Harrow County School for Boys

Dr. A. R. Simpson - Anecdotes 1946-51

by Phil Chesterman

I have put together some interested stories about the enigmatic man, which do not seem to have been included anywhere before on the site.
1.  I note that the canings returned after I left HCS in 1951.   About 1950 the canes disappeared !   Rumours abounded at the time that a gang of prefects (!) had broken into Dr Simpson`s office (den ? study ? lair ?) and removed said objects of corporal punishment.  A more likely explanation is that some higher education authority had told ARS to desist.
A little later in the year I drove Cyril Smith (Math) to such despair that he sent me to the headmaster.  Now, Cyril (as I found out later didn`t like the Doctor) NEVER sent anyone to the head, and ARS must have realized that I had done something really evil.  So, he brought out his brand new toy, a thick, black leather strap, and asked me which hand I preferred.   Such thoughtfulness !
(It got worse, as I had missed the start of a Science exam, so had to sit in Boggy Water`s lab and watched the others scratching away, so out of boredom decided to create a loud but harmless explosion using the gas-taps and a tin can with holes at each end.  Back to ARS I went, who in desperation, merely told me to go home. Was I ``getting`` to him. ?)
About a year later, Harry Webb told me I should have been given a medal.
2. It`s no secret that the Scout Troop`s numbers were greatly reduced by the CCF, and that Dr S. didn`t like the Scouts.   One morning ARS started his ``speech`` in assembly by reading a complaining letter from one of the residents of the block of flats beside the swimming pool.   He should have read the whole letter before reading it out !   The Scouts had camped out overnight on the playing fields recently, and the complaint was lengthy about the noise, and splashing around in the pool at midnight, some without clothing, and all yelling.  ARS was gleeful as he kept on reading, ``and my biggest complaint (wrote the flat-dweller) is the raucous noise from that 5th RATE TIN-POT BAND THAT RUINS MY FRIDAYS WITH ITS DISCORDANT ROW``.   Bedlam broke out in the assembly with the boys and the staff realizing (before ARS did) that the band belonged to his beloved CCF !
Harry Webb turned red and purple trying to hold back laughter.
3. So, Harry Webb (Cob or Cobweb) ended up teaching woodworking ?  He taught us math in those days, and we actually learned something.  Apparently he didn`t have a degree.   One morning in a classroom beside Sheepcote Road class was disrupted by military shouting, stamping of feet (clicking of heels ?). The CCF was up to something special that day so their honoured members were excused pursuing an education for a few hours.  Harry went over to the window, slammed it shut, and announced, ``I used to do that when I was five years old wearing a paper hat, and holding a wooden sword``.  I hope that remark had nothing to do with the woodworking later.
4.  After improving my relationship with Cyril Smith (who with Harry, and Killer King ran the travel club to places like Switzerland and Austria.....lots of fun having a beer with ones` schoolmasters at the age of 15) ran into Cyril again at the Old Gayts` clubhouse, and he told us how the power-struggle began in the CCF.   Before any announcement was made about its formation, Bigham, who was in league with ARS, started to grill all the teachers about their military ranks.  How Bigham, who started out as Major, became Colonel is obvious but it seems he promoted himself from Flight Lieut to Squadron Leader, just to beat out Major Skillen, and of course Cyril Smith who was also a Flight Lieut.  Cyril told us that if Bigham had come clean, he would have told him he wasn`t in the least interested.
Commander Helm outranked them all !  He came along later and as someone in the guestbook intimated, he could have turned a shambles into a real shambles.
5.  One of my oldest buddies from Form 2A (1946-47) was later caught reading a girlie magazine in class, and got sent to the Doctor.   ARS told him that interest in such subjects is only applicable when ``one is starting a family``  The same individual, rather than being written down as LATE, joined the assorted non-conformists, catholics and Jews, during the C of E session at assembly, got caught, sent to the head, and told ARS he had changed his religion.   Square called him a traitor.
6.  Charlie Crinson (Geography) suggested one day that the cricket team might do better if its members were fit !  Most, but not all were very fit.  So the ˝ hour fitness sessions started.  This put the doctor`s nose out of joint being coach, general-manager, etc. of the cricket team, losing all that time to real practice.  He was heard to enquire as to the length of the half-hour sessions.
7.   One day ARS got upset with some 6th formers and called them a ``lazy bunch of sods``.   Cyril Smith overheard this and suggested to Square that someone might complain to his parents.  ``About what ?`` said ARS. `` Being called a sod by a headmaster`` was the reply.  ``Well they are lazy sods, you know, clumps of earth``.  When it was explained to him, that in England anyway, what the most common usage of the word intended, he wanted to go back and explain himself.  He was dissuaded.
8.   The last time I saw ARS was in 1957, in February, when the Plessis-Robinson rugby team visited from Paris, to play against the OGRFU.  The night before the match there was a dinner at a hotel in the west end.  While checking my coat I got into conversation with the president of the French club (having worked for l`Agence France-Presse for a year my French was a whole lot better than it had been at HCS).  Then, in walked ARS !  So, I said to the Frenchman,``permettez-moi de vous présenter le Dr Simpson, président de notre association``   So the Plessis-Robinson president gave ARS a stream of French, about the weather in London, etc.  Poor Dr A R Simpson choked, and my last memory of him was a look of ``you got your revenge at last !``


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