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NAME: Martyn Day  Martyn DayThen & Now

DATE: 05 January 2013

CONNECTION WITH QE: Inmate 1956-1963


In 1960, when I was 15 years old, my mother gave me a second hand grey flannel suit and told me to wear it to school. I was shocked! What? Me wear something that wasn't proper school uniform? Never! I checked the school brochure and to my dismay discovered that there was nothing in the rules that said I couldn't wear a grey flannel suit. In fact there was nothing in the rules that said I couldn't wear a silk cocktail dress and slingbacks. So for the following few terms I dragged myself shamefacedly to school in a second hand grey flannel suit imagining myself to be the only boy on the block to be so attired. A sartorial leper! But not so. Looking at the house photographs I now discover that G.F.S wearers formed between a quarter and a third of the total school population which is a revelation! Some of them are not even wearing proper school ties! Am I the only one to have felt so embarrassed and ashamed ? or is there something else in my psyche that needs checking out.


NAME: Nick Dean  Nick Dean Nick Dean gallery

DATE: 06 January 2013


I never wore a suit at school, but I doubt I should have found it any more embarrassing than wearing a cap (finally abolished for all in the late '60s). I do recall that, until my final few years, when the rules were tightened for those below the 6th form, it was possible - caps aside - to look reasonably fashionable. I frequently wore a brown sports jacket with a blue demim shirt and black knitted tie. Desert boots were also much in evidence and went unchallenged (in my case anyway). From time to time, I even thought it cool - silly me - to wear sunglasses in assembly. On one occasion Edwards put his foot down and gave a boy 100 lines for wearing an orange shirt and people were sometimes encouraged to get their hair cut, but even there the emphasis was gradually on tidiness rather than length.

Apart from an occasion when, in about the fifth form, Bernie Pinnock straightened the turned up collar of my jacket, the only time I was ever spoken to about an aspect of my dress was in my final term when Timson enquired rather disdainfully why (contrary to a grey/black rule) I was wearing trousers of browish hue, "I suppose you think that because you're a prefect ..." (This encounter has always reminded me of a subsequent one in Dad's Army when Mainwaring remarks rather sniffily on the length of Wilson's hair: "You're not a violin player, you know.") Tiger may have had a thing about trousers: a year or so previously, a sixth former, who must have been wearing cords or something similar, was advised that "jeans are not suitable attire for a schoolboy - or a schoolmaster for that matter" (a jibe in the direction of some of his younger common room colleagues).


NAME: James (Jas) Cowen  James & Ayleen Cowen James Cowen galleryThen & Now

DATE: 11 January 2013


THE SUITABILITY OF THE OLD SCHOOL TIE AND TIES IN GENERAL. There is often a debate in the media about the influence of wearing an old school tie, especially from public schools such as Eton, in respect of turning up for interviews and getting a job. Some from those schools are not wearing their tie for that reason. Perhaps not so much a rebellion from the conventional norm of belonging to the club as a desire to be recognized on their own talents! OEs at OE approved functions do still appear to want to wear ties as members of the club but I noticed at Founders Day there was a number of different designs. I asked if this was for various honours such as major/minor colours at school/university but was told it was merely for variety, which I consider a good thing, supporting the home team as it were but with variations. I notice pupils at QEs still wear ties but also with variations such as house and sports/arts interests.


NAME: James (Jas) Cowen  James & Ayleen Cowen James Cowen galleryThen & Now

DATE: 11 January 2013


Of course one use of the school cap was to throw it over the radiator caps whilst running down the corridor to the morning assembly.


NAME: Nigel Wood  Nigel Wood

DATE: 12 January 2013

CONNECTION WITH QE: pupil 1957-64

A new boy joined my Science Lower Sixth (1964/5?). I believe he had little interest in playing or watching rugby, in school houses, Founders' Day, school charters, munificent local fishmongers, Edward Underne or the Earl of Leicester. He just wanted some good science A-levels. He came dressed in a brownish suit of none too staid a cut, which immediately attracted Bernie Pinnock's disdain: "What do you call that?" The boy knew exactly what to call it: "A lounge suit." I think the class tittered. I'm bound to have done, my head full of confused connotations of lounge bars and lounge lizards. I can't really remember what happened; I don't think Mr Pinnock specifically said he must not wear the suit, and I suspect he carried on doing so, being unmoved by, or simply unaware of, the disapproval of conservative-minded pupils and teachers.


NAME: Anon

DATE: 10 February 2013

CONNECTION WITH QE: pupil 1961-68

Not much later than this a 'dark' suit was acceptable; I seem to remember being particularly proud of a rather unpleasant brown herringbone number: deeply embarrassing - I rather hope no one has a photograph. The late Mr Pinnock was always Bernie to us (why?) and should be part of a Masters' sayings library; my particular favourite of his "pictures pay; diagrams decide" whilst trying to teach what I now realise is Euclidean geometry. Reflecting on having just learnt of his death what does occur to me is the incredible loyalty of so many of the Masters who we are reminiscing about to QE: many of them were there for 20/30/40 years.


NAME: James (Jas) Cowen  James & Ayleen Cowen James Cowen galleryThen & Now

DATE: 19 February 2013


I expect you are right, Anon (Perhaps I shouldn't continue to say Who are you? and Why anon? given Vic's tolerance for you anonymous guys). The long serving masters were probably generally loyal to the school rather than having nowhere else to go. So many are missed and it is good to have the recollections on site. I know when I went up to the school on Founder's Day about ten years after I left I missed seeing familiar faces as well as the fact that OEs were absent as against Friends of the school and Parents of the pupils. There was a tennis match (Boys v Parents) rather than cricket (Boys v OEs). Thankfully things have changed since then. As regards dark suits, Nigel Palmer has sent me a photo of boys with Bernie Pinnock. Most are in dark/school blazers except 2 boys (1 seated in shorts and 1 standing). Whether you are in the photo I could of course not possibly comment.


NAME: James (Jas) Cowen  James & Ayleen Cowen James Cowen galleryThen & Now

DATE: 05 April 2013


In regard to whether school uniform should be compulsory or not I was interested to see in EHJ's book he wrote about being HM of QEs, that he felt demands for compulsory uniform should be limited. Of course caps and ties seem to have been exceptions, possibly due to the cheaper cost of them. I was also interested in the desire to open a school shop being opposed by some governors as challenging traders in the town. I am indebted to Nigel Wood lending me a copy of the book, which I am gradually wading through. A very interesting book in other respects too. Of course now the school shop is very large.


NAME: Alan Pyle  Alan Pyle

DATE: 30 November 2013

CONNECTION WITH QE: Pupil 1948-1953

In 1948 the Kit listed had to be bought in High Barnet at Chas. B. Stephens, mens outfitters. It was at the top of the High Street opposite the church [in Church Passage]. It was a large outlay for my parents for a very traditional and formal establishment. Jeeves like. "...if I may say so madam...". Suddenly my wardrobe was multiplied many times. All that sports kit. And then it was strictly for the event, not 'leisure wear'. True, that for daywear, only cap and tie were compulsory. The navy blue blazer was not very practical. 'Poker' Pearce made inspections during French, advising spongeing and brushing to keep it neat. Trousers were flannel. In later school years boys adopted alternative 'uniforms'. Gaberdine was a statement of non-conformity! Cash's name tapes were sewn on every item. Lost kit went to the Pound and periodically was sorted and brought to form rooms to be restored to owners, who were charged 1d an item. The next time I owned a kit in a bag was from Cardington at the beginning of National Service.


NAME: Martyn Day  Martyn DayThen & Now

DATE: 03 December 2013

CONNECTION WITH QE: Inmate 1956-63

"Look after the Penny and the Pound will look after itself" we used to say. P.S I was back at the school a couple of weeks ago representing 'Media' at the Annual Careers Fair. I met a nice bunch of young men who it seems all want to become lawyers - or accountants.

10th REPLY

NAME: James (Jas) Cowen  James & Ayleen Cowen James Cowen galleryThen & Now

DATE: 05 December 2013


Thank goodness there was the pound for lost items, the large one for clothing and the small one for pens, books etc. Sometimes I was able to retrieve some of the latter with my hand without paying the fee but I was always leaving books in class rooms and were glad to get them back, even with paying the 1p fines. This was the position with lost items but were any items confiscated in classes and were they returned to the oweners later such as at the end of the day/week/month/term? After 50 years I do not recall cases of confiscated items at QEs but was interested to hear the communications on last Saturday's Radio 4 programme Saturday Live with Rev Richard Coles/ Anita/ JP Devlin on confiscated items in schools, some of which were given back but often were not and some were destroyed. Examples of items were catapults, burning tennis balls, yo-yos and mobile phones, reflecting the changing ages of schools.

11th REPLY

NAME: Vic Coughtrey  Vic CoughtreyThen & Now

DATE: 05 December 2013


Can't resist, with some misgivings, drawing your attention to my own disgraceful relationship with the school pound (2nd para from bottom). I just hope none of you contributors was among my victims!
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