I joined Price’s in 1963 and was in the first three-form intake, as a member of 2c. Our Form Master was “Ernie” Mollard (alias “Duck”), who also taught us Latin and RI. I well remember Form Assemblies on Fridays, at which we were sometimes required to read aloud from the Bible, always replacing “The Lord” with “Yahweh” at Ernie’s insistence and in direct contradiction to the Jewish practice of not pronouncing God’s name!
General Science with “Dome” Garton was something of a letdown to one who was expecting to make noxious gases and explosions: we were sent out to collect wild flowers! The following week, Dome presided over a huge pile of what I regarded as weeds, which had been brought in by the keener members of the class. He identified them all and in a subsequent test we were expected to be able to do so. I got my lowest ever mark for this, 3/40!
Dome was a rather cranky individual, but I think he had a kind heart underneath. He also seemed to have permanent nasal congestion (probably due to exposure to too many wild flowers). One pupil asked him the formula of Permutit, a water softener and Dome, as was his habit in the case of what he considered silly questions, informed the whole class that “this boy wants to know the formula of ber-mew-die-de.”
Another memorable incident in the lab that I heard about was when Dr Smith, the Head of Chemistry, turned his back for a moment and some of the boys thought it a good idea to empty a can of calcium carbide into a sink full of water and ignite the resulting acetylene gas – the flames shot up almost to the ceiling. Dr Smith, seeing what had happened, strode past the conflagration and without breaking his stride barked “I want that out when I get back” – and it was.
The Biology fridge would probably be regarded as a health hazard these days, being stuffed with dead animals and emitting a resultant pungent odour. It was presided over by Richard “Deadly” Hedley (alias “Raver”), “Rastus” Parfitt and “Lumby” Smith, whose strong Geordie accent was much imitated.
Tom Hilton reckoned that he had the loudest voice in Fareham, but I think Richard Hedley equalled him in volume.
Don Percival (“Percy”) was another character, who was a much better batsman than history teacher. He was a keen practitioner of “permanent detention”, instant corporal punishment and 7/10 for history essays. We had to use a classroom at the Harrison Road Secondary Modern School for a term due to space problems at Price’s and had Percy for double history (i.e. the whole afternoon) on Fridays. Percy often forgot his watch and one Friday we all put our watches 20 minutes fast, knowing he was almost certain to ask one of us the time. Sure enough, he did and we escaped early! We would have got away with it, but Percy met Eric Poyner while walking back to Price’s and the Head was definitely not amused. Percy had his own watch the following week.
Percy used to like telling us of his batting exploits along the lines of “When sir went in the score was 37-5, when sir was out for 146, 45 minutes later, it was 213-7.” I recall seeing him bat in a Staff v First XI match and he was actually very good, scoring very fast. I also recall “Hovis” Brown’s bowling run-up, which started at the boundary for his first three balls and shrank to less than half that distance for the rest of his spell.
Ron “Acker” Boote was in charge of music. He had built the school stereo system himself and had a collection of “superb recordings,” which, when scratched, caused him some considerable distress. I was the only trumpeter in the school orchestra (the alternative to the CCF) for a while, but was soon joined by several others, a horn player and a trombonist. Unfortunately, the brass section outnumbered the strings, which led to rather unbalanced performances until we borrowed some violinists from St Anne’s Girls’ School.
Another interesting musical experience occurred when Tom Hilton supervised us viewing a music programme on TV featuring Peter Maxwell Davies in rather twitchy form discussing Schoenberg’s “Pierrot Lunaire”. The music itself was too much for Tom who muttered “That’s enough of that rubbish” as he switched channels and found, to his delight, test match cricket.
Ted Light was a character from my early years at Price’s and taught us English. He liked to perch on the teacher’s desk and stroke his moustache, as we read aloud from a set book. The one I remember was “The Autobiography of a Super-tramp” by W. H. Davies (still available), about a Welshman who travelled the US as a hobo. For some reason, Ted pronounced autobiography as auto-bee-ography, with a heavy emphasis on the third syllable. He retired when I was in the second or third year. Ted was regarded with some affection by the pupils and there was an audible sigh from the older ones when his death was announced some years later at assembly.
A D Alderson (“Ada”) taught us French and invented Franglais years before Miles Kington did. Each lesson we were exhorted to “take out your cahiers”.
“Buzz” Ellis taught RI and was frequently subjected to pupils blowing raspberries (“filthy lavatory noises”, as he put it) as he walked past. He was a good friend of Alan Glynne-Howell, who lived a few houses away from my grandmother and who often caught the same bus home as my brother and I did.
“Smudge” Smith taught us maths and always cleaned the blackboard with his gown. Pocket staplers became available at the time and we all inserted staples in his gown as he walked past – he never seemed to notice!
Overall, I found the staff to be very decent and well-intentioned. A few were inspiring teachers (John Chaffey springs to mind), others went through the motions and a very few were incompetent. Robin Ward has already covered much of the period I was at the school, which was a time of significant changes in society. I look back on it with affection.