My Memories of Gayton High 1977-1981
by Paul Hymas
I only applied to attend Gayton because my best friend at the time had done the same. We lived in Elstree and it would mean a lengthy journey on public transport but it didn't bother me. The school had a very good reputation in 1977 so it came as a bit of a surprise when I was accepted and my friend had to make do with his second choice of Hatch End. Twenty years on, my memories have become somewhat faded but I hope that these recollections are an accurate portrayal of life at Gayton during the '77- '81 era.
Having shopped for the full uniform (inc P.E. kit) at Stanmore Pullen I arrived for my first day with confidence, only to leave in the afternoon totally bewildered. At middle school I had been a big fish in a small pond, quite the opposite during my first few years at high school. I seem to remember being ushered into the large assembly hall to sit some tests, they were to determine which sets we would be in for various subjects.
Over the next few months I started to get things into perspective. My form tutor was Mr. Mahon, an enormous rugby loving brute of a man. When he had cause to shout he had the loudest voice I had ever heard, from early on I was a little scared of him. I learnt through word of mouth and experience about the good teachers (Mr. Temple etc), the bad (take your pick) and the ugly (Mrs. Bowden- sorry miss). We also had the pleasure of discovering Buntings tuck shop. The school in those days was very strict with troublemakers and I recall at least two people being expelled in that first year. The school didn't have football on it's curriculum in 1977 and those long walks to the rugby fields as it rained sideways still haunt me! The outdoor swimming pool next to the drama block was a health risk then, is it still used now?
I quickly got involved in stage/lights/sound and tried to come to terms with learning R.E. , Latin and Russian background. The year positively flew by. The two memories that stick out the most from that year are:
1) 50 or so of us huddled round my (borrowed) sisters tape recorder listening to 'Derek (Cook) & Clive (Moore) come again'. Anyone who knows the contents of these recordings will understand the reason why 13 year old boys found it so amusing.
2) The vigilante mission administered to the 1st year bully. Master Newman had tormented many a lad in those first few terms. One lunchtime toward the end of term he (Newman) was duped into coming to a pre arranged classroom where he was set upon by many a boy and politely warned to cease from his activities. It worked. I met him some years later in Edgware and was quite surprised to find him a quiet, shy and intimidated young man.
The second year continued and was something of a blur for me. Throughout that year my parents were going through a messy break up (and ultimately divorce) and my school work suffered greatly. No one at the school asked why my behaviour slipped to such a degree, it was simply put down to me wishing to be seen as a 4th rate clown (Mr Mahons words) and nothing else. How times change! I bet pupils get counselled nowadays. I became further involved with the backstage crew and less involved with schoolwork. That year couldn't end quickly enough. One lasting memory was the end of term R.E exam, I scored a massive 6% but one member of our class managed a minus 2% mark! He had no interest in the subject and simply wrote his name and the date at the top of the page and sat daydreaming for the rest of the test. Unfortunately he gote the date wrong and was docked 2% by the sadistic teacher.
Years 3 & 4 passed along the same lines as year two with the odd few months spent trying to better myself. It was nice to be studying subjects that I had chosen and I really did enjoy Drama, Sociology and Human Biology. In February '81 I managed to secure myself an apprenticeship with London Transport so looked upon my exams as being unimportant. I guess I left with a whimper rather than bathed in glory.
Looking back over those last two years several things stick in the memory and I can recall them without too much trouble. I received (one stroke) of the cane for lobbing something at someone during an indoor lunch break (I think it was a dart as we were allowed to play back then). Administered by Mr. Morrell and it bloody hurt! A pupil, who will remain nameless, was given six of the very best by Col. Venn. He had been seen by Venn throwing a bottle at another boy, it missed but that didn't bother Venn. The lad in question showed us the damage afterwards and if that sort of punishment was dished out today the teacher would be arrested.
The stage shows put on by the staff and boys. I used to be given a lift home by Miss Slater (the perfumed lady) and I was trusted to attend the staff party after those plays, a few of the staff did end up quite drunk but I never said anything to anyone.
Playing football with Mr. Andrews and some other lads after school on a Friday night. Winning the house 5 a side tournament 4-2, with Mr. Andrews praising me for my goalkeeping performance. Miss Mcnamara wearing low cut T-shirts. Hitting Mr. Cambell for a one bounce four during games. As the ball flew to the boundary he called me a lucky bastard. Spending my dinner money on Jam Doughnuts from the bakers by the cinema, they cost 9p each and at 8.30 in the morning they were still warm. The fear of being told to go and sit under the clock. Martin Rumsey blowing a kiss to Miss Kleinlerha as she walked into the classroom. He was immediately sent out to Mr Morrells office, a red card 2 seconds into the lesson!! Me being a 'pain in the arse' prefect who would scour the school with some friends during the lunch break looking for 1st years who were in when they should of been out. Finally, some of us stagehands painting our names in the roof above the hall. Are they still there I wonder?
I was never in serious trouble during my four years and I never bunked off. A few years ago I was given an I.Q test and achieved a 136 IQ mark so I guess Mr Morrell and co. were right when they said that I was wasting my ability. I visited the school right up until 1988, helping with the Dramathon of '83 along the way but as the teachers I knew left there seemed little or no point in continuing. I like to finish this trip down memory lane with a dosier on some of the teachers, that I had the pleasure and pain, to cross paths with.
Harry Hull (Headmaster)
Only ever saw him in assembly and in his smoked filled office, he must have been a 60 a day man.
My form tutor for 3 years. A feared man who went on to become a year head.
Kevin Freel. (English)
My form tutor in year four. Tall camp sounding man who had a crush on Mrs McNamara.
My year head for 4 years. Like to give the brush to unruly boys. His nose grew redder and more unattractive as the years went by.
Chris Temple. (Science)
My favourite male teacher. A chalk throwing nice guy who always had a huge bunch of keys tied to a length of 'rope' tied to his trousers. He was the teacher that encouraged me to join the backstage crew. We all thought he was having a fling with Miss Freeman.
Miss Freeman. (Human Biology)
Seen by many as a 'babe'. She hating giving sex education.
Andy Kelso. (Drama)
Regarded by many as the best teacher there was. He was an inspiration to us all but had an estimated heart rate of 220.
Mrs McNamara. (English)
By far my favourite female teacher. A lovely Irish lady who could do no wrong in my eyes (except flirting with Mr Freel).
Miss Chritchley (French)
A petite lady who often wore skirts above her knees. She would sit on her desk at the front of the class unknowingly teasing us. Didn't she marry Mr. Flemming?
Mr Flemming (Sociology)
A real nice guy who used to make us roar with tales of his university days, he liked telling us all jokes as well. A hippy if there ever was one.
Stuart Cambell (P.E.)
Ginger gym teacher who used to delight in pushing the less physically able (overweight and no good at games) to make them look even worse than they were.
Simply the least liked teacher of them all.
The R.E teacher who's name escapes me. He taught R.E in '77 and kept ranting on about this fantastic radio (comedy?) show he used to listen to. The punchline "but I only like cabbage" seems to stick in my mind. He also loved doling out lines. It was always 50 but each line took up 3 lines of an A4 piece of paper and contained loads of long words that I probably still don't know the meanings of today. As soon as you gave him the completed lines he would simply tear them up without even checking them. What was his name????
Two questions I'd like answers to.
1) Are our names still up in that roof?
2) Where is Richard Kemp? My best buddy at school who I haven't spoken to for 15 years.
If anyone reading this would like to contact me, please do so on firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul Hymas July 2001