27 May 2009

A Last Letter From Doc

You can see it in my 'Pip's Pics' photo album. This is just a standard letter, which was probably sent out before the start of each term or school year. No doubt I kept this one, dated August 1956, as it would be one of the last to bear Doc's name - a reminder of the end of an era. 


  1. Good one John ! ... My parents presumably must have received these too, but I do not recall ever seeing one ... if you have no objection, I would like to include a copy of this in my 'Life story' in the section where I deal with my time at PSSW ... I am surprised to see that School Dinners were still only 10d each, the same as in 1950 ... we (my era) were very lucky to have Mrs.Prince as the Canteen manageress ...was she there 'til the end ???

    Doug from WOZ

  2. Hi All ...

    Below, is a copy of an e-mail sent to me from Peter Smith, relating to the posting by John Piper 'A Last Letter From Doc' ...


    Hi Doug

    I'm still catching up on what's been happening in the outside world while I was off-line, but immediately my eye was caught by "Doc's Last Letter" (or should it be referred to as "Last Will and Testament") in the pss nostalgia blog. It certainly struck a chord and, although I don't recall the contents of any letters my parents received, I can almost hear now Doc saying much of it during Assemblies and in his "Docology" lessons when he held forth on many topics, but rarely the Divinity which he was supposed to be teaching us.

    I see that by 1956 the cost of a school dinner had more than doubled from the original price when they began after the war, so post-war inflation was getting under way. And does anybody know what incident brought about the ban on going to school by bike (alas, I can no longer ask Muriel's brother Ray about events at school during his time there in the 50s, and she doesn't recall anything, and anyway Ray had a bus pass to and from Chandler's Ford)? It seems a bit harsh to ban bikes as they were a popular and necessary possession for many young people, but plain ridiculous to claim that they are not necessary for getting to school. Many pupils eg from Stanmore, lived just inside the 3 miles or so qualifying distance for getting a free travel pass, but would still have had a fair old walk to and from school, if for financial or other reasons they could not hop on a bus. Not surprisingly then that many got on their bikes, as also did many masters who did not live within walking distance of school, or who had cars or came by public transport . Was this event simply another of Doc's prejudices coming out against pupils whom he regarded as "soft" because they had "privileges" that he didn't have as a scholar, such as free bus passes and subsidized school dinners? I can still hear him saying resentfully that he had to walk 5 miles or so each way to and from school in Dorset, and there were no cooked school dinners, let alone subsidized ones at mid-day.

    However things have moved on and are still changing so perhaps in this era of "climate change", a Principal of Peter Symonds' College will announce in the not-too distant future that cars and motor bikes are not necessary for student travel to and from school, and that henceforth they must use public transport, walk or even cycle!

    All the best



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