05 December 2001


Any memories?


  1. Dave, remember those times when the class would go quiet as the grave - schoolteacher included - and everyone would suddenly not dare to look to the right or left. Out of the corner of your eye you could see a face pushed against the classroom window - that snarl on the face, that black cape on his back - was it the angel of death, or the grim reaper come to collect early? Nah, it was Cooksey! Real old school type - disciplinarian, usually administered via the cane (trust me, I know from experience). Breathing was on offence punishable by caning. Chalky White was a piece of cake after old Genghis Cooksey!

  2. I remember him well - he used to sneak around in brown suede brothel creepers, always donned his gown and in the later years ( 70 / 71) if 'the Head' was unavailable for assembly Cooksie would eargerly step into his place to the accompany of hissing sounds from the students. An excellent noise that could be made without moving ones lips and therebye avoid detection!

  3. In my time doing Latin in the late 1940s, a schoolboy wag had written against the word horrendus in my text book "Cookseyish".   But he was a good teacher.   Peter Smith

  4. God, your mention of the hissing suddenly brought it all back to me. He was our Latin teacher up to the 5th form and I remember him being very disappointed when I turned up to register for the sciences in the 6th form. I can't remember whether that was the morning or afternoon session but he said that he had been expecting me at the other one.   I wonder where I would be now if I had done it the other way round? Seems rather an absurd choice to have to make at that age.

  5. Cooksey? There's a name from the past! I well remember the phenomenon described in one of the other replies, the palpable silence and tremor that went through a classroom when his face appeared framed in that window that was in every door, in the new building at least. The instant conversion of a buch of mutinous plebs to the most studious scholars you could have ever have seen!!   My inability to scan latin prose (I still recall iambic pentameters without knowing what they are!) made me, I think, a favourite target of his. As we would go through the class, one by one, my turn would approach. When it arrived, he would actually smile and say "Aaah, Harrop the scanner" and guarantee the ridicule that would follow. Happy days.   We can say all we like about Cooksey and his like, but would not the country be a better place if that breed had survived?   I have so enjoyed these few moments of memory!

  6. Well, I am not sure if I am going 'Senile' or not, but I remember Mr. Cooksey for History and 'E.O.' Jones and his 'Alsatian' for Latin ... I was in the 'Lit' stream and there from September 1944  until July 1950 ...  Peter Smith, who has posted a message and with whom I still have contact, also remembers 'Cooksey' for Latin ... Peter was 1 year after me ... how things changed !!!

  7. A few more recollections about Cooksey.   Am I right in thinking that he was known as "Stan" - even though his name, I believe, was Simon?   Remember how his tie would bow out above his waistcoat rather than lie flat against his shirt?   The last person that I heard describe our supposedly national sport as "soccer" or "association football", when announcing the results of the various sports teams on Monday morning in assembley.   His favourite latin phrase was "fluminaque antiquos subterlabentia muros" - something about rivers flowing under ancient walls, from a famous latin poem - so famous I can't recall what it was! Reciting it had such a narcotic effect on him that he would clutch the desk for support, to prevent an unsightly swoon!   Was he in charge of School House?   I will no doubt think of more.   Regards to all, yea even unto those as far away as Western Oz!

  8. Well, my memory bank has to go back a little further than yours,
    September 1944 to July 1950 to be precise, but I can only remember Mr
    Cooksey being referred to as 'Purdie' (I think I am right here, but not
    sure of the spelling, or WHY he was called that) ... I only recollect
    him as a 'Day Master' as opposed to a 'House Master' and have no
    recollection of him having any attachment to School House, or indeed,
    any Boarding House ... I have been known to be wrong before (Once, I
    think it was, when I voted for the wrong Candidate !!!)

    Take care all and thanks for the good wishes, yea, even as far away as
    West Oz ... much appreciated !!!

    Doug Clews

    Do you Yahoo!?
    Messenger beta: Free worldwide PC to PC calls and a special headset offer!

  9. In my day, mid sixties, Cooksey was definitely the
    master of School House, as well as senior Latin master.
     For the first two years "Jake" Ashurst the
    headmaster took us for Latin. For reasons still unknown to me your future
    schooling at PS depended upon your results in the Latin exam at the end of the
    second year.
    Those who reached a certain percentage in that exam
    went on to forms 3B & 3C, taking Latin, as well as Physics Chemistry &
    Biology. Those who failed to reach that percentage went into 3A, and did not
    take Latin and took General Science instead of the three science subjects
    Having studied Latin at prep school, I managed to
    get into 3B, though forever lingered near the bottom of the class, and several
    times was "On report" where you had to get a masters signature at the end of
    each lesson and visit the head on a weekly basis to show him the
    Another bizarre choice happened at the end of the
    3rd year where you had to chose between Biology & Art, and History &
    Geography & a 3rd language.
    I chose Biology but was given Art anyway, and
    remember Mr. Renton describing my art "O" level entry as an
    My parents wanted me to take German so I took
    Spanish, under the totally loony Clanger, Mr. Laing, though we did have a
    shapely Spanish student helping for a while!
    Taking Spanish, French & Latin was a mistake as
    I managed to confuse them all!
    Cooksey's assistant master in School House was the
    ruddy cheeked Mr. Dearnly, who could only have been in his early 20s. He took us
    for General Science for the first two years.

  10. Dick Dearnley had a slight speech impediment that came to the fore when discussing his favourite soccer team - "Bwistol Wovers". During my pre-Barton Seagrave years he occasionally stood in for Pog or Brick for evening duties, taking Prayers, going round the dorms for Lights Out, and so on.

    It is now simply incredible, by the way (to me, at least), that as 1st Years (i.e. about 11 years old) we should have Lights Out ("Lights Out!" - as the switch was flicked off - "No talking!") at 8.45. In the second year our vast seniority was rewarded by Lights Out being at 9.00. Imagine trying that on with the young of today!

  11. I was at PSSW from 1955 to 1960.  During that period Mr Cooksey was the house master of Varley's House.  He taught me for O level Latin and History.   In reply to Doug Clewe's  question about why Cooksey was called Purdie is that he was the master responsible for lost property.  My French is now very rusty but I believe that "j'ai perdu" means I have lost.      John Lankester

  12. Hi there John Lankester, und andere ...   Here I am, 72 years young, living in the Antipodes and STILL able to learn !!! ...   Thanks John for the bit about Purdie, Mr. Cooksey and French ... I had NO idea of the connection, although his desk and cupboard was a bit like the store area prior to a Jumble Sale, come to think of it ... during my time, Braithwaite was Cooksey's Room and for one year our Form Room ... our desks had padlocks on them in order to protect our books (and snippets of food) from evil-doers, as well as Mr. Cooksey's eagerness to stock his cupboard with 'lost' items !!!   Keep smiling ...   Doug from WOZ

  13. He was indeed in charge of we poor boarders of School House, we referred to him as "toad", and a more unpleasant character it would be hard to envisage.
    In 5 years under his "care" I do not remember getting a kind word or deed from him - perhaps others did, but certainly not within my hearing. His delight was the humiliation of those entrusted in to his care. He once fined me 짙2 for some infringement of one of his rules, and I can still see the smirk in his eye as he handed me my half-crown pocket money each Saturday - for two whole terms!- then said "Now put it back on the table, boy."
    It was accepted that he coveted the job given to Jack Ashurst - a fine man whom I would regard as "as straight as a dye" - I did not rate toad fit to even stand in his shadow!
    I recall being punished by "Jake" for some prank, and as he put the stick back in it's corner he boomed in his Yorkshire brogue, "You have been punished for what you have done, boy, I trust that you have learned, and that is and end to it.... you start again, with a clean slate." I left the room a little tender behind and suitably chastened - led by toad. Beyond earshot of the great man's room he turned to me and said, "He may forgive and forget.... I do neither, you will pay"; I did.
    Sums up the character I think!


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