South Shields Grammar-Technical School for Boys   
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Viewing messages 381 to 390

Bruce Graham | bsgraham~AT~btinternet~DOT~com
Pens, what memories!

The chewable variety were primarily from junior shool in my memory, with ink wells being filled daily. Certainly when I went to "our" school I was equipped with a fountain pen and this was gradually upgraded over the years. There was a lovely shop on King St, whose name I forget, which specialised in these deirable items.

However, do you remember the smell of those fist Biros? You can't possibly descibe smells but it was so evocative of that time. A bit like the time when the blackout was lifted at the end of the second world war and boys like me who had existed in total darkness outside the home after sundown suddenly saw light shining through coloured curtains.

By the way, Dawkins and Hitchens are spot on!
Sun 12-Sep-2010 20:13 - Ruskington, Lincolnshire
Alex Patterson, 1946-1951, VUA | alexpatterson~AT~videotron~DOT~ca
Hi Mike,
Neale’s, Ed’s and Michael’s letters all triggered memories of schooldays and of more recent times. Neale’s reference to Christopher Hitchens’ illness reminded me of a recent interview he, Hitchens, gave on TV. He was bald as a result of his treatment but he was as truculent as ever and used a similar analogy of being a ‘finalist’ without being bitter about his circumstances. A few years ago, I read his “God is not Great” in parallel with Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion”, a mistake if ever I made one. I now have their various arguments about God inextricably interwoven and have just taken both books from our local library to read again…this time, one at a time. I was lucky enough to catch a superb debate between the two of them and three religious representatives on a PBS channel, shortly after I’d read the books. I think they won the debate handily on whether “…we’d be better off without religion…”. For some reason or other this channeled me on to memories of Dennis Wheatley, whose books I started to read in the late 40’s. When I told Pan Headley about this he cautioned me to go to bed with a Dennis Wheatley in one hand and a bible in the other.
Michael’s memories of his Platignum pen resurrected mine about my Biro. I was lucky enough to have an aunt and uncle who during WWII owned a general dealer’s opposite Swan Hunters in Wallsend. They always had a great supply of unusual things from the States, I guess because of trading with sailors who were from ships under repair. One of her gifts to me was a leather flying jacket, much too big for me at the time, but I treasured it until I could wear it at about 16 years of age. Another was the Biro…what a prize…it must have been in the late 40’s maybe when I was in Fifth Lower A. I thought I was chocolate until I was told I couldn’t use it and I must “use a fountain pen like everyone else”. Which of course I did; I used a Waterman’s with a script nib and green ink. My writing had a backward slant and one homework submission, Mr. Josephs wrote, “Unmitigated swank. Write properly in future”
Ed has talked about school supplies and uniforms and if my memory serves me right we didn’t have to supply anything. I started school with a leather satchel which I wore with straps over both shoulders and finished school with an army surplus haversack that I got from a store on Fowler Street. I was a butcher boy and used to deliver meat to the store and the owner one Saturday told me I could have the haversack and also gave me a DLI badge to put on the flap. It was mandatory to wear it slung over one shoulder and get it as dirty as possible. I had it until I got married and wanted to keep it for the beach on our honey moon. You can guess the rest.
Thanks guys for stirring up all these thoughts.
Regards from a sunny and hot (32 C) Montreal…(feels like 37 C with the humidity)
Alex Patterson
Wed 1-Sep-2010 06:23 - Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Michael Lawrenson 1946 | lawrenson~AT~hollyburn~DOT~plus~DOT~com
Hi Mike

Ed’s memories of what it was like years ago certainly highlight the differences with today. I’m sure we were provided with pens in class and my memory is that they had ribbed wooden shanks, were dark red/orange in colour and used nibs which were handed out sparingly. Chewing the wooden holders was actively discouraged and cross-pointing a nib was a major offence. Eventually when I got to the High School I got myself a Platignum pen which was the height of sophistication. High School uniforms were rare in the 1940s. We all managed to wear something distinctive such as a badge or a tie but the full uniform was seldom seen because of shortages and clothing rationing which remained until the end of the decade.

So Ed, yes, things have changed!
Mon 30-Aug-2010 18:59 - Scotland
Ed. Forster '37 to 42 | r2edforster~AT~live~DOT~ca
I have eight gr.grand kids going to school next month & they all have to get their school supplies from which the stores are making huge profits, such as pens, pencils, folders, note books etc. Also new clothes, back packs, running shoes, seems to go on forever the stuff required.
The 80yrs or so ago when I went to school at least all,the pens books etc were provided , & as to the clothes they were changed only when growing out of them.
I hope someone will let me know if things have changed today.
From a sunny & beautiful Prince Edward Island.

Sun 29-Aug-2010 19:47 - PEI Canada
Neale Backhouse | neale70~AT~shaw~DOT~ca
Hi Mike
Thanks to Eric and Alex for their fitting comments on the passing of Mr Alan Myers. As they both observe, Mr Myers was a brilliant researcher, wordsmith and reporter of the Tyneside scene. It is unfortunate that he never graced our Guestbook with a shaft of his ready wit and good humour. We would have been honoured to have included him in our band of brothers.
Another brilliant and at the same time controversial journalist and provocateur, who is presently facing life threatening illness is Christopher Hitchens, a confirmed anti-theist whose views have created a storm of debate, worldwide. This is not the place to discuss his views but whatever your opinion, read him (or listen on you tube) and enjoy his eloquent command of the English language. You will find him insufferable and arrogant at times, but I guarantee you will be captivated by his erudition and brilliance in debate. Mr Hitchens' article in "Vanity Fair,"
in which he describes his reaction to learning that he has a particularly aggressive cancer, is a masterpiece of poignant understatement. He concludes by saying "In whatever kind of race life may be, I have very abruptly become a finalist."
Thu 26-Aug-2010 03:17 - Victoria BC, Canada
Alex Patterson, VUA, 1946-1951 | alexpatterson~AT~videotron~DOT~ca
Alan Myers
I was very saddened to read Eric’s letter about the recent death of Alan Myers. I regret that I didn’t know him or meet him in school; I think he must have been a couple of years ahead of me. I came across him a few years ago while surfing the net about the north east. The link took me to his site ( which I found fascinating, educational, humourous and beautifully written. In an earlier version of the site was a series of ten essays on various topics. Luckily I had the foresight to print the essays; unfortunately they no longer appear on the above site. I think I was so impressed at the time that I wrote to the Visitorbook recommending readers to look at the site. The essays have been in by my bedside cabinet ever since that time and I frequently dip into them and never cease to be amused and astonished by them; astonished at his skill of skipping from topic to topic within an essay without losing the thread of its meaning and then returning to the theme at the conclusion, like Biily Connoly does in his shows. I envy his prowess. He was a prolific writer and obviously a brilliant researcher. My deep regret is that I never met him and from the obituaries it seems that he would have been greatly entertaining. There is a wealth of information about him and his various works on the internet and I’m sure that he will certainly be remembered in the famous old boys section of our school site.
Regards from a sunny, warm (26 C) Montreal
Alex Patterson
Tue 24-Aug-2010 16:13 - Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Eric Moyse 1946 to 1953 | eric~DOT~moyse~AT~sky~DOT~com
Alan Myers
I am sad to pass on the report that Alan died on 8 August 2010 a few days short of his 77th birthday. His obituary in yesterday's "Guardian" describes him as "one of the most acclaimed translators of Russian into English."
I hope that one of our number will feel able to do justice to Alan by including a short biography of him in the "Famous Old Boys" section of this website.
Tue 24-Aug-2010 09:57 - Reading, Berkshire
Bill Anderson | ando702~AT~bigpond~DOT~com
Reading about Costorphine, The Holborns and Middle Docks was a blast from the past. I was born and spent the first part of my life not far from there in Corbridge Street. I remember as a child the fearful stories we heard about the arabs that lived there and how even the police did not venture there alone. My father also worked for many years at the Middle Dock and I visited it regularly. If he worked late I was dispatched to deliver his "Bait", a tin can of tea and a packet of sandwhiches. No thermos flasks or canteens then, the can was enclosed in what I think were old woollen sock legs in an attempt to keep the tea reasonably warm. I still remember the first time I got to go down into the dry dock and stand under a ship. I did it many times later as part of my job but standing there with my father is still a bright memory.
Mon 23-Aug-2010 10:58 - Australia
Michael Lawrenson 1946 | lawrenson~AT~hollyburn~DOT~plus~DOT~com
Hi Mike

I was interested to read about Cone Street School. I never went there but my mother was a pupil at that school just after her family moved to Shields from Cumbria. For the first few months she continued to wear the clogs she had worn in Cumbria and was known at Cone Street as ‘Cloggy Bethy’ (her maiden name was Bethwaite). I don’t know how Cone Street is pronounced now but evidently it used to be known as ‘Coin Street’ My mother used to talk of rivalry between Cone Street and Trinity and there was a rhyme which went something along the lines of ‘Coin Street bugs run up your lugs and let the Trinity beat ya’. It makes about as much sense as ‘High School bloater, rusty motor, cannot swim without a floater’.
Thu 19-Aug-2010 21:00 - Scotland
Alex Patterson, VUA, 1946-1951 | alexpatterson~AT~videotron~DOT~ca
Hello Bryan,
It’s good to know that someone is out there who still reads the Visitorbook. My participation in the ‘Holborns’ came about after reading an article in the e-Gazette by Janis Blower regarding Gary Wilkinson, who is the director of Northeastern Films. His plan is to make documentaries about the riverfront starting from Jarrow Slake, through Tyne Dock and Corstorphine Town, West and East Holborn, Mill Dam and Wapping Street area then going on to the New Bridge, the Lawe Top Littehaven and the beaches. The Holborns is to be the first of a trilogy. The article asked for interested parties who had lived, worked or were familiar with the Holborns to contact Gary to see if they could add to the background story.
I called him from Canada and, after a lengthy talk, set up a meeting in South Shields. The timing was convenient to us both, but it was interrupted by my labyrinthitis attack. Gary kindly proceeded with his editing to keep to his schedule and slotted my interview in at the very end of my stay. I was able to provide him with some old B&W photos of West Holborn in the 40’s complete with garden air-raid shelter and vegetable patch and we had a most enjoyable filmed interview, some of which he will use in the film. He plans to show it in the fall, I think at the Library, I don’t know whether it is going to be on local TV or not. I can understand you not knowing the Holborns…it was a destination, rather than a place en route to somewhere else.
I think the school to which you referred was the Cone Street School which would have some Arab children in attendance, being in the area where the majority of South Shields’ Arab population lived. I too visited Google street view to see my old home at 93 West Holborn; I lived there from 1937 to 1960 and my Mum lived there until her death in 2003.
Speaking of Google, I see that some nitwit of a girl in Worcester thought it would be a good prank to pretend she had been killed by lying down in the street beside a car and was caught by the Google street cameras much to the distress of her parents and neighbours. She was “…chuffed about being on the internet. It is quite funny…” Whenever a new piece of technology comes along there are people whose only aim is to abuse it. While on the subject of technology, I have just read “Accidental Billionaires’ about the two founders of Facebook. It’s an interesting read that is ironic in its subtext in that Facebook brings hundreds of people together but its implementation drove two best friends apart.
I’m off to water the garden again, the summer continues at its hot and dry pace and the flowers and tomatoes are magnificent.
Regards from a sunny, warm (28 C) and dry Montreal.
Alex Patterson.
Thu 19-Aug-2010 18:42 - Montreal, Quebec, Canada

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