General Comments

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The top section of this page contains an e-mail conversation
which took place during August 2002.

Most liked - Crosby - genial old gent , a good teacher with no animosity or heavy discipline.
Most disliked - Byrne -pretentious twat.

I can see why Doc gets lots of votes - but he knew his stuff and was an effective teacher in terms of exam results.

As regards the Salvatorian itself, I thought it was a good institution with teachers who were, for the most part, fairly able. Reason - my former school was St Joseph's primary Wembley. The Salvo had modern buildings with a gym, a library and indoor toilets. You arrived at the Salvo with shed loads of gear. At primary school all you had were a couple of pencils. Our primary school classes had in excess of 50 pupils of varying abilities. So you also got much better tuition at the Salvo.

In terms of discipline, our parents probably had a stricter regime in their schooldays. For example, punishment for giving the wrong answer, learning by rote. Or a teacher in rural Ireland going outside the schoolhouse to cut down an ash plant to hit the kids with. When my father used to tell me such stories about his teacher (who he held in high regard ), I always felt we did not have it too bad at the Salvatorian. Mind you, his brother reckoned the teacher in question was an ogre.

I don't think we got a raw deal. You meet all sorts in life and you just have to deal with them. I would agree with the statements attributed to Fr Louis that times were different then.

As regards teachers having their prejudices and dislikes, well I certainly had plenty of my own. So although I never had Tufnell as a teacher the fact that he was associated with cricket and amateur dramatics was sufficient for me to hold him in low regard at the time. It never crossed my mind that he was giving up much of his own time for extra curricular activities. Or if it did, I never gave him any credit for it. I would have probably rationalised it by thinking he had no marking to do.
(PC 63-70)

I think that the teachers who were real nasties to us in our day, did not appear so terrible to their colleagues and other adults. I see this very much when talking to the teachers that my kids dislike. So, sure, the Spud's of this world seem alright blokes when/if we meet them now 20 or 30 years later. Big deal, BUT THAT AINT THE POINT. They had a profound and far reaching affect on a lot of boys and being all grown up and pally is no excuse for being sadistic bastards when we were vulnerable and unable to get respect and defend ourselves as adults. They donít see themselves as wrong doers, as we see them, because if they talk to us now they are all reasonable and adult. They have to apologise to the kids in us that still have to deal with all that went on 20/30 years ago.

Well I climbed out of my shell for that one.!!!

Early 70's ...4X and 5X etc!!!
(JP 70-74)

I haven't joined in any debate or discussion as yet, though I do read all your comments with mixed feelings. I agree whole heartedly with JP, people do become alright guys later in life and probably regret the damage they have caused earlier. Fortunately I only had to endure Salvatorian for four years (four years too many). I do remember the Doc putting a boy over his lap, ensuring that his head was under the table and whacking him, so that he got him both ends at once so to speak. I remember being hit on the back of the head with a bunch of keys thrown by "Bruv". The barbarism was unbelievable; my children do not believe that one human could treat another this way. My brothers and sisters went to different schools around the same time and none of them suffered at the hands of their teachers. I often wonder if I would of survived if I had not had the good fortune to leave after the fourth year. Sadly it was not only the teachers who bullied.

In fairness there were some excellent people at the school who did make life nearly tolerable at times, unfortunately after 30 years I still only clearly remember the bad times.
(MD 69-73)

Apart from the wheelchair bound man with the severe personality disorder, I wouldn't particularly single out any individual teacher for blame - probably because I had little time for any of them. I kind of feel sorry for the priests (not that they ever felt sorry for me sob, sob) They generally lacked any teaching skills or interpersonal skills and I assume had little real choice in what they did once they had committed themselves to the priesthood and the Salvo order. I would seriously doubt that most of them got any great pleasure from teaching. I left the school with 1 O level - English Language - and me mother assures me that I was already quite fluent at age 11. I seem to recall that I got a minus score in a maths test. I got everything wrong - including the spelling of mathamatics (still not sure) I had little interest in learning and I'm not sure I could put all the blame on the school. Once I managed to blank any thought of school out of my mind I became very committed to learning and have done OK since. Maybe the survival skills I learnt at school stood me in good stead.

If I learnt anything at Salvo it was a very strong sense of right and wrong. I'm truly grateful for that (God help us if these priests had ever chosen politics instead as a career!) I tend to blame the system rather than the individuals although I do think that apologies should always precede forgiveness. Yes times have changed but surely these guys should have had a head start when it came to ethics and morality.
(SG 61-66)

Similarly I have a mixed bag of memories from the school concerning the teachers. Some being of those who motivated me to get on & study, ultimately helping me get where I am today. Others of the cruel, arrogant, demotivational deviants, who in retrospect, ably equipped me to deal with the tossers I have had to work with and for in the workplace. On the whole ... no regrets.
(DG 76-81)

I tend to agree that the group ought to be a Salvo teacher free zone, which would probably have to include any who were ex pupils of the Institution. Maybe if there are any, and in the unlikely event they would want to join, David could poll the group. Secret ballot and a single no vote sufficient for exclusion.

There were some evil bastards amongst the staff (although one ex pupil's evil bastard is another's inspiration - is there any teacher absolutely everyone feared and hated? Doc perhaps?). As someone commented they all became more matey the bigger you got, and I don't remember having any major problems after the third year. This may also have been related to my growing to my current 6 foot over that summer.

I can't compare the SC teachers with any other contemporary school because I didn't go to any others. However I know that my parents had no concerns because the abuse was less than they'd suffered in their day!

However, in years 1 to 3 it wasn't fear of the teachers that made me not want to go to school.
(PH 68-75)

I cant really say I really feel teachers should not form part of this group, it would be interesting to hear their spin on why they acted as they did and more so that they had some remorse for their actions. This is unlikely and only a few would take any interest but it would be a useful experiment.

Anyone who had a real grievance could then vent their spleen person to person and we could eavesdrop into a real humdinger, bit like the redgra scraps.

Personally I would love Byrne to join so as I could give the pompous prat a real verbalising and ask him why he felt he had the right to waste my precious time listening to his version of class music when it was clear that the whole school was never going to produce a single gifted musician through his inane teaching skills. Maybe I am wrong here but did he ever encourage a single pupil to take music seriously, did anyone ever take a musical instrument in to school? Learn to read a note of music? I feel I have a pretty good grounding in basic general knowledge but have never been able to answer one single question on Millionaire/Trivial Pursuit on classical music down to that pretentious tosspot. To my eternal shame I was forced to go to a Harrow County talent night (or words to that effect) and although I would have rather been dead than go to school there, was really impressed by the ability shown by some of the geeks in attendance many of whom now work in big media jobs.

Point, how many of our ilk ever followed in to those types of career, well paid and underworked? there was so much talent wasted at Salvo, really clever guys, some who succeeded in spite of, not because of their school which is not what the word TEACHER implies. The website shows how badly many of us feel about these impostors, so let them explain their actions or better still start their own website/group that we can join.
(PG 69-75)

I'd be interested to hear what some of them have to say now.
(JP 70-74)

I think I may going out on a limb here and realise that I may get banned from the group. But here goes anyway. I suppose that I am one of the people who got to know Eddie Murphy a little better and in a different way through playing football with him after I left. I was in the 2nd year when he arrived fresh faced from teacher training. And what I remember was that he was probably about 3 or 4 years older than the sixth formers and, to my mind, at the time, not that different in terms of outlook and interests (sports) to his student charges. He was also quite short (and that hasn't changed) so he got a lot of flak from most people from day 1.

It must be quite difficult when you are closer in age and outlook to the students than to some of the crusty academics colleagues. I always thought he was somewhat isolated by that and by the fact he was a PE teacher which probably cut little ice in the politics of the staff room.

I am not making excuses for whatever unacceptable behaviour he may have been responsible for but he may not have had an easy time himself. We can say that he should have known better but I wonder how we may have reacted to a group of 30+ young pubescents who were taller than you and did not want to climb the bloody wall bars again.

I think our expectations of teachers is very high and I am not sure that the quality of training and of individuals ability necessarily matched those expectations during my time. I hope it is better now. I would prefer to think that the system was at fault in allowing some of the things to go on that did although clearly one cannot put it all down to that. BTW I was pretty crap at sports at school.

It's been nice knowing you guys. I am now leaving the country for my own safety.
(CJ 66-73)

Good Message Conrad well done for giving the alternative point of view I often found my fellow pupils far more dangerous than the teachers ... and I haven't noticed them apologising, lets face it... The teachers at times (a lot of them) couldn't cope and resorted to the tactics of the bully to maintain order, the pupils just naturally used those same tactics... I survived (I think I did)... but at the time it was shit!!!!! (5Z Survivor)

PS it still doesn't explain the bitterness of Doc though...
(MK 63-68)

As for you Conrad a brave stance but very well put and quite correct too. His life must have been tough, probably still is, I clearly remember getting both the stick and slipper from him but bear him no malice at all, there were far more malicious people than him around.
(PG 69-75)

Ö and Conrad, we may disagree about Spud Murphy but I would absolutely hate it if you felt that any difference of opinion about what happened twenty five years ago resulted in personal animosity. You won't have to leave the country (unless you come out and say that you found Ma'am Griffiths sexy) all the best... "Lambo"
(RL 71-78)

Ma'am Griffiths not sexy? What is wrong with you?
(CJ 66-73)

Con, now that's NOT funny!

By the way, your description of a short man who's good with the footballers and other sporty types, is intimidated by those taller than him, and seemed to take it out on the defenceless small kids in years 1 and 2 is close to a perfect description of a bully. Not really what a teacher should be aspiring to, is it?
(ST 66-73)

Other Comments

The priests enjoyed dishing out corporal punishment to a sickening degree.
(JL 52-55)

Ö frequent canings and humiliations from priests and lay teachers alike - perhaps to build character? At least I didn't end up a serial killer.
(JB 52-60)

I always thought that characters such as Doc, Twitch Morgan, Hooper, the aged and charming Bunny Cornes and fantastical adornments such as Keith Davies, Peter Byrne and Neville Bayross all went with the territory. I rather liked that old-fashioned, knockabout atmosphere which had more than a whiff of St Trinian's about it.
(AC 75-80)

With the exception of Twitch, I can't remember any other case of a teacher being in any way reprimanded or called to count and I'm sure that there was never a conversation in the staff room beginning " Doc, I think you're a bit hard on the twelve year olds."
(RL 71-77)

It's shocking how little I remember - they were a bloodthirsty bunch of fascists and the Quasimodoesque Bruv was really the icing on the wagon wheel.
(RG 64-69)

Lots of people I know now cannot believe my anecdotes of school (Salvo) (Doc etc) and think I have been warped for life. Seems like everyone who went to Salvo in the seventies is too.

The real problem is that it is far easier to tell stories of dodgy wheelchair bound sadists than it is of normal teachers. (There were actually quite a few.)
(MK 69-76)

Almost to a man, these teachers were nuts.
(JH 76-81)

Quite frankly, I have mixed feelings about my whole time there and it's strange, (possibly cathartic) to see comments from old boys who went through the same experiences, and had to deal with the same weird characters. I have a 15 and a 13yr old and mentioning some of the characters and goings on in the Salvo is a completely alien way of life to them. It sounds almost Victorian!
(JP 68-73)

I can honestly say that my time at Salvatorians was the worst in my life. I hated school so much (5z in particular) that I just stopped going, I used to write my own sick-notes and the w**kers in charge never worked it out (Caring Community College ... B******s) when my parents did wonder what was happening and spoke to the school ... guess what... I was given all the help they could offer ... I was expelled!
(MK 63-68)

Fondest memories? Spud gun fights on the top deck of the 158 bus from Watford; Pete Dobson's jazz music during art; Bruv saying f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-fourpence for a Mars bar; diving into the open-air pool before finding out that it was only 48'F; Geoff Shovelton running down the steep side of Ivinghoe Beacon gathering momentum and flailing his arms at an ever increasing pace; being chucked out off maths A Level course for chewing gum TWICE!! That strange sweet smell from the Upper Sixth Common Room!! Spending almost all of the Lower Sixth doing photography and producing the school mag.
(KM 64-71)

I understand what the website is about and think it's hilarious and a fitting tribute to a school with surely the weirdest staff ever.
(JH 76-81)

I can understand why your site is frowned upon by the school, but for most people they weren't "the best years of our lives" and if you are trying to capture the true spirit of what it was like to have been there then the reminiscences should be both good and bad. I'm amazed at how many bad memories came flooding back when I saw the list of teachers (and pupils!).
(SFW 72-79)

We are told that our schooldays are the best days of our lives - obviously the writer didn't go to the Salvo & if he did he wasn't in my class!!! I was a pupil from 63 to 68 spending my last year in the infamous 5Z (see the pupil list on 67 magazine), when we started in the 4th form we were told that as streamlining us into A's B's & C's meant that the C's were made to feel somehow inferior we were to be graded into X's, Y's & Z's - enough said!!
(DH 63-68)

The main people I remember were the priests, most of whom were sadly distorted semblances of normal people. There appeared to have been a retained attitude that teaching and mild to moderate sadistic behaviour were intimately related. However there were some exceptions. Punishments were meted out in a fairly arbitrary way in a terrified attempt to maintain control. Canings were very regular. Detentions were a total waste of time. School uniform was excruciating.
(TWS 64-71)

Looking back on my time at SC (75-80), I wonder if all schools then were as brutal and carelessly cruel as it was, and how I and others managed to quite enjoy ourselves despite the school, and get a reasonable education into the bargain. It's a miracle :)
(KW 75-80)

I sometimes thought if it was like that at our place, what was happening at schools like Blackwell and Whitefriars? I was later told it was nothing like what went on at the Salvatorian. I was aware we were in a dumping ground for weirdoes and downright bullies.
(PS 66-73)

It was sometimes hard to credit that teachers were humans (who could joke and have feelings).
(MOS 66-73)