Memories of Schooldays, written by Graham Robson (59-65 E)

I had an experience recently that just goes to show the hidden benefits, when out in the Wide World, of having been to a Good School. [You may have spotted the A A Milne use of capital letters there.]

One was a sadly undistinguished and wholly forgettable member of the school, leaving in about 1966 [Elmshurst] with a small clutch of O levels to disappear almost without trace into the bowels of industry. However, certain aspects of the Public School Experience have stayed with me throughout life. The fear of walking on grass in public places has been one [memories of joy unconfined at Commem. when you could walk uninhibited on The Green] . . . the tortured strains of the CCF band desperately aiming to get the high notes somewhere near the bull but generally just clipping the outer . . . and then, recently, one absolute corker of a nugget that struggled its way to the surface.

My wife and I are, of course, members of the National Trust . . . kind of goes with the Good School territory, somehow, along with liking Elgar and muesli. On a recent foray to Glorious Devon, my wife and I visited Salcombe, and, pitched some height above the bay is the NT property Overbeck’s. This is the house of the scientist, Otto Overbeck, pioneer of electro-therapy.

In one of the rooms, on the wall, was mounted a crest. The enthusiastic guide referred to this, and threw out the challenge to any of the visitors to name the heraldic bird device thereupon. This was met (as usual, apparently) by a stunned silence. A little later, within earshot of the guide, I mused to my wife as to whether they might indeed be martlets.

Well, you’d have thought I’d told him I’d found his long-lost brother from Australia.

He broke off from a conversation with some other people and bounded across the room with something of the same speed that a waitress at a Thai restaurant achieved once [too late, it turned out] to tell me not to eat the leaves the meal was wrapped in.

He announced happily that that was indeed what they were and proclaim how thrilled he was that someone had identified them.

Apparently the only other people ever to have done so were from a cricket club in Basildon or similar.

So – there you have it. The time at Elmshurst under Guy Jarrett, with headmaster Mr Carey, Geography master Jacques Hedley, the excellent Pete Fielden for Biology and so forth . . . . wasn’t wasted.

Provided by Graham Robson (59-65 E)


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