Have you been harbouring a guilty secret since you left Cray Valley? Were you responsible for a prank and nobody ever found out it was you? Here, right behind the bike sheds, is the place to wipe your conscience clean and tell all. Nobody will mind anymore and we can all have a good laugh!
It was at the top of the staircase on the second floor, just before the History Room, that, one lunch time, almost an hour of madness ensued. Some bright spark, whose name escapes me right now, discovered that when a flashbulb for an Instamatic Camera had its blue plastic coating peeled away from it, and was dropped down the centre of the staircase on to the concrete plinth at ground floor level it would, if accurately done, create a loud bang and scare the daylights out of any poor, unsuspecting pupil or group of pupils who happened to be loitering in the vicinity. After several successful drops, reasonably spaced every 8-10 minutes or so, thus catching a different group each time, its popularity along with the predictable hilarity from those on the top floor was such that it just seemed as though one more “drop” before the end of the lunch break just had to be done……. This time though there were no longer any boys at the foot of the stairs to be shocked, it was the turn of the “Star Guest”, making a rare appearance away from his normal route to the Dining Room - none other than the Headmaster himself, Mr. Turner, whose very presence had caused a complete dispersal of all others who, until just seconds earlier, had been seen lurking by the lockers with aimless intent. Very quickly, though not exactly instinctively, he realised that something was not quite right and, almost immediately, with the impact of the fifth and final flashbulb hitting the concrete below and creating what seemed to be a much louder bang than those of the previous four, caused him to look up towards to the boys above on the second floor who, in turn, were momentarily looking down and who, just a split second later, were racing away almost tripping over each other, crashing through the swing doors and down the corridor, desperate to seek sanctuary in any classroom where they could pretend to be studying and not be considered to be a part of the misdeed. At the same time, Mr. Turner, never slow to miss a trick and keen to appear unphased by his brief yet obviously alarming ordeal, turned on his heels and began ascending the stairs, two or three at a time, his black robes floating almost horizontally behind him until, in what must have been an unofficial record time, he reached the top at the second floor level. Too late to catch the miscreants you may think? He had other ideas, and it was only a matter of minutes before he successfully flushed out those who were responsible, quickly returning with them to his study on the ground floor, though via the glazed staircase at the other end of the building, usually only used by teachers, visitors and, in this instance, accompanied pupils! Once downstairs, and behind the firmly closed door to his office, questions were sternly asked, responses were snivellingly given, punishment was swishingly administered, and afternoon lessons commenced for the offenders less than ten minutes later, albeit with them sitting more on the back of their thighs rather than their uncomfortably tender posteriors! The incident was talked about amongst the boys for many weeks afterwards, and recalled several times many years later at chance meetings and other reunions, though many other stories were also listened to.....
Alan Drew CVTHS 1966 - 1972 - Submitted 8 December 2016
Around 1973/4 I had a weekend job at Ruxley Manor Garden Centre. One day I discovered a supply of insect killing smoke fireworks which they used in the large greenhouses to protect young plants from being eaten. Anyway, I saw an opportunity and helped myself to three of them. The next week myself and two friends, Richard Crook and Steve Donald went through a trap door in the senior cloakrooms and crawled under the school stage while a band practise was taking place led by the music teacher Mr Woodward. Each of us lit one of the smoke bombs and then we made our way to the top of the balcony at the rear of the hall to watch the outcome. Within minutes the entire front of the school assembly hall including the stage and unfortunate band members were engulfed in thick white smoke. Although this created a massive stir we got away with it scot free. 40 years later I met a guy and two of his friends in the Bulls Head Chislehurst who said he recognised me. We went over a few things and realised we'd both attended Cray Valley. We then went on reminiscing and I happened to mention the smoke bomb story at which point he loudly declared "you B*stard!, I was on that stage that day and had a sore throats for a week". It was as if it was only yesterday and we all had a really good laugh. I think by the time we'd had another couple of pints he'd forgiven me.
John Froud CVTHS 1970 - 1975 - Submitted 8 December 2016
When I was 13 I mowed eight of my neighbours’ lawns weekly for 2s/6d a time in order to save up to buy a new bike. Eventually I had the £23 that I needed to buy my Elswick-Hopper “Lincoln Imp” which I bought from that fabulous cycle shop at Lewisham just before the clock tower where they specialised in racing bikes like the famous “Claude Butler” – the 'Rolls Royce' of bikes in those days. Having now got a good bike, my mother then allowed me to cycle to school from my home in Telford Road, New Eltham, along the Sidcup Bypass to Crittalls Corner with my classmate Graham “Fred” Waite. Every day after school we would cycle back home along the Sidcup Bypass, past the Perry Street traffic lights and then, as we got over the brow of the hill on the A20 by Sidney Woods, (now here comes the confession!) we took our caps off and stuffed them in our pockets! (a crime, punishable with detention if caught by JCK!). How I hated that cap and, to this day, I still don’t like wearing a hat!
However, one day, I came out of school and went to the bike sheds to find to my horror that my prized “Lincoln Imp” had been stolen. The police found my treasured bike a few days later in the woods on Chislehurst Common minus the alloy wheels, gears, and saddle. I managed to buy some new wheels, a new dérailleur gear and a friend gave me a saddle. But, - it was never the same!
So, I wonder.................. was this my punishment for my crime of not wearing my school cap all the way home?!!!
Anthony Carder CVTHS 1955 - 1960 - Submitted 30 August 2016
What was it about what we used to call the “Third Form”? I remember day after day aching with laughter getting up to mischief. The greatest opportunities were found in Science lessons. For example the general sport of teacher wind up included any excuse to get Mr Nash, he of the jet black Brylcreemed hair, to write anything on the board so that his sleek mane would be covered in chalk dust, triggering guffaws from boys normally so sensitive to dandruff comments. Writing on lab coats and leaving the fume cupboard open was just standard fare for any opportunity to giggle, along with the more shameful cruelty to other boys occasioned by dangerous chemicals and equipment. Specific japes were spawned by demonstrations. A favourite was connecting Bunsen burners to the water supply which produced fountains instead of flames. Sparks and smoke were rich pickings for pranksters, but the true masters of the universe were students who actually understood chemistry and kept the rest of us supplied with stink bombs. Brian Bottomley (Stinks) 59-66 was the ultimate exponent and actually produced a bomb to blow up a small tree in The Avenue. I often wonder about Brian and his permanently chemical stained hands (which he chewed). Did he go on to a senior position in ICI; did he end up in jail; become one of those who published information on bomb making in the innocent pre internet days. Does anybody know?
PS Pals of mine still do impressions of Mr Nash and his odd way of saying “gas” to this day.
Do you remember all those catchphrases that our teachers used time and time again? So much so, that you didn’t hear the gems of knowledge they were trying to teach us! One such teacher was Mr Davies, who taught us Engineering Drawing. His catchphrase was “you will appreciate that -----“.
Well, one day, when he was teaching Engineering Drawing to us in 4R, we decided to run a sweepstake on how many times Mr Davies would repeat his pet catchphrase during the hour lesson. We all chipped in our 1d (morning currant bun money?) and waited for the offending words to be uttered by Mr Davies in his strong Welsh accent. We were not disappointed and the boy who was elected to keep tally was soon recording yet another “appreciate” with all the class tittering each time behind our hands! The final tally was an amazing 30 and the winner duly pocketed 2s/6d!
So, I wonder whether Mr Davies ever “appreciated” that most of that lesson the excessive sharpening of pencils was not due to my hard work but me keeping tally of his famous catchphrase!
But, however much I was distracted in your lesson Mr Davies, I still have you to thank for the only one of my “O” level G.C.E. results where I achieved an “A” grade (A for “Appreciate” perhaps?) !
As a sixth former, and after Joe Kingsland had retired and William Turner took over, I hit on the following jolly little jape.
I am sure many will recall that in the vestibule just inside the School’s main entrance there were two display cabinets. The one nearest the Head’s study housed the week’s menu for the school canteen. My confession is that I copied out the menu and created my own lampooned version. This was crafted by me to be identical in format to original, i.e. third generation carbon copy, carefully trimmed to size and pinned over the top of the real menu. So as not cause offence to the dear ladies in the school canteen I told them what I was doing and I am sure at least one member of staff was also taken into my confidence and even made some creative menu suggestions.
From memory my ‘alternative’ menu was something like:-
I am sure you get the drift. The point of all this was that when the boys went to look at the menu there were loud guffaws and hoots of laughter resulting in the Head, William Turner, rushing out of his office to tell them off, at which point the boys would make themselves scarce pretty quickly and before he could say anything. WT would go back into his office completely unaware of why there had been the commotion. I observed this from a discrete distance on a couple of occasions and achieved an immense feeling of satisfaction at a jape well executed. Just before the end of the week I removed my joke menu so that when the following week’s was put in place no one would be any the wiser. I recall doing this for two separate weeks and how scared I felt opening the display cupboard to put my menu into place. If I had been caught …………..!?
I must say that I would never have dreamed of doing this had Joe Kingsland been the Head at that point.
Just in case anyone thinks I have changed over the years I’m still at it, most recently feeding material into Terry Wogan’s ‘Wake Up to Wogan’ breakfast show under the pseudonyms of Joe Kevryday and Sir Paul de Woolover. And so the game goes on. What would life be like if we couldn’t have laugh?
The Arts Sixth Form sometime during 1961-62 was enjoying a free period one afternoon. As usual boredom was raising its ugly head and mischief was afoot. 'Hoddy' Anthony had already fallen asleep at his desk and 'Mac' McGregor was ready to seize the opportunity that presented itself. At the time Hoddy was fatter than anybody else in the class and wore a large double breasted blazer which incorporated a flap at the rear with two side slits. As you can imagine this was a considerable amount of material which found itself covering the top of my desk as I was sitting right behind him. Mac gleefully soon went to work having found his ammunition in a handful of drawing pins procured from a drawer in the master's desk. Yes, Hoddy was literally pinned to my desk! Of course by now the rest of us were in stitches with a sleeping Hoddy oblivious to the mayhem that was about to ensue.
Alas our reverie was about to be short lived. Apparently from out of nowhere the door burst open with a furious Colin Brook standing in the doorway calling for Hoddy at the top of his voice. I hasten to add that this was a very different Colin from the normally affable personality that we had become accustomed to. Still Hoddy slept on and it took repeated shouting from Colin and much shaking of the Hoddy torso by the rest of us to awaken him. By now only partially awake he had not yet realised his predicament attempting to get up out of his seat with a very impatient teacher waiting in the corridor. It still took an apparent eternity for Hoddy to comprehend what had happened as we feverishly unpinned his blazer from my desk in order that he might learn of his fate. I can still see him half sitting, half standing with arms partly out of their sleeves and expletives a plenty emerging from his mouth as he tried to free himself.
Once he was out in the corridor with the door firmly closed, Hoddy faced the worst dressing down that we had ever witnessed. With Colin waving what appeared to be a test paper at him, the colour of Hoddy's face soon matched his red hair. When at last Colin departed and Hoddy returned to his seat we learned what all the fuss was about. In answer to an A level Economics question: ‘Was the 1944 Bretton Woods Agreement tantamount to a return to the Gold Standard?’, Hoddy had written in answer ‘DUNNO’!! Was he in anyway fazed by the experience?No way; having resumed his seat, our hero of the hour promptly fell back asleep!
If you read this Colin I wonder whether you remember this episode?
Ed. Yes he did read it as I forwarded it before publication. This is Colin’s reply:
“Thank you for your recent email. I do not recall the incident nor can I remember the pupils, it must be old age! However it is good to hear about past pupils. I wonder how many others still do. I would welcome news of ex A level Economic students and any of the lads who went with me to Norway or Iceland. I hope the latter are still alive!”
Contact Colin Brook here: firstname.lastname@example.org
“Cross country – I remember us diving into Brian Bromley’s house in Midfield way rather than doing the course”.
The scene is a classroom on the first floor of the main building at Cray Valley sometime in the late 1950's. Form 4R is eagerly awaiting the arrival of our long-suffering English teacher Bum Smith. Already someone has drawn a hangman on the blackboard and the boys are getting restless. As fate would have it he walks through the door and sits down at his desk immediately below the chalked noose. Laughter erupts from the class,but our thick-skinned hero begins reading from Rudyard Kipling's 'Kim'. I can still hear his thick west country drawl as various boys think of ways to fend off terminal boredom. White and Craig are the first ones to react; every time Smith reads out a character called 'the colonel' they repeat it and soon we have an echo in the room. Eventually when the colonel exits stage left this is substituted by the Hindu 'wheel of life' with more boys joining in the fun.
By now an element of chaos is starting to take over but Smith appears oblivious to it. To make matters even worse Sayers starts letting off noxious gases into the room, increasing his already clear lead in the form farting contest. We try to respond but to no avail as Sayers is at the top - or should it be bottom - of his form. Most of the class is now doubled-up in laughter as Smith makes a desperate plea for quiet; it's clearly a case of too little too late as he can barely be heard above the awful din. Some of us are expecting JCK to appear at any minute to instantly restore order but we are all saved by the break bell. How did any of us pass O or even A level English?!”
If you were a pupil 'twixt '57 and '62....d'ya remember those 'penny-bun' queues at mid-morning break. There we all were, jostling for position to get at those buns from the delightful 'dinner-ladies' - all lined-up along the left hand side of the corridor outside of room numbers that I don't remember. (I think 'Chemistry' was on that floor.)
I was never a 'pushy’ kid but on the day that I particularly remember, I just happened to shove the fella' in front. What a mistake... who was just behind me and on the other side of the corridor - Yep, JCK himself! He yanked me out, whacked my (!!)... did I p""s myself! Never again did I do anything like that..”
I remember very unkindly standing around while class mates put stinging nettles into Paul May’s shirt and then re-buttoned it. If I ever see Paul again I’ll tell him how guilty I feel that I never tried to stop them”.
“I also remember hanging out secretly under the stage during study periods (Jim Betteridge, Steve Jackson, Ross Hammond, Paul Lovell)”.