Towards summer 1961
1. By this time, our Steve was in the second year at the Secondary Modern school, just down the road from my school in Church Road, Thornton; and from time to time he would talk about the teachers there.
1A. The headmaster was called Mr. Rhodes, but they called him “Cecil” after his famous namesake from southern African history. Some of the kids used to play tricks on the caretaker, and Cecil took them all to task about this in assembly one morning. Steve (and presumably everyone else) regarded it as comical that while doing this he turned to one of his staff and said, “They pinched his bike, you know!”
1B. One of the teachers was Mrs. Terranova, but they used to call her Mrs. “Turn-’er-over”; whether that nickname had some sort of sexual connotation, I am not sure. Another was Mr. Jackson—was he a maths teacher?—the husband of Mrs. Jackson who in turn had been both Steve’s and my teacher in Class 4 at Church Road County Primary School.
1C. Another teacher was “Eddie” Gaskell, who took both gardening and science. He had an idiosyncratic pointing gesture and call: “For’ard to the potting shed!” On some sort of school outing there were two coaches, and there was a whole lot of kids on the back seat of one of them, doing Eddie pointing-gestures in full view of Eddie who was on the front seat of the coach following. Also, they used to sing about him in his capacity as science teacher, to a tune most often heard in a circus context called The Entry of the Gladiators:
Here comes Eddie with a Bunsen burner,1D. Steven’s music teacher was known as “Ben”. For later on he recited to me the spoken lines from the pop song “Big Bad John”, suitably adapted:
Then came the time when the piano broke down1E. The P.E. teacher was called “Cyril”—Cyril Hargreaves—who Steve reckoned was a “bighead”. I remember, on one occasion, that Steve and I were walking to school along Church Road, when as a car passed us, he happened to remark: “There’s Cyril in his car!”; and I sang out, very loudly:
Cyril in his car;—and Steve hurriedly and emphatically shushed me up. He was more than a little concerned that Cyril would have heard, and that there would be reprisals—against him!
[more] But I don’t remember knowing or being able to recognise Cyril Hargreaves from there; all I recall is our Steve’s talking about him as one of his school teachers—about his being a bighead—and pointing him out to me that one time when he flashed past in his car.
3. Chris Woodhead also went to Wignall Sunday School, but he only went in the afternoon, so I never met him there. But that is where Chris initially met Peter Hargreaves, Cyril Hargreaves’s son. Peter, like Chris, went to Baines’ Endowed School, but that is not where Chris got to know him, for Peter was younger than Chris and was in the year below him at school; it was at Wignall Sunday School that he came into contact with him.
4. And then Chris got to know Peter more in a friendly way, because of a concert that they were staging at Wignall. Mrs. Joan Hargreaves, Peter’s mother, was quite musical and good at organising this kind of thing, so she was coaching and rehearsing a group from the Sunday School to sing “Macnamara’s Band”:
My name is Macnamara,There was a group of ones that were “rounded up” from the Sunday School—and Chris was one of them—to perform this singing item. The Hargreaveses had a piano, so Chris, with some other kids from the Sunday School, was invited round to Peter Hargreaves’s house, at 9 Mayfair Drive, Thornton, to practise, and get all prepared to stage this Macnamara’s Band sketch. Peter Hargreaves was Macnamara (of course!), because it was his mother who was organising the concert. So that is how Chris became friendly with Peter Hargreaves, one Saturday afternoon, round their piano, rehearsing “Macnamara’s Band” for one of the Wignall Concerts.
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