were educated at the school, although girls weren't normally admitted.

I never had any idea that he was a poet. But apparently he wrote poetry throughout his life, and there is now a Web site devoted to his poetry, which also reveals that his MA from Cambridge was in English, and that he originally planned to be a writer, poet, or journalist.

He was a man of considerable dignity. On one occasion in the 6th form, he saw a large mug sitting on a shelf above his head. Feeling that it shouldn't be there, he reached up for it. What he didn't know was that someone was growing beans or sprouts in water in that mug. Assuming that it was empty, he up-ended it in the process of removing it, and neatly tipped the beans and the water over his own head.

He stood there dripping and we sat in silent shock, awaiting the explosion. But he took it well, and realized before saying anything that no boy had committed any crime: he had merely made an unsound assumption.

It was Mr Angus who advised my parents, knowing that they were short of money, to enter me for scholarship exams to four different public schools, in the hope that at least one of them would award me something. One of the headmasters of these schools sent my parents a nasty letter when he found out about this: he felt that it wasn't cricket to shop around for the best offer. I don't know whether my parents bothered to reply.

Jonathan Marler says that:

Mr Angus had good connections with several public schools, and some house masters at those schools sat on an advisory board for Stouts Hill. Notable among them was John Lewis of House Number 8 at Malvern, and a number of Stouts Hill students went to Malvern, including myself.

According to Nicholas Barton's book, Mr Angus died in 1985 and Mrs Angus in 1992. Subsequently the bungalow in the school grounds to which they moved in retirement was sold, and some alterations were made to it.