Happy Days – Jocky Cunningham – The Terminator!
Summer of 1966
Here’s a little reminiscence from exactly forty years ago. I was a prefect at the old R.H.S. in the summer of 1966, marking time over my last few weeks as a schoolboy. The old building was picturesque, but full of nooks and crannies where small boys could, and would, get into mischief. With this in mind, there was a prefects patrol during the lunchbreak, when a pair of us would stroll languidly around the perimeter of the school, making sure that the normal sense of puerile anarchy was contained within reasonable bounds, and also to vaguely discourage The Smoking Club, whose members habitually gathered in the dungeons.
A Serious Assault
One day, John McNicol and I were doing the rounds as the bell rang for the end of the break; we were taking a cursory glance down one of the long stone staircases. Collapsed at the foot was a boy, in tears and bleeding profusely from the nose and from a bad cut over one eye. We ascertained that the boy had been beaten up by an older pupil, known to us as a singularly aggressive nutcase. This was serious. In those days the prefects operated as the N.C.O.s of the school; we wielded a remarkable degree of power, and were supposed to have our finger on the pulse. This was no schoolboy scrap – this was a serious assault, carried out on school premises, on our patch. The injured boy was taken to the office; John and I yanked the perpetrator out of class (yes, we really could do that) and he was brought to the office as well.
Jocky Cunningham, the Deputy Rector, appeared and took in the situation – the victim, eye swollen, shirt and blazer soaked in blood, being attended to by Jennifer Moody. Somebody else ‘phoning for an ambulance, and the boy who did it lounging up against the wall, looking rather pleased with himself. Jocky turned to the attacker, did his famous narrow-eyed stare with mouth slightly open, and spoke one word, “Why?” The boy, exuding maximum dumb insolence, then made his mistake – he stared back at Jocky and shrugged. Jocky’s back-hander caught him full on the side of the face, emitting a loud smack, and whipping his head back onto the wall. I’ve never forgotten the look on his face. His legs buckled and he slid to the floor. Jocky left to meet the ambulance at the gate. I know, I know, it was wrong, it was indefensible, and in today’s world Jocky Cunningham would probably have faced the sack, and possibly a criminal prosecution: but I’ll tell you this, at the time it seemed exactly the right response, and when the story got round the school, Jocky was afforded the maximum (to use today’s parlance) RESPECT!
Inglesby (nickname Arnold)
Anyone remember a maths teacher called Inglesby (nickname Arnold) at R.H.S. around 1963-’65? He was English, from somewhere oop north as I recall, ruled the roost in Room 1 (that little one all on it’s own down at the front of the school on Regent Road) and wielded a belt that was rumoured to have broken some gyte’s little finger! He had this catchphrase:- “I shall move amongst you laddies, and there’ll be nothing left but a little pile of dust on the ground!”
Another golden memory:- Picture Flossie Duncan, also a maths teacher, and possessing a very noticeable retrusive “R”,asking one Alan Aithie to define a parallelogram. Aithie, scenting blood, replied “A pawawewogwam is a quadwiwatewal with opposite sides equawl and pawawewl.” Flossie, bless her, had NO chance; we were teenagers, and we showed no mercy. Interestingly though, I can still remember what a parallelogram is.
Happy Days – 1967 Mock Election
A Win For the Liberals
On a sunny day last July, the Rector gave his permission for a mock election, the first for three years, in the constituency of Calton Hill.
The result of the mock election is history: Robin Forrester-Paton won for the Liberals with a substantial majority; Simon Card followed for the Conservatives. Contrary to general expectation, Colin Robertson, the Scottish National Party candidate managed only third place. As everyone expected, Willy Dudgeon, the Labour candidate, was last.
The political implications of the election are not too great, however, as the election was in its final stages more like a public pillory than the due and proper election of one of Her Gracious Majesty’s Members of Parliament.
The election was decided, most properly, on personalities and campaigns. It was in this field that Forrester-Paton had a great advantage: he had a larger and more talented organisation than any of his rivals. The campaigns started with Robertson being hunted down for S.N.P. badges. While his finances stood up to supplying the goods, his life was one long flight from an attendant mob of importunate gytes.
The spotlight then fell on Card who made his effort in the badgesticker world. The last word in the badge war came from Forrester-Paton who wore a Young Liberals badge. He could not produce many more official party badges, and so his followers went round stealing Young Conservative and S.N.P. badges to be converted in the Liberals’ sweated labour factory. As in most phases, Dudgeon made no attempt to keep up with his more exhibitionist opponents.
It was at this point that Forrester-Paton began to gain the upper hand, Robertson, the early favourite, having given away all his badges, had very little in the way of posters or gimmicks to keep the votes he had gained. On the other hand, F.P. was on the up and up. He had timed his effort well and was producing a stream of effective if not intellectually sound, propaganda. Card, however, was still running quietly and efficiently despite F.P.’s allegations about his intelligence.
When the rather belated election week arrived (a fortnight after the beginning of the campaigns), all the candidates nevertheless, faced the final horrors with some degree of enthusiasm. The speeches in the yards were popular both with the extremists and with the anarchists, who all took great delight in the Aunt Sally stall. This was the best guide to who would win the election, viz.: W. Dudgeon was pelted, and Forrester-Paton emerged almost unscathed, although very little of the speeches was actually heard above the catcalls, organised booing and heckling.
On polling day, it was Simon Card who nearly stole the show by arriving in great style: tail coat, tile hat, and horse-drawn carriage – all this, no doubt to underline one of the Tory policies: Money Talks. The candidates’ final speeches were almost an anticlimax. Mr Dudgeon made an uninspired, hopeful appeal for support for his hero Harold, whom he aped in his Gannex raincoat and unlit pipe. Mr Card made a firm, if not over-meaningful speech. But Mr Forrester-Paton, produced a stirring oration of some literary and political merit. So much so that Mr Robertson’s speech, which followed, even if it had been a good one, was doomed to bathos. As it was, it was disappointingly vague and insipid, and bored the audience to jeers.
When the result was announced, the number of spoiled ballot-papers suggested that the candidates would have been more profitably employed teaching certain members of the constituency to write.