The Bridge – Extract from Midsummer, 1917

The Bridge – Extract from Midsummer, 1917

With the production of each new number of “The Bridge” it becomes a matter of increasing difficulty to write about the School and the events of the current term in an original manner.  We emphasise this point in order to convince would-be critics of the fact that the post of Editor of this Magazine is no sinecure, and that, in the words of Gilbert’s policeman, “our lot is not a happy one.”

We have ventured to depart from precedent in writing this Editorial, insomuch that it appears in a concrete form and not as a potpourri.  And now let these words of introduction serve “As happy prologues to the swelling act of the imperial theme.”

The summer term is generally the most interesting and most crowded portion of the School year.  On this occasion, however, we have very little to chronicle, mainly owing to the curtailment of the Inter-School Cricket programme and the absence of the customary House competition.  As there has been much feeling regarding the practical abandonment of the School Cricket fixtures, we should like to enquire why the exigencies of outside affairs should affect the cultivation of sport in the School.  From various signs it would appear that the School is destined to have a period of “lean years” in the matter of athletic prowess, unless more enthusiasm is manifested in the training of promising boys.

We will not linger on the subject of the Inter-School Sports, the results of which are ample confirmation of our previous statement.  It is we carried off the “wooden spoon.”  Nevertheless, no blame attaches to any member of the team for this debacle.  Hearty thanks are due to the Clerk of the Weather for his kindness in letting us have a fine day for the School Athletic Sports.  The programme was carried through successfully, and, as usual, the meeting was well supported by parents and friends.  It gives us pleasure to record the presence at the Sports of a party of convalescent soldiers who appeared to thoroughly enjoy their afternoon’s entertainment.

At the end of the Easter term Mr. Hay, acting for the Headmaster, presented the prizes gained during the preceding year.  This is the second year that the prizes have been given privately, and we voice the opinion of many parents in deploring the absence of that time-honoured function, Speech Day.  With the arrival of summertime the L. and D.S. discontinued its meetings, which have been very successful, and we look forward to a renewal of the Society’s energies with the advent of the Christmas term.  The range of subjects for discussion might, however, be widened.  School Societies fluctuate, and the N.H.S. appears to be losing ground.  We hope that there will be a revival of interest in this branch of School life now that Mr. Kenrick is co-operating with Mr. Pardoe in supervising its work.

The work of the O.T.C., the third and apparently at the present time the most important School organisation, is being energetically pushed forward at the time of writing, and, should the Inspecting Officers’ report be satisfactory, it will reflect great credit on the Officers of the Corps.  In this connection it is interesting to note that there are three masters holding commissions in the O.T.C. for the first time since the departure of Mr. Hilbourne.  The School Swimming Sports have yet to be held, while the Examinations are, fortunately or otherwise, a thing of the future.

The world of School is of necessity very circumscribed, but nevertheless it is as important in its way as the greater world outside.

The secret of the School’s success lies in keenness and the maintenance of a spirit of life and buoyancy, therefore we exhort all members of the H.G.S. to make its welfare their first thought, and then when the day comes when they in their turn bid farewell to its familiar walls, the old motto “Haec olim meminisse juvabit” will assume its true and deeper significance.

C. L. S.

From a Minesweeper in the North Sea

Mr. Kay has recently received an extremely graphic and interesting letter from a well-known Old Boy, T. B. Howse, formerly Hon. Secretary of the B.T. Old Boys’ Society.  He entered the School of Wireless Telegraphy, and having passed his examinations which qualified him as an operator, was sent to sea on a trawler to get his “sea legs” and the necessary practical experience of his work. He writes very cheerfully, as the following extracts show :- “A hammock is far more cosy and comfortable than a feather bed, provided it is slung properly, but it is misery until one has acquired the knack of slinging – which is really very simple.  One the ship I had a bunk, which is not confortable at first, especially when the ship is rolling.  The bunk has two sides, and you have two shoulders, two ham bones, etc., and the sides of your anatomy have the strongest attraction for each other-which trouble can be remedied only by judicious packing.  In rough weather there is not much chance of sleep while heavy seas are crashing against the sides.  After being for some time on the Canopus, of Falklands Islands frame, I was sent to all parts of the British Isles, on all sorts and sizes of ships. Finally to the North Sea, of which I had heard so much, with its changeable moods and its man-made terrors.  It was not long before I got ‘right amongst it,’ but my experiences will have to wait to be told until the War is over.  I am doing what I hoped I should never be asked to do – Minesweeping!  I am very comfortable, and amongst a decent crowd of fellows – chiefly fishermen – some of the best-hearted people one could meet.  I have a cabin to myself containing the wireless gear, bunk and all the conveniences.  It is a rather monotonous job, but I make the time pass quickly enough – smoking, reading, writing, etc.  I have no duties except watch keeping, during which time I wear telephones, but this does not prevent me indulging in any hobbies I may fancy.  I have the picture post card of the Old School fixed up in my silence cabin, and when on watch I often recall things that have happened which I thought I had quite forgotten.  There are many worse ways of working the War out than this, and although I am ambitious enough to go for something with more money attached to it, I sometimes think I should not be so well off in the long run. The only thing against it all is the terribly dangerous nature of the job we are on – for there is no mistake about being ‘between the devil and the deep sea,’ and it is one or the other, no half way.  I don’t worry, however, – it doesn’t do – and I immediately put aside thoughts of what might happen.  It is the only way.  We get good grub, rough, but one cannot grumble.  And the pay is decent, far better than the Army, four shillings a day and cheap clothes and tobacco!  Since I have been here I have been ‘through it’ to some tune, and certainly have done the equivalent to the soldiers’ ‘over the top.’  It is not exactly appetising to see concentrated death pills floating by one’s home, but I have got used to the feeling now.  The job is being done for twelve hours a day, and there is no relaxation and no ‘safety play.’  But it is for a good cause, and it is to be hoped that all that has been done will be appreciated when the job is over.”

Good old Bert! Here’s luck to him! That little bit, “The only thing against it all is the terribly dangerous nature of the job” is delightful, and just like Bert Howse.