Life and Times of Dizzy Downes

Life and Times of Dizzy Downes

Allan George Downes, 1947 and now far beyond

Introduction

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.

Read more of Dizzy's introduction

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Whilst women sparkled men were just a splodge of drab grey splashed over the face of society.

When we were at school it was grey flannel,when you left, it was a bewildering choice between grey flannel and corduroy with leather patches, a crude attempt at highlighting fashion that ended up on cuffs and elbows as a bullet proof guarantee of a lifetime in service - that long in fact, that many men got burried in their first ever and only jacket.

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Well that of course is something now that a schoolboy will never know, and I suspect, that there's only a very few of us left that do!

In my time at KH - and bear in mind that this was way back in the 40's when school corporal punishment was a force to be reckoned with where six of the best was the ultimate deterrent - I,and apart from a few 'complimentary minor canings of little significance and hero status,took two intensley stinging doses of six both of which were my own doing and more than well deserved.

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It was between classes and John woollan was to give us the low down on 'the birds and the bees' next - a if we didn't already know!

However, and whenever, I would draw all over the blackboard every chance that I got, what a canvas! so on this particular day I drew a likeness of John Wollan being chased up a hill by a swarm of hornets and a gang of vultures and ,I might add, to graet applause from the whole class then suddenly from his lookout post by the door - "Dizzy!!!, Woollans on his... er, good afternoon Sir....er, erm..."

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This was the name given to 'Dickie' Durrant's motor bike - a wheezing two stroke job that was the next thing up from a lawnmower but not quite as fast.
One diner time after art, I pestered Dickie for a pillion ride down to the dining hall "OK son, jump aboard" and with a mighty roar he kicked it into life then the bike sputtered into life, thought about it for a while, sputtered a bit more and of we shot,where although 'shot' might be stretching the imagination to its limit - and every cc that made up the 50 - we did manage to pass the dining hall fast enough for me not to be able to jump off as Dickie opened her right up as gravity more than engine, landed us both outside Plymouth House where Dickie was housemaster and his dinner awaited.

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Well one anyway, me.

When John Woollan became headmaster he announced in assembly that "As from today,there will be no football, only rugger and I will cane any boy seen kicking a football around, or even in posession of one, and it will be six of the best so be warned"

Oh deary me thought I "Just as I was perfecting my goal keeping skills and my scoup it off the line dive in particular"

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This was a game that two could engage in, in the dark winter evenings preferably, and down the back passage of Sheffield House.

The rules were simple. The looser was the one who never answered the pre bedtime house call which,in this case anyway, would have meant that he was lying near to death with the perfect imprint of a hob nail boot engraved across his forehead somewhere between the boiler room and the back passage toilets.
The game commenced thus.

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I hadn't been up at the top school long when I slipped out of the school grounds one afternoon via the Wardens gate as we called it just after dinner hoping to make it to Kingham Village Post Office to buy a pot of jam and back again before school resumed for the afternoon.

So, after enquiering how far it was and being told just over a mile I set off with a willing heart and something that couldn't have been said about my legs as I staggered into the village about 20 minutes before afternoon classes resumed!!

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T'was end of term exams and, of course, nobody knew the answer to anything - except for boy X- he had 'em all written in ink, on a slip of paper that he had tucked away conveniently lodged atwix teeth and cheek.

Now let's not be in a hurry hear to get to the end of this, but ink? soluble? in the mouth? well after about twenty minutes or so our hero was seeping ink from the corner of his mouth at an amazing flow rate when the duty teacher on his patrol between rows of bowed heads noticed a boy who could easily have been mistaken for a young Ghengis Kahn but in more thoughtful mood.

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When you came back off hols we were allowd catapaults, bows and arrows or anything else that could eliminate a schoolboy at a hundred yards and not get caught for the first three weeks of term - then low and behold anyone that tried impaling another boy to the wall with anything other than a prohibited weapon of choice that hung 'off the hip' of every boy - the lethal and perfectly aerodynamic school pen!

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