Tag Archives: barton peveril

October 15th 1975

“Started to decorate the Common Room. REAL laugh. Nig C clock, Bob D panelling, nearly had kittens laughing”

As I think I have said before, the ‘common room’ was the relaxation area for all the 6th form students. A reconstituted office space that was located far too close to the staff room for comfort, it nevertheless became a haven of good music and laughter for many of us who didn’t take college life too seriously. (Hands up Paul, Niles and more!)

The ‘coffee club committee’, in its infinite wisdom decided the space needed sprucing up and dragging into the 1970’s!

So, an extensive redesign was discussed over a number of beers at the pub and it was decided we would half-panel some of the wall (to stop damage by furniture – good thinking by the drunken powers-that-be!) and redecorate the room, including painting clouds on the ceiling… an idea which may or may not have germinated in Niles’ fanciful mind.

So, eschewing all educational activities, several of the ‘committee’ got to work on the renovations.

I can still remember the laughter from these days, mostly at the expense of myself and others.

Bob D installed several yard’s  worth of the panelling before realising he was putting it in upside down… but the real classic (at which I ‘had kittens’ – what a FANTASTIC turn of phrase steeped in seventies lore) was when Nig C removed the clock on the wall to make painting easier.

An electric clock. An electric clock which was linked to every other electric clock in the college. Electric clocks which identified the start/end of every lesson and sounded bells accordingly.

Electric clocks which ALL ceased working when one in the system was disconnected.


As I recall it took almost a week to reset everything… we were not the most popular people with the teaching staff


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October 13th 1975

“Niles’ 18th. Went down pub during dinner-hour. Went up Tim H’s in the evening. Reg congratulated me on newsheet”

Evidently a mixed bag of a day… not even written up in chronological order…

First up was Niles’ 18th birthday celebration at the pub where at least one of us was finally legally old enough to drink. (I can’t help thinking the exciting frisson of drinking under-age must have been lost to us all when we reached 18… sad really)

Reg was otherwise Mr Bowyer, our estimable and erudite headmaster at college. He was a somewhat intimidating figure who ruled with a will of steel and a demeanour to match. However, I think he was far more suited to overseeing schoolkids (as he did when the college was a mere grammar school) than he was somewhat unruly teenage college students, but that’s probably because I had run-ins with him on several occasions during my pair of years in the sixth form. Along with several of my college chums I felt we were considered somewhat ‘unsupervised’, ‘unstructured’ and perhaps even ‘unsavoury’ characters and thus treated with an element of suspicion by all the authority figures.

Looks like today though he was congratulating, rather than berating, me?! Naturally I have only the merest lackadaisical memory of the ‘newsheet’ (news sheet surely?) to which I refer, it doubtless representing the beginnings of the massive career in publication I would later not pursue.

Tim H was my co-conspirator in ‘the band’ (embarrassingly mentioned before). Maybe we were reforming after splitting up due to uncreative differences?

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September 26th 1975

“Did speech in assembly with John – quite a grin. Wore suit – another grin. Had to see Reg dinnertime. PM Lawrie McMenemy – good talk”

As I have written elsewhere “John Sweeney went on to present programmes for the BBC… I went on to watch them”

His broadcasting success can probably all be traced back to the onstage bantering he did weekly with yours truly in 1975/76. To be honest, we didn’t so much ‘banter’ as ‘spar’ with one another, a general misunderstanding of each other’s motives always evident. John played it – as he did in later years presenting his own terrific in-depth investigative journalism – very straight-laced and serious, whilst I approached it purely and utterly for laughs. I wrote ‘scripts’ which basically ripped apart several tutors, fellow students and the Barton Peveril ‘establishment’, scripts which even the weakest Monty Python team would have done little more than blown their noses with.

Looks like this morning, for extra giggle value, I wore my 3-piece blue suit (presumably with collar and tie). Can we say ‘pretentious’?

I can’t be sure why I had to see Reg at lunchtime. Reg was the esteemed headmaster of the college and a man known for his firm hand and bursts of unexpected anger at students. He did not suffer fools gladly but was having to deal with the building’s transition from grammar school to college, so presumably had to change his tact in dealing with older students and the whole seventies ‘hippy’ ethic thereof. To be honest I was initially scared stiff of the bloke as his demeanour could be very intimidating indeed. I don’t know what happened to me when I got into the sixth form but for whatever reason I became somewhat more fearless, hence my onstage ‘perfomances’.

If I was a betting man I would say I was possibly being questioned over my weekly speeches to the college community and perhaps reprimanded for being a little too ‘adult’ with my comments. I will say that if this was the case it – sadly perhaps – only spurred me on further to ‘get away’ with increasingly outrageous remarks. Call it my contribution to ‘student anarchy’.

One of the (many) successes of the College Coffee Club committee was getting Southampton Football Club’s then manager, Lawrie McMenemy, in for a speech and Q&A session with students.

Lawrie was born in 1936 and started his football career with Newcastle United, but never appeared in their first team. An injury ended his playing career but he was keen to then get into management, which is where he found his forte. His first management job was with non-league Bishop Auckland but by the early 70’s he was in charge of more prestigious clubs, Doncaster Rover and Grimsby both of which won the (then) Fourth Division Championship under his command.

He was chosen to replace Southampton’s long-term manager Ted Bates in December 1973 when the team were struggling in the First Division (which is now known as the Premiership). Sadly his first 5 months in charge could not prevent the club from being relegated into the Second Division at the end of the season. (If there can be solace in this, let it be known that one of Southampton’s fellow relegated teams was none other than the so-called ‘mighty’ Manchester United!).

Southampton would linger in the Second Division for a few more years under McMenemy’s tutelage, but he would enjoy massive success with the team in 1976… more of which I shall write about when my diaries roll around to May 1st of that year!

As I recall he was quite the engaging speaker this night in 1975 and it is something he has continued to pursue into his retirement years. We paid him nothing for his services that evening. I suspect he demands a little more these days?

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July 18th 1975

“Break-up for summer hols. went down Cricks during day then for dinner with Lorna”

The Cricketer’s Arms – or “the Cricks” for short – was the pub closest to Barton Peveril. Back in the days when a ‘minimum drinking age’ seemed to be more of a suggestion than a mandatory legal requirement it was not uncommon for the place to packed with school pupils and college students at lunchtime.

It was also not uncommon for students to rub shoulders with their teachers at the bar, either vying for the barmaids attention and quick service so they could get their ‘drink on’ during the hour-long break.

I’m not saying that the Cricks’ staff failed to upkeep their legal requirements from time to time – usually for a few days after they had been warned by police to stop serving underage drinkers – but most of the time the proverbial blind-eye was turned as long as none of the 16 or 17 year-olds got too out of hand.

We rarely did. I knew how to drink, as did a few others, but rarely did we topple over into incoherency and/or mouthy stumbling. For the most part lunchtime consisted of 2 or 3 beers (or, in my case, the spirit equivalent of Bacardi rum or Whisky) a bag of pork scratchings, vibrant chatter and money pumped into the jukebox. (Diana Ross’ “Love Hangover” was – for whatever reason – a particular favourite, and the song ALWAYS reminds me of The Cricks whenever I hear it these days)

The end of a school year was a particularly busy time for the pub and today in 1975 was doubtless no exception.

I don’t know if it was on this occasion or another but I do remember bumping into a friend of my Dad’s one time and having to ask him not to “tell on me” next time they met up. Mr. S did make – and stuck to – that promise, even taking it one stage further by buying me and all my schoolchums a round of drinks! I can’t help thinking that in this day and age he would have been arrested and sent to prison for “contributing to the delinquency of minors” or some such ludicrous politically correct nonsense.

In other news I also went out for a meal with Lorna. I wish I’d stated the place we’d gone to because I continue to remain clueless where people went on ‘dinner dates’ in 1975. I can’t remember any restaurants that would have fitted the bill for teenagers – maybe it was one of those crappy steakhouse places that were all the vogue for a while? (Surely though, they would be outside the limits of my meagre finances?). Drat my ever-forgetful memory!

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July 9th 1975

“Open Evening. Got £2-80 for Water Throwing”

I assume this was all part of the previously mentioned ‘induction’ week at Barton Peveril?

£2.80 is quite a tidy sum. Do you think I was sat on a dunking tank or something?

I bet we could have raised more if we’d had Derek as the target?! Or Yvonne in a white t-shirt.

(Actually I have NO idea what “water throwing” refers to. In Thailand they have an entire holiday dedicated to water throwing, but I’ll guess tonight had nothing to do with that)

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July 2nd 1975

“INDUCTION – Got sore throat again – Felt terrible all day. Birds still ain’t bad”

Students now. We weren't much different except our flares were MUCH bigger

Great… one stage appearance and it looks like my voice is ‘in traction’ almost immediately?! *sigh*

Still, surely it’s not beyond the realms of fantasy to imagine that some of the new attractive college birds young ladies might find a husky voice sexy, is it?

It is? (Especially when twinned to the 17-year-old me?)

What the f…?

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July 1st 1975

“INDUCTION – Cum-c-us great! Had to do speech – Q.Funny. New birds ain’t bad”

I should start by saying that “political correctness” was nothing but a twinkle in most people’s eyes in 1975.

I should continue by pointing out that I was a hormonal 17-year-old boy.

Furthermore there were some very attractive young birds ladies amongst the prospective new students for the following school year.

John Sweeney - still angry at being far less funny all those years ago

Looks like my unrequited stand-up career took further root, as I doubtless undermined all the good work that John Sweeney – Coffee Club President-elect if you remember – had done on stage before me. That would generally be the tone of things: John would stand up at the lectern and be all serious and grown-up about what Barton Peveril would be offering its students for the next few months, whilst I would follow him, generally being juvenile, taking the piss and mocking my peers, the tutors and (occasionally) the headmaster.

It goes without saying that the apparent coffee club promotional tagline of “cum-c-usis somewhat embarrassing and indefensible 35 years later.

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June 30th 1975

“Did bumph for induction week”

Induction week consisted of prospective students ‘trying out’ Barton Peveril.

There would be talks from the headmaster, the tutors and the sports & entertainment/arts representatives. The Coffee Club, at the forefront of student activities for the forthcoming college year, would also do presentations and hand out promotional “bumph” to the ‘newbies’ telling them what to expect and how to get involved.

I must have been put in charge of something.

That was their mistake, right there.


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