Preparations For Salvo

I've tried to think myself back to those cold, dark days of 1969 when, having scraped an 11 plus at St. Josephs, I had to leave most of my little pals and go to the Salvo. Life was so much simpler in those days, we had no idea what the importance of the 11+ was. Though I do remember some little puddles in the St. Joseph's assembly hall when we were all got together to do it.

Most of the guys I knew at St Jo's went on to St Gregorys. Anyhow, one of the things that sticks in my mind is the preparation for the first day ...

I seem to recall that a list was sent to parents. It obviously included the uniform. That meant trekking down to a very strange smelling shop in Pinner Green. There I was 'fitted' for a cap and jacket - I think there was even a scarf at one point. When I say 'fitted', people in those days (don't I sound old) didn't have anything like the money that we do now. This meant that the fitting was such that the jacket would last well into the third year, by which time most of the green had worn off and one had worn out at least one set of leather elbow patches not to mention the leather strips used to reinforce the cuffs! I suppose we must have got the PE kit there as well? I was in Becket House which meant green t-shirts and a little green strip down the side of the old shorts. I think the others were called Gabriel, Campion and Francis.

Anyway, back to the list:

We were required to have: a fountain pen; two pencils - one 2B and one 2H; a pencil case; protractor; set square; compass (I vividly recall Doc Lewis telling us that we weren't allowed to stab each other with the compass as 'blood rusts and that will spoil the point' - which I thought was tremendously funny); a Little Oxford dictionary (which I still use at work!); white plimsolls - which were inspected every PE lesson by Spud Murphy (who called everybody 'son' even after the second form when we had all easily outgrown him!) or Louis the sssnake. If they weren't white enough, you had to apply that awful whitener which name escapes me at the moment. (Meltonia! John Foley 68-74) I am sure it is this trauma that, even today, makes me throw away my training shoes every time they get dirty?

One thing that sticks in my memory was how much I was looking forward to going to the big boys school so that I could wear long trousers all day! Given the emphasis on uniformity and conformity thrust upon us in those days I can't even imagine the trauma endured by those boys whose parents sent them to the first form in short trousers! I can't recall any names but my impression is that those kids were never the same afterwards ... I blame the parents!

All this and I haven't got to the school itself!
(John Redmond 69-76)

I entered Form 1B on my first day in 1968 - Neville's class. I spent the whole first year in shorts because it saved buying some new trousers. Maybe times were hard, but the psychological damage is still with me!
(Peter Holmes 68-75)

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