Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Do you remember how it was, we had the moon and tide behind us (Dragon)

The footsteps of dawn (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 3, part 2)

Welcome to teenage boy fog
(1971, third form at MAGS)

Again, my first day at a new school is a vivid memory. I was physically sick that morning - terrified at what might happen; the fear of the unknown.

All the new third formers (turds) met first in the car park outside the huge school hall. Being out of zone meant that, apart from a couple of my team members from Eden Football Club (Ian Johnson and Grant King), I didn't recognise anybody that morning.

We were herded past the photos of distinguished old boys and school teams into the gigantic assembly hall. The names of old boys dating back to 1922 were all over the walls: prefects; sport's captains; academic scholars. Little did I imagine that my own name would join them in time.

Our names were read out and we walked endless imposing corridors to get to that first class.

I was placed in 3A - the top third form academic class. The school drafted boys into classes studying two language, Latin and French (the A and B stream), one language or science (the C stream), commercial (3 Com), or lowest of the low - agriculture (the 3 Ag boys were nutters!!).

This was cause for celebration in the Purdy household...until three weeks later when the school realised its mistake. There had been a mix up over names, or so I was told. It was obviously a sop to let me down easy. 

There were two Purdys and one Purdie in the year group. Denis Purdy, a cousin, was brilliant and deserved to be in 3A - he'd later go on to be dux, and Ian Purdie from Dargaville, a houseboy, and a thug who was already in 3B. Meanwhile I was struggling with the demands and lost beyond lost with the work given the geniuses in 3A.

So - I was politely advised of the situation and immediately placed in 3B, where I also came bottom of the class!!

From 3B to 4B I became an academic casualty, consistently struggling and coming bottom. My report comments indicate:

An unsatisfactory result - greater effort required. Place in class 38 out of 38.
The teachers got it slightly wrong - I WAS trying! Statistics didn't lie though - I was failing, big time.

Second row, second left behind rubberguts, in front of David Wadhams
Teenage boy mist had well and truly descended and much of the third form remains a blur. Fourth form (now called Year 10) was notable for a few things.

First up, I had to toughen up to survive in 4B's more bullying atmosphere. Don't get me wrong - I loved going to MAGS but 3rd and 4th form were tricky to negotiate. 

Although there were some really good guys in the form like Peter Yandell, Ian Johnson, Ricky Hellreigel (who died tragically of a brain tumour after surviving the Rose-Noelle capsize), Stephen Sinclair, David Freeman and David Wadhams, there were also guys like Ian Purdie, Butterworth, David Solomona and others who were not taking prisoners!

If you were sporty and quiet (like me) you skated on by most of the time. If you were slightly different (Enoch or David Freeman) you were targeted. I was friends with David who had to put up with being called 'hoe'. It wasn't a fun time.

The teaching staff were special prey for the pranksters. Our Latin teacher, the eccentric Bill 'tooth' Mitchell, put up with sheer hell.

Of our teachers Graham '
Rubberguts' Bean was having us working on the cricket pitch most periods, 'Mouse' King was caning everyone who stepped out of line (so that was someone every period really), and the pommie PE teacher was trying to interest us in gymnastics ( thanks) but...hang on... two young guys were making an impression.

Barry Gough for English and WOH (Warwick) Gibbs for French saved my life! No exaggeration!

For both, it was their first year teaching, ever! I bet they cursed their luck getting 4B - it was a rough ride. Particularly for Warwick, who was soon tagged 'Penguin' for his choice of clothing (black suit, white shirt, black tie). Both came across as serious kinds of guys but they made class fun and stretched my imagination, and they could still cane with the best of them!

As my junior schooling came to an end, a different window on my future was beginning to prise itself open an inch or two at a time.

Love and peace - Wozza

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