Words & Verses 1960

1960 Magazine

The Woods under Snow

Fluffy flakes, drifting downwards,
Silent invaders conquering the blackness,
Softly and silently
Blanketing the woodland scene.

Sparkling and glistening under the moon,
Rejecting blackness, gathering the light;
Bushes and trees hidden from view,
Asleep under an ermine blanket.

Sunrise reveals a snow-laden landscape,
Tracks like hieroglyphs in the snow,
Muffled men searching for sticks,
Cursing the cold crystals.

John Roberts 2K

Mistress Winter

Mistress Winter,
With cloak of grey,
The lady who walks
On a dismal day;

Whose dainty feet,
Light as a feather,
Glide through the snow
In the cruel weather

Mistress Winter,
With step so light,
Why not abandon
The useless fight?

For when Spring comes
Some sunny day,
Your reign is over
Whatever you say!

Roy Bates 3M

Thoughts on the Weekly Composition

Conscience, always a troublesome element in life, afflicted me more severely than usual as I saw Mr Hardcastle struggling over the punctuation of several of his colleagues, and I realised that, the editor apart, the English staff had made little or no contribution to the yearly panic out of which emerges, phoenix-like, the school magazine. Having reluctantly formed the resolution to contribute something, I am faced with the inevitable problem of just what to attempt. In the heat of June, with the end of term just discernible on the horizon it is difficult to brace oneself to the task of writing anything “with depth and sensitivity”, even supposing that anyone would trouble to read it. On the other hand, humorous writing is not my strong point. However....

I have chosen the above title for several reasons. Firstly, the “weekly” part looks good to inspectors and parents, and other potential menaces to the schoolmaster’s existence, though in fact, for various transparent reasons, the sentence is frequently commuted to a fortnightly labour. Secondly, I am repeatedly recommending my pupils to write within the range of their experience and to abjure the lure of test-pilots, commandos and burglars, and so I had better do the same. Thirdly, the reader, if any, is bound to have a corresponding personal interest in the matter, whether the pain has been dulled by the passage of the years or whether the agony is still acute and regular.

Let me make one thing quite clear at the outset. This periodic affliction, if I may retain my metaphor, is not one which leaves me fit and well to pursue more congenial activities. The idea that the English master is a savage sadist who dreams up original tortures in the form of essay subjects still lingers but is quite unjustified. Quite apart from the marking, which, like washing-up, never seems to end, and unlike washing-up, never seems to do any good, the “dreaming up of an original subject”, once such hardy annuals as Plot Night, Christmas, Speech Day and My Summer Holidays have been exploited, can be quite an acute discomfort. On the whole, therefore, I do feel that the groan which greets any subject I suggest to 3 Arts is really rather unkind.

Another problem connected with the “weekly composition” is the collection of books. When I set a subject, with a pious hope for legibility, and point out firmly but politely that I would like the books “in” for, say, Wednesday, I do so with mixed feelings. A few books less to mark means a little more free time, which is then lost chasing up the defaulters. It’s a case of roundabouts and swings. Moreover, boys are contrary creatures; the value of marking is absurdly over-rated, for although they assume they have a divine right to have their scrawl marked, they generally ignore the wisdom and care their master has bestowed upon it. But let him merely tick the composition without properly reading it and the indignation of the cheated scholar would make a weaker man cower against the blackboard.

When I inquire the reason for the non-appearance of an essay, I am constantly on the lookout for new, interesting and original excuses. They sometimes bring a flash of colour  into an otherwise drab and repetitive process. The honest and unintelligent have simply forgotten, lost their books, left them at home in the morning or at school the previous afternoon, or had an engagement of some kind which could not possibly have been deferred or curtailed. The dishonest and the intelligent disarm criticism and defy judgement by informing me sadly that their book fell unobtrusively into the fire, the river or on to the railway line, was chewed to pulp by the obliging family pet or has been extensively used by a younger offspring to practise early steps of self-expression. Of course the work was done before these tragedies occurred, and they agree that the whole thing is most unfortunate, but what can they do? What indeed!

It will by now, I think, be clear that the weekly composition is a matter which cannot be undertaken lightly. Quite apart from such obvious little trivialities as subject matter, spelling, punctuation and grammar, there are these other, weightier problems which the layman can hardly be expected to appreciate. Francis Bacon clearly hadn’t lived when he wrote his essay on “Studies” or he would have written:

“Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, some few to be chewed and digested (I wonder if dogs are very literal-minded?) and others to be returned to their authors along with summary chastisement”

One of these nights I shall wake in a cold sweat to hear a chorus of Bradfordian voices crying, “Have you marked us books  yet, sir?”

Mr P Jackson


I used to have a very great friend in the same form as myself, which is 3M and the best form in the school. In fact our English master once, when he noticed my friend and me enjoying a little private conversation in one of his lessons, compared us to David and Jonathan, Brown and Muff, and other famous friends of the past, though he spoiled this beginning by the very sarcastic remarks that followed.

But now I have lost my friend and gained a fiendish enemy, for reasons which I am going to explain. I t happened one day that my friend was suddenly absent from school, and I concluded that he must be ill. I was very sad, partly because I thought he might be suffering untold agonies and partly because I was lonely, but like a true hero I concealed my misery under a smiling mask. Perhaps I concealed it too well, for the Geography master, a most unsympathetic character, told me to wipe thje grin off my face and added other remarks too crude to sully these pages.

The third period that morning was Biology in Room 18. Biology is my favourite subject, and I’m pretty hot at it - in fact, the comment “21st - satisfactory” in my report is much more encouraging than the vindictive remarks made by the other masters who take me. The lesson began, and I was listening spellbound to the interesting and instructive remarks of the master when my eye chanced to glance at a glass tank with tadpoles swimming about in it. And then I saw a remarkable thing. One of the tadpoles stood still, or rather swam still, and stared at me in a most pitiful way, and sort of beckoned to me with its tail. It looked just like my friend; in fact it was my friend, and I knew that he had suffered a sea change into something rich and strange, as some poet or other said somewhere when I was in the first form. The tadpole stared at me and I stared at it; it opened and shut its mouth in anguish, and I opened and shut mine in sympathy. It was all most affecting. And then the master noticed me. I drew a veil over the remarks he made and the silly and spiteful laughter of the boys in the form, boys whom I had considered my friends. But I managed to maintain a brave exterior, though my heart was too full to speak.

My friend returned bright and smiling to school next day. He’d had a bit of a sniffle. He said airily, the poor weak fool. Masking my annoyance, I told him of my grim experience of the day before, and of my fears for his very existence. And then he sloshed me on the nose, and he said that if I ever mentioned tadpoles again at any time, he’d slosh me again, and now he’s my sworn enemy. Sometimes I think it’s a handicap for a boy to have a sensitive and poetical nature like me. It’s far better to be tough like W-. But perhaps I’d better not write his full name, or I might be sloshed again.