Memories of the sixties

[by Peter Hillier, 1961-1969]

     My first memory of LGS was of the bus travel from Shepshed. That school buses existed at all was news to me, and I had certainly never had to catch a bus at such an early hour of the morning ! Not knowing where the Grammar School was situated in Loughborough, I was intrigued to know where the bus would go. In those days the bus from Shepshed terminated in Granby Street next to Queen's Park. It always struck me as odd that we LGS boys had a whole bus to ourselves and likewise the girls of LHS, yet we could all have been comfortably accommodated on the same bus !

     On my entry in the autumn of 1961, the 'New' Block certainly was new but as Hodson Hall had not quite been completed, prayers were initially in H1 - painted a rather depressing blue [or was it green ?] as I recall. N2 was our 'home' under a young maths master, Mr. Percival. Some of the boys had been in the Junior School and were 'old hands' and when timetables came to be copied into our rough books, the initials CCM elicited a sharp intake of breath from these boys. We new boys were informed that we were to have the dreaded Mrs Claire [Mooks] Mulcahy for Latin. I must confess to having been paralysed with fear in her lessons, although I later discovered that in teaching older Classics scholars, she was reputed to be a very entertaining and witty member of staff. For me, Latin was initially pure torture.

     I am sure others will remember her entry into class, like a ship in full sail. The glaring, glassy-eyed look [one, I am tempted to say, which we felt would turn us to stone] ; the careful placing on the desk of her handbag, approximately the size of a Gladstone bag, and the slow, deliberate rummaging for her pencil case. There was a 'ritual' associated with this. As I recall, it was a green Venus pencil bearing a reproduction of the Venus de Milo, secured by an elastic band - wrapped around the tin twice, always - which was deftly removed to her wrist whilst she extracted her fountain pen. This ritual was always performed in exactly the same way. We hoped it would expand to fill the entire lesson ! We would open our Civis Romanus or Mentor and the phrase "You stupid boy !" would ring out in the classroom.

     An incident shrouded in some mystery was a development exciting to our young minds. One of our number happened to live in a house on CCM's route home. The unfortunate boy left his bicycle in such a position that 'Mooksie' became entangled with it. To be fair, she did not victimise the young fellow ; but we [probably misguidedly] felt that the 'heat' was off the rest of us for a while !

     My lasting memory of 'Mooksie' was that on one occasion, near the end of term, she cracked a joke in class ; we were shocked. The joke concerned a Roman fancy-dress partygoer who arrived at a party soaked by a rainstorm. "You must be Appius Claudius," says the host. "No, I'm as miserable as sin," was the reply. Initially we boys were too stunned to laugh, but after one brave lad started off, we all followed suit, not without a trace of hysteria.

     When she retired some years later, at her farewell address she was given a rousing cheer. I would like to believe it was out of a kind of fondness rather than merely relief.