Friday, 18 March 2011

Bang-on japes and wizard wheezes


The other day Rog posted a school photo, and in a sense we got two for the price of one because Dave happened to go to the same school, although there were a few years between them. I don't think anyone identified them without help.

There's mine up there, from more or less the same era. The same century, anyway. There were too few of us to justify the rolling camera they had at Rog's and Dave's place. Someone called Lionel Austin from Lee on Solent used to come every May to take ours, with that ancient sort of camera with sliding plates and a black fabric light-excluding hood for the photographer put over his head.

If you've nothing better to do you can find me in it. The only clue I'm prepared to give is that if you think the early, unspotted, vintage Chris is in the lowest row, 6th from the right, please consider that you may be mistaken.

I remember school photos of the Rog/Dave type. They were taken by a special camera that had to traverse the rows of several hundred kids in an arc in order to get them all in. It was a wheeze - actually, now I come to think of it, we used to say 'jape' - it was a jape for the lad on the extreme left, once the camera had started its arc, to nip round the back of the tiers of benches and tables to reappear on the extreme right, thus having his photo taken twice. Lad? I expect the ladettes of the time were just as much up for this kind of jape as the lads.

It wasn't so very different at dormitory fire drill. We had canvas shutes, tubes of canvas mounted on a hinged frame beneath the window sill. When the fire alarm sounded, the head of the dormitory had to open the window, lever up the apparatus and push the bulk of the canvas out of the window, so that it unrolled itself as it descended to the ground. To avoid being roasted alive and done to a crisp you had to climb into the canvas tube and slide down it, controlling your speed by pressing your knees, elbows and heels against the canvas. Wonderful fun for an 11-year-old. Legend had it that in some heroic age long past kids had managed to run back indoors and up the stairs through the supposed smoke and flames for another go. A wizard wheeze, as I suppose we might have said, a bang-on jape. Happy days.

15 comments:

Vicus Scurra said...

I can't find myself on any of my school photographs. I was away from school on the day that the 7th year pictures were taken. Such a loss to future generations.
I am very taken with the chap with the moustache. Is he real?

Rosie said...

I consider it to be sixth from the right, third row from the bottom. I swear these are the same teachers that were at my school. Isn't that Sidney Gidney and Soapy Joe Cordiner?

Rog said...

This is wonderful Christopher. Was the chap at the front a lab assistant? And who's the chap just behind him with lumps on his chest?

Is that you second row down, second from the right?

The bloke with the moustache attached to his nose and glasses didn't get the memo about folding arms, but he looks as though his hands were often in his "pockets".

Pip Pip old bean! Wot jolly japes!

Dave said...

I think you are the chap with the Moustache and glasses. You're sitting on the shoulders of Perkins minor.

Christopher said...

Vicus, this is very great shame. Could you not have reconstructed a Year 40 school photo at that reunion you told us about some time ago?

The chap with the moustache was real enough to have introduced to the general wonder a reel-to-reel tape recorder so vast that it needed all the 5th form to carry it about for him. I expect he kept the spare reels in his pockets. Rog may suspect otherwise.

Come, Rosie. Since apparently we were at school together I'm amazed that you confuse me with someone else, albeit his name was Goodbody.

Rog: Thank you. Yes, I was a handsome, clean-looking lad, pure in word, thought and deed. But not that one.

One lump or two? It makes all the difference.

Dave: Moustache? Yes, I did mature quite early.

Sarah said...

My dorm had the fire escape removed, after Matron sussed we had been nipping out to the pub etc etc after lights out. I think their may have been traffic the other way too. Not that I was aware, always kept the ear plugs in.

Christopher said...

They climbed up after the fire escape had been removed, Sah? Sounds like Incey Wincey Spiderman.

Vicus Scurra said...

Christopher. You naughty boy. My reunion pictures are all available on facebook.

Rosie said...

All right then, fourth left third row from the top.

Christopher said...

Vicus: Ah. Facebook = Closedbook.

*shakes head, sighs*

Rosie: Such a well-informed and intelligent guess.

Devastatingly good-looking.

Self-assured.

Debonair.

Personable.

Dashing, even.

Only this chap was called Rupert Beaumont. What else?

Z said...

I used to be a dog, you know.

My mother, worried that my sister and I slept on the top floor of a tall house, bought some sort of canvas fire escape. We never saw it in action, even in as a try-out, because she was really quite protective and didn't have much faith in our ability to hang on as we slid down 50 feet or so. She was probably right, we were both terribly clumsy. Wink still is, in fact. I'm just cack-handed.

I think you all look delightful. Is that Michael Gove, bottom row on the extreme left?

Cynthia said...

The serious lad in the front row, fourth in from the left, looks as if he's pondering philological problems, so I'm sure that's you, Christopher. There is a quiet dignity about him that is unusual for his youth.

Christopher said...

I'm wondering what breed of dog you were, Z. So far a cairn terrier - saluki cross comes to mind. In a reverse situation that you'll be familiar with, the soul of Laura migrated into an otter. However, we didn't have a school otter. Perhaps we otter have done.

*tries hide in cupboard, finds Dave already installed, believing he is going to the moon*

Cynthia! Such a well-informed and intelligent guess.


Good-looking.


Well groomed.


Soulful.


Introspective.


Sensitive.

Only this chap was called James Perowne. He became a submariner, a risky occupation for the out-going.

Anonymous said...

It's a fabulous photo as such of its ilk goes. So bright, so cheery in what must be the summer sun it seems to me. Who cares who they all are being completely homogeneous with that lovely retriever dog.

Anonymous said...

...no doubt the retriever with a wet nose and most of the sitters wet behind the ears. Lol