WD will of course be short for West Downs and KT for Kenneth Tindall. We all called him “KT” of course, and I remember the useful rhyming warning cry that would sometimes be heard “KV – KT” or to be more accurate “Cave – KT.” (“Cave” for the benefit of non-Wykhamists being the Latin for “Beware”).
Incidentally en passant WD boys had a certain amount of jargon of their own, most of which, alas, I have forgotten. It was not a language like the “notions” language at Win. Coll., some of which goes back to Saxon times. But I do remember the word “beeny” which meant good, or fine or anything favourable, rather like the similar word “bonnie” used in Scotland, from which I sometimes thought it might have been derived. This word came into its own as a nickname or special epithet for Arthur Broadhurst, music and geography master of whom more anon, who was very wealthy, cheerful and en bon point, and was much known as “Beeny Broadhurst.”
Hodson lists the five Scout Patrols as Stags, Hounds, Buffaloes, Owls and Curlews, (originally Eagles). Well, I never heard of either Curlews or Eagles, certainly not in or around my day, when they were definitely Wolves.
On his second page Hodson mentions the taking of temperatures twice a day. I don’t remember onions in my day but they may have been there. Let me at once defend Mrs. Tindall over all these points. I would like to say that as regards efficient admin, my life became a steady descent downhill. Mrs. Tindall was undoubtedly one of the finest administrators ever and one of the most thorough. When I went to Win. Coll., I found things were somewhat rough and ready compared to the admin of WD, while I have never met any admin in the rest of my life, whether in the Army, at Cheltenham College (where I taught for four years after the War) or in the Foreign Office, that was not a terrible come-down to one used to Wykehamist standards. Mrs. Tindall was responsible for the health of 100 children of varying strengths and physical idiosyncrasies, and apart from this very onerous responsibility, the goodwill of parents, and especially, mothers depended greatly on their confidence in her management of our health. Likewise the very great disadvantages to a school of this size of having epidemics spreading unnecessarily wide among the inmates justified any reasonable precautions to spot anyone who was catching any of the common childhood diseases at the earliest possible moment. I always admired her for her thoroughness in this matter. One has only to think of this question from the point of view of one responsible for running a school and keeping the parents in full confidence that maximum care was being taken of their precious darlings, to realise that she was very wise as well as very energetic and thorough.
It is true that word got around of these proceedings, and at Winchester one was occasionally, especially when new, accused of coming from the school known as “Cotton-woollers.” In these days when we are all brainwashed by the media, the politicians and the bureaucrats (not to mention left-wing agitators in the Churches), into being terrified of criticism and thinking that the main aim in life is always to avoid criticism at all costs – to allow such a trivial reputation to arise. Frankly we thought very little about it, and it certainly troubled me not at all. Everyone knew that WD was a splendid school even if “Horrid Hell” was marginally better at games than us on the average, and slightly tougher and more uncouth. I don’t think any of us in those days when Britons were still allowed to be proud of themselves and form their own views independent of a not-yet-existing TV synthetic “public opinion”) gave a serious damn for such trivial matters. But the concrete results of Mrs. Tindall’s untiring efforts were important. Similarly I am a great admirer of the institution of “Sanitary Prep.” Life being real and earnest, the need for developing a good lifetime habit of after-breakfast evacuation, is a matter of considerable importance to all human beings. It is doubtless a delicate (or indelicate) subject, but nonetheless an important, if not a vital, one. Myself I came from a pre-prep school, where no such routine was enforced, and I am afraid I did not then have the self-discipline to enforce it on myself, and suffered considerably accordingly, until I came to WD. I would also like to tell a brief but relevant military experience.
When I was training infantry in the Black Watch during the War, which I found a fascinating job of endless complication, I was only too aware that training in home territory could easily become artificial and divorced from the realities of actual warfare. I therefore not only used all the imagination I could to make it as realistic as possible, but took every opportunity to pick the brains and experience of those who came back from the various theatres of war. Talking later on to one officer who had been through the campaign from D-Day in Normandy right through France etc, I had mentioned this problem, but mentioned my own view that apart from tactics there were always two ways in which training could be invaluable – one in teaching men (as well as NCOs and officers) to understand ground and map-reading, and the other which was to bring them to the very highest level of physical strength and fitness. (Our training used to culminate in a 70 mile march including a 3000 ft. mountain and exercise all in 48 hours). But the interest was in his reply. He said that one of the worst problems they had in busy, exhausting and urgent operations after D-Day, was quite simply constipation, men failing to carry out their evacuation routine, and gave his view that you could never encourage too much physical fitness, because he found that the fit men found this problem far easier to get over. But I believe that if the rank and file of Monty’s army had all grown up under Mrs. Tindall’s regime, this problem would have been largely eliminated. And clearly it was one materially affecting the success of military operations. The meticulous care which she and her staff used to make quite sure that new boys at WD really were performing their after-breakfast duty is, though not an edifying subject, one for which I shall always admire her. So much for that. But I hope that, if this subject is mentioned in your book, you do not produce it in a spirit of apology or the usual modern anti-ourselves self-disparagement, but with a proper pride as a fine piece of necessary and highly desirable physical education.
“Bottom-half change” was a quaint phrase, not without a shade of underlying humour, which I find has always amused my present wife, until it has become something of a household word when we go for walks etc. As a practical application, enabling boys to go for walks in the rain using our “burberries” to keep our top halves dry, while avoiding wet and mud on our indoor trousers and shoes etc, it had many advantages, particularly in saving the time that would be lost in a full “change” into shorts and the change back afterwards. It was of course used on particularly wet and muddy days when football was out, and an ordinary “burberry walk” could have made us very dirty.
Hodson says that a book on WD should not be “one long eulogy.” Fair enough. But in my mind it was a very splendid school. True I knew it in palmy days which were perhaps particularly favourable to Prep Schools, when their place in the national life had its highest importance, and when staff of all kinds could be employed for much smaller salaries and wages than now, enabling a natural and greater concentration on the real business of education, rather than just keeping going and solving administrative problems. But as I hope to show, I believe that, at least under KT, who was a particularly outstanding headmaster, WD was a very outstanding institution. I do hope that no desire to avoid making the book too much of an eulogy will result in failing to do justice to the memory of something that was of a very high standard. If I may say so, a writer’s job is not to play with bias either way but simply to bring out the truth whatever it may be. For example, if you are writing a biography of W.G. Grace or Don Bradman, it is no “good summing either of them up – for fear of eulogy – as say “an interesting batsman, who in a career of some years, made a considerable number of runs.” (That sort of noncommittal language may be appropriate in the Foreign Office, but is not desirable in literature.) I don’t claim that WD was the greatest school that ever existed, but I do think it was a very fine school indeed, and I hope you will not mind me saying that if a history is to be written of it, it should above all bring out its many virtues and its splendid spirit.
Before leaving Mrs. Tindall, you may remember the extraordinary efficiency, as an example, with which she organised the taking of both boys and their luggage in batches in time to catch their various trains at the station, even to having Mr. Ledgard reading the adventures of Father Brown to those who had unduly long to wait for their turn. I think too that her coping with all the parents that turned up at every sort of time, and in varying numbers, was masterly. Her staff work would have stood comparison with that of any GS01 mustering his Division for an attack, though it has to be admitted that the problems she had to cope with remained always more or less the same and on the same terrain, so that no doubt long practice helped to produce her perfection.
Having polished those points off which arose from Hodson’s letter, let us go back to the beginning, to the Founder of WD, Lionel Helbert. Of course, none of us knew anything much about him, and, looking back, I think it was another piece of sound morale building and educational skill that KT took the trouble to build up and maintain his memory. It was also part of the esprit de school to have a Founder whom we remembered, and of whom we were made to be proud. Founder’s Day was taken very seriously and was in effect also Old Boys’ Day, which made sure that a lot of people attended it, and that it had meaning anyhow. As I mentioned before, the lesson that an Old Boy always read in Chapel on that day, Isaiah Chapter 6, 1-8, became memorable in consequence, and emphasised the idea of responsibility and service to which we were thus dedicated, and which was given its final expression in the beautiful War Memorial in the garden, of the boy with the inscription “Here am I, Send me.” Nothing could better epitomise the marvellous chivalry and willing self sacrifice with which millions of Britons volunteered for the Armies of the 1st World War (of whom one million died and four million were wounded).
You will remember that our Founder looked down upon us in Shakespeare from his large framed portrait in oils at the far end of Shakespeare (on the left hand side), and he was a fine-looking man. The only things I can remember hearing or knowing of him, except his implied ideals, were that, first, “Praise to the holiest in the height,” Cardinal Newman’s lovely hymn which we sang to the equally lovely tune “Chorus Angelorum” was Helbert’s favourite hymn. I think we also sang this on Founder’s Day. And the second thing which I thought very significant, was that when each patrol put on a Shakespeare play in the autumn term using their own words, there was a book covering many of the plays which we could use, which divided the action into scenes and gave for each a synopsis of the action to be carried out. This we filled out with our own words and other detail. And this book was written by Lionel Helbert. This means that the great tradition of drama and especially Shakespeare at WD which KT carried on so splendidly must have been part of Helbert’s system too, and an already existing tradition from his time.
I do think KT deserves credit for his treatment of the Founder theme. I think he was quite sincere in his praises of the Founder, but a lot of headmasters would never have thought of making a proper theme of it. For instance, at Win. Coll., we had a splendid Founder, who was not only a brilliant and tremendous architect of buildings, and one of the greatest educationalists in British history, but who was also more than once Chancellor of the realm, if I remember right, as well as Bishop of Winchester for a long time. Moreover his spirit of training “poor scholars” to high and honourable service in the state, with integrity and religious duty as its background, is something that I think one can say has lasted at Win. Coll. down to the present time. And yet when did we ever bother to talk or learn about him at Winchester? Hardly ever. We saw his portrait in School and knew his name, since we used it for ourselves, but that was about all.
Proceeding on to the primary subject of school education, again we can but admire the treatment of religion at WD. We were indeed fortunate to have such a beautiful Chapel with its semi Gothic windows and elaborate mediaeval style timber roof, not quite as large as at Westminster Hall or as decorated as our Hall roof at Trinity, Cambridge, but very fine in itself. The chancel end was very beautifully decorated and kept, and the organ more than adequate (speaking as an organist myself). KT was, of course, a lay reader, and took all the services except the Communions for those who had been confirmed. We had the full services on Sunday, and on every weekday we had a morning service for everyone, and an evening service (quite short with one hymn) for all but the “Early Beddites” who went to bed immediately after evening Prep at 7 p.m. KT did not preach sermons, but every morning service included an exposition by him of some part of the Bible, mostly the New Testament (on Monday morning we were made to recite in turn the verses of the New Testament, that we all had to learn in Sanitary Prep on Sunday morning). These expositions, never too long to become a burden, were the mainstay of our religious teaching. I need hardly say, that with his fine voice and histrionic skills he read the Services quietly but beautifully, with great taste and dignity.
Then also he took great pains over the question of Confirmation. It was his very wise view that 12 was the right age to confirm at, because the doubts and questionings which often assail boys in teenage adolescence when they begin to be as tall as grown-ups and to think themselves as wise, have not yet undermined their trust in their elders and their more simple faith. He certainly succeeded in making Confirmation something very important in our lives, which was another great thing he did for us. Later in life, when I was a schoolmaster at Cheltenham, where there was only one Chaplain on the staff, I found myself teaching divinity. The boys used to ask me why they had to be taught C of E Christianity, and had to go to Chapel so often. I told them what I have believed then and ever since, that it is the duty of parents and educationalists to give their children at least the chance to have a religion. This can only be done during the process of growing up, and from the earliest age. In a free country like ours, once a child grows up, it can make a choice between having a religion or not – but only if it has been given the chance first to find out what having a religion is. To refuse this chance as so many cynical or left-wing teachers would like to do, is almost certainly to deny them a religion at all, since very few people in this busy materialist age ever come from scratch into a real religion later in life. These things were fully understood by KT who was a very enlightened person as well as deeply religious himself. Nothing made me admire him and Mrs. T more than the way they accepted the loss of both Richard and Mark in the last War, not only as their only sons but also as the two children they could have had to take over WD in their turn, without a murmur of complaint or weakness.
I remember in 1929, when I was confirmed, there was talk of modernising the Prayer book, and, whether because of this or not, I myself began to find various things in the services (and Bible) which I found difficult to accept. I mentioned this to my mother who consulted KT and brought the answer back that I was not to worry. It was the effect of those things which were good and acceptable that mattered, not the appropriateness of every single word, some of which were bound to be difficult. This made a lot of difference to me at the time, and is a good example of his sensible approach.
Apart from his part in the services, we had a high standard of music in Chapel, led by A.F. Broadhurst (of whom more anon) who was our musical master, among other things. He was an excellent teacher as well as organist, and, I believe, ended his days very recently helping with the choir of Lichfield Cathedral. First and above all he taught us how to take breath in singing – the most important point of all and nowadays often neglected. He taught us to sing on the note, something which again is forgotten today at least among church choirs, who seem often to have an affectation for singing soft and flat (which after his teaching I find excruciating). Even King’s Chapel were badly guilty of this at their last Carol Service. He allowed us to sing as if we meant it, with enjoyment and a whole heart, which is the secret of true worship as well as good singing – instead of regarding technical accuracy of good worship and puritanical voice-restraint as an end in itself.
In our Chapel singing the whole school sang as a choir, and on Fridays we had a prolonged choir practice for the whole school for the coming Sunday and week following. We had various masters who could sing Tenor and Bass. I remember Mr Wheeler as a tenor, I think, and of course Mr Rose as a fine booming bass, and there were others. On Sundays visiting parents were able to sit next to their children, while the boys ousted from their seats were reseated in the spare places at the back. Organising this in advance was the work of the boy who was “Verger” and who also had to enforce and organise a roster for boys to pump the organ by band. There was a boy “Sacristan” who was responsible for the furniture of the Chapel and the hymn-books etc. We did some quite tricky singing in the shape of high descants for some of the hymns, and even some complicated Stanford versions of the Canticles – Te Deum, Magnificat, and others. For those of us who enjoyed singing, it gave us great pleasure and skill which must have been of value for the rest of our days.
While on the subject of singing, you will remember that we also had one period a week devoted to singing songs – mostly old English favourites, but also others – which we did in Shakespeare with Miss Lunn the music mistress, who also taught the piano. This was great fun and I always looked forward to it. It was always in the afternoon, doubtless the last period in the afternoon when we were least alert for intellectual absorption.
Dodging about, I will mention here what happened after evening chapel when, instead of going back down the stairs into Shakespeare, we all trooped out by the Eastern door into the corridor of the T’s private quarters, and so through back to our main school 1st floor corridor on the way to our our dormitories. Just where we left the private part of the house Mr T would be standing, and would shake hands with each of us in turn saying “Goodnight, Jones” with some brief remark if appropriate, after which we lined up for the temperature taking mentioned above. Since this only happened to the Late Beddites (nevertheless about 2/3 or 3/4 of the school) the Early Beddites had not thus had Goodnight said to them, so at, or just after, Lights-Out in the dormitories, which was at 8.20 pm, KT – and sometimes Mrs T as well as occasional visitors, distinguished, parental or otherwise, who might be staying the night – came round all the dormitories and again said “Goodnight” to each boy by name. I remember at the time thinking this was perhaps a bit superfluous, but accepting it. Obviously it was one way in which every single boy, whatever Form he was in, and whether or not he came in touch with KT during the course of the day, felt his presence and contact with him all the time. After having had to learn the names of Squads of new recruits (which I did by learning their positions on the march and then going for a long route march, while I wandered up and down the column talking to them and memorising their faces), I can see the advantage from KT’s angle too. Again one felt the ever-present care and forethought with which everything was organised.
There is no doubt that when you have chapel services night and morning day after day, you do feel very much in touch with your religion and greatly supported by it, in a way which one misses in busy later life. Monastic, some people call it, but when the purpose is to train people up to have enduring Christian ideals, it is a splendid instrument. There is, of course, much scoffing at the Public Schools (and by implication the Prep Schools) today, which is deliberate Soviet and Labour propaganda aimed at stirring up class hatred etc. In no way whatever is it based on an objective assessment of the educational value of the schools, which are, or have been, probably the finest the world has ever seen, based as they are on Plato’s philosophic plan of specialised education for those who fill positions of exceptional power and responsibility (roughly the same idea as William of Wykeham’s view) and Thomas Arnold’s ideal of producing “Christian gentlemen.” Such left-wing criticism should be ignored in general, the only charge which is worth examining for a moment being the question whether or not such schools instilled snobbery and selfish, as opposed to responsible, ambition and greed in their pupils. But the inculcation of enlightened Christian religion is something which can hardly be regarded as wrong except by those Communists and Marxists who regard religion as an enemy and “dope for the masses.”
Since this question of snobbery has been raised, I will give my personal view here. In a long life in four professions, though mainly in the diplomatic, it has become clear to me that snobbery is a universal human failing not confined to any nationality or so-called “class,” high or low. In the USA they have always prided themselves on their “equality,” but the snobbery of money is just as strong there as the snobbery of “class” is alleged to be here. Indeed there especially, but in almost all countries also, your income or your wealth is your class, quite apart from the snobbery of the higher society in the cities and the “First Families” of the East. I remember Dover Wilson, the great Shakespearian saying to me once, that snobbery was imported into England from France in the 18th century, a point in which there was much truth. It is true that throughout our history our so called upper classes have never been in a watertight compartment (at least since the Tudors) but have always been intermixed with new entrants from successful clergymen, merchants, civil servants, soldiers, etc etc. The public schools themselves were set up in the 19th century (apart from the original nine already existing) simply to give a top class education to the vast numbers of new rich who did not have ancient birth, and by 1900 already the classes were all thoroughly mixed up.
If we have to discuss this subject, it has to be admitted that in the twenties, when the upper classes (by education) still held many of the upper jobs, there were still distinctions, and it was a rule at WD that we must not mix with the “town boys.” This was doubtless partly to keep us out of trouble, but it was mainly, I think, to keep the parents from complaining. It was not done with any indoctrination suggesting that other boys were inferior or to be looked down on as such, and indeed the whole Christian doctrine of the school, as at Win. Coll., was that of equality of all before the Almighty.
So much for that. Now to the question of the system of running the school and maintaining law and order in it. This was based on the fact that the whole school became Boy Scouts (or Cubs before the age of 11). The Scout Movement is certainly an excellent thing for boys, and I need not dilate on its well-known characteristics here. But it gave another avenue for inculcating decent British, manly virtues of chivalry and unselfishness. I remember a motto we learnt at WD which was “Honesty, Bravery, Purity.” When we left KT gave each of us a small gold cross with H.B.P. inscribed on it. I still have mine pinned onto my wallet that I carry around. In case you do not have one it is half an inch across and each of the four arms is in the shape of a T. It’s not a swastika, but similar in overall shape.
We did function as Scouts part of the time, having parades in our uniforms, where we learnt some basic drill and the business of saluting which prepared us psychologically for the OTC at Win. Coll. and Services life in the War. We went in for acquiring the badges of proficiency that Scouting demands, starting with an all-round test for cubs called the Tenderfoot, and going on to such badges as First Aid, Signaller’s badge (morse & semaphore) etc etc, which all taught miscellaneous useful knowledge. Indeed most of my 1st aid knowledge still comes from that. And on every Thursday afternoon in the winter, instead of football we went to the splendid wild country of the park of Melbury (then innocent of housing development) and played what were called Scout Games. One was played in the rough field just the other side of the road opposite the school, and was called “Chivvy.” A long base line of about 60 yards was divided in half, one side being the “Base” of one side in the Game, and the other the Base of the other side. Behind your base line you were safe. About 80-100 yds. away down the slope opposite the opponents’ Base was your side’s goal. But to reach it you had to go in front of their Base into what was their territory, where, if they caught you you became their prisoner, and had to hold onto the stick which was the Goal aforesaid. You stayed there until rescued by one of your own side who had managed to get through to touch you without first being caught himself. The other side had to do the same with their people, braving the risks of entering your territory. I may not have got this quite right, but it was a simple game to practise speed, manoeuvre and tactics. But the best Games by far were played down in the wide expanse of the glen below Melbury House itself. This had park land in the centre with great trees, and copses and thickets round the edges. At a guess it would be at least 200 yds. long and 100 wide, and was a glorious terrain for hide and seek games between two sides, where cover had to be used and stealthy field-craft. In one game I remember old tennis balls were used as ammunition for attacking your enemy and sending him back to start again at square one as “captured.” Such were our activities as actual scouts. (Tenderfoot of course included making a fire in Melbury and cooking a steak and potatoes in a billycan using no more than two matches to light your fire.
At other times we wore small “tails,” bits of ribbon or equivalent, tucked into our belts, behind. The enemy captured you by grabbing your tail, and vice versa.
But this was only the direct Scouting activities. As is well known the whole system of school discipline depended on our being Scouts. The school was divided into five Scout “Patrols” known, as Wolves, Owls, Stags, Hounds and Buffaloes. Apart from the ultimate sanction of being “whacked” by KT, or the lesser penalty (the difference between chalk and cheese) of receiving only a “pie-jaw” which worried us very little, I’m afraid, discipline was enforced by the punishment of losing “points” in the term’s competition between Patrols for the patrols “Honours Board.” I think that the Honours Board was a Board probably in the Dining Hall on which the victorious patrol would have its name painted up.
The commonest “point” to lose was a punctuality point, or Late mark, and this was known to count the least of all the points in the Competition, There were about four other types of points to lose, of which I can only remember the Changing-room point for misdemeanours in that room, and the All-Round point, known as the worst and most costly, and used especially for disobedience. Too many of these lost could get you a whacking in the end. Although some people affected to think that a mere abstraction like a point was not a very pressing sanction, and others were not entirely reverent about the Honours Board, in practice I think people did in their heart of hearts take it seriously, and felt some serious compunction when their patrol did badly. No one knew exactly how much each point counted, and although the figures of each patrol’s losses were announced (or otherwise available), it was difficult to keep abreast of how the patrols were doing, until the final result and order of success was announced at the end of each term. During the following term, the seating order in the Dining Hall at Tea-time depended on the order of precedence in the last term’s Honours Board. Apart from the “Top Table,” not used at Tea-time, a very large table in the centre at the top of the room, there were five smaller tables down each side, each taking about ten boys. The first two tables (one on each side nearest the door would be used by the Patrol who was bottom in the Honours Board, the next by no. four and so on, with the winner at the top end.) At each table sat either the Patrol Leader or his Second to keep order, since there were no Masters present (or perhaps one “on duty”) during tea. At Lunch when KT and the Masters (in fact all the teaching staff) ate with the boys, the tables were used by Classes or forms in ascending order with a Master at each, while KT sat at the top table with his Patrol Leaders and Seconds. I am putting all this in, though you probably know it all, but it might have changed by your day. My impression at Blair Atholl was that the systems used at WD had been continued and adapted there – the big Hall with all the antlers being laid out with tables in exactly the same way as before.) While on the subject of discipline, the vexed question of corporal punishment will necessarily arise. As a life-long and professional student of Russian propaganda and subversion (it was my main subject in the Foreign Office, but I had studied it from my time at Win. Coll. onwards), I know only too well all the reasons why left-wing propaganda, orchestrated from Moscow, has worked hard and universally to discredit both capital and corporal punishment. Stalin was a great believer in education even if, like his models Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great, he saw education only as the acquisition of modern technology with especial reference to weaponry, propaganda and subversion, plus efficient totalitar ian suppression within the Soviet empire. In brief, his object was to get ahead of the West militarily, inter alia by ever-improving Soviet education and science while undermining and sabotaging the education systems of the western powers. Hence the great emphasis by extreme leftists who have had influence in our educational system, on doing away with anything that maintains discipline, and particularly corporal punishment. It is important to bear this in mind in order not to mistake the lucubrations of the Russian-influenced Left (and TV) into thinking that this type of propaganda represents, as they claim the whole time, “public opinion.” Only this evening the “TV News” tells us that “public opinion” is on the side of the ambulance drivers in their “industrial action” because 2000 organised left-wing demonstrators (duly shown on TV with much fanfare) have demonstrated for them. All that this proves in actual practice of course is that 2000 left-wing demonstrators, when duly organised by a left-wing caucus, claim to support the ambulance drivers. But these 2000 people are not “public opinion” which consists of 60 millions, only a tiny fraction of whom actually take part in organised demonstrations, or write letters to the union showing their support, or otherwise act as “activists” on the left side. Many of the latter are of course the same lot of professional communist or left-wing “rent-a-crowd” activists, who demonstrate over whatever the issue of the moment may be, whether pro-IRA or anti-apartheid or anti American over Vietnam or whatever.
Corporal punishment was not very common at WD. You got it for rank disobedience or bolshy behaviour, or for persistent idleness after warnings. To give an example I got through my time without being whacked (though I got the slipper once, which hardly counted). No one among the boys objected to it, and we all took it for granted. Certainly no one held it against KT himself. In fact boys were usually rather proud of it, and I know I felt ashamed myself that it never happened to me. It certainly had its effect as the final deterrent, not so much by its use but, like the nuclear deterrent, by its threat. Personally I believe it even had a marginal educational value, since we all have to learn to take physical suffering in later life, and a small controlled dose (when otherwise justified) gave confidence in one’s power to “take it.” But apart from these direct and obvious negative forms of maintaining discipline, KT had made very serious and enlightened efforts to introduce what they now call “democracy” into the running of our affairs within the school. First the Patrol Leaders (aided by their “Seconds” in each Patrol, but particularly the Patrol Leaders) were given considerable responsibility. For instance, they kept order in the dormitories. You know there were five very large dormitories, and each patrol slept together in one dormitory. With this and eating together at tea they became in a sort of way the equivalent of Houses at a Public school. Patrol leaders were much trusted and were very big chaps indeed. In short they were a near equivalent to Prefects at a Public School.
Once a fortnight, if I remember right, a Meeting was held after Prep in the evening in “Shakespeare,” attended by KT, the masters and the Patrol Leaders and Seconds, at which all sorts of questions of organisation and discipline were discussed. KT doubtless used this to keep in touch with the feelings of both staff and boys, to give maximum scope for informed suggestions coming from staff and boys, as well as to give them all a chance to air their views and complaints or worries if any. Obviously final decisions remained in his hands, and no doubt he had other meetings with the masters only, which were probably more decisive. But the senior boys nevertheless received a distinct impression both that they were being consulted but also that they were taking some part in the running of the school themselves. In addition there was one other institution which KT promulgated which, though equally well-meaning, was, I think, less successful. (You see I am not being eulogistic all the time!) The reason for its failure was, I think, that this time he trusted the boys a little too much, and was slightly more enlightened than was practical. This was called the “Court of Honour,” if I remember right, and consisted of a Meeting of the five Patrol Leaders in the private dining-room of the Tindall’s quarters, where we sat round the dining table and constituted a sort of Court of Law. We were entitled to summon before us any boy who we thought was being a thorough nuisance, generally misbehaving and letting down the side. When he came he was made to stand in front of us on a stool (like the old Kirk’s “stool of repentance”) where he would be harangued and ticked off mainly by the Head of the School (senior Patrol Leader) with extra remarks thrown in by the others. I well remember when I was first summoned before it, at the age of about 10. It was a pretty frightening experience, and though prepared to admit to myself that I was pretty abstropalous, I didn’t feel that all the rude things they said to me were quite justified. When I became a Patrol Leader and saw the thing working from the other side, I was at times disgusted with it. My colleagues, especially one who shall be nameless, found difficulty in restraining their mirth at the plight of the wretched victims, and one, I remember, used to lower the chandelier in the middle of the room so that when he could contain himself no longer he could hide his face behind it. I learnt then one of “Parkinson’s” laws of bureaucracy, that if you set up a body to do something, it will do it to justify its existence even when what it is doing is unnecessary or even wrong. Often we could not think of anyone who really deserved to feel the heat, and yet we cast about until we found someone to jeer at. There was also an element of bullying which tended to creep in so that some Patrol Leaders began to enjoy the fun in an irresponsible manner. I think K T’s idea was to let the boys, to a certain extent, clean up some of the more obvious delinquents or “points-losers,” thereby cutting down the number of occasions when he would have to step in with his heavier hand, and maybe this purpose was served by it to some extent. Maybe we also learnt as Patrol Leaders, by being afterwards ashamed of not being more mature over it. But I did not feel that KT was quite aware of the weaknesses of this institution as well as its utility.
When I was researching and writing papers etc on Communist subversion in the F.O. I was once brought a leaflet by the Headmaster of a state school which had been handed by left-wing agitators to boys at the gate of his school. Its aim was to stir up the boys to resent the dictatorship of their oppressive teachers, and to complain and demand “democracy” in the school, so that the discipline should be in the hands of the boys instead of the Staff etc. I remember at the time thinking of all the similar propaganda hurled by the organised Left against the Public Schools, and especially their prefect system, supposed to be a source of sadism and bullying by senior boys who are allowed to beat little boys, etc, etc. The fact is, of course, that democracy was not invented by Lenin or Stalin (whose democracy consisted in killing 800,000 and over 30 million voters in Concentration Camps especially) but by GB in a long history which evolved the Mother of Parliaments. Apart from that it could be traced back to ancient Greece and even early Rome. But in schools it was invented largely by the Old Wykhamist Thomas Arnold at Rugby, who, by his system of prefects did exactly what Communist propaganda claimed to be demanding for the first time today. And our system of Patrol Leaders and Seconds at WD was undoubtedly based on the Prefectorial system at Win. Coll. (No one bothered a hoot about Communism in those days except the “cranks.”)
Back to question of KT. He was a man of great method and tidiness and efficiency. Everything he did was neat and tidy, starting with his small, neat and always unhurried, script handwriting. And he demanded, not with a fanfare but as something you took for granted, neatness, order and efficiency in everything that went on at WD. The school itself was always beautifully kept. Of course in those days of low wages and in the Thirties of unemployment domestic labour was doubtless easy to get, though I am sure they were very well looked after by KT and Mrs. Tindall. So far as we met them they always seemed very happy and proud in their work, whether cook, cook-maids who gave us water out of the pantry window in hot cricket days in summer, or gardeners or groundsmen or whatever. Though the walls were of painted bricks in the corridors and plain, they were plentifully garnished with good copies of pictures, whether of Renaissance masterpieces (as in the Chapel but also elsewhere) or the famous coloured paintings of great occasions in our history, such as the signing of Magna Carta. Shakespeare and the Chapel were of course, particularly fine. In classrooms, tidiness of books and the interior of desks was de rigueur, and in the dormitories there was a drill for the way you folded up your clothes on the stool provided by your bed and the way you kept your other clothes in your chest of drawers. As in other institutions, much depended on the electric bells scattered over the school so that wherever you might be you could not help hearing them. I remember the bell for lunch went on for several seconds giving time for me to reach the gym where you had to parade by skimming down the polished floor of the main corridor (not running which was forbidden) so long as I was below the steps of the Study. In the gym we actually paraded in squads, one for each table, where we had our hands inspected by the senior boys before we were marched off by squads seriatim and along the corridor, so as to file into the dining room and to our places in an orderly manner. If only football hooligans had learnt to file into football grounds in such a manner, instead of rushing selfishly forwards to push in in front of others, some recent disasters might have been less serious.
Another interesting point was the way KT inspected on the first night of each term, when we were in bed, all the books we brought back to school and initialled them. (I still find his name pencilled “KT” on the flyleaf of some of mine). This was to ensure we did not read trash or puerile stuff. I remember his scornful exclamations of “Eugh!” whenever anyone turned up with “Tiger Tim” annuals or other “comics.” Another example of thoroughness, this time in mental or cultural hygiene. Going back to KT, he had so many accomplishments and gifts that it seems wrong to single out one of them, but undoubtedly he had particular gifts in the line of the drama, and especially Shakespeare. I have no doubt that had he gone in for the acting profession he would have been a famous name. The only trait he might have lacked for that profession was that of push and intrigue when it comes to getting launched. But his true acting powers as well as his impressive physique would have got over that. As it was he used to produce and perform every winter holidays one of Shakespeare’s great plays in the large Town Hall of Winchester, taking also the leading (Richard Burbage) parts himself. At WD, he used the marvellous facilities of Melbury to produce every summer one of Shakespeare’s “outdoor” plays in turn: As You Like It, The Tempest, Twelfth Night, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I saw the latter twice with my elder brother acting in it in 1926, while I was in all the others except that in 1930 our Twelfth Night was cancelled at the last minute because Sir Toby Belch (who shall be nameless) never made the effort to learn his part properly in spite of frequent warnings.
Melbury then was quite untouched and unspoilt, and was a dream world of its own. Since you could not see the outside world from inside its valley, it might have been Prospero’s island itself. For me, with all the echoes of Stratford-on-Avon and old English countryside ringing idyllically in my ears it soon came to represent the Elizabethan countryside, a place of sheer joy. In those happy summers, every Thursday and Sunday afternoon there would be rehearsals there lasting the whole afternoon. That of course is the way to learn to love and enjoy the greatest poet of Britain and of the world, not by being made to write “criticisms” of his plays for exams, which turns joy into what is regarded as school “work.” I need hardly say that KT as a producer was excellent, combining artistic sense and the power of showing us how things should be acted with his great practical sense of getting results. The only thing he never taught me was how to manage my real live goats when I was Audrey in As You Like It. They, like me, wanted to be on stage as much as possible, and having uprooted the stake they were tied to made a formal but untimely entrance in one of the scenes where Shakespeare had not included them, but this by the way, though it upset me a lot at the time!
I would like to say in this context that people should not underrate the ability of boys of 13 to act to a pretty high standard. In Hamlet we learn of a Company of such who were proving seriously competitive to the official adult Companies. (“An aery of children, little eyases, that cry out on the top of question and are most tyrannically clapped for it,” not to mention the fact that all the great classical female parts of Shakespeare from Ophelia and Desdemona to Olivia and lmogen were played successfully in his time by “little eyases” of 13 or 14. We were quite serious in our plays and I know from much experience since that we held our audiences (of parents etc) quite as genuinely as adult amateurs may expect to do. These plays were a great, indeed a unique achievement of KT.
I forgot to mention the French plays, acted once a year in Shakespeare in the Winter or Spring Term (probably the latter) – usually Moliere in the actual French. Heaven knows what our accents were like or whether our audience understood much of it, but it was a serious and considerable achievement – all in full costume etc.
His histrionic powers were used for our benefit in many other ways. When I was there I think it was the top two forms, for whom he used to read poetry for one period a week. How brilliantly he did it, and how I loved it. It introduced us to many of the great poets and poems of our literature, and spoilt me for the dreary reading of most of the dons and professors at Cambridge when I did my 1st part Tripos in Eng. Litt.
There were one or two notable exceptions, especially “Dadie” George Rylands of King’s, who coached Gielgud in the role of Hamlet, and who is still going strong aged about 90. When he recently read various Lessons in the King’s Chapel Carol Service, it was the best part of the Service. Likewise on Sunday evenings for at least an hour, KT used to read aloud to all who wanted to hear a suitable new novel such as those of Sapper or John Buchan. Well do I remember “Temple Tower,” the finest of all the Bull-Dog Drummond tales, and “The Dancing Floor” and “John MacNab” of Buchan, in which KT showed his power in Scottish and Highland accents.
Last but very far from least in this context were the Masters’ Plays at the end of every winter term. They were all written by a playwright thinly disguised as Mr Basset Kendall (as no doubt you remember). They were thrillers, and similar to the science fiction of the day, which had not yet gone in for 3000% exaggerated extravaganzas, but was still within the realms of reasonable common sense and imagination. I must have seen four or more but can only remember one which particularly struck my attention. This was called the “Destroying Angel,” but first I should mention the agreeable charade that took place every year, whereby KT always announced early that this year there would be no Masters’ Play for varying reasons. We soon learnt not to take that at face value. And I can still remember when sleeping (or not sleeping) in the “West Dormitory” near to Shakespeare hearing pistol shots coming from below and drawing the correct conclusion. Usually the first sign that there would be a Play was a large coloured drawing pinned on a blackboard at the far end of Shakespeare which would appear out of nowhere (drawn by the arts master), and which included a more or leas blood-curdling title, suggesting the theme of the play to come.
These plays were beautifully written, and so realistic that I can remember they were quite frightening to younger boys. In those days our capacity for fear in fiction was not long since satiated by endless sitting watching TV). One had to take a pull at oneself not to be too frightened.
I think all the masters took part as did Mrs T, a very competent actress, and the lady Secretary, more or less the only young thing we had on the staff, though the sex angle was not stressed in the plots. They all acquitted themselves well. The only one who demonstrably was not a born actor was that splendid piece of old English oak, Mr Rose, whose age we never knew but who like Mr Ledgard (ditto) never seemed to change or get a day older. But this problem was solved by giving him in every play the part of the Police Constable, who always turned up towards the end to make the necessary arrests. I still remember him main speech which ran as follows: “Its moy duty to warrn you that anything yuu says may be taken down and used in evidence against you.” In one play, in which, on the Agatha Christie principle, everyone in turn became the suspect, I remember Mr Rose had a busy time going round arresting most of them one after another, and then finding out that he had to release them and arrest somebody else. Needless to say every time he appeared the audience who got to know the procedure enjoyed it immensely.
The “Destroying Angel” I remember well for varying reasons though not for the fact that it anticipated in 1930 or so our present situation of “Mutually Assured Destruction;” rightly abbreviated to MAD. The story was that a mad professor had invented a bomb which could destroy a whole city and in his bitter hatred of the futility of mankind, had appointed himself a “destroying angel” and planted one of his bombs in each of the capital cities of Europe. Each of these bombs was fused to a radio receiver, which would cause it to explode whenever a certain chord was played on the grand in the professor’s home. All he had to do was to play all these chords, which were in fact the chords of Chopin’s Prelude in C minor (which I been playing every since), one after the other and all the said capitals would blow up in turn. “Beenie Broadhurst” as music master was of course the Prof in question, and duly carried out his dastardly aim, playing the Prelude in great style, while we wondered whether the explosion of London would be heard in Winchester. I remember how he pronounced in triumph the name of each city, as he banged out its chord “Berlin! Vienna! Bucharest!...” But unfortunately for him some person had cut the wires so that Europe survived to undergo the ministrations of Hitler instead (and of the RAF).
Another of these plays I remember featured a very powerful explosive which was like sawdust or grain, and which if dropped etc would blow up everything (including the audience) in every direction. It was carried about by the villain on the stage in a sort of glass phial. Now I should mention that “Beenie Broadhurst” whose rotund and ebullient figure was respected and popular, was also something of a figure of fun to us all, and used to have certain fads. One of these was a new cereal product called Bemax. Anyhow this new product claimed to contain all sorts of goodies, vitamins, etc, everything for health and growth, and he took it himself every morning, with his morning porridge. It looked like sawdust or grain. He was so keen about it that he badgered the Ts no end to make everyone in the school take a dose of it every morning too. In the end KT agreed (I suspect not without some humorous anticipation) to try an experiment. One side of the Dining Room should take a daily dose for one term, and the other not. Of course we were always weighed at the beginning and end of term, and the experiment was to see if the Bemax takers grew on average any faster than the non-Bemax takers. In the upshot the latter won by a small margin, and the practice was discontinued the next term. But the point of this story was that at the climax of the Master’ play that term the villain was threatening everyone around with his lethal and catastrophic phial of explosive, and just before being duly arrested by Mr. Rose, he got involved in violence and dropped the thing or flung it in the air. But nothing happened until Mr. Broadhurst (a Goodie this time) explained to the terrified company “Its all right. It’s only my daily dose of Bemax.” Would you believe it, he had managed to exchange it for the actual explosive, thus saving the situation. That’s about all I can remember of Masters’ Plays, except that once KT did me the honour of letting me see the Complete Works of Basset Kendall, which I remember reading with great avidity and admiration. Certainly they were a great success with the School.
Before leaving the Ts, I should mention that they were also great gardeners. Undoubtedly they had plentiful labour but they not only kept the very large herbaceous border in the front of the school and the rest of the front in beautiful order, but also had a very large private garden above the cricket field. Here also there was a vegetable garden and I suspect they grew a large amount of vegetables for the consumption of the school, not to mention the staff’s. I think quite a lot of the upper part of Melbury (above the house) was also a kitchen garden.
A Prep School is like a little independent kingdom ruled by a monarch or benevolent dictator. But my impression is that the Ts looked after their staffs as well as they did the boys. The Masters’ Lodge was a very pleasant and homelike building in the neo-Tudor style of the early 20th century, with a big living room with an open stone surrounded fireplace. The masters seemed very happy there, and it was most conveniently situated.
The actual classrooms of the school were seven in number in the school, two lots of three, each of which could be opened up easily by drawing back the partition screens to make large rooms for taking preps etc. These classrooms were called A, B, C and D, E, F, while the seventh was at the head of Shakespeare at the back of the top balustrade, G classroom, where the bottom form worked. To make up the total of nine, the two large reception rooms of the Melbury villa were turned into classrooms for the top two forms, Senior Div I and Senior Div II, if I remember right. There were also some bedrooms in Melbury which carried the overflow of about nine or ten boys who could not be accommodated in the main dormitories. Mr. Ledgard, who was form master of Senior Div II, was also the King of Melbury, and lived and looked after the sleepers there. It was always nice to work in Melbury, though it meant going up and down the long drive in all weathers carrying one’s “burberry” and cap. I became very fond of the place.
Passing to a few lines on each of the Masters. Mr. Ledgard was one of the older ones who seemed ageless, and a permanent fixture unaltering. He was dour in manner but with a heart of gold. His system was that used by many Army sergeants etc, and was to tell each new form he had that it was the worst he had ever known. By the time he finished with it he might grudgingly admit that is wasn’t quite as bad as he had expected.
Mr. Rose, the other perennial oldster, was a similar backbone of England type, with a handsome open face, but somewhat troubled by his teeth. I think he taught maths.
Mr. Stanton was, I think the senior master after KT liable to take over if anything put KT out of action, though this never happened to my knowledge. He was a handsome tall chap with style, somewhat like Stewart Grainger, and of course the senior cricket master. He taught us a great deal of that wonderful game as it then was. And when I watch it today, I cannot help thinking of what he would say to both the batsmen and the bowlers who take it upon themselves to lose Test Matches for England because they think they can improve upon the age old verities of the game. I can just hear him saying as they slink back to the pavilion, “Well, if you will hang your back out to dry instead of getting your foot to the ball, what can you expect?” or “My dear Mr. Gatting, if you want to use your pads instead of your bat to defend your wicket, for heavens sake at least get your pad to the ball;” or even “For heavens sake, man, have you never heard that a straight ball should be played with a straight bat!” I remember when I was trying to develop a new stroke for gliding balls outside my leg stump but on my legs down to fine leg, thus missing some good leg balls which should have been boundaries, he told me off about “that filthy gliding stuff.” I am quite sure he would attack our England bowlers for wasting so much time and effort on “those filthy bumpers.” He would say “For God’s sake, man, stop bowling at the man’s head and see if you can hit the stumps for a change! Try what is known as a good length ball once in a while, instead of all these endless long-hops. You might get somebody out for a change.” I believe the pundits are just beginning to come round to using some old truths which Mr. Stanton pounded into us from the age of nine onwards, and which we certainly knew by heart before we even got into the 2nd XI.
It is only because the bowling in England has deteriorated as much as the batting, that neither of them realise how much they have gone down – since the balance of runs versus wickets remains much the same. I believe that Mr. Stanton had quite a distinguished career after leaving WD, ending up as a highly successful business tycoon. I am not surprised. It shows the calibre of the teachers we were lucky enough to have at WD.
Next Mr Broadhurst, Arthur, whom I have mentioned before, another man of character and enterprise. He was one of the family who built the textile firm of Tootal Broadhurst (handkerchiefs etc, doubtless sheets etc.) which was well-known in my youth, and perhaps still is. During the boom in industry which followed the armistice in 1918, he sold out his personal holding of shares in the family firm at the peak of their price, thus becoming, we understood, a pretty wealthy man. He certainly had a very nice “AC” convertible motorcar in days when no Prep school assistant master could think of such a thing, and a ciné-camera (very luxurious in those days) and was able to take groups of boys on skiing holidays in Switzerland at his own expense. Apart from the music which I have mentioned, at which he was very gifted, he taught geography which he made very interesting. Above all he realised that the only way to learn the geography of a place, whether it be a town or country is to make yourself draw a map of it yourself. To make this both possible and good fun, he got himself a large collection of coloured chalks of good quality, which were brought out at any prep where we had to draw such maps, and we all collected a set to use for the purpose. I remember we used blue for the sea (to be shaded) and lakes and rivers, green for the low ground, brown for the high ground and mountains, and red for the towns etc. This method I always admired, and many a Sanitary Prep have I spent drawing such maps of all the countries of the world. He also had the most expensive Parker fountain Pen that could be bought in those days, then as now the Rolls Royce of fountain Pens – a big pink one with gold rings round it etc. How I envied him that!
Mr Griffith was another distinct and very admirable character, and probably one of the best teachers there. A fairly stocky medium-sized athletic looking man, he was a specialist in the dour style, and was probably more laconic even than Mr Ledgard. I think he took Middle School I, and I think it was there that I first began to learn how to learn and to get real confidence in my own ability. He was very thorough and very clear in his explanations. And, above all, he taught the gospel of “Determination;” that with enough Will you could always do more than you expected. Another fine man. He was very much respected by the boys, whom he, to some extent, awed by his manner, but he was beneficent under it all.
Mr Steadman was our classical master, who took us for classics in Senior Div I. He was a youngish man and the type of the devoted and enthusiastic student. He loved the classics with a deep love, which by sheer enthusiasm he managed to convey at least to some of us. I owe him gratitude for that love of Greece and Greek culture which made a great difference to my life, especially when I had the good fortune to have a double tour of 4½ years in our Embassy in Athens, and was able to travel round the country and impart as far as possible the same enthusiasm to my own children. Unfortunately I failed him when I failed to get my scholarship to Win Coll, for which I have always felt sad. He had suffered in some accident in earlier days and walked with a limp and a stick, but this did not give him much trouble otherwise as far as we could see.
Mr Mildmay was our maths teacher, a tall, slim, somewhat gangling young man, very good as far as I can remember, and very nice. I remember my mother got on well with him, but I can’t remember much else about him. There was Miss Quilley, another unchanging person who seemed old to us, and who initiated us into Shakespeare when we arrived by reading aloud to us from Lamb’s Tales. Yes, Madame, very friendly and motherly whom one instinctively got fond of. Then Miss Lunn who taught me the piano for five years and took our singing classes, a charming spinster lady, quite young then, who undoubtedly with Mr Broadhurst implanted in me that love of music and the basic knowledge, which has now made me much to my surprise an organist in my local church and various other institutions. Doubtless many others had the doors of music opened to them by these two. There were the tireless and efficient ministrations of Sisters and Night Nurses (for we always had a Night Nurse who patrolled the dormitories every night to see if anyone couldn’t sleep or had any other problem). These tended to change I think so I don’t remember any of them in particular (as I remember the “hag” in Freddies during my time).
I can’t resist mentioning a small incident in my time in the “Chapel Dormitory” on the 1st floor, which shows our devotion to our old Testament studies. In those days everyone used to plaster their hair with brilliantine (“honey and flowers” was the favourite concoction). Now in the middle of the wooden floor planking, there was a knot-hole, with the knot missing, so that it was a real hole about an inch across.
Some bright spark, mindful of his scripture researches, designated it as the “Holy of Holies,” and persuaded us all to render due worship to it in ceremonial fashion after Lights Out, at the same time propitiating it with sacrificial libations from our best brilliantine bottles. It certainly produced a “sweet savour,” but in due time it also produced a crop of earwigs which was less desirable. So that particular cult came to a premature end.
I forgot to mention, of course, the Parents’ Day, which was always on the Saturday after the Friday when the outdoor Shakespeare was given in Melbury. Thus as many parents as possible were in the audience of the play. Traditionally the Friday was always wet or at least grey, while the Saturday was always fine. On the Saturday we had a band up from the town, and there were matches between selected Paters (still capable of running 22 yards) and the 1st XI, and Brothers and Sisters v. 2nd XI. At tea on this very special occasion, strawberries & cream were dished out to the whole school. This was special indeed, because it produced a phenomenon unknown at any other time. Normally when the School was in eating session in the Dining Hall the sound of innumerable treble voices at full blast could be heard about 100 yards up the main corridor and down to the gym. But at Paters’ Day tea, the moment grace was said and we sat down, there was always a total and uncanny hush, until the strawberries finally disappeared.
This reminds me of Xmas pudding and Mr Ledgard. There was the question of sixpences in the pudding, but Mr Ledgard always managed to get a large half crown piece in his pudding; at least after he had been eating for a bit he would put his hand to his mouth and out it would come. (I’m afraid I used this trick on my children until inflation spoilt it).
At Founder’s Day of course, the 1st XI played a team of OWDs.
What other things are worth recording? Senior boys in the summer term were allowed to bring their bicycles back to school. These were used during free time on Saturday evenings, on the lower (main football) ground only, where we played a hair-raising game known as “Tom Quibbler” (the name derived from the habit of Mr Steadman in trying to stop us quibbling, and very right he was too). One boy was designated “he” or Tom Quibbler, and presented with a tennis or sorbo rubber ball. He then chose a victim among the others whom he had to catch by throwing the ball and hitting him – quite skilful while riding. Meanwhile the other ten or twelve cyclists would shield the victim by getting in the way of Tom Q. The secret of success, if I remember right, lay in sudden and surprise braking, followed by fierce acceleration though any gap thus made.
I forgot to mention about Mr Broadhurst’s later career, but I presume you know all about that, how he went to New Zealand, and used his hoarded wealth to set up a replica of WD in the N. Island, marrying a lady on his staff, and making a great success of it, before ultimately returning as a widower to settle at Lichfield where he helped the Cathedral choir.
One episode of which I did not approve may be worth mentioning. As you know, Capt. Scott sent his son Peter to WD, and one day in my time we had a visit from a Doctor friend of Capt. Scott’s, who gave us a lecture. His great theory was that cold (as in the Antarctic, no doubt) was good for you. It made you shiver, and shivering was taking exercise. And so on. The Ts were much impressed and for a time we lived and worked in cold air, summer and winter. I remember I worked in the day just next to a French window in the Melbury classroom, and that window was kept open throughout the winter. It sure made me hardy, but I also made sure of having a thick suit of Harris tweed to put over my winter woollies. This item is not an eulogy, but neither is it consistent with the “cotton-woollers” legend, though I am somewhat surprised that Mrs T went along with this theory.
Perhaps I should say a word of the names painted round the walls of the dining-room of all OWDs since the school began. There were quite a number of distinguished family names, and names of distinguished people.
In my day we had one OWD MP of whom we were taught to be proud. His name was Sir Oswald Mosley, and doubtless our WD view of him changed as he showed up in his true colours (or colour, viz. black, which was appropriate). I also met once at a Founder’s day a young Amory, son of a Cabinet Minister, who was a friend of Churchill. Young Amory had left WD some time before I came but was still a legend for naughtiness and getting into trouble.
His father, who was a great empire-enthusiast must have over-pressed him and antagonised him at an early age, for he had certainly become the black sheep of the family. He was, I believe expelled from Win. Coll. He had a smart sports car, I remember, and a smarter girlfriend in a leopard-skin coat, then regarded as rather “fast.” Most of the OWDs had gone and I think he was feeling nostalgic and lonely. I remember I talked with him for about half an hour, and felt sorry for him. Later he became Lord Haw Haw No. Two in the War, and was duly hanged after the War for his pains, but he had a point about Russia being our real enemy. They both were, of course, both Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, but pro-Soviet traitors since have not been hanged as he was. C’est la vie!