A 2017 Christmas Letter..
Confession :I took away some grapes from a vineyard in Chile…
“School’s out for the Summer .. “
pelted Rock Legend Alice Cooper with a Boa Constrictor around his neck. The dude was the son of a clergy man and his real name was a something- something Furnier; the band in which he kicked ass as vocalist was called A-C.
Cooper progressed from Badass Shock-Rock God to the quieter side of life where he excelled and improved his handicap at Golf..( he hit that ball straight as a flaming arrow renaming himself “Golf Monster”).
When I was a young lad at Bishop Cotton School, the seniors had formed a pop band called “The Cat” and played some really cool numbers with James Gideon, Benjamin Gilani and a few other cool cats ! I remember how James used to twist across the stage in Irwin Hall wearing skin tight trousers ( today called slim and tight fit ) and real sharp pointy shoes …
as juniors I remember the song ..
“If you missed the train I’m on
You will know that I am gone
You can hear the whistle blow
.. a hundred miles….”
I went to School in the 1960’s, at that time English Pop and American Rock were slowly entering our musical blood streams. Aku Pawa had a Red Vinyl of The Beatles Abbey Road..and we all used to crowd around the music system in the Common Room dreaming of growing our locks like John, Paul,George and Ringo..yes only dreaming.
2017 ends it’s last days here in Sweden with snow, blue skies and sharp sunshine for those brief minutes of the day.. barely four hours of daylight. Tropical tourists head further north to a place call Jukkasjärvi; book in at the Ice Hotel ( yes the creation melts away in the summer) they look up at the glorious heavens to see the Northern Lights.. a sweep of bright lights in orange reds pinks blue and greens..
Well from the first flat in School you may not see those northern lights but you do see the Belt of Orion, The Great Bear and the Pole star. Simla is crisp at this time of the year.. if you do venture in through the gates, the emptiness of School with its silence is pure deafening.
As they’ve all gone home..
Back here in Sweden it’s “Julafton”, Christmas Eve that is celebrated. This year the grandchildren will clasp my hand and we shall all dance around the Christmas Tree…
The fare…Christmas Ham, Pickled Herring, Jonsson’s Temptation, Smoked Salmon, Saffron buns with RAISINS..Ris-a-la-malta and Marabou chocolates…then a toast for peace in the world..
for peace in our lives..
for peace in our Beautiful School. ..
For peace to all Cottonians !
At a wine tasting on a vineyard in Chile two years ago , very nonchalantly I stuffed a few dark red and purple grapes in my Levi’s; then in the evening discarded the pair in a corner of my closet. For some strange reason the other day I had the urge to don that pair again… two years later. I slipped my hand inside the pocket and felt something soft like rubber .. I pulled out six little pieces of …..Grapes from Los Andes Chile; dried and “raisined”!! Tasting sweet with the right twang of alcohol, I knew I had some winners here… placing them on the saffron buns as pure beautiful raisins; part of the Christmas fare…
For Alice Cooper “ School’s Out for the Summer”..
For us Cottonians “ School’s Out
for the winter “
A Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year Ladies and Gentlemen.
A day before Julafton-Christmas Eve at
I would like to take this opportunity to send cordial fraternal good wishes for a happy & successful Reunion OCA Delhi next Saturday.Would you be kind enough to add my sadness on behalf of OCAUK:Last evening I received a call from Les Homer (L 43-49) in Bristol to say Ron Plunkett (C 43-50) passed away at 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon in Somerset after a prolonged illness.Pauline with love & devotion nursed him through those years.After leaving school the first time I met Ron again was at attending my first OC Reunion on Oxford Street about 1971. From that meet Ron, Les, Arthur Jones (L 42-48) & I remained in close contact. Ron joined the Metropolitan Police force and retired as Superintendent & settled into a charming homestead on Porlock Hill Somerset. Maggie & I and sometimes accompanied by Shirley & Arthur Jones spent many long weekends and on occasion Sylvia & Les Homer would join all of us. Happy Days & us guys recalling school years & tales of India while our wives rehearsed their exchanges. Pauline & Ron attended all the OCA lunches till Ron could no longer travel after moving to resettle in nearby Allicombe. Phone calls, letters & cards replaced contact & our presence.I can recall the significant return to Patina OCAUK Chairman Dick Bayliss, Ron Plunkett, Arthur Jones & myself made June 1992. DC Anand kindly sponsored & made arrangement with late SM Jain to make our experience an outstanding visit. For all of us an historic moment struck that gave the arrowhead to the Spirit of BCS across the globe.We shall miss Ron and send our united condolence to Pauline, son Shaun and daughter Melanie – bless him another Curzonite to be remembered.Thank youPeter Stringer (Lefroy 43-47)
We are planning a 8 day exploration trip to Lahaul Spiti valley visiting Chandratal Kaza Tabo Kalpa Sangla ending at our school on September 24th in time for our school annual celebrations.
We can accommodate maximum 20 people. 10 OC couples, or individuals 20. As we intend having senior OCs (my vintage) all aspects of safety will be given high priority. Special vehicles with medical/mechanical will be escorting us. No sedan cars. You will have to bring your own SUV. If necessary we can provide SUV s but that will be at additional cost. We prefer you have your own SUVs.
We are working out the costs, it will be approximate Rs.30,000 per head. That includes accommodation and 3 meals a day. Included the medical/mechanical support. All vehicles will be provided radio sets to keep communication alive when we are traveling where there is no cellular phone connectivity.
If you have any queries please revert or call me. Kindly DO NOT delay your confirmations as we have to do booking of accommodation and work on logistical support.
We will meet in Manali on 16th September, last night at Narkhanda 23rd September.
If this trip materializes, we hope to make this an annual feature…! Please give me your inputs.
Further to “Open Letter to Board of Governors, BCS Shimla” here is an update from Gay Niblett
I was delighted to hear of the response from the Board of Governors to my open letter.
We all look forward to hearing of the progress with the ‘Infrastructure Development Fund’ in the School and hope that from overseas we can report a development with our meeting(s) with the Master of Marlborough College in September.
We shall also maintain and progress our efforts with the Head Masters of Rugby and Westminster.
With our thanks and very best wishes
Hon. Life President
I write to you with the attached letter, which was sent to each of the Members of the Board of Governors of Bishop Cotton School. It is my “last bugle call” as Chairman OCA (UK) but a “reveille” to all Cottonians with special emphasis on those Indians living in India, who can more easily make the journey up to the old School to see the situation as it is and with their support, ensures the changes are made to carry BCS successfully forward into the 21st Century.
With my thanks and best wishes to all Cottonians,
Chairman OCA (UK)
Chairman and Board of Governors
Bishop Cotton School
Shimla 171002 (HP)
4 June 2010
Dear Chairman and Board Members :
I address this letter to you on the occasion of my stepping down as Chairman OCA(UK) after 10 wonderful years at its helm. It is also a seminal moment in the history of our School, in the 150th year since its foundation.
No longer can we look back alone on its history, its tradition and its name on the CV of its pupils to set them apart in the world of globalised pressure and competition. The future demands a stronger, more pragmatic background, based on today’s exigencies and values.
I have been privileged to read Vijay K. Stokes (Rivaz 1948-54) treatise, “150 years of Bishop Cotton School – an assessment of the past – and the future” which should be mandatory reading for all members of the B.O.G. and the Staff of B.C.S. and would be a salutary and eye-opening document for all pupils of B.C.S. past and present. A masterpiece by a brilliant scholar, author of innumerable papers and publications and a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers amongst many distinguished honours and for the past 20 years studying the culture of the area 50 miles north of Shimla.
Vijay K. Stokes, like the President of OCA(India) and myself was in Rivaz House, whose motto is ‘Sirvamus’. We all have the School and its future at heart and I quote three small extracts tying-in the past with the future which portray the thoughts of us all:
“… Some good things about (our) school years … irrespective of their background, a rigorous enforcement of the uniform and pocket-money, a strict enforcement of the leave policy and an equal treatment of all parents made all students “equal”. Personal integrity was considered important, as was telling the truth. One did not do underhand things – that was just not cricket! The School motto ‘Overcome Evil with Good’ was in consonance with Mahatma Gandhi’s ideals”.
“ … Mr ‘Tubby’ Whitmarsh-Knight – who set a very high standard as a role model for integrity and as a teacher – was the Senior Master and (my) House Master, the school was well run! Later, as the qualifications of the teachers declined, many of the good practices became rather lax and richer parents could ask for rules to be bent; the School tended to become more of a ‘finishing school’ for the rich” and finally :
“ … The focus of education must shift to training the mind to think – which is the essence of education – and to inculcate a sense of enquiry that best prepares persons for rapidly changing environments. THIS WILL REQUIRE HIGH QUALITY TEACHERS who can make science and mathematics more exciting than cricket (IPL not withstanding!) THE STATUS QUO WILL JUST NOT DO.
“ … WORKING OUT THE REQUIRED REVOLUTIONARY CHANGES IN EDUCATION IS CERTAINLY BEYOND THE KEN OF THE CURRENT STAFF.”
The vital points made by Mr Vijay K. Stokes are echoed by me and other OCs worldwide: a radical change in direction and control by the Board of Governors along with a change in attitude and structure in the running of the school; a delegated line of responsibility filtering down from the Headmaster via the Senior Master, House Masters (and teaching Masters) through Prefects to the pupils themselves must be clearly laid down. Only thus will there be mutual respect achieved with mutual responsibility.
Staff accommodation has to be made decent and acceptable enough to attract the highest level of teachers – who may be fewer but better.
Staff salaries must be increased substantially, commensurate with better qualifications and enough to attract teachers not only from the best in India but from outside India – cost of living adjustments will be taken into account along with leave and travel and the needs of families – not making it essential to have both husband and wife working, simply to provide a living wage!
The infrastructure of the whole school must be overhauled.
Classrooms, dormitories, bathrooms, kitchens, dining-room, recreation rooms laboratories, I.T. and Art, Engineering, Crafts, Hobbies, Theatre and other studies must be renewed and up-dated. Sports facilities improved immensely.
Class sizes must be restricted to 30 pupils per class.
The total number of pupils must be reduced to between 300 and 350.
Fees will have to be raised – without fear – to reflect the changes in the facilities and infrastructure and the upgraded staff.
The School has to compete not only with other schools in India but be looking to provide for schools from the UK and USA who are selling their brands worldwide.
Globally fees for boarding schools range between £25,000 and £30,000 per annum.
Marlborough College has set up schools in Malaysia and the USA. They are actively seeking partners in India. This is not just for the exchange of teachers and pupils. Harrow, Rugby, Westminster and Dulwich College have joint ventures in India and China or are seeking them. This also applies in the setting up of similar schools in the Middle East.
Over the past 18 months OCA(UK) has been developing a relationship, principally with Marlborough College but also with Rugby and Westminster – all schools associated with our Founder, Bishop Cotton (and could call on Harrow School as well) to try and integrate to exchange teachers and pupils between BCS and Marlborough College. The Master of Marlborough, Mr Nicholas Sampson, his Deputy and Mr Larry Lamont – who has met Mr Robinson at school – are keen to foment the relationship. It would be a travesty if all these efforts were not acted upon now.
A chance was lost some 10 years or so ago, when Board Member Mr Deep C. Anand hosted a number of Marlborough pupils on a visit to India with Mr Martin Evans, Secretary of the Old Marlburians. Following last year’s 150th celebrations at Marlborough and the annual cricket match between Marlborough and Rugby – a team from Rugby came to India and was entertained in Delhi by the OCA.
So the potential exists. It must be nurtured.
India stands in the forefront of nations in I.T. and its sons and daughters occupy posts at the highest international levels in Banking, Science, Research, Industry and Commerce. It is to these posts that B.C.S. must aspire for its pupils and now is when it must act – taking the vital steps to renew and reinvigorate its great institution to meet these challenges.
Forgive me for writing at such length but the added inspiration given to me by Mr Deep C. Anand and Mr Vijay K. Stokes caused me to amplify and substantiate those views.
I trust you will consider, digest, discuss and act soon on our thoughts, which come from our hearts and the love of our alma mater and gratitude for all it gave us.
With very best regards,
Yours most sincerely,