A bit about me part 5

I started at St Julian's on the 9th September 1958 and joined Class 1S. I was aged 12 years and 9 months at the end of 1958 whereas the average age of the boys in the class was 11 years and 5 months. My Form Master, a Mr. J Newton stated that ‘John seems to have settled down quite well and is making satisfactory progress’. He marked me as achieving a term position of 12th out of 30 boys in the class.
I found it a bit strange at first going from a mixed primary school to a boy’s only Grammar school. The girl’s school was actually next-door; however we were kept apart even in the play yard. I can’t recall if there was a wall or fence between the two yards but we were certainly kept apart from the girls. Despite being completely useless at it I loved Art because in the Art room you could look out over the girl’s yard and see the lovely Physical Education mistress putting the girls through various exercises.
I was never that good at sports; however in primary school I played a bit of football usually as a goalkeeper. One inter-school game I was in goal and saved a shot from a cousin who attended the other school Lliswerry. He was a lot bigger than I was and came up and lifted the ball and me over the goal line with his foot. The referee who was not well placed to see blew his whistle and awarded a goal.

Unfortunately St Julian’s being a Welsh Grammar school did not allow football to be played on their sports fields; it was a rugby only school. Being of slight build and also having a terror of being hurt I tried to avoid playing this at times brutal sport. However in my first year I did represent my house, Tredegar at rugby in inter-house sport. In the following years I managed to play the far more gentle sport of cricket, again at inter-house level.     

Discipline was strictly enforced and punishment regularly handed out to those who misbehaved. As well as the standard cane, teachers would often use training shoes or dappers as we called them back then. One teacher, who shall remain nameless, even used a length of 1-inch square wood to hit you with. The French teacher became so proficient with the shoe; he was given a nickname of Dapper Dan. He was fearsome in class but a very good teacher.
Many years after I left school I met him in the Engineers Arms in Newport, which at the time was run by my father. He was a very charming man and nothing at all like the teacher we all dreaded. When I reminded him of what he used to do with the dapper, he just laughed and said it didn’t seem to have done me any harm. He was right; it taught me that you received punishment if you did wrong.
Whilst at St Julian’s I started my own paper round, covering the Alway and Ringland estates. I worked out that the local Newspaper shop, which I think was on Lliswerry Road, was not paying the ‘paper’ boys a lot for what they had to do. Consequently the shop found it difficult to persuade boys to take on the job. So I canvassed most of the houses where I lived and asked them if they wanted the Argus delivered daily.
Having collected about 50 names I contacted the South Wales Argus and persuaded them to sell me 50 copies each day at cost price. They would drop them off somewhere on Aberthaw Road for me around 5 pm each evening 6 days a week.

Before long I started getting more and more requests from houses both in Alway and Ringland and by the time the number reached 150 houses I had to get a school friend to help me. Eventually I sold the ‘round’ to the same local Newspaper shop that had failed to deliver to the houses. I had well over 200 houses on my books and I think they paid me £30.     

For the next couple of years I worked hard in school managing to gain a 5th place in the spring examination of 1960. My Form Master, Mr. Carnuck wrote the following in my report ‘an excellent report. John must have worked hard to gain such a high position’. Even the headmaster, Mr. TH Martin, commented ‘A splendid advance apparent’ in the report. It was unusual for Mr. Martin to add comments in reports and this comment was the only one by him in my 5 years at St Julian's. I was doing well.

Now See my previous post below called 'Getting a Guitar'


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