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

From P.S. Wilmot-Sitwell, 1943-47

I could obviously write a book myself about my five years at West Downs but I will confine myself to two particular incidents:—

1. One of the nicest things about the School was the enormous trouble that was taken to welcome new boys and to make them feel at home. In my case, on arrival at Blair Castle in the summer of 43 I was assigned to a “pater” who turned out to be Arthur Norman. His job was to look after me in the first few days and see that I was taught the various ropes. In those days you also were given the bed next door to your pater in the dormitory and, in view of the geography of the Castle, you were each allotted a pot under your bed in order to make it unnecessary for you to walk down endless dark and cold corridors. On my first night I unfortunately had to use this pot but, in the confusion of the darkness, I pulled what I thought was the pot from under my bed and did what I had to into it. The following morning to my horror I discovered that the receptacle turned out to be Arthur Norman’s slipper. I don’t think it helped my relationship with my pater but he was very nice about it.

2. Nick Hodson gave what he calls some “starters” in his letter and one of these related to a Midsummer Night’s Dream 1943. I was lucky enough to secure the part of a fairy in that play which took place somewhere in the grounds of Blair Castle. At the finish of the play, before all our parents, we were invited to join them on the grass beneath the bank where we had been performing. We all ran down the bank but unfortunately for me I tripped over a root and the pain was such that I collapsed in floods of tears and completely ruined the whole finale. However, I could not have disgraced myself too much because the next time the play was performed in 1946 I was awarded the part of Titania and the following year played The Shrew opposite Nick Hodson himself!

Peter Wilmot-Sitwell