Born in 1965
Lived inElmpark Vale, Stockton Lane
I was at St George’s Secondary between 1977 and 1982. My first memory of the place was before the bell even rang. I was as nervous as hell and Lenny Stoney (who I didn’t know) was sat near the entrance door and if I was nervous, he was terrified. Peter Sellers was my form teacher for my duration at the school. He remembered teaching my brother almost a decade earlier and constantly compared me to him which bugged me for the next five years.
I’d loved my primary school (St Aelred’s) and was sorry to leave it. Most of my best friends there had passed the eleven plus and I’d failed it but a few of my mates started George’s too, Dave Walton, Mark Johnson, Andy Mills, Don Elmer, Kev Clarridge and no doubt a few more.
Mr Sellers scared me from the word go. Strict ex-military, impeccable posture (stomach in chest out type of thing). If you’ve ever seen Pink Floyd’s film The Wall, the animated teacher was surely based on him right down to the black blazer and military sown on badge.
I’d heard there were two initiation ceremonies that all new boys went through, one was the head down the toilet and the other was to be thrown over the wall in the playground which at that time was at the front of the school. Two fifth formers got hold of me, the Flannery twins, and just as they got me on the wall another fifth former told them to leave me alone and so they got me off the wall and said “sorry Killer”. He told me if ever I had any problem with them again to go and tell him. I was pleased to have somebody on my side called Killer. His actual name was Michael Kilmartin (he hadn’t actually killed anyone but on my first day there I would have believed anything). I saw him around for years afterwards and we always talked. He became a PE teacher and worker at the Bar Convent (nice job).
I enjoyed George’s all in all, I suppose, but I still think even for the late seventies/early eighties it was a bit strict on the discipline front. I saw, on at least three occasions, punishments that qualified as assault and a lot of the teachers had their favourites and their not so favourites which they seemed to make pretty obvious. My memories are possibly tainted by the fact that I loved primary school and loved my three years at art school so George’s is sandwiched in between the two.
My favourite memory is a week spent in East Barnby. We were double booked with an all girls school from Scarborough. We were 13/14 and the girls were in their last school year. I copped off with a gorgeous girl called Sandra and we met up a few time afterwards. All a bit of an initiation if you know what I mean.
Several years after we all left school we started having unofficial re-unions. I can’t recall who initiated it but full credit to them as this was the mid-eighties so pre-Internet/Facebook days. The first one was just a few of us but word got around and there’d be a crowd of us in the Bar Hotel on Micklegate. Dennis Nicholson phoned me (how he got my number, I’ll never know) and he was furious that we were getting together and not letting him know. He came out on the following get togethers and brought Alan Gudgeon with him. They drank us under the table.
I last saw Brendan Browne ten years ago, he told me St George’s was the best school he ever taught in simply because the kids were so diverse and mostly fun to be around.
I was gutted when they pulled the place down, felt like a part of my youth had been taken away. I often went by the place in the mid-eighties and walk around the car park which was the play ground when I started.
So, all in all, good days.
Peter Sellers - My form teacher. Scary and very old school. His approach to teaching was to make you afraid of him. I was totally uninspired by him and all we ever seemed to do during his lessons was read, I don’t recall him ever teaching us anything and if he didn’t like you your school life wasn’t easy. There was one lad in our year who really got on his bad side and got repeatedly thrashed with a plimsoll. Having said all this, I went to his funeral with my brother and my dad, there were hundreds there. It was more like a state funeral.
David Wilde - Really liked him, he was passionate about the English language but he had a vicious side too. He was inspiring though. Drunk every Friday afternoon for double English. Sucked Polo’s constantly. Ended up Mayor of York. The first time I ever saw porn was at primary school courtesy of Wildey’s son Olaf bringing in one of his dad's Swedish porn magazines. Priceless.
Brendan Browne - Magnificent man, completely inspired me. In the last year I’d pretty much given up on school. I’d go in for registration then disappear out of the back door and into town. All I wanted was to go to Art School, I wasn’t very academic at all. I didn’t think I’d ever been sussed but Mr Browne realised I wasn’t in school even though I attended every art lesson. He spoke to the other teachers and I spent the last few months constantly in the art room. I have no idea how he pulled that off without getting me slapped by every teacher in the school. I lived opposite him ten years ago and we had the odd pint. A true inspiration to me and the one teacher I had who became a friend.
Ken Gair - Had no time for him. He was a supposed leader but incapable of leading. He loved music but apart from that he was pretty incompetent.
Patrick Keighley - A manic individual. Very intelligent and lived on his nerves. He should have been Head Teacher and not Deputy Head. Had my share of run in’s with him but any punishment he doled out to me I probably deserved it. A fair man.
Chris Hearne - Liked him. A nervy type and I always saw him as a bit of a sad lonely man. I got more wallopings from him than any other teacher (Uncle Fred).
Errol Chinnian - On our first day at school Errol gave us all a right shouting at for no reason, just laying down the law, I suppose. Errol got a lot friendlier though and was well liked by us all. You’d go into his class, stand by the desk and he’d say 'shit down'. It got a laugh for five years solid.
George Brown - A lovely man, but again I saw his vicious side. If you didn’t want to do maths just ask him about the war and that was the rest of the lesson taken up. He retired after my first two years at school. I used to see him walking round Heworth with his wife. He was as tall as Peter Crouch and Mrs Brown was barely five foot tall. Top old war horse.
Alan Gudgeon - A good bloke but yet again someone who’d hit you for no reason at all. He used a three foot piece of doweling and often walked up behind me (and many others) and whack it over the back of my legs. The pain would shoot through your body. He used to drive us to away football games in his VW van. Despite the unwarranted punishments I really liked him, a generally happy man. I was mates with his son and daughter years later and went round to his house. Even then he called me Aldous, never Mark.
Vic Berridge - If any teacher made me laugh it was Mr Berridge, a complete nervous wreck. If we had double maths he’d have to go for a cigarette half way through just to calm himself down. Always on edge but a lovely bloke.
Dennis Nicholson - Brilliant, used to smoke his pipe in the gym during our PE lessons. I loved football but wasn’t a great player by any means but I was faster than anyone I ever played against and Dennis would constantly scream at me to stay in position and stop chasing the ball for 90 minutes. He played me in defence, mid-field then the much coveted centre forward position but I was still running up and down all over the pitch. He told me as a last option he’d play me on the right wing and said 'you can run up and down as much as you bloody well like Aldous but please stay on the bloody right'. I did, and we did well that season. I played for the Nags Head, Heworth for a few years after school (on the right wing). Dennis was a good bloke.
Mr Friar (Caretaker) - Fantastic man. He’d hold court first thing on a morning before the bell went near the back entrance to the school. Everyone loved him. I remember having extensive talks with him about the Rolling Stones, we were both rock 'n' roll obsessives. He was a very intelligent man and would have made a brilliant and inspiring teacher.
Robert Clarke, Trevor Guest, Michael Clarkson - Nothing to say about these people. They went through the teaching motions but weren’t influential to me in any way. I learned nothing from them.