Memories of Richard WIGHT

Memories of the Maypole County Primary School mid 50`s
Richard Wight enrolled September 1955
Headmistress - Mrs Chambers
Teachers - Miss Cridge, Miss West/Ralph, Mr Tagell, Mr Rawlings, Mr Beresford, Miss Phillips.
Playground Supervisors - Mrs Conboy & Mrs Rattie
Caretaker - Mr Stockford

Miss Cridge was good fun and obviously attractive as the male Teachers would blush at her low cut tops . Miss West was a blonde, 20 something who married whilst at the Maypole.

Mr Rawlings taught the top class in the portable building that housed the staff room, two teaching rooms, a cloakroom that separated them and doubled as an impromptu library! We sculpted from blocks of salt at Christmas and there was raffia at the back of the classroom for the less able. People don`t believe it when I tell them that when I started school I used a slate and sort of Brillo pad to rub out with !!If you were trouble you got the job of washing all the slates after class in a bucket of filthy water. PE and country dancing for a good measure of extra curricular activity was hilarious. Bean bag tossing, jumping canes at various heights, running on the spot was a favourite with identifiable coloured sashes not to mention hula hoops which pre- dated plastic and were made of cane. Music for country dancing was played on the school record player set up inside next to an open window overlooking the playground where we had to dance. Boys fell about at the sight of their friends making fools of themselves high stepping and light footed prancing.

We had tests for everything in those days, almost everything. From sight to singing, from spelling to tables, from running and jumping to reading and table etiquette. Let`s not forget the nit – nurse with her comb submerged in an enamel bowl of Detol. School swimming lessons took the form of a coach trip to Hextable school whose pool was a treat once or twice a term !!! The only cultural trip that I went on was to the Festival Hall to hear Handel`s Messiah when the Shot Tower was still standing on the now sited Queen Elizabeth Hall. The football match between Maypole and Oakfield Lane that we played on their strange hill-side pitch and Simon Ferrari`s winning goal. (Editorial - Simon was the brother of Nick Ferrari - broadcaster) Doug Cotterill was still smarting from that defeat when I met him some years later at Dartford West.

Mrs Chambers tried in vain to have me expelled from the Maypole when wearing leg irons, I copied the other children by inching around the railings that surrounded the entrance to the coal cellar steps. I had to be taken by my mother to the Education Office at Crook Log for a dressing down of my behaviour at the Maypole. Apparently the report from Chambers stated that I had climbed onto the veranda roof and that the school couldn`t hold responsibility any more. Well, that was a red rag to a bull for my mum and I was allowed to stay but on one condition. I would not attend playtimes anymore.......This led to chaos, with the other children constantly banging on the windows during the freezing cold as I made myself comfortable next to a radiator with a bottle of milk and latest copy of the Beano !!

Mr Tagell.......My Hero who smoked endless roll-ups and sported a brown cord jacket. He played the piano beautifully, wore round specs and camel desert boots.He was so inspirational to my interest in music and singing that continues to this day.Both Ronnie Potter and myself sang solos at the leaving concert that year.c1961 the song that I was chosen to sing was “Who is Sylvia?” and I can still hear Mr Tagell`s superbly played introduction. Ronnie and I both sang in the local St Barnabus church choir where we both had sisters in attendance which meant we had to behave. The Choir members I remember from the Maypole area were - David McQue (Head Chorister )Paul & John Ellingham,Ronnie Potter, Richard Conboy, Paul Hayward, David Hunt, Anthony Wilkinson and Malcom McDonald. Anne,Elaine & Christine Potter, Mary Wight. Choir practise on Wednesday evenings when we would be scolded for the previous Sundays sodding about followed by six of chips from Elsies shop in the Dip.

I had a paper round at Henderson`s and my responsibility was Tile Kiln Lane. John Parker had Baldwyns Park, Terry Young SummerHouse Drive, Owen Gemmell Coldblow and beyond, Ronnie Potter had the Maypole and Buster would set up the tables outside the shop in all weathers and lay out the papers ready for us to “mark-up” when we arrived at six, they were still warm !!!

Stan rode a moped and I seem to remember he lived in either Summer House or Red Lodge. He used to screen old cini films in the Hut/institute at the bottom of Baldwyns Road. The projector would always break down at the good bits leaving us to walk home dejected but hey........thanks Stan, this was all before Television !!! Tom`s cafe on the corner opposite the Conboy`s home where Kevin was a dab-hand at tilting the pinball machine to his advantage whilst knocking the ash off his cigarette with his little finger !!He had loads of horse brasses which adorned his leather jacket....

No school pool, cinema or even television, what did we get up to ? Lunchtime concerts were introduced by Mr Tagell and he would collar other staff to perform for us. Girls became an interest and many young couples would parade round the playground. Peter Hooten was assigned to carry me around when I had the irons on and we would often collapse in a heap admist tears of laughter. Funny thing was that when I moved into 56 Court Road Eltham whose smiling face met me at the door one day ? yes, rootin`, tootin` Hootin` He had only moved in next door !!! As my leg improved and came the day for me to walk iron-less, my mum had me enrolled in the disabled swimming class at Madam Osterburg`s across the heath. I became the envy of the school when on a hot summer`s day I would leave classes to cycle over the heath to the college and their lovely pool !!! And girls, one of which turned out to be Mary Rand !!!

and some more . . . . .

I have spoken to Owen Gemmell recently who remembers a couple of friendly patients who would give us money for sweets or fags. One I remember was called Harry the Fish and would do a dance for us throwing his cap in the air. He used to keep two, one pint beer bottles in each jacket pocket and two oranges which he would set up on each side of the road, wherever he wished to cross.
A bottle on each side with an orange stuck on top.......and hey presto, an instant do it yourself " Bolisha Beacon ". We used to laugh and point and I think it encouraged him.

Another torment was to follow poor old Eiddi as she would be shuffling across the footpath towards St Mary`s. My mother said she wasn`t all there and we were to be kind to her !!!

Derek Harris used to shout French ? to her which would confuse matters even more. " Vou lez Pas ", he would say which had us alll in stiches and no real harm was done. Don`t ask me what it meant.

On the subject of that footpath I can remember some funny times like creeping round the garden of Ridgelands Bible College with Ronnie Potter and pinching soft drinks from the garage where we had stored them after a Bible College Fete !!! Owen and myself had to attend the Sunday afternoon classes that were run by missionaries so we knew the place inside out and would dare each other to creep around hoping not to be seen.
I think they knew all the time what we were up to and left us to God`s rath.

We would go carol singing at Christmas with various choirs and so have an idea to the respectable organisations that people would feel obliged to donate......this prompted sprees to the areas of the community that didn`t benefit from the legitimate carol singers !!! I always remember that Hill Crescent as a great one for this which would have us choristers belting out the favourites and spending the proceeds on whatever. On some occasions we would get the giggles and have to scarpa before people could reward us.......shame.

The St Barnabus Church choir were invited to join forces with St Mary`s for their Summer Camps !!! These were really great fun and we would all meet up at St Mary`s with our kit bags and set off in a removal lorry to places as far flung as Dorking, Abinger Hammer and New Milton in Hampshire. They would last ten days or so and we would have great times and it was real camping, no ***** footing for us. We had to make an oven, a shower, chop fire wood, dig toilets, sing at the local churches, help with food preperation as well as sleep under canvas for the duration, not to mention the Mid-night Hikes !!! All of us have great memories of the days with people such as Ronnie Potter, Nigel Wilson, Steven Wilson who was one of the leaders, David Benge the choir master who married Anne Potter and various other great names I fail to recall. Thank you all so much.
When I used to get home my mum would dump me straight in the bath !!!

and yet nore . . . .

I have met with Anthony Wilkinson recently who lived at Coldblow and he also jogged my memory to a few occasions when as lads we would sleep out on the heath in a tent and take alarm clocks with us as we all had paper rounds to do !!!

How many of you remember the drinking fountain, situated on the corner of the playground on the cloakroom wall ? Many a hot afternoon we would get refreshment there until a certain bloody Peter Barber rammed my head down onto the spout chipping one of my teeth !!! He was the boy with a hearing aid that had one of those pink curly leads going from the aid in his ear down inside his jumper into his sky pocket that would house the battery. So what did I do....just diconnect him .....and what a noise it used to make, like a patient had escaped !!!

Whatever, I have many memories of all of us either on the Heath or at the Pavilion in Baldwyns Park which were, lets face, our domain.

Some terrific football and cricket matches would ensue and passing teachers like Mr Marchant from Dartford West, would stop and eyes a gogle would shout encouragement.

He once knocked on our door when my dad was ill and offered to take me to Mote Park to watch Kent Play. What a nice gesture you might think but what was I going to tell them at school?

However much I protested, I was to go, so keeping my head down I was driven to Maidstone by Mr Marchant and a great day at the cricket it was, but I kept my mouth shut afterwards !!

Where did you learn to flight a ball Wight? he would say. And not knowing what he was talking about I would reply, My Father Sir !!!

Those days proved quite valuble and after all the trauma of the irons I went on to play for the 1st eleven at Central St Martins where our training pitch was at Islington and used by the Arsenal.

Owen Gemmell, Derek Harris, Alan Parnell, Tony Wilkinson & Ronnie Potter have remained friends through out and only recently told me that they were told not to play with me as you never know , you may catch something ???

What a laugh, we never spoke about it and I was always made more than welcome in their homes, I was even best man for Owen In Edinbough in 1974 !!

So to all of you who made me laugh and feel equal look at Ronnies memories re. we are taught prejudice !! Thanks again,


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