Buenos Aires to Kingham Hill
Richard A. Greenwell BA
I arrived on The Hill in 1958 first to Plymouth House and then on to Sheffield leaving in 1967.
My first house photo in Sheffield House, that's me front row last boy on the right.
I was supposed to follow Peter Morris another Sheffield boy to Oxford Uni. I had had tuition in Latin from a Jesuit priest. I got my 'O' level and filled in the application, but my 'A' and 'S' level exam results were not good enough.
Sheffield House 1961
I had not bothered to apply to any other university so went into banking in the City with the Bank of London and South America, trading on the fact that I was born in Buenos Aires.
After 18 months I was invited to join the management trainee programme with 11 recent Oxbridge graduates and was posted to Quito as soon as I was 21, then on to San Salvador.
Subsequent postings included Bogota, Rio de Janeiro, New York and Monte Carlo.
I returned to London just in time for the 'three day week' during the miners' strike, 1974/1975 and so decided to try my luck in Australia.
After a couple of years with their Department of Overseas Trade I joined the diplomatic service and was posted as second secretary in Nairobi, from there to Port Moresby (PNG), and then to Caracas. I ended up as Consul General in Miami. Next stop was to be Beijing, which I did not fancy so chucked that in and went into import and export. After 11 years in Miami and two failed marriages I returned to the UK in 1999.
Sydney Harbour Bridge
I have now remarried a lawyer, live in Cheltenham and run a golf club.
My memories of KHS revolve around a number of things of which the food seems now to have been important, was it really based on half slices of fried bread with scoops of either tinned tomatoes, baked beans, powered egg, or even spaghetti hoops?
Mashed potatoes with a skin on top, jugs of weak tea to drink, endless white bread with margarine? The only thing sweet, apart from puddings like spotted dick and bread and butter (neither of which I could now eat), was the cupcake on Sunday evenings with a strict seniority on who picked in which order. Chips were a real treat as rarely served (a good thing).
Everything on the plate had to be eaten (or surreptitiously dumped in the tea urn), and only the prefects' table had brown sauce to kill the taste. Fruit or salad? I think not.
But there was one amazing teacher, Wetherill?, who actually invited small groups of 6th formers to the Shaven Crown at Shipton under Wychwood, one of the very first gastro pubs, and paid for us to have a decent meal from his own pocket.
Cold baths every morning in the summer term, in the Easter terms Sheffield boys went for extra run and then the house work in the mornings.
The photo above shows Sheffield House cross country team in 1964: that's Jonathon Hall, rolling up his sleeves, and Tony Thompson with hands on his knees and my close friend Mark Mitchell with his hands on his hips. Only two real baths a week, shirts changed once a week, one sheet change a week, and then the top one went on the bottom, and as for sports kit, only cleaned at half term so you had to wash it yourself or bang your socks against the wall to get the hardened mud off before being able to put them on!
Trips out included the Royal Tournament
Billy Graham, The Flying Dutchman at Stratford, the film Becket, and black and white films shown in the main hall - I remember the Titchfield Thunderbolt was a favourite. Scouting trips to the Broads, Cornwall, the Gower, and Wales three times pulling our kit on wheelbarrows.
The Yorkshire Moors, where we were restricted to camp during the 1966 World Cup Final - horror. As an Argie I had already lost 2/6 (out of my 10 bob pocket money a term) on the England Argentina match.
|Of course my early days were affected by the loss of the Rohilla. Jerry Rudman, a close friend in Sheffield, had lost his brother Martin on it. Also the funeral of Winston Churchill, the shooting of JFK, yes I do remember watching illicitly on the schools TV in the main hall hidden behind the curtains on the stage. The Cold War, I remember joining the U2 class, just after Gary Powers had been shot down in his 'U2'.|
I got everyone to line up that first day sporting Beatles haircuts, by combing our hair down onto the forehead then going across with the fingers.
The blessed end of term, and we could sing 'no more English no more French, no more sitting on the old school bench' as we waited for the Chippy Dick to take us back home.
I do not remember much bullying, though us prefects pretty much ran the place and meted out minor punishments. Being a prefect was the best man management training we could be given.
I was only flogged once, with a tennis shoe I recall.
I looked up to the athletes, like Les Hackett who broke the school 100 and 200 yards records, and Jones with his fast bowling, and Pugsley who played rugby for Oxfordshire schools and had a trial for the England Youth team.
I was only the school table tennis champ.
Teddie Cooper and the schoolprefects including Richard Greenwell.
I opened the batting for the First XI, and scrum half for the seconds. Oh I did score the first goal at hockey for the School when we took it up in the Easter Term, the cross came over from the right, I lunged, shut my eyes, and it ricocheted in.
I have quite a few golf trophies, but that I think will be my one sporting moment to remember (if only I had my eyes open at the time).
I still have my blue KHS First XI cricket cap incidentally I last used this in 1970", I last used in 1970 playing a Test Match for El Salvador vs Nicaragua in Managua at the British American Tobacco ground. I would be happy to donate it to any collection of KHS memorabilia.
KHS First XI
School plays were also a highlight, with Iolanthe, Man for all Seasons and the Alchemist, in which I had a small part.
The idea was we would have no teacher directing us, just let the boys interpret their roles, very 60's. I remember the director of the National Youth Theatre was coming and the star of the show, Peter Rozycki went down with the lurgy, being the trooper he is he came on anyway. I never took communion, but still as a prefect read the lesson, and it never seemed to hold me back in any way.
We did sing the whole Messiah, and I remember going to Oxford to perform it on stage.
The school has changed enormously, but boy it did teach me to appreciate the good things in life, which is no bad thing.
My BA was gained in Spanish, Portuguese and Economics at Flinders Uni in Adelaide, though I was classed as a 'native speaker' of the first and had my course work from the University of Madrid (where my exams where also sent for marking).
Richard A. Greenwell
My final illustration was taken on holiday, in November 2008 in Langkawi in Malaysia.
Richard A. Greenwell BA. March 2009.
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