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.
After Plym house, boiled haddock, Queenie's startling breasts that transfixed many a boy even if he didn't quite understand why he was being transfixed and why he should be taking in large uncontrolable gulps of air, the removal of Pecker Brownhill and the outrageous introduction of Dickie Durrant ( and his plans for a Plymouth Moon Shot with a threepenny damp rocket launched from a milk bottle in the adjacent field which spluttered lifeless whilst still in the bottle then flopped out and set the odd spare boy's trousers alight ) I was shunted off to the top school, Fort Sheffield, and a certain Mr John Woollan, his cane, and several exceedingly memorable six-of-the-bests that if ever put to the test, would have floored a rhino. To say they stung would have been the understatement of the nineteen forties, for a week I did nothing but walk into walls!
In the years to come I learnt to swim but didn't want to, leap over Sarsden Brook during a healthy cross country run that crippled most boys if it didn't kill them outright, and that was at the starting line and a few before they even got there and the odd one or two who didn't even know where the starting line was anyway but collapsed and died just the same and just as expected.
I joined the scouts much to the dismay of Jock Nobel and Stuart Brindley, scout masters supreme in perfectly pressed trouses which couldn't have been said about anyone else on the Hill, where the whole idea was to save old ladies in distress at road junctions from falling underneath buses in particular but due to a serious lack of both - old ladies and busses that is - on the hill, I excelled myself instead by getting wedged between two Welsh type rocks half way up some mountain in Wales which required the entire fire brigade of Snowdonia - two water tenders, a pump and a knackered Fire Brigade issue horse - to set me free.
During my precious youth on the hill that didn't seem precious to anyone in particular, especially when I wanted second helpings of anything lashed up by Dixie Dean that would have choked a mountain goat I learnt how to disect a frog, whether it wanted disecting or not, how to speak fluent French that a French Strumpet on the Riviera once concluded by my fluentcy that I was either Dutch, a possible Tibetan or a Spanish outcast at best.
Another thing that I learnt, and most painfuly I might add, was not to do bunks in the middle of the night trying to reach London only to be brought back and undergo a lesson in one's sense of direction ( Leefield Poles looked nothing like London no more than did Churchill village ) by way of a very hard headmaster's beating the following morning after Assembly and, on another occasion, "sent to Coventry" smarting from six of the ultimate bests for a week !
Eventually after 'serving my time', JW secured me an apprenticeship with the Daily Mirror in Fleet Street but the No 52 bus from Mill Hill passed the Cricklewood Railway Yards long before it reached Fleet street and when it did, I wasn't on it - and why ?
Because like any newly left school lever and with a haircut to prove it, I wanted to be ---wait for it---- an engine driver - what else ?!!
Dizzy D, now living in his best years, relates below some great episodes from his time on The Hill, which are of course a point in time and of that era, and he notes;