Ascending the stairwell in 1962/3 after a playground break, I was pulled aside by an officious prefect for talking – probably about homework. We were supposed to leave the playground and go to our classes without uttering a word. I thought he’d let me go when the other boys had passed by. Instead this wretch took me to Mr. Hicks office and reported me for the crime of talking.
With a stern look, Mr. Hicks approached me with his cane in his hand. Without a word being said I put out my hand and was struck once. Then, being a somewhat rebellious and stroppy boy I looked him in the eye with dumb insolence and held out my other hand. Taken slightly aback, he struck that too. One strike was generally thought sufficient for such a misdemeanour. I then held out the first hand again, silently challenging Mr. Hicks to see how far he would go. At that point he told me to behave in future and dismissed me. Two nil to me I thought, and that prefect probably became a traffic warden.
In hindsight Mayfield was a very good school. Although not particularly academic, I did well in Technical Drawing and Art and left in 1964, age 16, to train as a commercial artist (now known as graphic designers). My work was mainly in studios in the West End of London and I achieved my ambition to ‘go freelance’ by 1976. It was an exciting industry in which to work, although it has now changed immensely due to the use of Apple Mac’s rather than pens and brushes. I stayed in the Ilford and Essex area until 1986 until the community was changing so much that I regarded it as rather unpalatable. I retired early (age 54) and now live in a Sussex village but also spend a lot of time at homes in Florida and the Canary Islands.
If I remember correctly, Mayfield’s school motto translated as ‘Nothing Without Effort’, a very practical guideline for young adults who were not over endowed in the ‘little grey cells’ department. Most of the boys were reasonably bright and diligent and we were fortunate to attend such a good Secondary school. Not being naturally gifted in my chosen field, I worked very hard and long to attain my ambition to become a successful commercial artist working in the most creative environment in the world – London. The lesson that many of us learnt at Mayfield was that even without a silver spoon start in life it is possible to succeed providing you put in the effort. My thanks go to all the masters and especially to Mr. Glyn Summers.