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Wednesday, 21 September 2011

"Welcome to the drama society"

Well that's what I think the teacher said - it could just as easily have been, "Thomson why are you late?".It was not that I was a tardy boy at school, far from it. It was more that I was engaged in just about every sport, club, society and extra-curricula activity I possible could and that had a habit of filing up my timetable. I would often be doing fencing or air pistol shooting after school which would finish on the hour and then have to sprint across the school only to be late for rugby training!There was a distinct fascination with shooting, I recall, and I can remember firing a .22 air pistol called "Typhoon".I don't know what drove me to take up so many activities at such an early age but I think there are only 3 types of school boys in this regard; The Specialists, who as their name suggests take up very few activities and excel at one in particular, The Generalists who, like me, will try their hand at just about anything and finally, Them! You know the sort, don't want to take part, can't take part, have a letter excusing them from life!

Sunday, 7 August 2011

My Earliest Memory

Strange as it may seem this was when I was about 6 or 7 years old. My brother and I were off to boarding school. It was called Neville Holt Preparatory School (in 1998 the school closed) and only had about 110 boys in the school. It was a very privileged upbringing and one that was significantly out of reach for my father and mother on their meagre wages. My father was a serving soldier in The Blues and Royals (RHG/D) (now part of The Household Cavalry Regiment) but was able to receive the boarding school allowance.

I can remember vividly a weekly event that took place in the fields surrounding the school. It was called "Roundheads and Cavaliers" adapted from the original whereby two teams were made up of a number of players. One player carried the team's flag and had 2 guards whilst all the other players were fighting troops of varying ranks (which we denoted by issuing playing cards). The object of the game from the teachers' perspective was simple - exercise the entire school as easily as possible! The game's objective for us was kill or be killed (not literally) and seize the opponents flag.

This meant running around the fields tagging other players and challenging them to show their card; if yours was of a higher rank you took their card and they were out of the game :-( but if theirs was of a higher rank you were 'killed'. This could go one for hours but usually with a couple one side or the other had won.

Very much born of the English Civil war and out of a Dickensian novel I think but we enjoyed it nonetheless.