Harrow County School for Boys

Reminiscences of Dave Hantman 1965 – 1973  (yes 1973 I re-did the sixth form!!)

Early Days

In 1965 I joined Harrow County from Roxbourne School with Robert Murton, where is he now?. We were put into 1 Northwick our form room being the Art room, Mr Davies was our form teacher. We had lockers outside and I remember it was at the end of one of the famous 6th form corridors. So in the morning we used to throw each other’s bags into the 6th form corridors. To retrieve them would then risk detention.

Thirty-five years later and I still recall three quarters of the register. Bartlett, Buffet, Dean, Elder, Fountain, Geary, Gershon, Green, Hantman, Hobbs, Hutton, Jackson, then there was somewhere, Loberman, Murton, Reisner, Segal and Weisbaum.

What do I remember of 1N ? :- Gareth Bartlett was a rogue who loved rugby, Alan Buffet left and went to live in Newton Mearns, Scotland, Fountain had bright red hair and a brother further up the school, Jonny Gershon also had an older brother. Gary Hobbs lived in Kenton Lane and was the best footballer, Steve Hutton’s initials were S.S., Toby Jackson left very early on and went to "the" Harrow school. Leon Loberman was heavily into aeroplanes and our families are still in contact. Dave Reisner (see below for story of Harry Mees) is still in touch with me and it was he who told me about this wonderful web site. Howard Weisbaum was a real mate in those days; I remember so many silly things about Howard. Learning the bagpipes and causing havoc in Latin being but two.

In the early years lunch time and break football was played in the inner quad. So as not to break windows we had to use stupid plastic tennis balls with holes in them. The outer quad had an old naval gun right by the flagpole. The aircraft spotters used to hang around here with their telescopes trying to read off the registration numbers of low flying planes on Northolt approach.  ( Click for photograph - ed.)

The school had a CCF and Scout troop. To a new boy it seemed militaristic. After all how many schools had a Colonel Bigham and a Major Venn. (Later Colonel Venn). J.R Avery became head master at the same time as my first year, and one of the first things he did was to allow boys to become Prefects who were neither in the CCF nor in the Scouts. This would have been heresy under Dr Simpson’s regime.

Lunch was 6 old pence. If you missed it George Cowan would have you out in assembly the next day. Every day he had a list of boys to see him after assembly. He knew the name of every boy in the school. In his detentions one had to keep writing "The ploughman homeward plods his weary way". Line after line.

I had to wear a school cap. Right up till the fourth year. All the way home. Can you imagine that now? At the end of the fourth year we made a bonfire and burnt them by the huts.


Like all schoolboys there were teachers I liked and those who I have more negative memories of. Some of the names of those who taught me I stagger to remember, but here goes: - On the positive side, Fred Bilson, Dave the man Burt, CIA Anderson (very strange at times), CPOD, a great guy called Mike Deakin for physics, Tufty Groombrdge, Dick Hartley, Mike Tribe who never threw a piece of chalk at a pupil when he could get them with a board rubber, Jock cotton wool bud in the ear Lafferty, and then the more negative memories, Bigham and at the bottom of the list Viv Edwards. Was it really necessary to take a slipper to a boy just because he liked football more than rugby ????

Harry Mees was a wonderful character, who even now I remember with both fondness and fear. His work out of hours with the stage crew was fantastic, he got me through my St Johns ambulance first aid course, yet I also still remember (whilst in the first year) a history lesson in the "huts" when Harry dragged Dave Reisner out and caned him in what was a fit of temper. Everyone did Harry Mees impressions; the best though was by Michael Portillo. When ever I see him on T.V. I just can’t take the guy seriously, as I’m waiting for him to say in the Mee’s voice "Tony Blair" "oy yooo gotit".


Rugby was played down at the Watford Road playing fields. In the early years those of us who hated the game were occasionally lucky to go cross-country running through the woods which became Northwick Park Hospital. By the time we got to the third and fourth years I had become a good friend of Simon Benson. Simon lived in Flambard Road just round the corner to the school. Simon claims we used to jump over the fence by the "old hall" and belt around to his house to skive off games totally. Of course being the responsible father of three teenage children, I can’t remember this at all!!!! In the summer we used the school swimming pool by the tuck shop. As a non-swimmer in the first year I suffered the indignity of having a huge white cross sewn to the seat of my navy trunks. The water was always freezing.

Growing Up

High lights of the year were always the Xmas Ents. This was the show put on by the boys (and females from the girl’s school) to raise charity for the old folks of Harrow.

My earliest memory was of Colin Michaels blasting his guitar one lunchtime in a rehearsal for Xmas Ents. I was delighted to follow a few years later. More on Xmas Ents a little later.

My academic career wavered, 1N-2B-3C-4C Little cliques formed.

Finally to go with the adolescent spots, Vitalis (you can tell a Vitalis man when the wind blows) Wagon Wheels from the tuck shop, Terrapin Huts which were falling down as they put them up, and desert boots which were sad suede shoes that George Cowan hated, I made it to the fifth form and O levels. At last I was allowed to have a blue ribbon sewn around my blazer arms. How proud I was on the bus. However by now we were wearing "green parkers with the little bit of fur around the hood" so no one could actually see if we had uniform on at all. To get out of school at lunchtime we would put PE kit on and go cross-country running. The route may include Simon Benson’s house, Harrow County School for Girls, Alex Strickland (the record shop), the Wimpy Bar or Sopers (now known as SOPERS, I will never call it Debenhams its Sopers damn you!!!!).

Also we would go to "Sid Parsons", later known as Volume One, in Springfield Road. This was the guitar shop, where we fantasised that we were Jeff Beck or the Stones.

 Hot Pig

A piece of graffiti started appearing around the school. J.R Avery had a go at us in assembly but instead of saying Hot Pig said; "You know that phrase". Guess what now started appearing around the school?

The Xmas Ents that year was known as Xenogenesis, but nicknamed Xenogenitals.

The Sixth Form

With four O levels I scraped into the sixth form (L6ScA). I made friends with Phil Panto who had just arrived from Birmingham, and Ritchie Milsted who had jumped a year. I re-sat Maths O level (passed) and by Xmas was really enjoying life. The Xmas Ents that year was called Happy Poison, Clive Anderson, Geoff Perkins, etc and Hamlet was on its way. By now I had been elected (by my peers), onto the school council. We abolished 6th form corridors and started fighting with George Cowan for a drinks Vending machine.

Lower Sixth holds my fondest memories. The highlight of my time at Harrow County was undoubtedly Hamlet. I had made my acting debut in the Xmas Ents. Clive Anderson had done a "Graham Kerr galloping gourmet sketch". I was the stooge pulled out of the audience and got covered in foam. What a debut. Then came Hamlet. I had discovered that if you got selected for a school play then you were allowed to grow a beard….So I did !!!

Hamlet was incredible. A castle was built in the New Hall out of giant Lego,

Rehearsals started in the Xmas term, I was to be second gravedigger, Geoff Perkins was first gravedigger and each night we would sit under the trap door with Ritchie Milstead in the pitch black waiting to appear. Also each night following the "alas poor Yorick etc" the skull would get thrown back into the "trap door" grave and, Ritchie had to catch it! Nicola Cook was Olivia (another old Roxbourne girl) Clive Anderson – Laertes, and the great Francis Mathews played Hamlet, he was simply brilliant. Charlie Aylmer was Polonius, Gerry Lafferty directed the whole thing and there was even a sword fight, which for a school play was amazing. In the summer I again performed a role with Geoff Perkins in "A Resounding Tinkle".

Into AV1ScA, I found the photo from 1971 and have sent it in, complete with class list.

The following Xmas (1971) I directed the Xmas Ents. It was called Antithesis the Red Baron Show. The show started with Donald Snow (now Jonn Savannah) playing the Wedding March (Arthur Haley was not amused). We did a great Camp version of Hello Sailor to the tune of Hello Dolly, with Paul Ware singing the immortal line "I’m still mincing you’re still wincing when it comes on strong". Nick Tyrwhitt just did not see the funny side.

Snooker in the prefect’s common room whilst skiving Tufty Groombridge’s physics lessons, 6th form society on a Friday night, sometimes at the girls school, and convergence, these are fond memories. At the end of the summer I was one of three Harrow County boys along with Harry Proctor and Mark Alexander to be selected for the British Schools Exploring Society’s 1972 expedition to Arctic Norway. Sadly on return I discovered that I’d bombed in my A levels, so another year at Harrow County was in store.

I left school in the summer of 1973, went to college for two years and finally made it to The City University in 1975, graduating in Optometry. Nowadays I can be found in Preston Road looking at peoples eyes for a living.

                                                                                                    Dave Hantman 

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