Since we started the website in 2001 and the blog in 2009 Barry Jackson has been a major contributor in more ways than one. His great sense of humour has given us many excellent articles over the years and as well as being the blog’s top ‘commenter’ he has always been a very generous and consistent supporter financially, earning his ‘Gold Star’ long ago.
It is almost ten years ago now that Barry started his alphabetical memories of Cray Valley and today marks the conclusion with his final journey to ‘Z’. I am sure you would like to join me in thanking him sincerely for taking the time to write these pieces which I am sure have been appreciated by all who have read them.
Barry Jackson – AND FINALLY I GET TO ‘Z’.
First a little note. If I repeat myself in this final piece I apologise right now. I believe I got to S as in ‘Sport’ last time so I’ll continue with a bit more of ‘S’ before scrambling on to ‘Z’.
There were only two lads with the a surname beginning with an ‘S’ in my first form at Cray, namely Stanley and Savager. Paul Stanley was a member of the junior rugby teams I played in. I believe he left in his third or fourth year because his parents moved from the area. I lost track of Terry Savager’s school career following the realignment of classes at the end of Year 2.
I remember there was a craze for wearing fluorescent socks one summer. This was about as far as we went to rebel against the imposition of a school uniform dress code. Prefects would randomly select a pupil entering the school and request the boy to reveal his leg above the ankle – very risque and Victorian. Any lad supporting gaudy pink, green or yellow socks was told to return home and change into the regulation grey attire. The wise among us ensured we carried the correct pair in our bags or pockets so we could prevent the trudge home and back.
If any boy can recall the year of this attempted coup, can he please attach his answer to a cheque for a substantial amount of money, made payable to one Colin Cadle for the upkeep of the site. (Ed. As we are a bit short this year I thought I’d leave this bit in!)
I think we were extremely lucky to go to a school endowed with such fine science facilities and teachers. I still recall my amazement at the results of the Liquid Chromatography on apparently simple products like writing inks , or was the condition brought about by the acetone?
The sixth form gave us the chance to take the New Scientist magazine which I still pick up now and again in WH Smiths if something catches my eye. I’m now amazed at the price of it, but of course like the prices of beer in 1966 and 2017 it’s all relative.
I often wonder if I was cut out for a life in Technology. I enjoyed the science of matter immensely but had very little interest in making things except as components but not the whole. I think this was a result of poor eye to hand co-ordination. I could manage for instance marking up a piece of metal with Prussian Blue and inscribing the lines and circles. However, with hacksaw in hand the intended square became a rhombus, and the drill always seemed to ignore the carefully punched centre of a circle and produce a hole somewhere more adjacent to the perimeter.
No! this is not a history of dark and light blue sporting prowess, more of a social comment as we moved from innocence to ignorance. One of the ‘games’, we who went to the December Varsity match played, was a sort of ‘I-Spy’ variant. As 12 year olds we’d pick a car colour and registration number each and see which of us could amass the most ‘spots’. In later years this developed into looking out for car makes and models. As we grew older and more ignorant one side of the bus would compete with the other to see how many coloured people we could spot. This then lead to us allocating ethnic types to people on the streets, and debates ensued about a particular person being Hungarian or Serbian, even though none of us had in all likelihood met a Scot let alone an eastern European. In our late teens we discussed the virtues or otherwise of the young ladies we saw on our journey to the match. This all now seems unsavoury but maybe we shouldn’t judge yesterday’s acts by today’s sensitivities.
Is for 1U, my first form at Cray and subsequently 2U and 3U. As Derek Ash previously stated in the blog this stood for ‘Unsurpassed’. I suppose we were also lucky to to have Harry ‘Wedgie’ Wedlock as our first form master. Just the right mix of discipline and fun for rowdy nervous 11 year olds.
One thing over the years Derek and I have discussed is the make up of that first class. He believes there may have been only 29 of us while I’m insistent there were 30 boys . The list we do agree on is Ash, Azzaro, Baxter, Black, Bridgen, Christmas in the first row. Clements, Coman, Crane, Duddy, Farmer and Ferrer in row 2. Ferris, Girdlestone, Hubbard, Jackson, Kempster and Kempton in the next. Kennedy, Lillicrap, McClilland, Mole, Mottram and Pells in the 4th and Savager, Stanley, Wakeham, Walkling and White in the final row by the window.
Some of my suggestions for my ‘missing’ boy would be McGuire, Pike, Potts or Workman. Any answers would be appreciated and rule out the nagging suspicion that the esteemed Mr Ash may be correct.
The Universities Central Council on Admissions. This was the organisation we applied through if we intended to continue in education. I can’t remember exactly how many institutions we could apply for on the form, I have a feeling it was six. I applied to study metallurgy at Brunel (then based in Acton, before being granted university status being known as Acton College of Advanced Technology), Surrey (previously Battersea CAT) and Bradford and Aston in Birmingham. As mentioned a while ago I also applied to Loughborough to study ergonomics and cybernetics.
I made my own way to interviews at Acton and Battersea. I was a bit disappointed with the state of the buildings I saw but was reassured by the prospectuses showing the new campuses at Uxbridge and Guilford respectively. A colleague of my dad drove me for my interview at Aston. The weather was atrocious, windy with heavy rain all the way to the outskirts of Birmingham. The driver, Dave and I spent long periods with a hand out of the window wiping the water and dirt from the windscreen as the wipers on his Ford failed to cope. A consequence of the wipers being vacuum ported (whatever that means) from the engine intake manifold (whatever that is) and struggling particularly under the strain of even the smallest incline.
I found Birmingham and in particular the Aston area depressing, the only saving grace of having the interview was a visit to the Metallurgy Department’s foundry area which contained a large wooden trestle supporting a large keg of Mitchell and Butlers best bitter. Evidently this liquid was freely available to all students during their work in the foundry.
The other thing I noticed on the journey through the mirk was that every county, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire etc seemed to be using a different product to surface the M1 as it passed through their authority. I’ve never got over the feeling that councils are missing a trick by not getting their heads together to find ‘best practice’. Just have a look at refuse collection and recycling in this country as an example.
I decided not to travel to Bradford for interview and declined an offer without interview from Loughborough. I was offered places at all of the other 3 places and chose Brunel, mainly because they showed real excitement in the opportunities of the new Uxbridge site.
Just so you can astonish your grandchildren I actually received a grant of about £96 per term to study which was just great until I discovered the cost of text books, particularly those published by our American friends at McGraw Hill. I recall a copy of Rhines Phase Diagrams cost around £14 alone!
During my last year, 1966, at school I took part in a ‘University Challenge’-type quiz along with three other lads against the young ladies of Orpington Girls Grammar School. We won quite comfortably, so gaining revenge for the defeat of the previous year’s CVTHS team. I don’t recall the names of the other members, but the names of Pete Mcguire and the Johns Black and Wakeham crop up in my memory.
If you were on the team let Colin know along with a starter for £10. I must say I find the current televised version a bit dumbed down particularly in the area of starter questions. Anyone agree?
Is for Dave Verral. A few years ago Dave and I got in touch following his contact with the site about his personal life and career. We were conversing mainly about chickens, allotments and music. Sadly he’s gone off the ‘radar’ and I haven’t heard from or of him for over 18 months. Any positive information would be welcome.
Never mind Walcott, Worrell and Weekes, form 1U had Wakeham, Walkling and White who gave valuable support to the rise in CVTHS’s sporting achievements notably in rugby and gymnastics. Of course John Wakeham has written for the site and the dentist himself attended the 2014 reunion. Ian White left in the 6th form to start a family. Of Graham?
WALMSLEY and WEDLOCK and WATKINS
Three of the school’s legendary masters. The long flowing dark locks of Mr Walmsley along the hallowed corridors will stay in my mind, and to a lesser extent so will his slight confusion when he tried to thrust the pre-exam A Level Art paper in my hands and I responded “I’m not doing it sir” “Are you sure?”
H J H Wedlock was my form master and English teacher. He must have pulled out even more of his hair over my attempts, he certainly used a lot of red ink in my exercise books. He was a stalwart of the drama productions. One thing I learned (actually overheard at the reunion) was that ‘Wedgie’ as he was affectionately known was the supreme master of the ‘power nap’ during breaks in the staff room, even getting in the way whilst fast asleep of the ‘chair leg’ cricket some teachers participated in the room at the same time.
Mr Watkins was one of the many teachers who opened up my interest about the planet we live on that none of my 10 grandchildren’s teachers seem to have been able to do or more probably not had the time or need to teach them.
As some of you are aware I’m a regular correspondent to the Northern Echo, so here’s one piece of learning from Mr Watkins that was published in December 2010 as part of a debate regarding weather and forecasting
“Further to recent correspondence about the weather and forecasting, I remember what my geography teacher, Mr Watkins used to say:
Having explained the differences between climates and the variability of weather, he concluded that if we assumed the opposite to the Met Office forecast every day we would be right 51 times out of 100.
Having used this method for over 40 years I have not been disappointed. I commend it to all your readers.”
As with my comments under ‘Technology’ I was hopeless (well perhaps not quite that good) at woodwork. I really enjoyed the bits on wood grain structure, the individual scents of the woods, even the uses, but once let loose with a saw, plane or drill disaster soon followed. I never managed to complete a dovetail or any other type of joint let alone a box or coffee table to take home to impress my parents. I think if left to my own devices I could have done more damage to the rain forests of the world than a hundred thousand IKEAs. I’ve made up to the environment in some way by having a crab apple, two rowan trees, an oak, a willow and a horse chestnut, together with six currant and a couple of gooseberry bushes on my allotment. I’m also a member of the Durham Wildlife Trust.
Lost boys. As with my comments on 1U it may be interesting to know if anyone else can clearly or even partially recall classmates so that it may be possible to build up a record of all who attended Cray Valley in all its disguises over the life of the school.
Y and Z
Not much more now, I can hear the communal sigh of relief! Just two more points: 1. If the the sun is the major contributor to Earth’s warming why doesn’t the government introduce longer nights, so reducing its effect and at the same time allowing us more sleep and hence less time to worry about global warming?
And finally a paraphrasing of other of my letters of 2010
” As the clocks ticks out the last few hours to Christmas may I ask you to consider an alternative to the post-Yuletide scramble for refunds and exchanges that seem to be a growing feature at all major retailers?
Why not give your unwanted, duplicate, unfashionable or ill-fitting gifts to a local charity to pass on directly to a needy person or sell to raise funds for worthy projects.
The gift you never had on Christmas Eve and do not want on Boxing Day would be treasured, and the thoughtfulness and the person who gave you the present remembered throughout the year”
So thanks for your kindness in ploughing through all this over the last few years and I hope to see you all at the big 2019 reunion. Or to put it another way it gives you plenty of time to organise an avoidance plan.
Merry Christmas to you and all those you love, and health and happiness for the New Year
Barry Jackson – 8th December 2017