Old West Downs Society – Memories of the Cornes Era, 1954-1988

From Gerald Potts, Staff, 1956-64

Dear Mark,

I am delighted to hear that you are taking on a History of West Downs – and I wish you all success.I doubt if I have much to offer that has not already been offered, but here goes!

I taught there from 1956-64. I had previously taught for four years in Scotland, very agreeably, but I have always been grateful for the rapid realisation that boys are capable of working in a much higher gear.

On Chapel, I wonder how many will have mentioned the (then) ritual of the National Anthem every Sunday, and JFC’s apparent belief that properly prepared boys should have sung all but every hymn in the book ’ere they left.

S.P. was of course a great feature of the day, and one over which I believe that JFC was the recipient of much ribaldry at IAPS district meetings.

In lesson time, “Please Sir, may I go to foricas/take a number”: one knew immediately how long they were likely to be away! (Later, in Africa, it was “Please Sir, may I go to the P.K. (piccanini Kaya, or similar) i.e. little wooden hut. All so preferable to the present general nonemulative – though most of my pupils know better than to ask!

The Scottish Mush must have continued into the ’60s (and was a marvellous convenience for the likes of myself with connections up there).

Ivan, during most/all of the time I was there – and surely there was Carmen too – very satisfactorily saw to the staffing of the pantry with all its dining room involvement, and if one Spaniard moved on, a replacement was rapidly brought over.

Scouting. Sunday cooking at Melbury was surely a great institution, much as on the C.E. academic front being owed to the traditions laid (in my time) by D.H-G. I passed quite a few tests myself, and as a gardener have always been grateful for the bowline, and curious about the burning qualities of holly – AAA (quick burning, slow burning, kindling).

Rule of Health no 1 or 2. Go to foricas every day – after breakfast is the best time. And so say I!

I wonder whether the weekly mark reading continued to the end.

Sorry for the appalling scrawl – half term comes to a close.

Quadrangular tennis is now post CE. (3 or 4 undecipherable words)

Gerald Potts