He graduated from Selwyn College, Cambridge, in 1921 with honors in Theology.
R E M E M B E R…
the day I clambered on the Kalka Mail aged five.
Mr Das Gupta was the Calcutta party escort..
..the train chugged in to Kalka and it was bitter cold the 1st of March 59 years ago..
We changed to the hill train and chug-chugged up through 103 tunnels..
The Bus was waiting at Simla Railway Station to take us to BCS…
.. I drifted up to Linlithgow..
Grew up day by day and year by year and seasons through reasons and grime and grind and tears and pain and laughter and screams through blinding rain …
…then like yesterday as it all started I was gone away into a far away world ..
Now as I remember.. do you remember?
Our pocket money days,
the walk to Chipu’s..
Inspection as we showed our nails and polished shoes that hid my holes in steel grey stockings ..
It was cold in the dorms..
the roofs were drummed by hail on metal sheets as we hunkered down
We strolled along the corridors
stopping at the Box Room to get our weekly change,
Lefroy I was..
The worn out bottoms of my trousers were criss crossed by Choru…
never once believed did he
that man walked on the moon…
..the benches well placed to look down on to the second flat.
The War Memorial that chimes on the hour..
Mr Chaprasi walking to the bell and striking it fast and hard
though Chapel was a slow deliberate gong pushing you in to pray..
Mr Bugler shooting his notes across to Tara Devi as the School Flag was lowered..
..the sun had set and a shiver of cold as darkness descended…
at least those days we were far away..
away from the madding crowd; they say not today.
The stadium was symmetrical, as the opening batsmen descended ..
..our hearts in our mouth.
If you and I were the wind that could seep through the cracks of window panes and key holes we would enter our sacred school… you could go past Bursar’s house to the left past the chestnut tree on the right…
Would you sneak up to the Linlithgow dorms where Mrs Goss was the Maitron.. Wishing her Good Morning would you bound down the stone steps and leap up to the Irwin Hall doors taking the left and I right…?
We would enter and see those beautiful chairs with brass plaques of those Cottonians now past and gone.. the stage with dark blue heavy velvet drapes as you look around and see oils of past Masters we see in awe..
Below dinner is prepared in the kitchen under Bull Dog’s supervision, he was sluggishly determinedly sad and hence his name …and the Dining Hall in great regality, the last Cricket XI is painted on the boards ..the High Table at lunch had Von Goldstein Esq; in attendance never absent; his suits from Saville Row was he impeccably immaculate… and that handsome; living a singled out life to serve…he surely missed a woman his lady ..
The dorms were for us lads as you and I creep up.. the bogs to the left as I head for Curzon Lefroy and The Andersen; you have the bogs to the right as you head for ibbetson and Rivaz whose windows overlook the combined Basket Ball and Tennis Courts…below lies the Hos-p where I lay with chicken pox and a fractured foot .. and Sister Seager where Doc Butcher Mukund Lal arrived and cracked your hand with a quick snap best not to complain to that sadistic subtle shaitaan or was he a Samaritan in Wolf’s clothing just to make us wet our pants?
Our class rooms were simple with blackboards and chalk and the fountain out of bounds ; privileged for the Sixth Formers..
Head Master’s Lodge beyond England’s scope no not even Eaton nor Harrow nor Marlborough… what with beautiful garden as he walked his Cocker Spaniel peering below the Swimming Pool and the weeping willow. While across were the Chem and Biology Labs with a complete skeleton and snakes in vinegar…
Amongst the Champion Heavy Weights of the world, the Boxing Season was both harsh brutal but mind and soul forming… My Butterfly weight I won floating and dancing around the ring..
But for those days the Gym was “ Very In”..
Past the slope of Jackal’s Paradise we see the Third and the roof tops of Remove..
There even was the Fourth Flat and then beyond green fields and nothingness… just peace and quiet and not a soul except shepherds and local belles cutting grass..
we flew paper planes ..
If only then the pillars had seen a vision and purchased outright down to the Valley and across to Tara Devi gap…if only.
Let’s get back as the winds of time and leave that wonderful space sublime…
… today we stare out of windows as the entire world stands quietly still…
It’s 🐣 Easter… today is Sunday .. Easter Sunday…
R E S U R R E C T I O N …
The call to pray…
Quiet. Firm. There.
I think of you, of all of us…
A part of my heart
will always beat for you ..
Government advice reinforced by our son Peter & daughter Marnie for Maggie & me to stay home and enjoy the confines of our garden. Leaves time for thought & olden memories …………
I once was confined to school hospital when taken ill with Mumps, this put the school into quarantine precisely just before the start of 10 days holiday for end of second term. Oh boy did I have to suffer indignation, abuse with threats for canceled all town leave. The Sanatorium was in the care of Sister Maclean, a well accomplished, competent elderly Scottish matron. She was quite deaf and wore an early primitive hearing aid that carried the receiver on the breast of her uniform. She was very thorough in nursing the sick. Whatever the ailment – the blue bottle appeared & you were forced to swallow a large spoon of Castrol in her presence. Some of the patients spitefully would take delight in her hard of hearing – face up to her mimicking only lip-service, as the dear Sister would adjust the receiver – they would come closer and bellow in a loud voice. A memory circles back to me of Prep School, when every fortnight we were by houses paraded up to our tiny sanatorium to be given, the purgative, Senna pod liquid to swallow and immediately say ‘Thank you’ before we were allowed to leave, just to ensure full intake!
For us boys, far more important and meaningful to us young hungry souls was the December House–treats or as we called them ‘JHUG-DAY CHEWS’ held in our dormitories. All festooned with hand art and decorations to accentuate end of year & home for winter holidays. Specially prepared food catered and brought in from Simla – delicious Indian curries, rices, chapattis and assortment of sweet fare we gorged and demolished. I recall remembering for the very first time in my youth to suffer indigestion – so chronic it lasted for a couple of days and leaving me with a stinking disgusting breath. The lower Boggs – then latrines, below the side of the First Flat became unworthy of shame almost forcing one to light up and smoke a cigarette.
Finally, in December approaching year ending, next followed in the evening, senior boys would stage their own theatre productions, in the Irwin Hall. Poetry, music, songs, plays and short sketches, sometimes ridiculous observations of School life and masters’ eccentric behaviour for us the riotous audience so wholeheartedly enjoyed & applauded.
Primarily the School conducted its function for education & sport. The main purpose to develop well rounded young men ready for their future. We were nurtured in deportment strict discipline, physical exercise following rules of clean living in hygiene, good manners & respect for all religions and fellow beings. Bullying was stamped out immediately. One only had to tell of a bully and a simple procedure followed. The bully was put in the boxing ring with an opponent, champion of his fighting weight who dealt out with gloves punching a very sound message while others watched on. My keen observations have found a host of Old Cottonians became leaders in the many facets of worldly undertaking.
Count our blessing and with confidence believe PATINA will deliver GOOD!
The “ STICK IN “
Location: School Dining Hall
Time: Sunday immediately after Breakfast.
Action: Master on Duty asked to leave.
Action: Close all Doors
Instruction: “All Stand “..As silent ghosts
Duration: Three Hours.
Reason: Behaving like miscreants against the Sanawarians during the First XI Soccer Match ( we won 10-1), and staring with lustful eyes at the chicks from Auckies at the School Fete..
As I too lumbered up my scrawled frame and stood up at the Lefroy House table I knew this one was for real. Serious shit chaps. The prefects seemed to have ganged up against the entire school and were hell bent on breaking us… at least that is what they thought. Three hours of Silence; no, not Silent Night, Holy Night but three hours of frozen statuesque attitude and not a frikin word…
Now sitting here in Karlstad Sweden, I seem to reflect on that sort of punishment or on some adage preached by one of the not so dumb Prefects….to achieve perfection, you need to become strong through motionless silence*
You know us Cottonians! We can stand endlessly at the kitchen entrance waiting for the cook to let loose some boiled potatoes, plead at the bakery ( near the shooting range) for a loaf of hot bread that we would lavish with dirty raw sugar and hog it down before the flying squirrels leaped across the deodars…. We were seasoned rascals in the rain and for us no gain without pain!
Suddenly we all find ourselves in a STICK-IN! AGAIN.
This time its not three hours but three weeks, bound and shut within the four walls. This time its not just us diehard Cottonians of all ages and heights and weights but with others; family and pets.
Pray may I ask what are all you guys doing in there all holed up? For sure we never really needed BOFF now did we? Was there anything else that we lack at the moment? Yes, loads of worrisome news that keeps bombarding us like the doomsday clock; the end is nigh; this is the start of the Apocalypse and what have you. Not only are we all shut in but School has shut out all the kids except a sprinkle who couldn’t make it back to Thailand. And in isolation too is our Director Simon David Weale, his wife Rebecca and their little daughter Delila, all at BCS. Yet, he is working hard!
Three weeks is really an incredible time to reflect… really. And do amazing things at home. The biggest worry too is frustration but one needs to have the strength, fortitude and patience to come out of this for the betterment of ourselves, for each other, for them and for the world. For once this is not a terrible famine in Bangladesh, or a flood in Haiti, or a certain corner of the world that is in dire straits or should I say up shit creek. Or should I rephrase and say it was a certain corner of the world first……..but now Ladies and Gentleman the flood-gates have opened, the curtain rises and we all have taken centre stage with the shit hitting the fan. WE ARE ALL IN ONE BIG BOAT. And we need to keep that Big Boat afloat and feel good, exude positive vibrations and all emerge winners.
…and you know what?! The Earth is curing itself! The air in Delhi is as pristine as Switzerland with blue beautiful skies. The cacophony of sounds of rusty clanks and horns hooting to Timbuktu are not there. All silenced after an Opera of Chaos. Peace is returning to the world in its true sense. The wild animals are relieved humans are not getting after their pelts and musk and ivory and aphrodisiac tiger teeth and the Oud bark for sensuality and more. Yes I know the economy is derailed, but there are the smart Cottonians out there who will put it back on the tracks…Surely will.
..out here in Sweden I practise social distancing, driving away from the town I live in and walk the deep forests; 10 km everyday after breakfast. In deep thought the walk takes me back to the path …the Camino to the Monastery at Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Those routes too shut. I left a part of my soul behind on that beautiful path. It waits to merge in to the other half when the Gates of Life open again and I reach out ..again. In the meantime, I walk here in the Nordics….sending my warmest wishes to every Cottonian, whereever you are . May you get stronger day by day…May the Heart of BCS send out long shards of electric salvation through its countless umbilical cords to each and every one of us, as we all know the power of our Holy Trinity Chapel, the strength of our Founder and the strength of each and every one of us.
We are survivors; BCS made us that way. We are not going to give in nor bow down but remain strong and determined….
“ Okay Guys……..Sit down…….STICK IN is over……hope you have changed for the better….!”
01 April 2020
*to achieve perfection, you need to become strong through emotionless silence…
The above is a chart prepared by the School in early 1958 for the 1957 batch results.
You may put it on the OC News-letter to remind my classmates how brilliant we were!! 😀 Note: all 4 Lefroyans are in the middle coincidentally!
Dr Santokh Singh, Lefroy house captain 1957