Being a spare boy from birth (from where I came from there was a surplus of spare boys per square foot of London but I seemed to be sparer than most which not being liked by anyone and my uncles and aunts in particular, probably had a lot to do with it if not everything) I hit Plymouth house in around late 47 loaded with attitude and a fine selection of blossoming zits and several luminous boils, intending to change the current rules and Pecker Brownhills strap in particular for something more appropriate to a spare boy of note - like an extra iced bun at teatime for example but an ambition that only ended in a confrontation with Miss Brownhill's nose, her strap in particular, and a sore backside or two before bedtime!
Previous to my arrival, I was the star inmate of many a boys home and as obnoxious as was required which meant obnoxious enough to undergo several memorable slipperings of note which turned me into some kind of hero but also got me packed off, cardboard box and conkers, frogs snakes and slugs, onto the nearest form of transport, anything that could move me from A to B without too many people noticing that it was and heading for another county, any county, another home, any home.
By now, KH was the last known bastion between me and the outside world and the French Foreign Legion in particular as this seemed to be the only place that would tollerate me and my astounding but unexplainable haircut but, and more importantly, give me a gun and allow me, in fact insist, that I should shoot somebody with it as soon as possible providing of course that they weren't French but as many Germans as I liked, or didn't like, which was all of them coz they shot my Dad and Uncle Bert but not in the same place - one in the head, one in the foot but both in Libyia.
It was never truly established where my mum came from. It was widely rumoured that it was either Maltby in the North or Wapping in the South and the uncertainty of two different accents, and whatever the situation prompted, only helped to make speculation pointless if not entirely impossible.
Apart from not knowing I had one of these I wasn't quite sure what one was anyway and was not so much surprised but intriqued when one day on summer hols my mother announced that "Today, we're going to see your granddad who used to live in Wapping and, with a bit of luck, still does"
This centered around 3ft of prime rattan about half an inch thick and wielded with great expertise by the then headmaster, John Woollan.
Now though the cane kept 180 boys in order it was never used in gay abandon in order to do so - a couple of canings a week maybe, if that, but when it was used it was used with a will - and bloody well hurt !
KH in my time wasn't exactly awash with hero's, in fact it wasn't awash with anything to do with derring do, self sacrifice ( though plenty of self sacrifising went on unawares and particulary so for those delicately conned into it with or without them knowing it, with or without their permission and sometimes with or without either altogether )
This was a few planks of wood nailed to a tree 30ft up and just perfect for the first time buyer and all I had to do now was to find one and with 180 gullible prospective buyers to choose from my first sale in real estate should be a doddle - all I had to do was find the least informed with the most dosh/sweets/frogs/undefeated conkers, whatever.
Just been reading the minutes from the Kingham Hillian's Committee meeting - mention of girl attendance one day hopefully matching that of the boys when in my day the only girls you ever saw were down in the village behind the Butchers and all swearing that one day they would all marry me, or somebody like me and, in an emergency,anyon e that even looked like me but only from a distance.
During my years on The Hill I kept seeing horses galloping all over the place but had no idea where they came from and, when I was eventually told they were from the pony club, I didn't even know we had one of those either.So, I found it, joined it, fell off a horse and left.
Well that was the idea anyway but JW, who seemed to own the pony club if not the horses wasn't having any of it explaining that once you joined his pony club you joined it for eternity, here's a pitch fork, there's a dung heap, load it into that trailer then muck out the stables.
"Dear Mr Woollan, can you teach my son to play the piano like that bloke Liszt does but not in pubs?
Dizzy Downes's mum"
"Dear Dizzy Downe mum.
Your son can't reach the pedals yet, Liszt is dead, so will the violin do instead ?
John Woolan, Warden and school drummer"
This was John Woollans pride and joy, a plumb tree that never grew a plum - or that was the impression he got after we stripped it clean every year and hawked our booty from House to House for either a penny a plum or two for a fag.
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