1961 Tony Atkinson
A school friend, Roger Head, and I were quite good at drawing caricatures and cartoons and at every opportunity would slyly fish out from our desks bits of drawing paper, any old bits of paper would do when a new cartoon idea suddenly popped into our heads and couldn’t wait to get cracking. Opportunities were quite frequent, if we’d finished, for example an exercise early or during the quite frequent occurrence of the master in charge nipping out to have a fag somewhere for ten minutes or so. Roger and I always had to sit apart because of the sudden outbursts of eye watering poorly suppressed chuckling at the thought of a new cartoon idea which mystified the masters. Our caricatures were quite good likenesses and it was obvious to anyone perusing them who they were.
The cartoons were almost always of the schoolmasters and staff portrayed in funny situations, but always kept clean with no rudeness whatsoever in case we were caught at it, ”which we were” even including headmaster Mr Hicks, but more usually of the more quirky masters with odd features and characteristics. The cartoons were always accompanied with little clouds containing spoken words, ”comic style”.
Well, one afternoon we had a free period, which was taken by pottery master Mr Frances or Mr Cop-it as we called him as ”you’ll cop it boy” was his favourite saying. Anyhow the class was assigned the task of reading some book or other whilst old Cop-it did nothing but sit fiddling his fingers obviously itching to dismiss us and smoke his bent Peterson pipe.
A golden opportunity for cartooning. Out came the drawing paper and pencils which we sort of hid in the open books whilst drawing. Suddenly there was a big outburst of uncontrolled chuckling from Roger Head which immediately attracted Cop-it’s attention. Bring whatever you’re doing here this instant boy hollered old Cop-it. Roger, red as Beetroot handed over his nearly finished cartoon which on inspection caused cop-it to also glow red as a Beetroot but with rage. I never ever saw the cartoon but apparently it not only depicted in some sort of situation Mr Hicks, his secretary Mrs Bainton but Old cop-it himself. After a long pause with Roger now white as a ghost and shivering in his boots, old cop-it foaming at the mouth with disbelief and rage suddenly blurted out, ”Take it to Mr Hicks boy and see if he likes it”. Roger Head stumbled with great anguish from the room clutching his masterpiece.
Minutes went by, half an hour passed by and no return of Roger Head. Suddenly ceased twiddling his fingers, upped and left the room to return a few minutes later with the scarified Roger. Roger didn’t go to Mr Hicks office to show him his cartoon, too frightened to but just wandered about willy-nilly like, in a complete and utter funk upon wobbly legs.
Anyway the good Mr Frances must have decided that the fright was punishment enough, found him wandering about, conducted him back to the classroom and not to Mr Hicks office. Roger Head got detention instead, so all came good in the end. Mr Hicks doesn’t know what he missed.
I remember a funny incident that took place during one of Mr Jackson’s, we called him ‘Jacko’, geography lessons. We were up in his geography room one sunny and balmy afternoon being taught all about the geography of South America. There were two huge scale maps suspended from the ceiling by rope tackles and pulleys, one of which he needed lowering to point out various contours and landmarks with a stick. Classmate Gammal Singh was assigned the job of operating the maps tackle to lower it. Jacko was waiting impatiently beneath it whilst Gammal struggled and fumbled with the maps ropes, one hoisted it up and one lowered it. Gammal couldn’t make it out and let go the ropes to have a think about it. Whoosh! Down came the map in a rush which slithered over and engulfed Jacko’s head. A lad called Peter Long who had a loud nervous uncontrolable laugh which in such circumstances he blurted out a big laugh. Jacko struggled clear of the map. Gammal looked worried and shook with fear, but it was Peter Longs laugh that Jacko recognized. ‘FETCH THE CANE AND PUNISHMENTMENT BOOK FROM THE HEADMASTERS OFFICE, lONG’ roared Jacko. Peter Long’s turn to shake with fear and red in the face trundled off to fetch the cane. On his return Jacko announced to the class that he was not going to make a public exhibition of the caning and took Peter Long out into the corridor to administer punishment. We all heard the swish and whops of the cane, little whimpers could be heard from Peter, three strokes I think it was. Gammal escaped punishment and the geography lesson resumed with no further trouble, until the the lesson concluded and Jacko collected in his pencils, one had gone missing but thats another story.