Friday, July 23, 2010

Chi High

A nostalgic day with my good friend, Simon: lunch in town, a browse through the racks of Chichester's only record shop and then a poke around our old school which we discover to our horror we left 31 years ago...

Originally there were two schools side by side: the old Grammar School, built in 1928, and the Lancastrian School, a Secondary Modern. In 1972, the year Simon and I started, they combined to form Chichester High School for Boys. Here we are outside the 'Lancs' building. Just to complicate things, the Girls School was also nearby although they might as well have been on a different planet.

There are a few reasonably famous alumni still knocking about: Howard Brenton (playwright), Adrian Noble (RSC), John Snow (cricketer) and, briefly, Jimmy Hill when he was evacuated here during the war.

We bump into a couple of caretakers, Bill and Ray. Bill's been there 21 years and together we go through teachers' names. Just two survive from our day: Mr Durrant (whom I can barely remember) and Mr Keane (who still teaches Maths part-time and was a bit of a ladies man). A chunk of the playing fields have been sold off to housing and there are a few new outbuildings, including a Planetarium supported by local resident Sir Patrick Moore. But amazingly most of it is the same shabby state as when we were there, even the war-time bunkers which are apparently listed.

I have reasonably positive memories of the place. There were some good teachers, some bad ones too, and of course some real characters. We called each other by our surnames, studied things like Latin, and our O and A level grades were a smattering of As, Bs and Cs as opposed to the straight As and ASs which are the norm now. I think the school got its first computer the year we left.

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