Rutlish 1957 - the 50 Year Reunion
Peter O Walpole
NotesPeter Walpole now lives in Canada. He is unable to attend the Reunion on 1 September. He was, however, in London in July 2007 when he accompanied his wife on a trip to the UK for the reunion of her school year at Wimbledon County Girls School, and attended the mini-reunion.
"As I said to Karol yesterday: I really wish I could be in London (Wimbledon) on Saturday to be able to drop in on the reunion. She suggested I look into a last minute flight over. But it's simply not possible. Even having enjoyed the mini-reunion in July, I feel I'm going to miss the big event.
"My best wishes to everyone, and particularly the handful of guys who put this reunion together.
"Have a wonderful time. I'll be there in spirit and will lift a glass in honor, to you all.
Notes by Peter WalpoleI departed Rutlish, as soon as I could, in 1962. I took with me some indifferent memories and, I think, five (5) O Levels. I had a position as a clerk with J R Eve & Son, Chartered Surveyors, based in Deans Yard, right behind Westminster Abbey. I soon began the CS course, but it was clear that I was not the type to succeed at that type of tedious work. After a year I transferred to a small company in Thornton Heath. I became their Under Manager, responsible for surveying, estimating and supervising repairs for woodworm and dry rot. My intention was to get the hell out of England as soon as possible. A teacher’s certificate offered the best options. In 1965 I was admitted to Manresa House, Battersea College of Education, in Roehampton. I qualified three years later. My wife Karol and I (we were married the day after we qualified) moved to Northampton for a year then migrated to Canada. The plan had been to move to sunny Australia, but the Viet Nam war put me at risk of Australian call-up, so Canada it was — they were actively recruiting. We’ve been here ever since.
In Canada I took first one, then a second BA degree (nobody at Rutlish ever suggested that might be possible). I took various additional teaching qualifications. I taught every grade from Kindergarten to adults, except grade 5. I retired at age 53 as Head of Special Service (Special Ed) from an Ontario High School. Along the way, I was involved in co-authoring a couple of Math textbooks, and teacher education programs.
In my spare time, I wrote for various magazines and journals covering technical topics around computers, photography, aviation, travel, and editorial comment. I learned to fly. I rented and shared various small planes in Canada and the UK.
After retiring, I supply taught, traveled, and wrote. I’m now fully retired, having not renewed my license. Rutlish was my teaching inspiration: I knew I could never be as bad as those clowns (one exception — see below) who tried their worst on me.
Memories by Peter WalpoleI recall the Junior School in the old building surrounded by playing fields. I started to play the trumpet there, because I already played bugle in the Boys Brigade. The music practice room (upstairs somewhere) was often busy with a group of ‘little wankers’ trying to establish that Rutlish was, really a proper Public School.
Someone, I have no idea who, tried to put a judo hold on me, one morning at break. He flew over my shoulder and split his head open on a steel upright girder. I was directed to take him to the hospital. On the way, some idiot Prefect insisted he wear a cap over his freely bleeding head. What a dork!
I recall five teachers. A geography teacher (a retired major, I think) taught me to be quite good at photo interpretation. I got that right on my ‘O’ levels.
A tall physics teacher interested me with tales of wartime research at, I think Teddington. He had found a way to measure explosion blasts using concentric circles of barrels laid out in Hyde Park. He worked on rail lines that had sliding expansion joins and did not create click-clak sounds.
Hathway knew the log tables by heart. I did the math homework for a group of us. Hathway knew we were cheating, so I had to build in a deliberate error in all my work — usually an error of poorly written numbers, but with a consistency. I met the old bugger after leaving school. He told me he knew I was cheating but could never find how I did it. I always got less than a perfect score while those who copied my work scored higher, and got slippered. If at first you don’t succeed, cheat!
I really had to screw up Tank’s Latin to get out of his class, but I managed to avoid Latin ‘O’ levels.
Playfair was the only teacher who inspired me. I worked in the printing press, and used the knowledge from those days til the last day I taught. I used Adobe PageMaker to teach the Yearbook as a credit high school program. All that knowledge of points, picas, leading and fonts was really useful. Still use it!
Random MemoriesDudley Moore playing jazz at a garden party.
Being recruited to sing some kind of an ecclesiastical chant for some ceremony.
Somebody throwing big English pennies into the grand piano at an assembly, making it a grand honky-tonk.
The grave of the unknown prefect in the quad the last day I was there, and smoke billowing out of a pair of girl's knickers, at the top of a drainpipe beside the gym.
A broken ex-police officer leaving Rutlish after valiantly trying to teach us.
Being recruited for a swimming competition, and being entered in the ‘butterfly’. I never swam butterfly before or after. I’m sure I did not win.
Look at my picture in the huge group pic. You’ll see I have no house ribbon. I managed to live for a year, sans house ribbon. I claimed that Elys was out of the stuff. Nobody ever bothered to check. I have no idea what house I was in.
Being told to wear my blazer and cap outside my anorak, as I bicycled to school in the rain. What type of prefect thinks it’s a good idea to wear outdoors clothing under indoors uniform? My school cap looked totally stupid sitting on top of my bright yellow Millets coat.
Knowing that being on a team meant being busy on Saturday afternoons. So I made sure I never made a school team. I was far too busy with my girlfriend.