School stories of the 1940 era, by: Peter Maidment. Rivaz 89 years / Jim Lee. Curzon 90 years / Dick D’Abreu. Curzon 88 years.
I have some very precious memories of my years at BCS Simla between 1941 and 1943. I was in Rivaz House when Peter Rollo was House Captain. We became very good friends, so much so that I was relocated to a bed adjoining the Captains cubicle in our dormitory overlooking the tennis courts. Our mutual friends Andy, Ken and Jim would often meet in the dormitory. Andy and Ken are now deceased, but Jim and I still correspond and talk with Dick D’Abreu (a later mutual friend) on Skype. Jim, Dick and I recently resolved that we had some good cause to be included in the Old Cottonian news that is still forwarded to members past and present, hence this account.
One of the regular incidents that occurred in those halcyon days was the surreptitious and sneaky nocturnal visits to the Pictures after lights out. The four good friends would get dressed up in Indian garb and walk all the way to the City to see the chosen film. On one occasion we were half way to our destination, when coming towards us were two House Masters who somehow recognised we were not the locals. To forestall this surprise discovery I involuntarily spoke a few garbled Hindustani words to make us seem authentic. It so happened that my House Master was one of the staff who recognised me and reprimanded me for setting a bad example as the then House Captain. I was given a firm lecture the next day and promised I would not commit the act again.
As a child being lead along the beach on the back of a pony was the only time I had ever been in a saddle. Pete, Ken and Andy desperately wanted to go horseback riding and persuaded me to join them one weekend. From a stable in Simla we rented the horses, and my request was for a small gentle horse because of my lack of experience. When the groom and his assistant brought the four horses into the courtyard, all saddled up, he walked over to me with an animal that must have been well over 16 hands. It was huge compared to the other three horses. He overcame my protests by telling me, that despite its size, the horse that he had picked for me was an old animal, very gentle, well trained and not a fast runner. My buddies assured me they would walk their horses alongside me to make sure I was alright, which they did until we got to a straight stretch of road known as “Ladies Mile.”It was the only area where a rider could gallop his mount. As we approached Ladies Mile my friends suggested that I let my hoprse graze on the shoulder of the road while they went around the corner and galloped to the end and back. That was fine with me because I was certainly not comfortable or confident to gallop on ‘the giant’I was astride. Away they went assuring that I would be ok until they returned. Well, it did not quite work out that way. When my horse heard the thunder of galloping hooves it raised its head, put its ears forward, and turned the corner in hot pursuit of the others. I was not prepared for the sudden burst of speed, and tried to stay in the saddle as best I could, pulling down on the reins and calling for help. I didn’t make it. I seemed to slide forward in the saddle and rolled to the ground off the horses neck. The horse stopped and just stood over me. The three ahead heard my desperate cries and turned to help. It was an embarrassing long walk back to school after returning the horses. I was shaken and bruised, but what hurt the most was my pride.
It was 36 years before I mounted another horse, my daughter Jennifer’s horse Quinn, and wouldn’t you know, I was bucked off even before Quinn took a step. After this second indignity I resolved I would confine my horsey activities to feeding the horse and cleaning the barn!.
As Peter in Sydney Australia, Jim in Langley Canada and I in Perth Western Australia chat for an hour once a week on Skype, we thought it would be nice to write a few lines on our interesting and happy days at Bishop Cotton School Simla in the 1940ies era.
From an early age of five years old my parents gave me a horse to ride of which I was able to manage very well. I used to ride the horse to my kindergarten classes on week days before I was sent to BCS as a boarder in 1936 in class Lower 1. My father worked on the Great Indian Peninsular Railway as a senior Interlocking Engineer while we lived in Jhansi. My parents would drum into my sister Grace and myself that they were making big sacrifices to send me to BCS and my sister to Auckland House so as to have the best of education. I took a while to adjust to boarding school in those early days as I could hardly dress myself, or tie up my shoelaces. A very kind servant that cleaned our shoes every morning saw my plight and used to assist me in getting dressed for class every day. Many a time I would cry on his shoulder. It never took me long to make friends, as our PT instructor Baby Hawkes taught me the finer points of boxing. At four stone in weight I was one of the flee weights.
In my latter years in school while in the senior classes I became good friends with Derek Blewett who also loved horse riding . Together we would go down to the stables at the Lower Bazaar on a Sunday to hire horses which we rode out to Auckland house to visit our sisters. My pocket money was a generous Rs 3.00 a week, the cost of hiring the horse was 8 Annas for two hours. The rest of the pocket money would be spent on Kurram’s tuck shop to buy peg tops and paper kites. We also used to spend it at Kurram’s sons place adjacent to tuck shop eating samousas and cups of tea. Freddy Brown who was a Cottonian in my early days at school returned after he left school as my Curzon House Master. He was a great person.
One Sunday on our visit to Auckland House on the horses, my horse that was tied up to the bench overlooking the girls playground came loose. It ran on to the playground, despite the girls and teachers chasing it the horse eluded capture. It was over an hour after which I took out some of my gelabbies to eat, (Indian sweets) which I had bought wrapped in brown paper, when to our surprise the horse came trotting up to see what I had. I was able to ride it back to the Lower Bazaar and promise to pay the syce the extra 4 Annas the following week.
Here are the stories of :
– Richard D’Abreu
– Peter Maidment
– Jim Lee
as a bit of nostalgia of their school days.
Peter Maidment, Jim Lee and I have been corresponding by email and chatting on Skype for about three years and we decided that it would be a great idea to write to the Old Cottonian Association to give the readers an insight into some of the humorous and serious aspects of our time at BCS. We like reminiscing with each other of the period in the early 1940ies when we attended the school. Here is a short story I always will remember.
In my days at the school from 1936 – 1946. All classrooms had ink wells placed in the right
hand corners of the students desk. We wrote with pens that had to be dipped into the ink frequently. Blotting paper was then used to dry the ink on the page before turning it over. Some of the students when feeling bored in the classroom would play a prank by folding a piece of blotting paper in half and soaking it in the inkwell, then winding it on to a strong rubber band, hold the soaking blotter in between the teeth and then stretching the band, would release the blotting paper and hit the back of the students head in the desk in front. On one occasion at a Maths lesson Bill Kelly who was in the desk behind me, decided to play such a prank on me. He aimed his missile soaked in ink at the back of my head, however Boozer Pickering a friend of mine saw what was coming and yelled to me to duck. The missile elevated past my head with such force, it struck our Maths master, Mr. Hogan, who was at the blackboard, on the back of his head, dripping the ink down his neck. Turning around he shouted “Who was that?”Quick as a flash Bill pointed at me. Mr Hogan was in no mood to argue, I was marched off to the Staff Common room and copped 4 of the best with the cane. It stung quite a bit and a bit of blood oozed onto my trousers, so down I had to go to see Sister McLeen who applied a liberal dose of iodine to the cuts.. On going back to the classroom, I asked for permission to stand as it was quite sore to sit down. Permission was denied. As we had an unwritten rule amongst the students never to report the person who did the wrong deed, I had to get my revenge back on Bill my own way. It was unwise for anyone to know your birthday, as if this date was known to other students, the birthday boy would be taken down to Tipu’s Drop which was on the road past the old Bogs and the second playing ground. It was a drop of just over a meter, where at the bottom was a thick bed of stinging nettle. The birthday boy would be dangled by his legs and let go into the nettle below. Now I happened to know from Bill’s mother that he had a birthday the day after he fired the missile missing my head, so he was marched down past the old Bogs to be dangled down into the nettle…Happy birthday Bill…..
My House Master at the time was Fred Brown, whom I knew as a senior Cottonian from 1936 to 1939, he left school and returned a few years later to be on the staff. As he wished to make me a House prefect, I had to explain to him why he should still make me a House prefect after I had done such a prank on the Maths teacher. He was aware of the unwritten rule we as students had not to put anyone in, and as I was not the perpetrator, I was made a House prefect of Curzon house.
Thanks for reading….Richard D’Abreu.
I have some very precious memories of my years at BCS Simla between 1941 and 1943. I was in Rivaz House when Peter Rollo was House Captain. We became very good friends, so much so that I was relocated to a bed adjoining the Captains cubicle in our dormitory overlooking the tennis courts. My other friends were Andy, Ken and Jim Lee.
Andy and Ken are now deceased, but Jim and I still correspond and talk with Dick D’Abreu, (a latter mutual friend) on Skype. Jim Dick and I recently resolved that we had some good cause to be included in the BCS news that is still forwarded to school members past and present, hence this account.
One of the regular incidents that occurred in those halcyon days was the surreptitious and sneaky nocturnal visits to the Pictures after lights out. The four good friends would get dressed up in local garb and walk all the way to the city to see a choosen film. On one occasion we were half way to our destination, when coming towards us were two House Masters, who somehow recognized we were not the genuine local people. To forestall this surprise discovery I involuntarily spoke a few garbled Hindustani words to make us seem authentic. It so happened that my House Master was one of the two staff who recognized me and reprimanded me for setting a bad example as the then House Captain. I was given a lecture the next day and made to promise I would not commit the act again.
I attended BCS from 1941 to 1943 and was in Curzon House. My closest friends were Peter Maidment, Ken Magnoni and Andy Gilmour. Sadly, Ken and Andy are now deceased, but Peter and I are still in touch, he in Sydney, Australia and me in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Richard (Dick) D’abreu, who lives in Australand, Western Australia, is another OC that I am in touch with. Dick and I were at BCS at the same time but because he was a couple of years behind me we moved in different social circles and I didn’t know him then.
Peter, Dick and I correspond by e mail regularly, and also enjoy a weekly three way conversation on Skype reminiscing about the happy years we spent at BCS. We decided we would share some of our experiences through the newsletter.
This is one of my moments of glory!
I was thrilled when, in 1942, I was selected as goal keeper of the school hockey team. There were four or five schools between Delhi and Simla against whom we used to compete on an annual basis in each sport.
Our strongest competition came from the Lawrence Military School (LMS) in Sanawar. In 1942 our hockey team headed to Sanawar for the annual match, with the knowledge that LMS had been victorious over us, and the other schools, for the previous three years. We went onto the field as the underdog, but determined that we were going to play our hearts out. We had a large cheering section that came with us from BCS, and naturally LMS had the whole school cheering for them. Once the game started the noise from the stands was deafening. At half time the score was one all. The second half started with each side pressing to take the lead. Half way through the second half we scored our second goal from a corner. Our cheering section nearly brought the stands down. The urgency now caused the LMS team to find their second wind, and they turned their game up a notch. They had possession of the ball more than we did from that point on. However, our defense, including me in goal, foiled every one of their attempts to equalize. When the final whistle blew with the score at two to one in favour of BCS our cheering section rushed onto the field and lifted our team shoulder high. What a thrill! That was my moment of glory, and I know that every member of the team felt the same way. We had beaten the mighty LMS who had dominated hockey for the previous three years. When we returned to Simla we were greeted and cheered by the rest of the school, and at supper that evening the Head Master gave us a congratulatory pep talk, to the applause of the whole assembly. Years later, in 1981 when I revisited the school, I was surprised but thrilled to see the photograph of our team still hanging in the headmaster’s office. It brought back many memories