Billy Messruthers Memories

It all started when I had to go to the education office on Huntriss Row with my mother to be interviewed by some old blokes, told them my hobbies were fishing swimming boats and the Navy. Complete B/S actually but it worked.

I remember my first day at Graham Sea Training School back in 1969, is it really 32 years ago?
We had to wear those strange hats, peaked hats straight from the Merchant Navy, with the school emblem on top, this hat proclaimed
I am a new boy, because only the first year lads wore them. I felt quite proud wearing my new shiny hat, until that is I got to the school.
We were all ridiculed as surely most new boys are, but our fate was slightly different. The dreaded Wall awaited us, this was a wall outside the gymnasium from ground level only about 3 feet in height, but on the other side around 6 feet into the waste area behind the playground, and full of
STINGING NETTLES.
New boys were grabbed by the existing schoolboys and thrown over the wall while being held on top of the wall by their lower legs, so the head dropped into the nettles.
My hat was thrown over the back wall of the school like a frisbie into East Mount Flats, from where I had to retrieve it, at considerable risk from both the schoolmasters and from the residents.
Other new boys had other initiation rituals to suffer, I remember Neil Kay being picked up by a brute of a boy called Nick Carter and being hung by his blazer collar on a coat hanger in the cloakroom.
Somebody else had the toilet blown up whilst he was sitting deep in thought in the outside loo by Kevin Seaward.

Then there was the issue with Mr Feather, commonly known and loved by all as Vince.

We were sitting having a Geography (Burma) lesson from Vince, well to be honest he was actually reading Biggles to us as he was having Malaria problems at the time. We were at this time annexed for some lessons in the St Thomas' school  annex on Longwestgate, I was sat at the back out of arms reach, I did not fancy a clip round the ear on this day, anyway I happened to move my foot backwards whilst listening to the biggles story and my foot caught the heating pipes which unbeknown to me until this event, went completely round the classroom. The blackboard which was on wheels happened to move from the effect and I noticed Vince look up at the board, and then carried on reading. I waited a while then kicked the pipes again and you guessed it the blackboard moved again. Vince looked up at us and at the blackboard and then got up to see if one of us was messing about behind the board. Finding no guilty party he again sat down and carried on reading to us. I waited for some time this time then when he was least expecting it gave the pipes a good shove and the blackboard moved vigorously sending the blackboard rubber tumbling to the floor, by this time I knew we were in for a laugh when Vince shot up from his chair and inspected the blackboard. His hair lost its grey normal military composure and he said

  "Just what the hell is going on here?'
Neil Kay stuttered a reply " S S S Sir, M M M Mrs Rendlle said this building is h h h haunted"   
(By this time the note had been passed around the class explaining my jaunt.)

"Stupid Boy, dont be ridiculous theres no such thing as ghosts" His composure at this stage showed he was not entirely convinced. Another long wait and I gave the pipes a good rattling and the blackboard rubber flew off from its perch where Vince had replaced it and hit Mr Feather on the head with a cloud of chalk-dust.

With a shreik Mr Feather, our own Burmah war hero  grabbed his old breifcase and bolted out the door never to be seen again until the following week. We were informed that his malaria had got hold of him again and we kept our secret.....
To be continued.....


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