SELECTED EXTRACTS FROM [1]ERIC GILDER’S UNPUBLISHED [2]AUTOBIOGRAPHY (RELATING MAINLY TO HIS TIME AT BATTERSEA COUNTY SCHOOL AND SUBSEQUENTLY HENRY THORNTON SCHOOL)

 

 

On the first day of term we all assembled, as we had been bidden, at South Lodge; then, form by form, we were led through the grounds to the splendid newly completed buildings and into our form-rooms, where we sorted out who was going to sit where and we unloaded into our brand-new desks the contents of our satchels and other books that our form-master gave us.  In about half-an-hour a bell rang and we all trooped into the Hall, to be addressed by Headmaster Evans – now known to everybody as Taffy.

 

The Staff mounted to the stage first and made a line at the back; then Taffy made an entrance and went to the lectern in the centre.

 

Battersea County School, he told us, no longer existed.  It was moribund, defunct.  No longer would the maroon and blue of our old blazers and caps illuminate the streets of south-west London.  No longer would we sing, discordantly and incoherently, the old Latin School Song[3], and stop shuffling your feet, that boy at the back.

 

Instead, he continued, we were the advance guard, the standard-bearers, the initiators, the foundation stones of a great new school called Henry Thornton, and the world would tremble at the mention of our name.  Our colours were to be black and silver:  black blazers and caps, grey trousers, and silver badges.  We were to be divided into six Houses named after the six men who had been associated with Clapham and whose works had influenced the whole world – Cavendish, Cook, Macaulay, Pepys, Stephen and Wilberforce.  There was a slight murmur from us at this information, because we knew that there was a Macaulay Road and a Cavendish Road.  All Forms would contain a mixture of all six Houses, and we must labour hard because our individual successes would result in points for our House.  Our work must be competitive (which shows how terribly old-fashioned we were).

 

He then named about ten sixth-formers who were to be the Prefects for this year.  Until we all knew them personally, he said, we would recognise them because their caps would be velvet instead of cloth.  Two other boys were nominated as Captain and Vice-Captain, which brought a spontaneous burst of applause. They could be recognised because on their caps there would be tassels instead of buttons.

 

Taffy picked up a black-board pointer.  “On the wall behind me is the Honours Board.”  It was a beautifully carved slab of oak, bearing above it a carved version of the new school badge painted in black and silver.  It had eight panels, on the first of which about five names had been printed in gold lettering[4]. Taffy pushed his way through the Staff members and pointed to these names.

 

“We have started the Board with a few names of Old Boys from the old school.  This name you may know; it belongs to a politician who is mentioned frequently in the newspapers.  This one is of an Old Boy who has done outstanding work in research into Tropical Diseases, and this one has had his paintings hung in the Royal Academy.

 

”Our ambition is that your names – yes, the names of you boys standing in front of me now – shall eventually appear on this Board.

 

“We will start as we mean to go on.  Discipline” – and if he mentioned such a dirty word nowadays he would probably be sacked on the spot – “discipline will be the same as it always was.  In term time no boy may be seen on the streets without his uniform, and any boy seen without his cap at any time outside the School premises is liable to get a heavy Imposition.  Bicycles must be ridden on the road, never on the pavement.  Boys will stand up when a master enters the room.  There must be no running along the corridors.  If a master or a Prefect reports to me that any boy has been seen smoking, that boy is liable for immediate expulsion from the School.”

 

And so on and so on.

 

A week later I was summoned to Taffy’s study.

 

To this very day, if I have to interview a Headmaster in his own study, even if he is younger than I am, my knees go a little trembly from force of habit.

 

“What is your homework for tonight?”

 

I told him.

 

“Well, don’t do it, and tell your form-master that I said so. Instead, write a new School Song.”

 

Just like that.

 

From that day onwards, and for evermore, every new boy to the School, on the first day of his first term, is compelled to fork out the sum of one shilling that goes to the Sports Fund for the purchase of the Henry Thornton School Song, “Onward, Ye Thorntonians”, written and composed by E.G. Gilder, printed and published by Novello[5].

 

I had thrown my first small stone into the still pool of immortality.

 

Telling my story to my daughters, they interrupted at this juncture to ask, “What about the girls?”

 

“What girls?”

 

“”The girls in your form.”

 

“There weren’t any girls in our form.”

 

They looked at me in amazement.[…]

 

My daughters shook their heads sadly. I must have had a very deprived childhood.

 

Taffy’s speech inspired us all.  We threw out little chests out, proud to be the precursors of generations of other boys who, like us, were proud to be Thorntonians.

 

Alas, I am not proud today.  It is inevitable, when writing an autobiography, that one must sometimes hop backwards and forwards in time. I must jump forward now, and say that I am no longer proud of being an Old Thorntonian. I tend to keep quiet about it.

 

A couple of years ago I was asked to conduct an operatic concert given by a group that had for the purpose hired the theatre at Henry Thornton School.  South Lodge was no longer there, nor were the lawns and bicycle-sheds in front of it. Instead, there was a building that might equally have been an office block, a modern church or a factory.

 

I arrived just as the boys were coming out of school, and I have rarely seen a scruffier lot of urchins.  Some still wore the school blazer, buttoned every which way, but there were few caps to be seen.  A fleet  of bicycles filled the pavement and blocked the entrance, and among them were two motorbikes.  Boys were bashing each other up with their satchels and there was a battle-field near the kerb.  Boys were dashing across the busy main road of South Side, just a few yards from a pedestrian crossing, regardless of their own lives and those of drivers.  Three boys were being rebuked by a teacher, and they were loudly swearing back at him.

 

I managed to push through the crowd and into the entrance hall of the school, and caught my breath with amazement.  It was a beautiful piece of architecture, splendidly decorated with ceramic tiles and lighting concealed behind most artistic stained glass. Unfortunately, the walls and tiles were covered with graffiti and many of the stained-glass figures had been smashed, the woodwork scuffed and scored with pen-knives.  The theatre which lay immediately beyond must have cost a fortune, an all-purpose construction that could also serve as concert-hall, lecture hall and cinema.  Since nobody stopped me, I found my way back-stage and saw great batteries of lights in the battens, and a lighting board that would be the envy of  many West End theatres.  By comparison, the old Hall that I had known was little more than a barn, serving also as an examination room and, with the rib-stall fixed to the walls and ropes hanging from the ceiling, as a gymnasium.  But even this fine new theatre had been uglied.

 

Down a short corridor was the gymnasium, with more equipment than the athletes who were my contemporaries could ever have dreamed about.  Then I was out of the back of the building and into what remained of the grounds.

 

I walked past the tennis courts which were still there, and there was the old School, the place in which I had been a schoolboy, on which I had last looked forty years ago[6].   And before me stood the building that had been brand new  when first I saw it but had now been superseded by the monstrosity in front.  I stood for a while, gazing and remembering, then went through the door into the small entrance hall.

 

The last time I had been there was over forty years ago.  Soon after I had left school I went back there again  to teach violin to a class of boys after hours.  I was also a member of the Old Boys’ Association, but both these activities lapsed when my work took me out of London.  Later still, when I was instructor to the London County Council Evening Institutes, I trained choirs and orchestras there, and produced plays and amateur operatic performances, and continued doing so until the outbreak of War. I had never been back there since.

 

The door to the left of the entrance hall had been Taffy’s study and that on the right the office of Mr Bennetton, the School Secretary. I pushed open the swing doors ahead of me and entered the big, empty Hall.

 

The Honours Board was still where it had always been, on the wall behind the platform.  Year by year new names had been entered since my time, carefully printed with gold paint.  Some names I recognised, either of my contemporaries or of later boys who had made some considerable mark upon the world.  Then suddenly, in 1961, the list stopped.  Five panels still remained, sightless and sad and empty.  Why, I wondered? Had no boy since that time been worthy of Honour?  Had some brilliant Educationalist deemed that competition was a Bad Thing, anti-social, and setting a good example was unmoral?  Or was it that the powers who had spent millions of pounds on the great new building had no money left to buy a small bottle of gold paint?

 

Somewhere on the list, way back, I saw my own name[7].

 

I did not enjoy the concert that night.

 

But in my day, we thought it was the greatest school in the whole world, though we admitted that Eton and Harrow were quite good schools, too.

 

A large part of the quality of a good school is in its staff; and although I had some un-favourites among my teachers I must admit that they were excellent. I remember better, of course, the teachers of subjects that interested me more.

 

Mr Spofforth, otherwise known as “Pop”,  taught History in such a boring way that it became one of my not-good subjects.  I have since learned to love History, becoming myself a music historian, a subject on which I have lectured and written.  For pastime, I love the history of London.

 

Little round Len Cundall was quite a different matter, making Geography a living thing.  We respected him even more because the text-books we used were indeed written by himself.  My own liking for him was influenced by the fact that he played the piano for the hymns at Assembly and for certain items in the school concerts, and he did not play very well.  I felt sorry for him, because he tried very hard.

 

Mr Small, the Physics master, was not very impressive, being as small as his name, with shockingly bad teeth and bad breath.  I got on well in his class, not because of his personality but because I enjoyed the subject so much.  On the other hand I cannot even remember the name of the Chemistry master because, though I liked the theoretical side, I did not like working in the lab.  I was always afraid of acid spilling and burning my hands, or of something blowing up in my face. I had seen one or two small accidents happen, and the more scared I was the less good at the subject I became.

 

Ma Earp, the junior Maths mistress, never appeared in class without wearing her academic gown.  She was the only one to do this, though I knew that all the other members of the Staff possessed them.

 

The senior Maths master, Mr Taylor, was a much more interesting character.  He was known to all, even, I discovered, to the rest of the Staff, as “Quesh”.  This was due to his habit of saying, “Look at the question. boy, look at the question”.  He was very small and thin, with immensely thick lenses in his spectacles. It appeared that at one time he had been a famous athlete and a Cambridge Rowing Blue, but a serious accident had robbed him of all this and ruined his eyesight.  Nevertheless, there was one vestige of his old prowess still remaining.  He would be writing complicated formulae on the blackboard, peering at it so closely that his nose almost rubbed out his chalk marks. Then he would say, “Stop talking, that boy in the fifth row, third from the left”.  How on earth did he know?   Were those thick lenses also mirrors?  But if the miscreant continued talking he would suddenly  move with amazing speed, spin round from the board, and his piece of chalk would hit the offender bang on the nose!  Out of sheer curiosity, boys would sometimes talk on purpose, wondering if Quesh would choose the wrong boy, or if his aim would go astray.  Yet never once did he miss.

 

The English teacher was Mr Morgan, another Welshman; but since we could not have two Taffys in the school he was always called Mr Morgan. He liked me because I was best in the Form; and I liked him because I suspected that he was a frustrated actor.  It was fun deliberately to quote a line of Shakespeare wrongly, because then he would rise in wrath and recite the whole speech in grand  declamatory tones, each word rolling off his Welsh tongue as though it were a precious jewel.  He took the whole form on visits to the theatre.  We went to the Old Vic to see Ernest Thesiger play King Lear, a performance so electrifying that even the Philistines among my fellows were silenced.  On another occasion we saw R C Sherriff’s marvellous “Journey’s End”, from which it took us all a long time to recover.

 

Of the teachers of French and Latin I remember nothing whatever, not even the names.  It was no surprising about the Latin teacher because, apart from Latin being the root for studying French, Italian and Spanish, I could see no use for it. Once we had a young trainee French girl teacher in for a week or two to teach us conversational French, but she was so beautiful and supremely attractive that we learned no French whatever.

 

Music was not a school subject, so my researches on this subject were entirely my own. I was not the only pianist in the school.  In my Form there were the twins named Bryant who played very well, specialising in playing duets with four hands on one piano and performing at every school concert.  They brought into my orbit some music I had not heard before, the popular music of the day.  I knew the lovely light tunes from the musicals in which Dad had appeared, but now  heard such things as “Begin the Beguine” by Cole Porter.  The boys played other current tunes, like “Two Sleepy People” and “Lazybones”.  I was a bit of a musical snob, and  was inclined to dismiss these fripperies and the kind of popular music they called “Jazz”, but I had to admit that there were some good tunes and unusual rhythms to set your toes tapping.  Today I have the reputation for being a very good jazz pianist; I will play whatever my poor  befuddled public will pay me to play, be it jazz or a concerto. After all, it needs the same number of fingers, although the approach is very different.  In order to survive one must be versatile these days.  I know several singers who are singing their hearts out every night at Covent Garden; come 10.30 at night they go to their dressing-rooms, scrape off their make-up, put a new lot on, then go down to the Jazz Club  where they will sing for an hour, with a different voice that is all dark brown and sexy, and earn more money for that hour than they have done for their whole week’s work at Covent Garden.  Nothing is sacred nowadays.

 

Mr Morgan edited the school magazine, “The Thorntonian”, a well-produced terminal publication with good print and strong glossy paper, in which I was a regular contributor.  My efforts were accepted, not because they were necessarily the best but because they were almost the only ones.  I have since learned that trying to get people to write something for you is like trying to get over-paid money back from the Tax Collector.

 

Mother said that I  wrote those poems and things just to show off, but that was not the case at all. I would have written them anyway, because that is the kind of boy I was.  Only one item was written specially for the magazine, a somewhat fictionalised description of all my troubles when I was confined to bed with mumps. It was intended to be funny, since at that time I was under the influence of Jerome K  Jerome, and apparently it was, because for some time after that the Staff would unexpectedly smile at me when they passed me, and even Ma Earp, who had never evinced the slightest glimmerings of a sense of humour, stopped me in the street to say, “Highly amusing, Gilder, highly amusing”. […]

 

           

A cardinal sin was Unpunctuality, a subject at which I was very good, resulting in several 100-line impositions and, once, the can from Taffy.

 

The cane across the palm of the hand stung like hell, but within a couple of hours one had forgotten all about it.  For more heinous crimes one’s name was put in the Book, and that was the most dreadful thing that could happen, second only to the ascent to the scaffold.  One felt that for the rest of one’s life the finger of scorn would be pointed, and to the end of one’s days the police would look at one suspiciously.  Fortunately for myself I achieved no such criminal record.  But Taffy still caned me.

 

I went to his study and timorously held out my hand.  Taffy said, “Stop playing the fool, Gilder.  You are a pianist.  Bend over.”  He gave me three hard ones on my bottom, then we discussed the programme for the forthcoming school concert.  

 

There was one time when no boy was rebuked for being late, and that was during the General Strike.  The drivers of all trains, trams and buses stopped work, as did everybody else except school-children and people who wanted to make money. I am sure that many books have been written about the awfulness of the General Strike, but to school-children it was merely an amusing interlude in the dull academic routine.

 

Boys who lived near the school were hardly inconvenienced at all, but it was quite a long walk from Tooting right through Balham to Clapham.  With scholastic fervour I decided to get up at dawn.

 

That first morning was a revelation to me.  The sky was cloudless, and I saw both the sun and the moon at the same time.  The low sun reached through the light mist and warmed me,  and in our road the privet hedges were jewelled with dew.  On the High Road the shops still slept behind closed eyelids, and some of the drains snored slightly.  The little horses drawing the early bakers’ and milkmen’s carts went by on tip-toe.  There was so much more to see and hear when there was so much less to see and hear.  I made an oath that I would get up every morning at that magical time.

 

I did, for three days.  On the fourth day it was raining like the devil, and from then on I have made a point of getting up at the latest possible moment, if not later.

 

In any case it turned out that my early rising was unnecessary, for soon the roads were bustling with vehicles of every description bulging with people being taken to their places of work or study, to keep the wheels of industry or scholarship turning.  Everything on two, three, four or six wheels turned out to help.  I went to school on the back of a coal cart and crammed with eight other people into a Daimler saloon driven with great expertise by a very ancient lady.  A few buses that had not been locked into their garages had been commandeered and were being driven by soldiers or students.  Bus-stops were ignored, people were picked up or put down wherever it was required, and there were no conductors to collect fares.   Once six of us, including five adults, supported each other on top of a motor-cyclist’s sidecar, making him drive in a most erratic way till we reached the foot of Balham Hill, when we all got off and pushed.  Everybody shouted vulgar things to everybody else, and it was all great fun.  […]

 

With my reputation for unpunctuality it is incredible that for the whole length of the General Strike I was not once late for school.

 

But, strike or no strike, I rarely came home early from school.  This was in the main due to my extra-curricular activities.  Each House at school had its Chess team, and our House, Macaulay, was top, earning valuable points for us.  On top of this there was the school Chess Club, part of a London-wide Chess League, and this required that we must sometimes go to other schools for Chess, tea and rock-cakes, and sometimes the schools were a long way away; or else the other schools would visit ours, in which case we supplied the tea and rock-cakes.  I was vice-captain, second board of our team of six, and it took up a deal of my time.

 

I was also in the school Debating Society.  I had no strong views on anything, was not interested in politics and could not understand half the things the sixth-formers were gassing about; but whatever I said I said very well, and quite as incomprehensibly as the six-formers.  […]

 

When I went back to school I was in the Upper Fifth[8].  This school year, I knew, was going to be a trying one, because of the crucial examinations at the end of it.

 

The examination system then was not the same as it is today.   One sat for the General Schools Certificate.  I do not know the level of marking, but let us say  that one required 60% as a pass mark.  One had to pass in five subjects in order to gain the certificate; of the five, English, Maths and one foreign language were compulsory, the others to the candidate’s choice.  There was no limit [to] the number of subjects one could take, though one had to balance the possibilities of scraping through in many to doing well in the few.  If one could achieve, say, 75% in six subjects, then one was deemed to have passed Matriculation, which can best be described as an entrance examination to a university. The university in the case of our school was London.  

 

After passing either level one could then spend another two years in the Sixth Form, one in the Lower and one in the Upper.  Those who had attained only the Schools Certificate could study for the Higher Schools Certificate, but for many boys the General Schools [Certificate] had been their objective and they left school after that.  Those who had  passed Matriculation could, in two years’ time, sit for their Intermediate BA or BSc; they were in effect undergraduates and could, on passing, go on to university to take their finals.  The system was quite clear-cut, but I think the standards for pass marks were somewhat higher than those demanded for O and A levels today.  To go to one of the few universities was in those days a unique opportunity; today, with many new universities, it is comparatively commonplace.

 

So in the Upper Fifth I studies for my Schools Certificate, in  the hope that I might gain Matriculation, with which I could go into the Sixth Form and study for an Intermediate university degree. I worked on eight subjects, just to be on the safe side.  In fact, during the last term of that year, feeling pretty confident,  I decided to put in one more, Economics. It was a ridiculous thing to do, because other boys had been studying that subject since the Third Form.  To my astonishment I received over 75% marks for it, and have carefully avoided having anything to do with that boring collection of laws ever since.  I can only assume that the papers I submitted were so long and literary that the examiner became punch-drunk, saying, “Somewhere amongst all this verbiage he must surely have given one or two facts that I have not spotted, so I’d better pass him”.

 

Naturally a great deal of homework needed to be done, and to do it was not easy.  In warmer weather I could work upstairs in my bedroom, but that year winter started early and ended late, there were no electric fires, and we had not yet rediscovered the ancient Roman technique of central heating, so Marjorie and I had to work in our living-room, at the table in front of the coal fire.

 

Mother would command, “Get on with your homework!” and then start one of her interminable monologues, making concentration impossible.  When we remonstrated she would go all tight-lipped; she would swell visibly, as though a safety-valve had got stuck, then it would free itself and the talking would start all over again.  Marjorie and I worked like mad during that quiet minute.

 

Writing music had to take second place, but I used all my lunch-breaks for it.  Now that Geography and Physics were no longer taught at South Lodge, the dining-room and the kitchen had been much extended, to accommodate the whole school save for those who lived nearby.  The tables were long trestles, each accommodating about a dozen people; the staff ate with the boys, and one table was reserved for the boys who brought their own packed lunches, of whom I was one. We poor relations had to pay a penny a day for the use of the table, cutlery and glasses of water.  The school dinners were expensive – eight pence, as far as I can recall. Whatever we ate, we all had to wait, standing, until Taffy appeared and said his one invariable grace, “Benedictus, Benedictat” – “Bless us, He who blesses” – then he sat and we all dived into our food.

 

Afterwards, if the weather was fine, I would sit in the grounds writing with my paper on my knee,  and if it was not I would go to my desk in my form-room.   […]

 

Though my works did not become published until several years later, the first of them was a group of songs that I wrote when I was only 13 years old.

 

“Of course, you are a fool, Gilder,” said Taffy.  “You should be taking Music for your Matriculation.”

 

I put on a suitably pathetic expression, wondering why he had summoned me to his study.

 

“But you can’t,” he continued, “because Music is not on of this school’s subjects.”

 

I stood on one leg.

 

“However, I think I might have found a way round this.  There seems to be a small-print condition that if one takes a minimum of six lessons in any subject one can then sit for the examination.  So I have made an arrangement with Mr Cundall for you.  You will have six private lessons with him.”

 

I was overjoyed, and quite moved that he and Mr Cundall should have gone to so much trouble on my behalf.  Mr Cundall, you may recall, was the Geography master who also played piano for school Assembly and also for certain items in the school concerts.

 

Our first lesson together started with his saying something that was totally wrong.  Since he was a kind man he permitted me to put him right.  There were a few other such incidents.  At the end of lesson three he took me by the elbow and marched me back to Taffy’s study.

 

“This is ridiculous,” he said.  “I’ve learned more music in these three lessons with Gilder that I ever learned in my life.  One day he is going to make a very good teacher.  But this is farcical; and frankly, Mr Evans, I think that the idea is – well – dishonest.”

 

And that is why I did not take Music in my Matriculation.

 

On Speech Day that year[9] I was given a prize for Music, presumably for services rendered, since it was not an examination award.  It came near the end of the proceedings.  First Taffy handed the trophy to the Captain of the House that had gained most points. The Captain proudly held it aloft, amid cheers from his own House and a few boos from others.  Taffy quickly silenced the booers by suggesting that they conserve their energies to gaining more points for their own Houses.  The trophy was then returned to the office of the School Secretary, to await next year’s successes. Then came certificates for academic success, trophies for sports, prizes for this and that, ands at the bottom of the pile of books was my prize for Music.

 

I had received a prize before.  During my last year at Bonneville Road I had been given Talbot Baines Read’s delightful “The Fifth Form at St Dominic’s”.  I lent it to my friend, Eddie Thomas, who never gave it back, and I hated him.

 

My new book, beautifully bound in green leather and with the school’s crest blocked in gold on the cover, was called “Great Musical Composers”, by G T Ferris.  Since in that book Gounod was still alive it was obviously published before 1893, which meant that it was not exactly comprehensive.  […]

 

That year[10] Taffy made me the sub-editor of the school magazine, working under Mr Morgan.  It was in that year, too, that

he began to nag me into writing something for the Arnold Smith Memorial[11], which I carefully fielded out to the boundary.  I took the writing of poetry and prose for granted, but Taffy seemed to have a higher regard for my work than I did myself.  I had no literary ambition at that time;  my great love was in creating music, and I spent as much time at this as possible, even at the expense of my school work.

 

I was therefore astonished when the examination results came through.  I had passed Matriculation.  Not only that:   I had gained Distinctions in a sufficient number of subjects to gain me Honours.  Hooray!  After my early vicissitudes I had at last caught up!

 

Even Mother was pleased with me, although she knew a boy who had got Honours in 13 subjects.  Dad was so pleased that he gave me his precious Temple Edition of Shakespeare, 40 little volumes bound in soft red calf. I have them still, and I treasure them. […]

 

When I went back to school after our French holiday, heading towards my eighteenth birthday, I was in the Lower Sixth, and Vice-Captain of my House, Macaulay.  One did not study quite so many subjects in the Sixth, funnelling one’s concentration towards the specialised  subject one would take for one’s Inter.  The school specialised in Economics; but, though I had acquitted myself honourably in this subject in Matric, now I dumped it, because I was not really interested.  Maths and Physics were my main subjects.  English, of course, I took for granted, and it gave me no problems.  French and Geography I enjoyed. The only artistic subject I might have taken at the school was Art.  There was a fully equipped Art Room at the top of the school[12], with the correct north-facing ceiling light, and Mr Dix, they told me, was a good Art master, but I didn’t think I could do Art well, so I decided not to do it at all.  I do not know if this is a strength or a frailty in my character; I have done a large variety of things in my life, but I have never attempted to do anything at which I did not think I could succeed, for fear of letting myself down in my own eyes, as well as other people’s.  Perhaps I have missed out on something here.

 

Not a great deal happened during this school year.  The school suffered from one upset, when Cleeves built and operated a toffee factory[13] in the grounds right next door to ours.  It was awful to have the windows open in the warm weather, but at least it was a good lesson to the lower form on the effect of prevailing winds.

 

That was the year the year Taffy wore me down to submitting an entry for the Arnold Smith Memorial Prize[14].  I  dashed off the little character sketch “Granny” that you have already seen earlier in this book;  and nobody was more surprised than I when I learned that I had won the prize.  It was two books,  the “Oxford Anthology of English Verse” and its companion on English Prose, bound identically to my Great Musical Composers book. At the same prize-giving I received another book for Music, this time the “Vision of Dante”, beautifully  bound in an intriguingly patterned brown leather.

 

Those books were worth a lot of money.  I wonder if they give prizes nowadays.  […]

 

END

 

 

E A Hayward

August 2006                                                                                                                                                



References of particular/special interest for present-day readers are in bold

Omissions from the original indicated by […]

 

 

[1] At Battersea County School (from 1929 relocated to Clapham and renamed Henry Thornton School) 1926-31.

[2] Original typescript, from which this text has been copied, kindly provided by Paula Gilder, his daughter. She believes it was written in the early 1980s.

[3] I have been unable to trace a copy.

[4] The full set of boards has entries for the years 1918-68 inclusive.

[5] Copy in my possession.

[6] His visit is therefore presumed to have been made in the early 1970s.

[7] For 1935:  “ E.G. Gilder – Scholarship at Royal College of Music”.

[8] Ie, circa 1929.

[9] Possibly 1929.

[10] Possibly 1930.

[11] According to “The Bat” (December 1928 issue), magazine of the predecessor Battersea County School, E S Tucker was the first recipient of this annual award, instituted in memory of Arnold W Smith, Head Master from 1908 until his death the previous year. It was for the “best original English poem, short story or one-act play of the year”.

[12] This room was immediately above the Head Master’s study, entrance hall and Secretary’s office. 

[13] Presumably this reference is to the former Batgers sweet factory, at 44 South Side.

[14] As footnote 10.