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NAME: Anon

DATE: 30 March 2005


"In reality, from my first to my last day at Queen Elizabeth's, I experienced the place as a vile prison full of nothing but nastiness, stupidity, ignorance and pettiness.  It seemed to me to be a very clear example of how the world should definitely not be." [He's quoting me from a page of my personal website ‑ webmaster].

That pretty much sums up my experience of attending this hell-hole in the 90s, I can honestly say that QE was the worst five years of my existence.  I always had, and still have, the feeling that QE was far more concerned about its league position and image rather than actually educating and inspiring pupils to achieve anything significant.

I hated every second of it, from the very first day when (then headmaster) Eammon Harris humiliated a boy in the opening day assembly for the heinous crime of wearing a white shirt, through to the very last day when my friend and I were sent back to school for detention having been caught by Eric Houston and one of his prefect stooges on their routine drive around Barnet.  Our crime? standing in my friend's front garden at 4pm wearing t-shirts instead of uniform.

I also hated the embarrassment and humiliation which a lot of us had to put up with from our 'rivals' at Ravenscroft, East Barnet etc due to the school's insistence that we carry briefcases because QE is a school for 'gentlemen'.  Obviously not in touch with the mindset of the teenage boy.  Their idea: we look like upstanding respectable young boys.  Everyone else's idea: we look like excellent targets for abuse.

I also, like many, hated the fact that unless one was exceptionally academically inclined or good at sport, you were at best ignored, or otherwise vilified by the staff and sports boys Needless to say, the vast majority of those sports boys I knew are now a bunch of fat, coarse "I'm a real geezer" lager louts who all still live in Barnet and still dish out verbal abuse to other ex-pupils they might spot, despite having left school TEN YEARS AGO.

I pity anyone who is unfortunate enough to attend the school now, I don't know if things have changed, but judging by what I read and hear, it was just as bad before I went and continues to be so.

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.  I will be back.  For the record, the other house was Pearce (purple tie).


NAME: John Reimann

DATE: 25 June 2009

CONNECTION WITH QE: victim 1960 to 1966

This thread really says it all - great thread !!  I cannot believe that 30 years after my 'incarceration' at QE that another ex-pupil has the same awful experiences as in my era there?  I hope the current Headmaster and the Boards read these threads!  I remember a visit to the original school (next to Barnet College) to be shown the whipping post!!  QE is a remnant of a nasty Charles Dickens type novel!  By any world standards that disgusting 'Institution' should have been closed down in the 60's and all staff fired pending multiple investigations of personal abuse and it's pathetic teaching quality across the board!  Most of those teachers at the time had no life experience - straight into teaching there after their own schooling/university.  I will not pick on anyone but they were ignorant overgrown Dickheads continuing the 'Soppy' traditions of an Institution where they themselves were similarly nameless, worthless 'Boys'.


NAME: Anon

DATE: 27 April 2010


Just felt like letting you know, the school hasn't changed at all.  The current headmaster still carries on these stupid routine checks around Barnet and on a snow day, while walking down Queen's Road with a friend who was carrying a ball of snow, he was told to 'drop it' by a member of staff.  I have been suspended more times than can be counted on one hand for petty little things. I truly feel that someone should go to the newspapers about this school.



DATE: 28 March 2011

CONNECTION WITH QE: Pupil 1980s & 90s

This brought back a few memories - good and bad.  I remember new kids being so scared of Mr Houston (Eric) that they carried liquid shoe polish in their briefcases in order not to get a detention for dirty shoes.  Houston made my life hell despite my being quite good academically.  He actually held me back as the work in the first two years was too easy (product of a good primary school) and so I got bored and got in with a crowd less interested in learning.  The line-ups in the school playground of first year students (I think to do with smoking) were pretty intimidating.  The sports teachers calling all football fans poofs and I remember a friend of mine being slung up against a wall by old glass eye (Mr Maughan/Vaughan?).  To be fair most of the intimidation was for the first two years then we worked out the system and played the game in our own way.


NAME: Andrew Adigun

DATE: 03 November 2013

CONNECTION WITH QE: pupil 1970s-80s

Awful school. All the games teachers loved looking down your shorts to see if you were wearing underwear, loved giving the slipper too. I was subjected to racial abuse from a music teacher, and then became his favourite when he discoverd, after giving me average reports, I already had grade 7 on piano at 11. Racism was called banter, in most classes, and I had to learn how to fight, in order to stop it. QE refused to send a reference to the Royal College of Music and Cambridge.

NOTE FROM VIC: Oh well Andrew, you made it into Oxford instead - and the Royal College of Music.


NAME: Martyn Day  Martyn DayThen & Now

DATE: 04 November 2013


Memories creep up on you when you least expect them. And so it was following this comment in reply 3, sent in by 'Rob': "I remember new kids being so scared of Mr Houston (Eric) that they carried liquid shoe polish in their briefcases in order not to get a detention for dirty shoes." One of the many mild humiliations heaped upon us in 1C by Eric Shearly was his habit of sneaking up on any poor soul wearing glasses and suddenly whipping off their specs. These would then be held up to the light and closely examined. A pause or two and then a typically pithy comment to the hapless and squinting boy, something along the lines of: "The last time I saw anything like this they were ploughing it!" Then followed a short lecture on the value of regularly cleaning one's spectacles, ideally with an appropriately credited cloth specially designed for the purpose. The murky glasses would be returned to quaking kid and life went back to normal. After Eric's little exposition a number of the visually impaired could often be seen in Assembly cleaning their lenses with little sheets of appropriately credited cloth. A few years later I told this story to Audrey Starrett, a work colleague. To my astonishment she told me that her husband owned the company that manufactured those cleaning clothes and made a good living from it. I wondered at the time if each sheet should carry a brief credit: 'By Appointment to the Court of His Majesty Eric Shearly.'


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

DATE: 09 November 2013


I remember in form 1B though I was becoming short-sighted, I was very reluctant to go to the opticians and acquire spectacles. This is possibly on account of such possible humiliations you relate, Martyn. I remember writing on the blackboard by masters at the front of the class was major in those days (Is it still today? )and I used to borrow Tim Fawdry's notes as to what was displayed. Eventually I did acquire them and wore them throughout my school days, though I do not wear them today and haven't since 1971. I do not recall any humiliations to me experienced at school, possibly because I used the cleaning cloths you mention to clean them regularly. I do recall those episodes of Men Behaving Badly with Tony taking great steps to hide his specs from Gary and others, eventually unsuccessfully, with Gary calling him 'specky'. By the way, hasn't Martin Clunes been excellent also as Doc Martin in the TV series based at Port Isaac in Cornwall?


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

DATE: 27 November 2014


I have been wondering for the last couple of years who the gentleman was appearing at OE events such as the Dinner Debate and the OE Dinner and who always had people talking to him much like the old Headmasters whom I do know the names of i.e. Eamonn Harris and Doctor Marincowitz. This time the person was a speaker at the Annual Dinner speaking on behalf of the school. He is Eric Houston who was a master at the school from 1976 to 2010 and is spoken about on this thread [replies 3 & 5]. He apparently taught English and was the second master for some, maybe all, of that time. He is also a school governor. He also appears in one of my earlier photos of the 2014 Dinner Debate. At the OE Dinner he spoke of his 34 years as a master at the school and how much he loved being with his colleagues and teaching at the school. He also said attendees might be missing the detentions he used to give. He reminded me of past class detentions I had there before his time.


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

DATE: 17 January 2015


Following my comments above, I do wonder if some correspondents could give some words of praise regarding Eric Houston to contra the criticism of him in reply 3 of this thread, being the only other entry about the man on the site, despite his long service at the school and his having the position for some time of second master. John Pearce, the second master of my day, does have many references on the site, even though mostly critical.
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