Tom Bird writes:

Tom Bird recalls Ron Garton but also includes photos from a Duke of Edinburgh's trek to Petersfield...
"Here are a couple of photos of the Duke of Edinburgh expedition to darkest Petersfield, in 1965? That's another story!""

From left to right, Mike Bayliss, Tom Hilton, Patrick Nobes and Ron Garton taken on the final get-together at the Park Lane site in 1989 before demolition and redevelopment.

Dear Michael.

I see that the SOP site grows apace!

I'm not surprised at the interest in Mr. Garton, I'm sorry I just couldn't bring myself to calling him Ron, or even Ron Garton! He was a fascinating character, that in a funny kind of way I am quite fond of.

I arrived at Price's in 1960 along with F.E. (Francis) Thomas from Castle St. Junior School in Portchester. F.E. was a very bright boy and my friendship with him was pivotal in that I worked hard to try to keep up. He also had a wicked sense of humour and was fascinated by Mr. Garton. F.E. was an excellent mimic,and I wasn't too bad either. We quickly picked up on all the mannerisms on offer from all the staff, especially in the chemistry lab on the first floor.

With baited breath we waited for the inevitable It's your job to do these know these things ...etc. It got so bad that one day when the great words were spoken I burst into brief but loud hysterical laughter, went purple in the face no doubt, and tried to pretend I had a particular interest in the bottle of conc. sulphuric acid in front of me, while there was a long and deafening silence in the room. He just carried on after a while, I felt so guilty.

Another gem was his routine with a gas jar of oxygen, which with a great flourish he would open...You can rekindle a glowing splint!... he would declare in triumph. I sadly forget his routine with hydrogen, but I do remember his best joke...

I don't remember precisely how it went, but the essence of it was that it concerned a cup of tea. This cup of tea was fortnight tea...long theatrical pause while boys scratch their heads... and again in triumph he would declare...It's too weak!

F.E. and I produced a spoof newspaper in our third year called ..THE FACTS... a tabloid based on the Mirror and the News of The World. He wrote the vast majority of it, fictional fantasies about particular members of staff, but the starring role was to go to Mr. Garton, of course. The story about him was illustrated by a drawing of the top of his head emerging through smoke and fumes, based on the famous photo of St. Paul's in the blitz, and I believe this may have been the origin of the nickname Dome Head shortened to...THE DOME.

Well my handwriting was better than his so I copied out his prose. It was passed around boys and of course was soon confiscated by a master. I was convinced that I would be expelled before the end of the day, for they would quickly recognize my handwriting, but nothing happened. Some days after, another master , it may have been Mr. Mullard was seen sniggering at this libelous rag hidden inside his class notes, whilst we were all getting on with writing something during a class. No more ensued, but I wonder what circulation it had achieved amongst the staff?

Whilst we were in 5R, F.E. Thomas produced a slightly less libelous newspaper called Remnants from the Remove, that would have been 1965, certainly predating The Black Lion.

Perhaps you might like to add these things ( It is, after all, your job to do these things) to the site.

Best wishes
Tom Bird.