|The Electronic Newsletter of St Augustine's Grammar School, Sharston Mount, M22 4PJ||31
|From the Headmaster||News||Old Boys||Old Staff|
|Looking Back||Miscellaneous||Classified||Births Deaths and Marriages|
|Letters to Editor||Crossword||Cybergems|
Distributed to all Old Boys, Staff and
"Friends of St Augustine's" with known email addresses.
Please (print and) forward to any not on emailing list.
|"From the Headmaster"||Stripes in Magenta|
|News||Stripes in Magenta|
has moved to
Due to restricted webspace provided by freenetname on the old domain ( www.staugustines.org.uk ) and the gradual growth of the website, St Augustine's Old Boys' Website has now moved to a new location viz www.staugs.org. This site is provided by DomainNameSales, is adequate for current needs and can be extended as necessary.
It is hoped to meet the
continuing cost of maintaining this (£60pa) through
Recent additions have included more photos (trips to London, mass in the early days, 1966 formal) - Thanks to Peter Yearsley and Peter Hartt.
The Stranraer team now feature on the TVTOTF page, thanks to Sally from Stranraer.
Who remembers the wonderful monographs at the head of each chapter in "A School Mathematics Project" - a few of these are now available on site - if anyone sees any old copies of these in second hand bookshops, the webmaster would be interested. Of particular interest would be the one on Entropy subtitled Much satisfaction can be gained from kicking a large cardboard box down a flight of stairs (?Additional Maths 'O' level) - don't ask me how I remember this nor whether I remember any basic calculus!
There is now space for individual photos - past or present - if any of you wish to email a jpg to the the webmaster (and yes - grey streaks are all the rage!)
As the webmaster was not wishing to be remembered as "the guy that took the c**t out of Scunthorpe"!, automatic censorship of certain four letter words has now been discontinued for the message board.
The 2nd Grand Reunion is planned for November 2002 at the Greater Manchester Police Sports and Social Club, Hough End.
Likely date: Saturday 8 November.
Format will essentially be as 2001 with
Buffet Meal and bar.
Please let the webmaster
of any forthcoming year reunions
|Old Boys||Stripes in Magenta|
Andrew Hartnett < firstname.lastname@example.org > new email address
Phil Bentley < BenPhil4@aol.com >
Mike Headd < HeaddMike@aol.com >
Bernard Strong < BERNIESTRONG@AOL.COM
Chris Blaydon < email@example.com > changed email address
Mike Fox < firstname.lastname@example.org\par
Ray Hayes < ray.hayes@ssl-international
-this email address appears not to be correct>
Vincent Murphy < email@example.com >
Andrew Weaver < firstname.lastname@example.org > new email address
Garrick Williams < Garique@bellsouth.net
St John Plessington
|Looking Back||Stripes in Magenta|
28 March 1969
My dear Parents,
Please accept my thanks for all your kindness and for your very loyal and generous encouragement during the past Lent Term. The winter months have brought great difficulty to many of you. There has been bad weather, with its consequent effect on public transport and there has been sickness in many homes. It is time for a holiday but also time for me to congratulate you on your fortitude.
School holidays. The Easter vacation begins after school to-day, Friday, 28th March. We return to school on Tuesday, 15th April. The Whitsuntide holiday commences after school on Wednesday, 21st May.
Parents Evenings. There will be no more Parents Evenings during the remainder of this academic year. The series will, of course, begin again in the autumn. Perhaps it would be of interest if I were to list the Parents Evenings which have been held during the past term.
In addition, I have addressed the parents together in the Assembly Hall on the following occasions:-
Uniform Please accept my thanks for the very generous co-operation you have given to my request for uniformity in outdoor dress. I trust you will agree with me that our boys in their navy blue raincoats look smarter than ever. I hope also that you will agree that the time has come for complete uniformity. Now that the warmer weather is coming, it may not be necessary for our boys to wear raincoats every day, but I do ask that from now onwards their outdoor dress should be a raincoat. Hitherto, for special reasons, there have been a few cases of tolerance of non-uniform outdoor garments. May we now have complete uniformity?
The senior blazer will be delivered before the end of May. It may be worn as soon as it can be obtained by any of the boys the present forms 5G and M, and 4P, Q, X, Y and Z. (It may be worn from the summer of 1970 by the boys now in forms 4P and 3H,N and R if by then they have entered the 5th form.) Those who qualify to wear it now should place their orders now.
I hope you will, permit me to remind you of my request that trousers worn with school uniform should be grey. Perhaps you would consider the suggestion that since trousers get so much wear it might not be an extravagance for every boy to have two pairs of grey trousers for wear in school. Inevitably, a pair of trousers will sometimes need repair and I can no longer accept the practice of coming to school in brown, blue or check trousers with the excuse that the others are being repaired.
Organ Fund. I am profoundly grateful for your very generous response to the Organ Fund which was opened at this time last year. The Fund at present stands at £240, and again I am asking for £1 from the parents of every boy in the school. I think we shall soon be in a position to contract for the necessary loan. I know that the only kind of organ worth having may seem expensive, and many reputable schools do not possess an organ. All the same, I put it to you that the very best schools do have an organ in their Assembly Hall and organ music is a regular part of their assemblies and public solemnities. When you first attend one of our festivals in the school after the organ has been installed you will be glad to discover the additional splendour which it can impart and you will agree that this great school deserves this additional mark of greatness. I hope you will find it possible to send your son to school on the Tuesday of Low Weekwith 26/-d., i.e. 6/-d. for four dinners and £1 for the Organ Fund.
Solemn Dedication. On Thursday, 15th May, the Apostolic Delegate, the Most Rev. Hyginus Cardinale, will visit the school and impart to it Solemn Blessing and Dedication. Perhaps I ought to explain that this ceremony would have taken place earlier if the visit of the Apostolic Delegate had been feasible earlier. During that week the Apostolic Delegate will be paying his first official visit to our Diocese of Shrewsbury. Since this school is to have a long and glorious history, the time between its opening and this Solemn Dedication will seem to future historians to have been very short.
The Governors wish it to be known that parents are very welcome to attend the ceremony, and every effort will be made to accommodate all who are able to come, I must therefore ask you to complete the form at the end of this letter and return it to on the first day the new term.
Let me wish you every blessing of Paschaltide
APPLICATION FOR TICKET OF ADMISSION TO
SOLEMN DEDICATION CEREMONY
(Please note the the invitation is extended only to parents, it will not be possible to accommodate children other than the boys of the school.)
To the Rev, the Headmaster, St.Augustines Grammar School.
Reverend and dear Father,
I hereby request ____ ticket(s) of admission.
[Thanks to Niall Giblin for this letter]
A Christening and An Initiation!
Day 1 (06.09.65)
The day commenced with form registration. I was in 1N. Form Master, of course, Brennan. The register commenced, if my memory serves me right:-
Bayliss; Brennan; Dwerryhouse; Gaughan; Gaun; Giblin; Greenhalgh; Hardman ..
After form registration, we were then taken in class order to the first assembly which was then held in the library. The hall was still under construction/decoration for about a further six months. Fr. McGuiness (I dont use the name Spike for reasons which become clear below) was his charming self.
After assembly, we returned to the form room for our first lesson. Geography, since Brennan was the form teacher. My recollection is that we copied into our geog exercise book a map of the school and its environs. Homework that night was to colour in the map.
Second lesson was maths with Alan Shaw. The lesson started with his asking the question how did caveman count when they ran out of fingers? I was the stupid idiot who put his hand up and answered they used their toes. Shaw said that there was only one comedian in the class and that was him.
Morning break. I was walking in the playground with hands in pockets. I had my first fateful meeting with MacSweeney. For some reason he thought walking with your hands in your pockets was wholly unacceptable. I got the gripping handshake squeeze.
No further recollection for the rest of the day.
The following may have occurred on Day 2 or it may have occurred on Day 3. My best guess is that it occurred on Day 2.
Form registration and then taken to the library for assembly. Again we were taken in class order. Therefore I was sat next to Greenhalgh who was sat next to Hardman. We were about four rows from the front. The Rev. had still to enter. I was in full Jennings mode. I suggested to Greenhalgh and Hardman that the Rev. should have a nickname. There then ensued various suggestions. One of these was Spike. Who the actual author was, I cannot remember.
Spike made his usual grand entrance. We then had that bloody hymn (if Im not mistaken). Half way through Spike stops everything. Greenhalgh (or it may have been someone else) and I were laughing at Spikes singing. He told us to get out of the library. We did. Singing resumed. Shortly afterwards, someone else also got thrown out. After assembly ended, we each got the usual three lashings on the bottom from Spike. Somehow the name Spike seemed very appropriate. The name seemed to stick and the rest is history...
Upon reflection, Greenhalgh and I, and the other kid, may well have been the first to have received a thrashing at the school.
The irony is striking. Many of the previous entries made on this site have related to corporal punishment and the nature of the Rev.' s character. The fact that the name Spike resulted not merely because of his nose but because two 11-year-old boys were beaten and found the name Spike, with its connotation of violence, to be most apt (even if such thoughts may not have been spoken of at the time) gives one pause for thought. Therefore, at the very commencement of the school's life there was a collision between Spike, corporal punishment and these two 11-year-old boys which resulted in his having to live with the name Spike for the rest of his school life.
This almost leads one to believe in non-sentient entities. Vengence and all that. There again, thank God, we all went to a RC school and we don't believe in that sort of mumbo jumbo.
For some time it was the practice that during lunch the boys at each table would be required to sit on Spike's table at the end close to the entrance. In or about 1967, it was the turn of myself and the other boys at my table. During the course of lunch, he asked each boy at the table to say what were their own nicknames. We each then stated our respective nicknames. He then asked what was his nickname. There was a stony silence. He then said that he already knew it.
There is no such place as St Augustine's
There is no such place as St Augustine's. On Sharston Mount. Just outside Wythenshawe. It no longer exists.
This continued on-line community for a dead school is remarkable. It is singular. I know of no other example.
I am no great fan of SA. I have no inclination to call it affectionately `Gussies'. If I had kids, which I don't, I wouldn't send them there. Having said that I am no fan, I would also add that it was a singular experience. I doubt that any of us who passed through Sharston Mount were untouched by the experience. Those that went to St Ambrose, Alty Grammar etc went through a much more transferable experience, a much more shared experience with their contemporaries in other secondary schools.
SA was an eccentric one-off, governed by ideals that were pass even before senior staff took to proclaiming them.
As a regular correspondent on this board largely in the guise of the Kipper - I have made my views on the school very clear. Often through hyperbole, I have demonized certain aspects of the place. It is not something I intend to apologize for. However, I may have been nudged into extremity by the polarization of the experience of The Founders (aka Bunter Boys) in the 60's and their cousins in the 70's.
Looking back from the perspective of 2002, many of the bizarre aspects of SA have sinister overtones. There was certainly a cadre of staff who had unpleasant plans for their pupils. Many of these were otherwise very good teachers. The fact that much of this was obvious to us as 11 year olds, but went unrestrained by senior staff, raises many questions. None of which I intend to address.
I have been chiefly, but not solely, responsible for flagging up the different attitudes of the 60's launch crew and their 70's counterparts to their alma mater. As to how much this is a singular approach on my part, rather than an understanding of a shift in attitudes and behaviour is a question that others will, no doubt, answer.
However, I would maintain that there was a very real shift. The camaraderie demonstrated by the pre-70's crew is singularly lacking in their later counterparts. Last year's re-union was dominated - as is this board - by the 60's contingent. There is nothing wrong with that.
The 60's intake were pioneers, perhaps partners in a great and noble enterprise. In short, they seem to have bought into the spirit of it. In the 70's it was different. The machine was there. The system was there. We didn't grow into this environment; we inherited it.
The class of 75 was born into a very different environment than the class of 65. I was born in 1964. The first SA pupils would have been born in - what 1954? We had the Beatles, they had Tommy Steele. We had 20 years from WW2, they had 10. They had combatants for parents, we had non-combatants.
There was Englishness, a sense of pride, which prevailed then which has since been much dissipated. The best health service? The best police service? The mother of all parliaments? Yes, that is what we had in the 60's. Or at least so we believed. SA was lodged in those post-war-glory years, trapping in aspic an idealized cross-fertilization of public and state schools.
It is impossible to consider SA as an institution without considering the Monsignor, the architect of the whole thing. To this day I consider certain of his employees as unfit to be at large in the community, but I don't have it in me to think the same of Frank McGuiness, prelate of Rome.
He was undoubtedly mad.
Even before the booze took him. Perhaps the booze only took him when his madness was no longer embraced, I don't know. The charisma was remarkable - even when he was obviously pissed, he was respected, admired, perhaps even loved. Somehow he managed to engender in many of us, a craving for his approbation. Who gave a fuck if they let down little Eric Morris? Who didn't give fuck if they let down Spike?
The land and the king were one.
There was a collective madness that enveloped SA. Whether it was the annual letters to the Monsignor, the unacknowledged homosexual cadre that winked knowingly at each other across the desktops or the bizarre traditions (were we the only school in Wythenshawe to have a Hilary term?), it was there.
Spike's eccentricity, sheer energy and results carried him through the sixties and early seventies. The comprehensive move killed him. Maybe it was meant to. It was certainly meant to curtail him. The late 70's saw an establishment out of control - a rogue alcoholic headmaster, an eccentric and undisciplined staff (not universal admittedly) and a tone that was deeply out of step with the times. I also wonder about the quality of the intake. Spike was an obviously arrogant and ambitious individual. His desire for Oxbridge places was apparent from the day you got off the 371/44. I think the sixties intake generated more lawyers, doctors etc than the 70's ever did. His naked ambition was not popular with the education authority. How to deprive him of his success? Deprive him of his raw material. Us.
I didn't apply to SA. I applied to Saint Ambrose and ended up at Sharston Mount. An educational edifice with the positioning of SA should have been in a position to take only `first choice' candidates. In fact, all of the brightest from my primary school went to Ambrose's. Those of us that were admitted to SA were in that shadow land between the truly thick and the truly gifted. I wonder, if any other former pupils went through a similar process.
The result was that a number of inappropriate candidates, including myself, were grafted into a state school that was dominated by public school values and attitudes. There was no war; we were 11 after all. We accepted the status quo with all the acquiescence of those lumbered with national service a generation before. It was not until 1977 that it all fell apart.
I remember arriving at SA to discover the SJP announcement plastered on the main doors. Later it was rumored that Barry Thorpe had placed it there as an act of defiance. Comprehensive schooling, after all, would be the death knell of any Latin teacher's career.
SA went down faster than Spike's first gin of the morning. The staff abandoned the pupils with understandable speed. The bright new sixth forms of Loreto and Xaverian were little paradises compared to what SJP became.`Selectives stay behind, non-selectives head to registration' as the sublimely untactful Matthews frequently trumpeted, marking a period of swelling - and understandable indignation - on the part of the All Hallows intake against the diminishing numbers of the grammar school boys. The rump of the staff from the old SA couldn't have made the rump of the old grammar school boys more unpopular if they had tried. And perhaps they did.
New staff came in, but like the obnoxious Mooney, it was no longer about teaching. It was about crowd control. If you remember the book and TV series I CLAVDIVS, you will remember that Claudius appointed Nero to rule after him - both to make himself look good and to undermine the very idea of Emperors for ever - with the appointment of Mooney, Spike could have been accused of something similar. However, I very much doubt that the Monse had any say in Mooney's appointment.
As McGuiness had personified SA, so Mooney personified SJP. Mooney had no vision beyond crowd control. Oxbridge to Mooney was the means by which cattle crossed the M4. Mooney and co achieved the impossible; they made us sentimental for the old order. The old order for all its brutality (for the most part) had a mission to educate. SJP rapidly became the worst school in Manchester. And then ceased to be a school at all.
The dream was over. I suspect that the 75+ years had the worst of it. We were part of the waking dream. Never a true nightmare, perhaps, but, I suspect, a number of the earlier years never had to ride out that paradigm shift.
It was an education, but perhaps not in the way we anticipated.
If you lived as a child in the 40's, 50's, 60's or 70's, looking back, it's hard to believe that we have lived as long as we have...
As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags.
Our cots were covered with bright coloured lead-based paint. We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors, or cupboards, and when we rode our bikes we had no helmets.
We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle. Horrors.
We would spend hours building go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times we learned to solve the problem.
We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on. No one was able to reach us all day.
No mobile phones. Unthinkable. We got cut and broke bones and broke teeth, and there were no law suits from these accidents. They were accidents. No one was to blame, but us. Remember accidents? We had fights and punched each other and got black and blue and learned to get over it.
We ate cakes, bread and butter, and drank cordial, but we were never overweight...we were always outside playing. We shared one drink with four friends, from one bottle and no one died from this. We did not have Playstations, Nintendo 64, X-Boxes, video games, 65 channels on pay TV, video tape movies, surround sound, personal mobile phones, Personal Computers, Internet chat rooms ... we had friends. We went outside and found them. We rode bikes or walked to a friend's home and knocked on the door, or rung the bell, or just walked in and talked to them. Imagine such a thing. Without asking a parent! By ourselves! Out there in the cold cruel world! Without a guardian - how did we do it?
We made up games with sticks and tennis balls, and ate worms, and although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes, nor did the worms live inside us forever.
Footy and netball had trials and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't, had to learn to deal with disappointment.....
Some kids weren't as smart as others so they failed a year and were held back to repeat the same year. Tests were not adjusted for any reason.
Our actions were our own. Consequences were expected. No one to hide behind.
No speed humps!!
We didn't need house keys as the back door was always open and anyone daring to break in would be confronted by a neighbour!
The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke a law was un