I passed the 11 plus and my parents decided to send me to Windsor Grammar School, although it was in a different county, Berkshire, from my home county of Buckinghamshire. It was supposed to be much harder to pass the 11 plus in Bucks than Berks so my new school put me in the top, x, form. This was an express class for the brightest pupils who took their O.Level G.C.E’s a year early.
I had to go an extra stop on the same train and then had a walk of about a mile much of which was along the banks of the river Thames. I learned to observe the changing seasons through the weeping willows, the ducks and swans and the river itself.
Unfortunately I found that I was near the bottom in most subjects and this did nothing to my self confidence. Also I was finding the transition from child to adult very difficult. I grew very rapidly, 5 inches one year, and must have been a gawky, ungainly sight. My parents didn’t help by keeping me in short trousers longer than most of my classmates and then sending me in corduroy rather than flannel – because they were hard wearing. I was bullied for most of my stay at the school, christened gaumless by my classmates. I wasn’t encouraged as a sportsman, because, I suppose I was not as confident as many of the other pupils. I remember playing cricket but never being given the opportunity to bowl and rarely to bat as I was always 10 or 11 in the team. I have enjoyed sport in later life and resent the failing of the teachers to recognize that everybody needs a chance and encouragement.
I did enjoy some things about the school. It had a very active house system and also ran a number of clubs. I joined the Chess club and found I was quite good at that and the Nature club and found I was very interested in most of the talks that I attended. Competition between houses was very intense and I was able to gain some valuable points for my house by reciting poetry and performing in the house play.
The Combined Cadet Force was quite active at the school and compulsory for everyone (as was sport, whatever the weather). Field days were great fun. We had to rush about with guns and maps and pretend to shoot each other. I went to a camp at Aldershot and will never forget a midnight exercise in the pine forests with snow falling gently and having thurderflashes (a kind of large banger) to let off if we found our opposite team.
The skiffle movement swept the country whilst I was at Windsor and I remember pupils were allowed to stay in at break time and play on their washboards, tea-chests and more conventional instruments.
Homosexuality was rife at the school. Pill fights (where lads tried to grab and squeeze each others’ testicles) were common. In more extreme cases older boys would take boys to the far end of the playing fields, take down their trousers and blacken their private parts with boot polish. Or pairs of lads would capture someone, one would hold him while the other massaged him. One pair even cut the bottoms off their pockets of their cadet corps uniforms so they could touch each other up whilst on parade. I was disgusted by all of this. However I was keen on sex. My first ejaculation was a complete surprise. I was having a bath and I suppose a bit keen on washing my private parts. After that I took masturbation up religiously, managing six or seven times a day. Another bullied lad, Peter Archer, and I would compare notes. My main fantasy was fondling a girls breasts from behind.
Our Biology teacher was very strange and recounted that at the age of 33 he went to Curzon Street in London to engage the services of a prostitute as he was still a virgin. He took some litmus paper with him to test the acidity of her vagina. He also demonstrated some strange experiments. He gave us all some white powder to taste only telling us afterwards it was urea. He put a large slug on his tongue and swallowed it. He put down a large stray cat for us to dissect. He had wandering hands too but unlike a teacher Mr Brown they didn’t go higher than our knees. We soon learnt dodges to avoid Mr Brown’s hands!