Old West Downs Society – Memories of the Tindall Era, 1922-1954

From Lt. Gen. Sir Norman Arthur (1940-44)

I “joined” at Glenapp and left for public school from Blair Atholl, so never saw WD itself.

I remember, of course, wonderful hill and moorland walks, spotting deer and the like, and being awestruck by hill rivers in spate – the Tilt, the Tummel and the Banvie.

I remember standing, nervously, on a desk, as a new boy, being given a frightening trial and punishment by a committee of seniors (all of 12 or 13 years!). One of them was William Staveley, more recently 1st Sea Lord!

I was in Eagle Patrol and was one of those Scouts whose hat brim was always stubbornly floppy, however much I wet it and ironed it, or whatever. I thus have, deeply etched by envy, a memory of Mr. Ricardo’s beautifully Scout-like hat, and the woggles of twisted leather, which he tried to teach us to make!

I remember the funeral of the old Duke of Atholl, and seeing, with awe, his old veterans of the Atholl Highlanders, grizzled and kilted, with tears in their eyes. I didn’t know then that men could cry!

Every time now that I drive up the A9 past Blair Atholl, I see the grassy sward where, to my manly shame, but artistic pride, I played Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and, I think, a nymph in The Tempest! I remember the immense and rather jolly effort put into the dressing up.

Mr. Ledgard, old-seeming and strict: “when I see flesh, I smack it!” Mr. Tindall, large, kindly, smelling strongly of pipe and tobacco, listening patiently, and somehow with a serious face, while each of us at the appropriate advanced age of 12 or so, explained his highly coloured ideas of the facts of life. The tanned and hearty gym mistress, bouncing about in plimsolls and gym skirt, Miss Coombes.

Norman Arthur