I have hardly put a pen down today. All morning I did Physics prep, and during the afternoon I wrote up several pages of notes.

   We watched “What’s My Line?” as usual. For the second year running it has won the Daily Mail award for the most entertaining programme.

   On sound radio the awards were as follows:— Personality of the Year, Gilbert Harding; Outstanding Actor, Howard Marion-Crawford; Outstanding Actress, Gladys Young; Most Popular Musical Entertainer, Tom Jenkins; Most Entertaining Programme, “Educating Archie”; Most Promising New Programme, “The Al Read Show”.

   Tonight’s TV play was very good. It was “Number Three” by Charles Irving, a play about atom scientists and their reactions to the possible use of a terrible weapon which has been made as a result of their work. It packed plenty of suspense.


   A student took us for French this morning. In Chemistry, Arthur and I prepared Ferric Chloride. [We passed Chlorine over coiled iron wire, heated in a combustion tube; the wire burned and a mass of black Ferric Oxide crystals condensed in the cool part of the tube:—

2Fe + 3Cl2 Õ 2FeCl3.]

   [I put up a notice for the Platoon:—

All members of the Platoon will parade on Wednesday, February 4th at 12.30 pm on the South Terrace. No excuses for non-attendance will be accepted.

The standard of turn-out could be improved somewhat. Points to notice are:

   i.    Boots — not enough shine

   ii.    Blanco is uneven

   iii.    Gaiters — leather straps will be polished

   iv.    Cap-badges

   v.    Tunic and trousers need pressing

   vi.    Not all metal polish removed from brasses

   vii.    Loose cottons need removing.

         B.D. Williams


   I came home on the S.B.

   The most terrible floods have come to Eastern England, Holland and Belgium as a result of gales on Saturday and Sunday.


   Nothing happened at school today. I came home with Kipper on the 1A ’bus.

   I did prep. all afternoon and went to the cinema this evening.

   I went to the Robin Hood to see a domestic comedy — Father’s Doing Fine, in Technicolor. The film, a very good one, was an adaptation of Little Lambs Eat Ivy by Noel Langley, so it was obviously a photographed stage play. Despite this, the film kept up a terrific pace throughout and the fun never flagged.

   Lady Buckering (Heather Thatcher) has four daughters, three of whom get into trouble of some sort, while the other makes trouble for her husband (Richard Attenborough) when she is going to have a child. Susan Stephen, Virginia McKenna, Mary Germaine and Diane Hart were the respective daughters.

   There were 3 films in all. “Travel Royal” was a documentary advertising Britain. The colour in this was breathtakingly lovely and the film was excellent. [The other film was No Holds Barred with the Bowery Boys—Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, Marjorie Reynolds and Bernard Gorcey].


   I was late starting out today so I sprinted up to Shaftmoor Lane and just caught the S.B. I reckon I can cover the extra distance in faster time than the ’bus takes to get from the village to Olton Boulevard East.

   We had second period off. A special projection room is being built in the Large Lecture Room where we normally spend the period with Mr. Ballance.

   At 12.30 I held an extra parade for my platoon on the Science Court and put them through half an hour’s drill for the Docker Cup [competition].

   From 10.30 until 11.0 we saw on TV part of the Windmill [Theatre]’s twenty-first birthday party. [They have had one every year since it opened on February 4th 1932, and the theatre stayed open all through the War — “We never closed” is its slogan.]

   Some of the artists who took part were Alfred Marks, Robert Moreton, Margot Holden and the inevitable Windmill Girls. No doubt some viewers were disappointed with what they saw, or rather, what they didn’t see, but I quite enjoyed the show.

   [I was especially interested because Mam & Dad gave me Tonight and Every Night — The Windmill Story by Vivian Van Damm for Christmas. It was published by Stanley Paul & Co. Ltd. last year, and contains 206 pages and 39 photographs. Jean Kent, Beryl Orde, Eric Barker and Pearl Hackney, Richard Murdoch, Michael Howard, Harold Berens, Peter Sellers, Michael Bentine, Jimmy Edwards, Arthur English and many others all began their careers at the Windmill.

   One chapter — “Ballet throughout Britain” — explains how Mr. Van Damm (the owner-manager of the Windmill) and Mrs. Laura Henderson (who left it to him) were responsible for making British ballet truly national, taking it on tour, with Anton Dolin, Alicia Markova, Ninette de Valois, Constant Lambert all involved.

   Sweet rationing ended today!]


   This afternoon our 1st XV played its last game of the season v Heath and won 9–3 fairly easily. Again, we had 95% of the scrum and should have scored a lot more tries. On one occasion I was stopped right on the line, later I had a try disallowed.

   Our record this season is as follows [I haven’t got the results for the 2nd team yet]:— [[check tabulation]]

1st XII2nd XII3rd XII
2.10.52 Prince Lee Won 20–9 Lost Won
9.10.52 Heath Won 26–nilWon
23.10.52 Cary Gilson Lost 6–8Won
6.11.52 Jeune Won 3–nilWon
13.11.52 Evans Won 48–nilWon
18.11.52 Levett Drawn 3–3Won
27.11.52 Gifford Won 11–nilWon
1st XV League Record:— P 7, W 5, Dr 1, L 1, For 117, Ag 20.
20.1.53Prince LeeLost 8–11Lost 
27.1.53Cary GilsonWon 9–3  
5.2.53HeathWon 9–3  
1st XV Cup Record:— P 3, W 2, Dr 0, L 1, For 26, Ag 17.
Total Record:— P 10, W 7, Dr 1, L 2, For 143, Ag 37.

   Altogether a most successful season. Without a win from Sept. 1950 till Feb. 1952, the 1st XV has lost only 2 of its last 10 games.

I know My sheep. John 10:14


   This morning we finished all the Organic Chemistry we have to know for G.C.E.

   Mr. Stephenson took us for Biology. We did one or two experiments with ground-up granite.

   In J.T.C. we had the Docker Cup competition — the first since I have been an N.C.O. There was a separate competition for “C” Coy. Sgt. Fisk took charge of the platoon. I had nothing to do. The results aren’t known yet.

   I have spent all the evening writing Chemistry notes.


   I managed to get home from school by 1.15 today.

   I cycled to Blues’ match versus Notts County. Mr. Webb had given me another complimentary ticket for Spion Kop. Birmingham won 3–2 though they hardly deserved to do so. Notts included five or six reserves and were twice on level terms. Murphy scored after 33 minutes (his 23rd goal this season), then Evans scored a minute from half-time. In the second half Trigg converted a penalty for hands, then Jackson scored. Finally, one minute from the end, Trigg scored a second penalty.

   After tea I went to the Library and got The Complete Short Stories of Sherlock Holmes [by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle]. After I had taken Ginger out I went to bed and read.


   This morning it started to snow and it has kept on all day so that by the time I took Ginger out this evening, the snow was three inches deep.

   During part of this evening I have watched some of “Our Marie”, the story of Marie Lloyd, in “The Passing Show”. Pat Kirkwood played the part of Marie Lloyd very well.


   Nothing at all happened at school today.

   So far I have spent all this evening doing Chemistry prep. It is now 9.45pm.


   Nothing much happened today. I spent all this afternoon doing homework and now I am listening to “The Forces Show”.


   At N.C.O.’s parade at dinner time we arranged various details for Field Day.

   I came straight home on the S.B.

   This evening Mam, Dad, Mr. D. and I have watched TV. “Current Release” was at 8.45pm. The films reviewed were:—

The Crimson Pirate (Warner Brothers
It’s A Big Country (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
Decameron Nights (Film Locations-Eros)
Against All Flags (Universal International)
Escape Route (Eros)
The Prisoner of Zenda (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)

   At 9.30 there was a visit to a well-known haunted house on the outskirts of London. Members of the Magic Circle managed to create several ghostly effects but these illusions were somewhat spoilt when we had to watch some unexciting card tricks performed by members of the Circle.


   As usual nothing much happened at school this morning. A.D. Grounds has been made a School prefect and there are three new House prefects.

   Tonight I have listened to “Radio Ruffles”, “Ray’s A Laugh” & the B.B.C. Show Band, and I am going to see “Down You Go” at 10.5pm.

   It has rained slightly again.


   I was late for school this morning. There were three inches of snow on the ground and at the bottom of Park Vale, on the rugger pitch were some fifteen thrushes — most of them Redwings.

   We had a test in Chemistry. We are now studying soil with Mr. Stephenson in our plant ecology periods.

   In J.T.C. we did mainly mapwork. The Docker Cup was won jointly by 4 and 5 Platoon; 10 Platoon won the Junior competition.

   After school the Music Circle met in Big School when Mr. Charles Perfect and Dr. Willis Grant played two of Mozart’s Violin Concertos.

   An organ is being built into the New Music Room, so tomorrow’s Shakespeare Society meeting will be held in Classical Corridor. We shall be in two groups — I am in Mr. Weatherall’s and shall be reading the part of the Officer.

   I watched “Toppers About Town” from the Embassy Club tonight.

   [A lovely engraving of Willow Tits appeared in today’s Radio Times.]


   Birmingham City are in the sixth round of the F.A. Cup again. Today they beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge by 4–nil. Purdon (twice) and Murphy and Trigg scored. Surely this must be Blues’ year. Other results were:—

Blackpool 1 Southampton 1
Burnley 0 Arsenal 2
Everton 2 Manchester United 1
Halifax Town 0 Tottenham Hotspur 3
Luton Town 0 Bolton Wanderers 1
Plymouth Argyle 0 Gateshead 1
Rotherham United 1 Aston Villa 3

   This evening I attended the inaugural meeting of the Shakespeare Society and thus became a founder-member. After reading the first three acts of The Comedy of Errors we had an interval during which we ate ham sandwiches & cakes, and drank coffee and orange-squash. We elected officers too.


   Last night I took Ginger out when I got back from school at 9.30, and had a great surprise when I met Bob [Vitoria] outside the Warwick cinema. I had no idea that he was in Birmingham, but apparently he left Bristol just over a week ago.

   I have spent almost every minute of today doing homework. While Mam and Dad were at the Mission, Granma came and she stayed to see “What’s My Line?” and the play.

   This edition of “What’s My Line?” was one of the finest ever, mainly as a result of some brilliant fooling by Frankie Howerd who was the celebrity. He put on a false moustache and spectacles then for a full three minutes he goggled and fumed — a wonderful impersonation of Gilbert Harding which had everyone, save the blindfolded panel, in stitches.


   Nothing much happened at school today except that we had House Prayers in the library, as Big School is being used for examination purposes. Boys intending to take subjects in G.C.E. at Ordinary Level now have to take a preliminary examination in order to qualify.

   I came home through town with Roberts, and I called at Kodak’s to see whether Bob is fixed up for accommodation. At the moment he is staying at an hotel.

   I went to the Olton tonight to see Road to Bali starring Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour.


   We had House Prayers again today. Nothing at all happened.


   There was an N.C.O.’s parade during lunch hour today.

   Mr. Stephenson held a short meeting in the Biology Lab. for all those coming to our Field Club meeting on Friday. This will be a (mainly) Geological meeting and Mr. Stephenson wanted to explain some of the terminology beforehand.

   At long last I have been able to change my uniform for an open-necked tunic [which will look very smart].

   On TV tonight I have watched C.H.O’D. Alexander (O.E.) playing simultaneously sixteen games of chess. He won most of them too!

   After taking Ginger out I saw Arthur Askey and Diana Decker in “Before Your Very Eyes”, more chess, then Sir Hugh Casson, Barbara Jones and Barnett Freedman discussing some of the specially designed Coronation Souvenirs.


   We had prayers in Big School as usual this morning.

   In Practical Physics Arthur and I verified (I hope) Newton’s Law of Cooling. We worked in the Biology Laboratory.

   I came home through town and called at the Hippodrome to see if I could book a seat for Zip Goes A Million which began a fortnight’s run on Monday. Unfortunately there are no seats at less than about seven and sixpence.

   This evening we have listened to “The Al Read Show”, “Radio Ruffles” and “Ray’s a Laugh”. At 9.25pm Dad and I watched Shirley Abicair on TV. Miss Abicair is a young singer, 19, from Australia. She also plays a zither. She is winsome, girlishly saucy, and sings in the nicest “come-hither” fashion. In no time at all Shirley Abicair should be a top B.B.C. star!


   We had a test in Chemistry today. In Biology we did experiments on soils.

   Our half-term holiday began at the end of morning school as the C.O. [Major O.M. Mathews] had remitted parade.

   After lunch the Field Club held its second proper meeting. Mr. Stephenson took a small party to Rubery. There were Phipps, Griffin, Bewley, Wilkins, myself and two others. Mr. Stephenson had prepared some excellent illustrations for each of us and we were able to get a really good idea of the structure and formation of the Lickey Hills, and we did a bit of plant ecology too. We walked all the way from Rubery to Rednal, then had tea in the Bilberry Tearooms.

   I came home through town with John Wilkins. In town, the new flashing beacons at Zebra crossings were working for the first time.


   This morning I got up at 9.15am. Later on I took Ginger to the park and I got a good store of water plants for the big aquarium at school. I intend to plant it out on Tuesday.

   I did not go to Blues’ home match v Bury. It turned out to be a very poor match and Bury won 2–nil. I wasn’t the least surprised at the result, even though Birmingham had won every home game since November 29th and Bury are almost at the foot of the league.


   I got up at 7.45am today so that I could get a couple of Cup tickets. I cycled to Grandad’s and got to St. Andrews by 9.0am.


   For today I had organised a field meeting to the Bartley Green and Bittell Reservoirs. A dozen or more of us met outside Galloway’s in Victoria Square, then we caught the 12 ’bus to Bartley Grn.

   The first bird we saw was a Redshank (No. 15 for me) but there was little more on the reservoir. At Westminster Farm we saw plenty of Snipe but not the Water-Rail or Jack Snipe we had hoped for. We then walked to Northfield and caught the Rednal ’bus. We went all round the Bittell Reservoirs.

   Tonight I went to see Top Secret at the R.H. [Robin Hood Cinema]. Geo. Cole plays a plumber, the inventor of a multi-flange fast flow filter, who is mistaken for an atom spy and captured by the Russians when he takes a holiday in France. The comedy was fast and furious and there was an amusing suggestion of Stalin in a scene at the Kremlin.

   The other film was Elstree Story and contained many scenes from old films [including Number Seventeen (1932), The White Sheik, Piccadilly (1929), Bulldog Drummond (1929), Arms and the Man (1932), The Informer (1929), Blossom Time (1934) and Poison Pen (1939)].


   Today the Cross Country Run was held in very fine weather. I did not do as well this year — I finished 31st out of 170 and sixth in the House team. D.H. Jackson won, J.C. Edwards and N.C. Brown were second and third respectively.

   When I got home I had a bath then after tea I went to the Hippodrome to see Zip Goes A Million. I had to stand all through the show — it cost me 1/6d but it was nevertheless, a quite wonderful evening.

   I think the show has lost a little of the sparkle since it started from Coventry 18 months ago but I suppose that’s inevitable. Reg Dixon (in the part written for Geo. Formby) was an entertainment in himself. Barbara Evans was a charming [space left] (she was at the Girls’ School till 1950! [and Laurie Arthur says I am keen on her], but Pamela Charles as Sally was rather colourless. The musical numbers were excellent, especially “Saving Up For Sally” and “Ordinary People”.


   We had a physics test in first period this morning.

   There was an N.C.O.’s parade at 1.0 as usual.

   In Chemistry we all prepared Nitrobenzene.

   After school the N.H.S. met in the Large Lecture Room when Mr. Stephenson gave his postponed lecture on “Animal Coloration”. It was excellent lecture and very well illustrated but unfortunately only fifteen boys thought it worthwhile to attend. I was most disappointed because he had obviously spent a great deal of time over the lecture and he won’t be with us very much longer. [He is leaving at the end of next term.]

   Dr. Willis Grant gave me a couple of tickets for a concert in the Town Hall tonight. I gave a ticket to John [Winrow] and we went together.The concert was by the Birmingham School of Music and Birmingham University Musical Society.


   I much enjoyed last night’s concert. There were three works; First, Granville Bantock’s Celtic Symphony for Strings and Harps (I especially liked this), then Antonin Dvorak’s Violoncello Concerto, Opus 104. Norman Jones was the soloist and I don’t think I have ever heard him play better.

   After the interval the choir of the University Musical Society and the Students’ Choir sang Vaughan Williams’ Choral Suite — Five Tudor Portraits. Dora Capley was the soloist.

   In Physics this morning Arthur and I measured the melting point of Naphthalene.

   I came straight home from school and did prep. all afternoon.

   At 8.0pm in the Home Service I listened to a most interesting talk by James Fisher on the effects of the recent floods on birds, animals and plants.


   This morning we did not have our usual Chemistry test — we did Practical instead.

   In J.T.C. we were given final details for next Friday’s Field Day then I did some revision of map-reading with my platoon.

   Mam and Dad have gone to the cinema this evening [to celebrate Dad’s birthday. Don’t Bother to Knock (A) with Richard Widmark, Marilyn Monroe and Anne Bancroft, and A Millionaire for Christie (U)] are on at the Warwick.]

   I have been writing up Biology notes.


   Our double Biology period was spent in doing a test on Plant Ecology for Mr. Stephenson. I cycled to school so I got home for 1.5pm.

   After dinner Dad and I went on the ’bus to Blues 6th Round Cup match v Tottenham Hotspur. The attendance was 52,000. The teams were:— Blues: Merrick; Hall, Green; Bannister, Ferris, Boyd; Stewart, Purdon, Trigg, Warhurst, Wardle. ’Spurs: Ditchburn; Ramsey, Withers; Nicholson, Clarke, Burgess; Walters, Bennett, Duquemin, Baily, Medley.

   The match was drawn 1–1. It was extremely hard fought and the tackling robust. Blues had more of the 1st half play and Wardle scored a wonderful 25 yard goal after 24 mins. After 60 mins. Purdon was injured, Blues cracked and ’Spurs took the upper hand, Bennett equalising from a header. Merrick made some magnificent saves.

Previous chapter || Next chapter || Index || Search
webwork by Jim Nagel at Abbey Press, Glastonbury — this edition published 2007-06-30