Stripes in Magenta
The Electronic Newsletter of St Augustine's Grammar School, Sharston Mount, M22 4PJ 31 January 2003
Lent Term

eCirculation 186
www.staugs.org editor@staugs.org Issue 7
From the Headmaster News Old Boys Old Staff
Looking Back Miscellaneous Classified Births Deaths and Marriages
Letters to Editor Crossword Cybergems  

Distributed to all Old Boys, Staff and "Friends of St Augustine's" with known email addresses.
Please (print and) forward to any not on emailing list.

"From the Headmaster" Stripes in Magenta
My dear boys,
It is once again the customary occasion in the glorious history of this great school, on which the Headmaster addresses the former boys and staff.
The dark days of the winter months are now passing and we look forwards with anticipation to the coming lengthening days that lead us on through paschaltide to the heady days of Summer, when association and rugby football kits are put to one side and the cricket whites are donned.
It is a time of waiting, expectation and preparation: the forty frugal days of fasting and abstinence of Lent taking us through Holly Week to culminate in Easter - the ecclesiastical high point of the Christian calendar.

Those about to take public examinations have many nights of revision preparing themselves appropriately to acquit themselves honourably so bringing further credit to this school. Indeed many of the former pupils are now teachers themselves, having followed in the profession of their tutors and mentors, and are, at this moment, imparting knowledge to the next generations in preparation for the GCSE and 'A' level examinations. Those that have not entered the teaching profession, and indeed there are many other honourable professions, may have sons who are approaching the same examinations as their fathers took within the walls of this assembly hall. I wish them all well; I wish particular success to any who have recently undertaken the entrance examinations for those jewels in the crown of British education, the colleges of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. I need hardly remind you that the Headmaster himself spent his undergraduate years at Downing College, Cambridge and would heartily give his endorsement to any who aspire to follow their Headmaster by continuing their education at this esteemed establishment.

Spring is also a time when some of the Old Boys former pupils of this school give thought to next winter and commence planning for the social highlight of the coming academic year - I speak of course of the Second Grand Reunion of St Augustine's Grammar School to be held once again at the Greater Manchester Police Sports and Social Club this November. On beholding the names, now august prolific men of the establishment, I must confess to a pride, not without some magnitude, that these boys were all pupils of this great school.

With the current unease in the Middle East, regretfully it is also a time of waiting and preparation of a different nature. It is a time of fortitude and vigilence whilst we trust our leaders in the current diplomacy. We pray that all may yet be resolved peacefully without unecessary conflict.

Can I now take a few moments to relay to you the contents of a communication from Manchester Education Committee regarding harmonisation of school disciplinary action throughout Europe following our entry into the European Economic Community -in the vernacular - the Common Market. This correspondence suggests that we should now adopt a leather strap of 100g weight (rather than the traditional 8 or 12oz ones of British origin) and that punishment be meeted out in units of 1 up to a maximum penalty of 5 strokes for any given single offence. Whilst my crusade to promote uniformity is reputedly legendary, no one within this establishment should need reminding that the customary admonishment for the more serious offences is "Six of the Best", and that commuting this to five or less with a lighter strap would inevitably diminish its deterrent value. Over the course of a short time, many of the recurrent offenders would avoid many strokes.
Current practice is drawn from traditions stretching back through time:
In Sparta, each year, during a festival called "Day of Flagellations", young men were brought before an altar dedicated to the goddess Diana where they were whipped with the scourge from dawn until dusk. - the boys being encouraged to "bear the pain with fortitude"; In the Roman era, the flagrum and flagella used by "lorarii" are well depicted in the works of Plautus, Horace and Cicero; The Bible recounts the use of the beating and the scourge in both Old and New Testaments; After the eleventh century, flagellation was promoted by the Church as a form of penitence; More recently, the British Navy, itself an honourable institution, made much use of flogging as discipline for boys, as exemplified in "Kissing the Gunner's Daughter".
All the best British schools have since learnt the value of the rod: "Six of the Best", albeit mild by classical standards, has become the 'de facto' British Standard of discipline.
If any school were to adopt the suggested softening and decimalisation of discipline, then such "sparing of the rod" would result in missing the impact which might otherwise have moulded these boys for the rest of their subsequent lives.
Mr Matthews, the Deputy Headmaster has agreed to collate the necessary figures regarding the numerical diminution in strokes administered through the length of an average student's academic career and produce a dissertation to support the Headmaster's decision. Mr Rigby would assist by calculating the reduction in energy dissipated through the use of the lighter continental strap. The school suppliers have been contacted and have given their assurance that they will continue to supply the traditional British Standard Tawse, in both 8 and 12oz weights(GT model). Mr McSweeney has inspected the current stock, most of which remains in a satisfactory condition, the leather not yet showing signs of excessive wear.
Your parents chose this school, at least in part, because it was a leather bearing school and the Headmaster can expect their full support and that of the Governors in rejecting any implementation of this proposal. Whilst the Headmaster suspects that some of those boys most likely to benefit may not endorse His decision, the majority of this school will agree that the incomplete delivery of proven disciplinary measures, already seen within some non selective schools, would strike at the very root of discipline within this great school, which stands alongside those of Rugby and Eton on this matter.

May I also remind the parents of all boys who have not yet contributed the 1/-d due this term for the Chapel Fund. The chapel, which is at the heart of our spiritual life here, in contrast to the rest of the school buildings, is not supported financially in any way by the Education Committee and depends upon voluntary contributions and the Diocese of Shrewsbury for its upkeep.

May I finally remind all concerned that winter is not yet over, consequently, some inclement weather may yet be predicted and raincoats must be carried at all times in order that you are not caught unaware by a sudden deluge of rain or even a wintry shower.

News Stripes in Magenta
www.staugs.org 2nd Grand Reunion Other Reunions  

www.staugs.org

has moved to

www.staugs.org

Due to restricted webspace provided by freenetname on the old domain ( www.staugustines.org.uk ) and the gradual growth of the website, St Augustine's Old Boys' Website has now moved to a new location viz www.staugs.org. This site is provided by DomainNameSales, is adequate for current needs and can be extended as necessary.

Keep the material coming.

It is hoped to meet the continuing cost of maintaining this (60pa) through Reunion proceeds.
Forwarding will be provided from the old site for the forseeable future.

Recent additions have included more photos (trips to London, mass in the early days, 1966 formal) - Thanks to Peter Yearsley and Peter Hartt.

The Stranraer team now feature on the TVTOTF page, thanks to Sally from Stranraer.

Who remembers the wonderful monographs at the head of each chapter in "A School Mathematics Project" - a few of these are now available on site - if anyone sees any old copies of these in second hand bookshops, the webmaster would be interested. Of particular interest would be the one on Entropy subtitled Much satisfaction can be gained from kicking a large cardboard box down a flight of stairs (?Additional Maths 'O' level) - don't ask me how I remember this nor whether I remember any basic calculus!

There is now space for individual photos - past or present - if any of you wish to email a jpg to the the webmaster (and yes - grey streaks are all the rage!)

As the webmaster was not wishing to be remembered as "the guy that took the c**t out of Scunthorpe"!, automatic censorship of certain four letter words has now been discontinued for the message board.


2nd Grand Reunion

The 2nd Grand Reunion is planned for November 2002 at the Greater Manchester Police Sports and Social Club, Hough End.

Likely date: Saturday 8 November.

Please spread the word

Format will essentially be as 2001 with Buffet Meal and bar.
Entry by ticket - All ex-staff and old boys will be welcome(with or without partners).
Details to follow.
Possible buffets include:

BUFFET 1

Assorted Sandwiches on white and wholemeal bread
Tandoori Chicken Fillet with a Yoghurt and Mint Dip
Vegetable Spring Rolls with a Salsa Dip
Spicy Jacket Wedges
Mixed Tossed Salad
Assorted Crisps
Gala Pie with Branston Pickle
Salad Garnish
BUFFET 2

Open Danish Sandwiches
Smoked Salmon Quiche
Cocktail Vegetable Samosas with a Yoghurt and Mint Dip
BBQ Spare Ribs
Tomato & Cucumber Salad
Tuna and Pasta Salad
Cheese and Pineapple Skewers
******
Assorted Sweets with Cream
BUFFET 3

Honey Roast Ham garnished with Peaches
Roast Breast of Turkey
Chicken Tikka Masala garnished with Coriander
Cocktail Onion Bahjis
Assorted Bread Rolls and Butter
Mexican Rice Salad
Coleslaw
Potato & Spring Onion Salad
Spicy Jacket Wedges with Sour Cream Dip
******
Assorted Sweets with Cream
BUFFET 4

Whole Dressed Salmon
Roast Loin of Pork garnished with Stuffed Apples
BBQ Chicken served with Mixed Salad
Assorted Bread Rolls and Butter
Chef's Selection of Salads
Deep Fried Spring Rolls with Hol Sin Dip
Chef's Pate served with Salad and Melba Toast
*****
Fresh Fruit Salad
Lemon and Lime Bavorois
Cheese and Biscuits
BUFFET 5

Chunks of Prime Beef served in a Brandy and Peppercorn Cream Sauce
Crisp Saute Potatoes
Mushroom and Spring Onion Rice
Assorted Dim Sum served with Satay Sauce
King Size Prawn Vol au Vents
New Potato and Chive Salad
Tomato and Onion Vinaigrette
Crisp Mixed Salad
Various Rolls and Butter
Chicken on Skewers with a Sweet and Sour Dip
*****
Chef's Selection of Desserts
Cheese and Biscuits
 

Other Reunions

Please let the webmaster of any forthcoming year reunions
After the event, accounts of such may be published in this rag.


Old Boys Stripes in Magenta
1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976
Let us know something of what you've been doing since days of Sharston Mount (editor@staugustines.org.uk )

1965
Mike Caulfield
< BAYFIELDC@aol.com >

Andrew Hartnett < occuplex@lvcm.com > new email address

Peter Hartt
Stockport
Occupation: Legal Clerk
Family: yes
Interests: the 3 children
Famous Moments: none

Phil Bentley < BenPhil4@aol.com >
Worcestershire

Mike Headd < HeaddMike@aol.com >


1966
Peter Wharton <peter_wharton@mancat.ac.uk>
Stockport
Served on Stockport Council from 1986-99 including a year as Deputy Mayor, Stockport MBC 1992-93.

Bernard Strong < BERNIESTRONG@AOL.COM >
Dorset
Occupation: Regional Manager Retail Grocery
Family: Married to Lesley 2 boys (22,18) 1 girl (8)
Interests: STILL FOLLLOW THE BLUES

Chris Blaydon < chris.blaydon@shell.com > changed email address

Mike Fox < mfox@shcl.net\par > 'Foxy'
Occupation: solicitor
Interests: golf, rugby(watching), M.C.F.C. and having the odd pint(ie 7,9.11...) with Tofty.

Ray Hayes < ray.hayes@ssl-international -this email address appears not to be correct>
Stockport, Cheshire


1967
Ged Scott < gedscott@hotmail.com
Occupation: Chartered Building Surveyor - with Met Police Property Services - providing cell blocks for those Old Boys still in need of discipline!
Family: Wife Pam, daughters Hannah (10) Rachael(5)
Interests: Clay shooting, golf, swimming
Other Information: Went to Oxford Polytechnic (HN Building) 74 to 77. Lived in London since 1977.


1968


1969
John Moran
< John.Moran@barclayscapital.com >
8 Perth Rd, Beckenham, Kent BR3 6PP
020 8650 4513 (H) 020 8650 4513 (D)
Occupation: Student
Family: Partner Frances, children Joe (7), Alice (2)


1970


1971
Barrie Hayes < barrie.hayes@lyreco.com >
Belgium
07774 188991 ((H):UK Mobile)
Occupation: Director of Global & Corporate Accs
Family: Divorced 2 children Ben (17) Holly (13)
Interests: Surviving every birthday
Famous Moments: Smashing one of the big windows in class ,chucking briefcases with J Wood and Nick Sinclair. Then running outside and throwing all the glass back inside to tell Mr McCabe that we did it playing football

Vincent Murphy < vince12@3murphy45.freeserve.co.uk >

New email addresses:
John Grundy < johnmiami41@hotmail.com >
Tony Lyons < tony-lyons@ntlworld.com >
Adrian Fedyk < azfedyk@aol.com >


1972
Sean McAndrew < sjpmcandrew@hotmail.com >
Manchester

Andrew Weaver < ab.weaver@virgin.net > new email address


1973
Stephen Humphries < stephen@linneyroad.freeserve.co.uk >
new email addresses:
John Beck < johnno99@hotmail.com >
Damian Hickey < damian2002@breathe.com >


1974
New email address: Tim Matthews < timm@tpmm63.freeserve.co.uk >


1975


1976
Paul Donnelly < paulonthehill@hotmail.com 'Paddyplateface'
Wales
Occupation: Probation Officer
Married, two sons aged 9 & 5
Famous Moments: Not being included on school list, probably because everybody got me mixed up with Liam Donnelly even though we are not related.
Other Information: Went to Loreto and then to Poly. Spent a few summers working in USA on summer camps. Married in 1990 and moved around UK with work.

Garrick Williams < Garique@bellsouth.net > 'Keblai'
Miami Florida
8003930010(W)
Occupation: Auto Tech
Family: 2 Beautiful girls twelve and ten
Interests: Finding away back home
Famous Moments: Poison



St John Plessington

1977
Meek, Steve < steve.meek@thermo.com >

1978

1980


Old Staff Stripes in Magenta
...

Christine Wood < cwtrans@btopenworld.com > New email address


Looking Back Stripes in Magenta

28 March 1969

My dear Parents,

Please accept my thanks for all your kindness and for your very loyal and generous encouragement during the past Lent Term. The winter months have brought great difficulty to many of you. There has been bad weather, with its consequent effect on public transport and there has been sickness in many homes. It is time for a holiday but also time for me to congratulate you on your fortitude.

School holidays. The Easter vacation begins after school to-day, Friday, 28th March. We return to school on Tuesday, 15th April. The Whitsuntide holiday commences after school on Wednesday, 21st May.

Parents’ Evenings. There will be no more Parents’ Evenings during the remainder of this academic year. The series will, of course, begin again in the autumn. Perhaps it would be of interest if I were to list the Parents’ Evenings which have been held during the past term.

Thursday, 30th January. Form 5
Thursday, 6th February. Form 3
Thursday, 13th February. Form 3
Thursday, 20th February. Form 4
Thursday, 27th February. Form 4
Thursday, 6th March Form 4

In addition, I have addressed the parents together in the Assembly Hall on the following occasions:-

Sunday, 9th February. 3.30 p.m. Form 3
Monday, 20th February. 8 p.m. Form 3
Sunday, 3rd March. 3.30 p.m. Form 4
Monday, 4th March 8 p.m. Form 4

Uniform Please accept my thanks for the very generous co-operation you have given to my request for uniformity in outdoor dress. I trust you will agree with me that our boys in their navy blue raincoats look smarter than ever. I hope also that you will agree that the time has come for complete uniformity. Now that the warmer weather is coming, it may not be necessary for our boys to wear raincoats every day, but I do ask that from now onwards their outdoor dress should be a raincoat. Hitherto, for special reasons, there have been a few cases of tolerance of non-uniform outdoor garments. May we now have complete uniformity?

The senior blazer will be delivered before the end of May. It may be worn as soon as it can be obtained by any of the boys the present forms 5G and M, and 4P, Q, X, Y and Z. (It may be worn from the summer of 1970 by the boys now in forms 4P and 3H,N and R if by then they have entered the 5th form.) Those who qualify to wear it now should place their orders now.

I hope you will, permit me to remind you of my request that trousers worn with school uniform should be grey. Perhaps you would consider the suggestion that since trousers get so much wear it might not be an extravagance for every boy to have two pairs of grey trousers for wear in school. Inevitably, a pair of trousers will sometimes need repair and I can no longer accept the practice of coming to school in brown, blue or check trousers with the excuse that the others are being repaired.

Organ Fund. I am profoundly grateful for your very generous response to the Organ Fund which was opened at this time last year. The Fund at present stands at 240, and again I am asking for 1 from the parents of every boy in the school. I think we shall soon be in a position to contract for the necessary loan. I know that the only kind of organ worth having may seem expensive, and many reputable schools do not possess an organ. All the same, I put it to you that the very best schools do have an organ in their Assembly Hall and organ music is a regular part of their assemblies and public solemnities. When you first attend one of our festivals in the school after the organ has been installed you will be glad to discover the additional splendour which it can impart and you will agree that this great school deserves this additional mark of greatness. I hope you will find it possible to send your son to school on the Tuesday of Low Weekwith 26/-d., i.e. 6/-d. for four dinners and 1 for the Organ Fund.

Solemn Dedication. On Thursday, 15th May, the Apostolic Delegate, the Most Rev. Hyginus Cardinale, will visit the school and impart to it Solemn Blessing and Dedication. Perhaps I ought to explain that this ceremony would have taken place earlier if the visit of the Apostolic Delegate had been feasible earlier. During that week the Apostolic Delegate will be paying his first official visit to our Diocese of Shrewsbury. Since this school is to have a long and glorious history, the time between its opening and this Solemn Dedication will seem to future historians to have been very short.

The Governors wish it to be known that parents are very welcome to attend the ceremony, and every effort will be made to accommodate all who are able to come, I must therefore ask you to complete the form at the end of this letter and return it to on the first day the new term.

Let me wish you every blessing of Paschaltide

Yours sincerely

(F.J.McGUINESS)

Headmaster.


APPLICATION FOR TICKET OF ADMISSION TO SOLEMN DEDICATION CEREMONY
at 11 a.m., on Thursday, 15th MAY, 1969, in the School Assembly Hall.

(Please note the the invitation is extended only to parents, it will not be possible to accommodate children other than the boys of the school.)

To the Rev, the Headmaster, St.Augustine’s Grammar School.

Reverend and dear Father,

I hereby request  ____ ticket(s) of admission.

Yours sincerely,

 

Parent's signature

Son’s Name Son’s Form:

[Thanks to Niall Giblin for this letter]


A Christening and An Initiation!

Day 1 (06.09.65)

The day commenced with form registration. I was in 1N. Form Master, of course, Brennan. The register commenced, if my memory serves me right:-

“Bayliss; Brennan; Dwerryhouse; Gaughan; Gaun; Giblin; Greenhalgh; Hardman…..”

After form registration, we were then taken in class order to the first assembly which was then held in the library. The hall was still under construction/decoration for about a further six months. Fr. McGuiness (I don’t use the name Spike for reasons which become clear below) was his charming self.

After assembly, we returned to the form room for our first lesson. Geography, since Brennan was the form teacher. My recollection is that we copied into our geog exercise book a map of the school and its environs. Homework that night was to colour in the map.

Second lesson was maths with Alan Shaw. The lesson started with his asking the question “how did caveman count when they ran out of fingers?” I was the stupid idiot who put his hand up and answered “they used their toes”. Shaw said that there was only one comedian in the class and that was him.

Morning break. I was walking in the playground with hands in pockets. I had my first fateful meeting with MacSweeney. For some reason he thought walking with your hands in your pockets was wholly unacceptable. I got the gripping handshake squeeze.

No further recollection for the rest of the day.

Day 2

The following may have occurred on Day 2 or it may have occurred on Day 3. My best guess is that it occurred on Day 2.

Form registration and then taken to the library for assembly. Again we were taken in class order. Therefore I was sat next to Greenhalgh who was sat next to Hardman. We were about four rows from the front. The Rev. had still to enter. I was in full “Jennings” mode. I suggested to Greenhalgh and Hardman that the Rev. should have a nickname. There then ensued various suggestions. One of these was “Spike”. Who the actual author was, I cannot remember.

Spike made his usual grand entrance. We then had that bloody hymn (if I’m not mistaken). Half way through Spike stops everything. Greenhalgh (or it may have been someone else) and I were laughing at Spike’s singing. He told us to get out of the library. We did. Singing resumed. Shortly afterwards, someone else also got thrown out. After assembly ended, we each got the usual three lashings on the bottom from Spike. Somehow the name Spike seemed very appropriate. The name seemed to stick and the rest is history...

Upon reflection, Greenhalgh and I, and the other kid, may well have been the first to have received a thrashing at the school.

The irony is striking. Many of the previous entries made on this site have related to corporal punishment and the nature of the Rev.' s character. The fact that the name Spike resulted not merely because of his nose but because two 11-year-old boys were beaten and found the name Spike, with its connotation of violence, to be most apt (even if such thoughts may not have been spoken of at the time) gives one pause for thought. Therefore, at the very commencement of the school's life there was a collision between Spike, corporal punishment and these two 11-year-old boys which resulted in his having to live with the name Spike for the rest of his school life.

This almost leads one to believe in non-sentient entities. Vengence and all that. There again, thank God, we all went to a RC school and we don't believe in that sort of mumbo jumbo.

For some time it was the practice that during lunch the boys at each table would be required to sit on Spike's table at the end close to the entrance. In or about 1967, it was the turn of myself and the other boys at my table. During the course of lunch, he asked each boy at the table to say what were their own nicknames. We each then stated our respective nicknames. He then asked what was his nickname. There was a stony silence. He then said that he already knew it.

Niall Giblin


There is no such place as St Augustine's

There is no such place as St Augustine's. On Sharston Mount. Just outside Wythenshawe. It no longer exists.

Except here.

This continued on-line community for a dead school is remarkable. It is singular. I know of no other example.

I am no great fan of SA. I have no inclination to call it affectionately `Gussies'. If I had kids, which I don't, I wouldn't send them there. Having said that I am no fan, I would also add that it was a singular experience. I doubt that any of us who passed through Sharston Mount were untouched by the experience. Those that went to St Ambrose, Alty Grammar etc went through a much more transferable experience, a much more shared experience with their contemporaries in other secondary schools.

SA was an eccentric one-off, governed by ideals that were pass‚ even before senior staff took to proclaiming them.

As a regular correspondent on this board largely in the guise of the Kipper - I have made my views on the school very clear. Often through hyperbole, I have demonized certain aspects of the place. It is not something I intend to apologize for. However, I may have been nudged into extremity by the polarization of the experience of The Founders (aka Bunter Boys) in the 60's and their cousins in the 70's.

Looking back from the perspective of 2002, many of the bizarre aspects of SA have sinister overtones. There was certainly a cadre of staff who had unpleasant plans for their pupils. Many of these were otherwise very good teachers. The fact that much of this was obvious to us as 11 year olds, but went unrestrained by senior staff, raises many questions. None of which I intend to address.

I have been chiefly, but not solely, responsible for flagging up the different attitudes of the 60's launch crew and their 70's counterparts to their alma mater. As to how much this is a singular approach on my part, rather than an understanding of a shift in attitudes and behaviour is a question that others will, no doubt, answer.

However, I would maintain that there was a very real shift. The camaraderie demonstrated by the pre-70's crew is singularly lacking in their later counterparts. Last year's re-union was dominated - as is this board - by the 60's contingent. There is nothing wrong with that.

The 60's intake were pioneers, perhaps partners in a great and noble enterprise. In short, they seem to have bought into the spirit of it. In the 70's it was different. The machine was there. The system was there. We didn't grow into this environment; we inherited it.

The class of 75 was born into a very different environment than the class of 65. I was born in 1964. The first SA pupils would have been born in - what 1954? We had the Beatles, they had Tommy Steele. We had 20 years from WW2, they had 10. They had combatants for parents, we had non-combatants.

There was Englishness, a sense of pride, which prevailed then which has since been much dissipated. The best health service? The best police service? The mother of all parliaments? Yes, that is what we had in the 60's. Or at least so we believed. SA was lodged in those post-war-glory years, trapping in aspic an idealized cross-fertilization of public and state schools.

It is impossible to consider SA as an institution without considering the Monsignor, the architect of the whole thing. To this day I consider certain of his employees as unfit to be at large in the community, but I don't have it in me to think the same of Frank McGuiness, prelate of Rome.

He was undoubtedly mad.

Even before the booze took him. Perhaps the booze only took him when his madness was no longer embraced, I don't know. The charisma was remarkable - even when he was obviously pissed, he was respected, admired, perhaps even loved. Somehow he managed to engender in many of us, a craving for his approbation. Who gave a fuck if they let down little Eric Morris? Who didn't give fuck if they let down Spike?

The land and the king were one.

There was a collective madness that enveloped SA. Whether it was the annual letters to the Monsignor, the unacknowledged homosexual cadre that winked knowingly at each other across the desktops or the bizarre traditions (were we the only school in Wythenshawe to have a Hilary term?), it was there.

Spike's eccentricity, sheer energy and results carried him through the sixties and early seventies. The comprehensive move killed him. Maybe it was meant to. It was certainly meant to curtail him. The late 70's saw an establishment out of control - a rogue alcoholic headmaster, an eccentric and undisciplined staff (not universal admittedly) and a tone that was deeply out of step with the times. I also wonder about the quality of the intake. Spike was an obviously arrogant and ambitious individual. His desire for Oxbridge places was apparent from the day you got off the 371/44. I think the sixties intake generated more lawyers, doctors etc than the 70's ever did. His naked ambition was not popular with the education authority. How to deprive him of his success? Deprive him of his raw material. Us.

I didn't apply to SA. I applied to Saint Ambrose and ended up at Sharston Mount. An educational edifice with the positioning of SA should have been in a position to take only `first choice' candidates. In fact, all of the brightest from my primary school went to Ambrose's. Those of us that were admitted to SA were in that shadow land between the truly thick and the truly gifted. I wonder, if any other former pupils went through a similar process.

The result was that a number of inappropriate candidates, including myself, were grafted into a state school that was dominated by public school values and attitudes. There was no war; we were 11 after all. We accepted the status quo with all the acquiescence of those lumbered with national service a generation before. It was not until 1977 that it all fell apart.

I remember arriving at SA to discover the SJP announcement plastered on the main doors. Later it was rumored that Barry Thorpe had placed it there as an act of defiance. Comprehensive schooling, after all, would be the death knell of any Latin teacher's career.

SA went down faster than Spike's first gin of the morning. The staff abandoned the pupils with understandable speed. The bright new sixth forms of Loreto and Xaverian were little paradises compared to what SJP became.`Selectives stay behind, non-selectives head to registration' as the sublimely untactful Matthews frequently trumpeted, marking a period of swelling - and understandable indignation - on the part of the All Hallows intake against the diminishing numbers of the grammar school boys. The rump of the staff from the old SA couldn't have made the rump of the old grammar school boys more unpopular if they had tried. And perhaps they did.

New staff came in, but like the obnoxious Mooney, it was no longer about teaching. It was about crowd control. If you remember the book and TV series I CLAVDIVS, you will remember that Claudius appointed Nero to rule after him - both to make himself look good and to undermine the very idea of Emperors for ever - with the appointment of Mooney, Spike could have been accused of something similar. However, I very much doubt that the Monse had any say in Mooney's appointment.

As McGuiness had personified SA, so Mooney personified SJP. Mooney had no vision beyond crowd control. Oxbridge to Mooney was the means by which cattle crossed the M4. Mooney and co achieved the impossible; they made us sentimental for the old order. The old order for all its brutality (for the most part) had a mission to educate. SJP rapidly became the worst school in Manchester. And then ceased to be a school at all.

The dream was over. I suspect that the 75+ years had the worst of it. We were part of the waking dream. Never a true nightmare, perhaps, but, I suspect, a number of the earlier years never had to ride out that paradigm shift.

It was an education, but perhaps not in the way we anticipated.

Tony Murray


If you lived as a child in the 40's, 50's, 60's or 70's, looking back, it's hard to believe that we have lived as long as we have...

As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags.

Our cots were covered with bright coloured lead-based paint. We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors, or cupboards, and when we rode our bikes we had no helmets.

We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle. Horrors.

We would spend hours building go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times we learned to solve the problem.

We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on. No one was able to reach us all day.

No mobile phones. Unthinkable. We got cut and broke bones and broke teeth, and there were no law suits from these accidents. They were accidents. No one was to blame, but us. Remember accidents? We had fights and punched each other and got black and blue and learned to get over it.

We ate cakes, bread and butter, and drank cordial, but we were never overweight...we were always outside playing. We shared one drink with four friends, from one bottle and no one died from this. We did not have Playstations, Nintendo 64, X-Boxes, video games, 65 channels on pay TV, video tape movies, surround sound, personal mobile phones, Personal Computers, Internet chat rooms ... we had friends. We went outside and found them. We rode bikes or walked to a friend's home and knocked on the door, or rung the bell, or just walked in and talked to them. Imagine such a thing. Without asking a parent! By ourselves! Out there in the cold cruel world! Without a guardian - how did we do it?

We made up games with sticks and tennis balls, and ate worms, and although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes, nor did the worms live inside us forever.

Footy and netball had trials and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't, had to learn to deal with disappointment.....

Some kids weren't as smart as others so they failed a year and were held back to repeat the same year. Tests were not adjusted for any reason.

Our actions were our own. Consequences were expected. No one to hide behind.

No speed humps!!

We didn't need house keys as the back door was always open and anyone daring to break in would be confronted by a neighbour!

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke a law was un