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Tuesday, 5 February 2013



10th February 2013

Top Picture: A descant Recorder



Bottom Picture: School Prize giving 1960-61. Bottom Row L to R: Melv Bridger, Lorraine Durrow, Pat Eustace, ? Back Row L to R: Me Peter Keat, ? ? Colin Blake

Music always seemed to be important to some members of staff when we were at school, either making it or understanding it and there was always at least one member of staff that could play the piano. This went for Infant and Junior Schools as well as Senior Schools.

During the infant years I suppose that I must have shaken a tambourine, rattled some maracas or banged a drum just like everyone else but I do not remember. So it was whilst I was at Solent Road Junior School that I first came across music as a real lesson. I somehow got involved, as many did, with the Recorder Group and this was a disaster! Despite having one of the smart Pearwood descant recorders (the others were brown plastic) and both the green and blue music books and after spending many agonising hours practicing, I was still no good at it. Whenever I blew the instrument it sounded rather like a strangled cat trying to escape. Recorder classes became a nightmare for me, I was forever being told off because of my bad playing, but an astute mind was to the rescue. Even at the age of eight or nine I managed to fathom out a strategy so that I would not get into trouble or at least reduce the number of admonishments I received. The answer was very simple, finger the instrument but don’t blow into it, just make it look as though I was blowing and playing and then no screeching noise would come out. Sit at the back and hide away as far away from the teacher as possible. Joy, this plan worked, at least until the end of term, and when we went back for the new term I was allowed to give up the recorder or rather I think it gave up me!  

Moving onto Senior School, Court Lane in 1957, music still played an important part, although I must admit that I cannot remember what sort of lessons we had from Mr Stephens the very enthusiastic and efficient music master. Soon it was time for school productions and I know that many of you were involved as I was in the Gilbert and Sullivan productions that were staged in the school hall in Court Lane Infants School. The first musical production I remember being involved with was ‘ Trial by Jury’ where I played a juror and Alan Cox the Judge, Catherine Bone the Plaintiff and Rodney Veal the Defendant. I know many of you have happy memories of this production although I am not so surethat Alan Cox would agree as he had to kiss Catherine Bone every evening and he was embarrassed.

Trial by Jury is very short, only approximately 40 minutes in length and so a full length operetta, The Pirates of Penzance was set for the following years production. Once again the Junior School Hall was the venue and once again I was in the chorus, this time as a pirate complete with whiskers, beard and stripy trousers but unfortunately I cannot remember any of the principals, maybe someone out there can fill in the gaps!

Soon it was time to move into the new school, Manor Court in Central Road, and here John Stephens really excelled himself as the school choir and guests presented, for three nights on the trot, extracts from the oratorio, Handels’ Messiah. I know I have talked about this before but it really was a fantastic performance and I am still wondering what happened to that reel to reel recording of the event, it has never ever come to light. The genius of John Stephens was to involve other people as well as the pupils in the production. I sang bass as did my father and my godmother sang alto. A semi professional orchestra was engaged and for the first time many of us saw that Ray Dopson played the violin (several years later his son Paul spent many hours making and maturing a violin for his father). Mr Stephens also engaged professional soloists and I really do wish that I could remember who they were. The performances were a great success but this was not to be followed by bigger and bigger successes as come the end of the term John Stephens took up another position in Somerset and moved away and that was the end of outstanding music at Manor Court for a while, in fact over the next couple of years while I progressed through the fifth and sixth year, (the Messiah was staged in my fourth year) I cannot remember any other musical productions. 

I suspect that music classes continued but by this time I was not involved, homework, pop music and jazz became important to me and of course all the teenage involvements with girl friends took over

Stay in touch

Peter



You Write:


Mary writes:-  I was interested to see your weekly bulletin on private schooling. My mother worked at Boundary Oak at the end of the war. Mr Miller or Major Miller as she knew him was very strict but fair. My mother left the school when she was expecting me. She was very happy at the school but my father had come home after 4yrs away in the army and they wanted to spend time together. She remained in contact with some of the staff and I remember one teacher coming to visit us at Farlington. My mother was very upset when the school matron, of whom she was very fond, committed suicide. Mother even phoned up the school and spoke to Major Miller saying how sorry she was and why did it happen. Some time later Major Miller was found dead in his study apparently cleaning a gun, which had gone off. Once again, mother was heartbroken. Major Miller `s wife, we heard, wouldn’t agree to a divorce, and he hoped to marry the matron. My mother was shocked and could hardly believe saying that she had no inkling of it. Even at the end of her life she always spoke of them very fondly and remembered them with great affection. At least 2 boys at Court Lane had been at Boundary Oak and one of them was Donald Childs. So there we are, quite a tale! 


News and Views:

Sad to hear of the death of Reg Presley on the 3rd February, coning from Andover Reg was always regarded as a local band leader. We had a very tenuous link with him as he went to school with my wife's late cousin. 




On this day 10th  February 1960-1965

On 10/02/1960 the number one single was Why - Anthony Newley and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was not listed and the box office smash was Some Like It Hot. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Burnley were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was Margaret Thatcher had given her first Commons Speech.

On 10/02/1961 the number one single was Are you Lonesome Tonight? - Elvis Presley and the number one album was GI Blues - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was No Hiding Place (AR) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 10/02/1962 the number one single was The Young Ones - Cliff Richard & the Shadows and the number one album was Blue Hawaii - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the week was US bans imports from Cuba.

On 10/02/1963 the number one single was Diamonds - Jet Harris & Tony Meehan and the number one album was Summer Holiday - Cliff Richard & the Shadows. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the week was Liz Taylor films Cleopatra

On 10/02/1964 the number one single was Needles & Pins - Searchers and the number one album was With the Beatles - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Steptoe & Son (BBC) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 10/02/1965 the number one single was You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' - Righteous Brothers and the number one album was Beatles For Sale - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.


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