“The happiest days of your life”.
Posted by Big John on October 10, 2006
I have noted recently that a number of people have found this blog by way of ‘Googling’ for ‘Archbishop Temple’s School’, so although I have touched on this subject in previous posts, I thought that I might recall a few memories of my schooldays from more than half a century ago.
Half a century ! It was more like something from the time of Charles Dickens, with freezing classrooms heated by one small coal fire (if there was any coal), old wooden desks with inkwells, and blackboards mounted on easels. The only things missing were quill pens. The headmaster strolled about in a black gown and lived in the gatehouse tower over the main entrance to the school. An entrance which we boys were forbidden to use.
To me there was always a strange ambience about the place. Sort of psuedo public school* combined with smelly reformatory.
Games were compulsory as was physical education. I hated both. Getting hit in the ‘nuts’ by a cricket ball and wearing a white singlet, navy blue shorts and black plimsoles and being forced to run around Archbishop’s Park on a winter’s morning put me off sport for ever.
The school’s most famous old boy was Hollywood’s cane twirling Charlie Chaplin. Similar canes were much favoured by sadistic staff members masquerading as teachers. The worst of these bastards was responsible for teaching me Latin and French. He failed. The grinning arsehole is pictured below, when I was unfortunate enough also to have him as my form master. (I’m the one standing on the far left).
The school was a Church of England Central School and was situated close to Lambeth Palace, the London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was also the head of the school governors. Obviously religion played a big part in my education and every Friday I had to attend services at St. Mary’s Church which stands next to Lambeth Palace. All that Christian brainwashing and listening to some priest as he intoned his meaningless mumbo jumbo soon set me on the road to atheism.
I do remember a few decent teachers, like the out of work actor who taught drama and took groups of us to The Old Vic and other London theatres; and I enjoyed subjects like art, history and English literature, but I never did understand what Pythagoras and his bloody ’Theorem’ was all about.
So you see that I wasn’t miserable all of the time ……
……… just most of it !
* Note to my American readers. A ’Public School’ in the UK is an independant fee paying school favoured by the ‘upper classes’.