Today’s advent picture is again of the Regent Street Lights from December 1963, showing yet another differently coloured central star. I think there were none exactly the same.
The early picture of me that I worked on this morning is not a ‘through the ages’ one. I was actually looking in my old print file for one of those, but Elizabeth still has the originals from which she produced an album for Mum and the later digital set for me. She’s only had them for twenty years, so I must be patient.
The forgotten treasure I did find is a Wimbledon College school photograph from about 1956. It has enabled me to illustrate posts featuring Richard Millward, in the centre of the picture’s front row, and Tom McGuinness, fourth from the right in the rear tier from the viewer’s perspective. I stand on the far left of the middle row, with an expression that I clearly didn’t think too flattering at the time my sister raided my album for Mum’s 70th birthday set. I have retained the creases across the image, because they add some authenticity to the period. The print probably came home stuffed into a satchel.
Certain further memories came to mind when perusing this image. Iain Taylor, standing on the far left of the bench supporting the back row, was the captain of the Under Fourteens cricket team who secured me my first matches. Being a friend of mine he asked the headmaster, who rejoiced in the wonderfully appropriate name of Father Ignatius St Lawrence, S.J., to give me a trial for the team. I had never played before, but Iain got me to bowl a few balls in the nets and seems to have been impressed. With ‘Iggy’, as the head was predictably known to the boys, standing as umpire I was instructed to send my nervously delivered missives down to the team’s best batsman. I bowled him four times before Iggy had seen enough. One of these dismissals was with a deliberate slower ball that turned sharply from the off, that is opposite the batsman’s legs, side of the pitch and hit the middle stump. The deviation was probably caused by the ball striking an extraneous object when it landed. Turning to me at the end of my spell, Iggy asked: ‘Did you mean the off-break?’. ‘Yes, father’, was my coolly delivered reply. All priests were of course our fathers. I was in. Later, out of earshot of anyone else, I asked Iain: ‘What’s an off break?’.
Fifth from the viewer’s left at the back of the picture, stands a lad I cannot feel so smug about. This is Vaughan, whose first name escapes me. He was my partner in my first year at the College. Partner was a definite euphemism for what I now consider to have been a rather cruel incentive scheme. Boys were sat in pairs throughout the year. At the end of each term our marks for work were totted up and set against each other. The winners went on an outing called the ‘Victory Walk’. The losers stayed behind and wrote essays or something similar. I never went on a victory walk, and considering how hard I tried, with or without an incentive, that seemed decidedly vicious to me.
Not a very gifted academic, Matthew Hutchinson, the fifth boy from the left of the middle row, was the first person of whom I was truly envious. I can draw a bit, but Matthew was the most talented natural artist I had ever met. What I would have given for his free-flowing skill. I do hope he made something of it.
Now we come to the brains of the class. No-one could emulate the two who flanked Richard Millward, which is probably why they did. Gordon and Rogati came top in everything and I swear they didn’t even break into a sweat. Given their names I think my readers will have no difficulty in determining which is which.
Once the stepladder had been put away, we dined on Jackie’s chicken jafrezi and pilau rice which greatly enhanced the bottle of Isla Negra cabernet sauvignon reserva 2013 which I opened and from which I drank a couple of glasses.