allan george downes

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?

Yours sincerely.

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 ?

Respectfully yours.

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.

Not long after the girdle/alien/Mrs Phelps episode a reluctant litter clean up party stumbled upon what looked like a spokesman from Mars around the back of the San disguised as Matron's corset complete with reinforced side impact bars, double laced bi whalebone overlaps, storm resistant girth band and all weather back panel challenging the integrity of her washing line beyond all expectations of the manufacturers and rope makers world wide and certain parts of Nantucket during the whaling season.

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