Memories of Gateshead Grammar
Jon Bratton writes
I'm part way through reading my copy and I can tell you it is WONDERFUL. A collection of Memories is always, by its nature, a hotchpotch but it is lovely to get a picture of life at the school as it emerges piecemeal and through so many different pairs of eyes. It is chronological and for the most part covers the twenty years from 1935 to 1955 and includes that group who spanned the war when the school had two different names
There is some excellent writing as one would expect from 'the cream of the town' and it would be unfair to pick any one out, but I'm going to, just as a whetter.
Eileen Little, brainy sportswoman who married Walter Waistell, brainy sportsman, was also a singer and the force which led to the formation of a girls choir.
She initially talks of her schooling while evacuated and how staff
'had been carers, not simply teachers, particularly, for me, Mr Brown, "The Boss"....always took a great interest in my ball skills...He taught me to throw really fast with just a flick of the wrist.
He taught me rather less history in fifth form. He would come, always late...storming along the corridor...gown a-billow, brows a-beetle....Half an hour later he stormed out again, leaving us with cramped fingers and very little wiser
After singing a solo at a school choir public performance
"Miss Ramshaw said 'I don't stand beside you in assembly to keep you in order but to hear you sing...It was the Boss's remark that floored me 'Eileen, that was wonderful. All is forgiven' To this day I still wonder what crime prompted that remark....
Off we went to Harvest Camp..with Miss Ditchburn (maths) and Miss Ramshaw (French)...it rained almost every day...My friend..and I were allotted to a taciturn, po-faced plum grower who, every morning answered our query 'Will there be any work today?' with the words 'Eh, I don't know, I couldn't say - t'all depends on t'weather. By the end of the fortnight we secretly mouthed the words with him...I don't remember picking any plums. What I do remember are the wonderful meals served to us by our mathematical and French cooks...Their blackberry and apple duff was not so much a pud as a sublime experience I shall never forget. Miss Ramshaw, all is forgiven.....
The following year...we planted and weeded in mud...It was definitely not as pleasant as not picking plums....
Round about the age of fifteen I became aware of boys as something other than people who could throw a ball farther than I could.. fell madly in love with.. Derek Bates...schools goalkeeper...loved in vain...one evening we took our work to Gateshead Fell Cricket Club where Low Fell Juniors were playing. Some of them were from our school team, and one medium-fast bowler, who smiled all the time, took several wickets. Seven years later, Derek was a pleasant memory, and I married the fast-bowling smile....'
My clumsy editing does not begin to do that justice, but it serves to illustrate that memories go much beyond the naming of teacher nicknames or who dished out the lines " I must eschew the chewing of chewing gum in class"
Many of the contributors are linked by their membership of the Caprians choir but there are many more besides.
I couldn't fail to discourage you less to purchase this book and, at just a little more than a tenor, it's a steal.
Somebody should do Volume 2
There is a limit to the amount of Hugh's book I will nick, I suppose, but I couldn't resist lifting Reg Snowdon's fabulous word picture of the school buildings
And if you like reading memories you must read those of 101 year old Olive Utting. Go there immediately...borrow my magic carpet
You missed a trick there, Hugh
Take heed, Creator of Volume Two