A Backward Glance
SCIENCE HAS made many fine advances in the field of physical and mental health but there is one 'disease' for which she has no
answer reminiscence! That dreadful ailment which causes man to be continually looking back at his past. For example, when two
G. O. B.s meet after a long interval their subject of conversation will invariably revolve around the old school days and many an
hour can be spent in this way. When the present writer visited some old school friends recently and then spent a day at Goldings
it was inevitable that his mind should revolve around his days within its grounds.
It was January, 1948, when about 16 new boys arrived at the School, among them a rather shy lad from New Lodge, Windsor.
To say the least my first impressions of Goldings were rather frightening. Everything seemed so much bigger, and rougher, than I
had been used to. The building was so much bigger, the dining hall was so much bigger, the dormitories were so much bigger,
and the senior lads seemed to tower over one. I can still hear the voice of (so it seemed to me) a huge coloured prefect, McKinney,
bellowing orders across the dining hall during my first meal.
What memories crowd into one's mind of those early years. Mr. Williams was then Executive Officer and was responsible for
discipline. Naturally a bad tempered lad had many brushes with this austere representative of law and order, and many a Saturday
afternoon was spent in scrubbing floors (e. g. the passage from the hall to the kitchen) on one's knees, as a punishment. Heart
breaking work on a summer's day!
What conditions in those days! The washing facilities consisted largely of long troughs along which we all lined up. The baths
were primitive showers which varied in usefulness and one had to fight to obtain a good spray. With about 20-30 boys under the
showers at the same time many missiles (soap) flew in the direction of bare bodies. Nor could one be sure of the right temperature
of the water. with Mr. Moon at the controls there would be cries of 'Hot', but the hot was invariably too hot and the cold was
invariably too cold. I desist from an attempt to describe the lavatories. What a difference today!
But the era was not without its consolations. Good behaviour brought rewards! I don't know whether this might be termed a form
of bribery? The finest of these rewards was a slap-up feed for the best house. A system of points awarded against one, and
consequently against one's house, showed which house had the best behaviour for the month. Of course this meant that a lad
making points against his house would become very unpopular. The feast itself was often observed by members of other houses
who pressed their grimy noses against the dining hall windows whilst the feast was in progress. Shades of Oliver Twist!
The mention of food reminds me of another event worth mentioning. Food was not as plenteous as nearly 200 hungry lads would
have liked. Such a situation provided a good 'black market' for some of the less scrupulous of the senior lads who were responsible
for serving out the food. The prices, as I recall them, were 2d. spot cash or 3d. on Friday for a 'ginner and marg'. Prices for other
commodities escape me. Hungry boys paid up and I have known racketeers to make as much as 15/- to £i in a week. In fairness I
ought to add that this eventually came to the attention of the representatives of the law and the practice was stopped.
My own progress in the School was not without difficulties. There were many trials in those early years and one attempt to run
away which ended the same day that it began with four (or was it six?) strokes of the cane administered on various parts of the
anatomy. The Headmaster will recall on another occasion a rather tear-stained lad asking when he could leave the School.
But these were but 'growing pains' and there are many happy memories. How can I soon forget the friendship of my housemaster,
Jack Johnston? Or the patience of Mr. Millar and the printing staff? Or the encouragements of Mr. Moss and Mr. Fogg, and later
Mr. Blackmore, of the school teaching staff? The mention of these latter gentlemen reminds me of my greatest interest in the
school the stage. When I arrived at Goldings I soon joined the Drama group. It was the ambitious plan of Mr. Fogg to stage
Bernard Shaw's Androcles and the Lion, in which I was to play the leading female part, Lavinia. Fortunately for me this plan never
materialized. During those six years I have many memories of plays, sketches and even a pantomime which we staged, John
Langdon ever taking the leading comedy spot. His 'Widow Twankey' in Aladdin, and the Sergeant in Reluctant Heroes stand out
in my mind.
And so one could continue to reminisce but time does not permit. I ought to add, however, that I have also many memories
connected with the printing shop which have found no mention in the course of this article.
18th March, 1955 over seven years after entering Goldings and now it was my last day. Perhaps the words of Michael Smith
sum it up. As I smilingly said farewell to him he dryly asked, 'What, no tears?' No tears indeed, but undoubtedly many memories
which will remain with me for many years.
B. C. 1960