Sir Peter Fry (1931-2015)

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John Saunders
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Sir Peter Fry (1931-2015)

Postby John Saunders » Tue May 12, 2015 6:08 pm

Some very sad news: Sir Peter Fry (RGS 1941-49) died yesterday (11 May), aged 83. Until very recently he had been a regular attendee of 'The '49ers', a group of RGS OWs who were at the school in the 1940s. He was Head Boy at the RGS in his final year at the school and won a place at Worcester College, Oxford. He later went into business as an insurance broker and a member of his local High Wycombe family firm.

After serving as a Bucks county councillor for some years, Sir Peter became the Conservative MP for Wellingborough in 1969 and served in parliament for 28 years until 1997, when he lost by only 187 votes. Irony of ironies, the Labour candidate who ousted him in 1997, Paul Stinchcombe, is himself an old boy of our school!

Sir Peter was a tremendous supporter of the school in many ways throughout his long life and he will be sorely missed. Condolences to Lady Helen and family.

Sir Peter's Wikipedia entry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Fry
John Saunders
RGS 1963-70 (personal website http://www.saund.co.uk)

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Re: Sir Peter Fry (1931-2015)

Postby John Saunders » Fri May 15, 2015 10:31 pm

John Saunders
RGS 1963-70 (personal website http://www.saund.co.uk)

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John Saunders
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Re: Sir Peter Fry (1931-2015)

Postby John Saunders » Tue Jun 30, 2015 4:07 pm

I thought it might be interesting (and perhaps a little poignant) to post something which Sir Peter wrote for the Wycombiensian (Sept 1954) on leaving university and embarking on his very successful career...

Peter Fry, Wycombiensian, Sept 1954 wrote:“COMING DOWN”
The School hears much from its Old Boys who are “going up” to universities or who are already there, and those who one day hope to go themselves can gain some information that may be of use. Rarely, however, is much heard of the end of a university career. In reality “coming down” is more important. Up till this time there has always been a reasonably far away point beyond which there is no immediate need to look. At School there is the day one leaves, in the Forces, “demob”, and at the university, “finals”. When the exams are over there follow a few rather unreal days that pass too quickly, strangely dissatisfying because all those things which were to be done never are. Now there is no convenient limit in the days ahead to serve as a milestone—the only prospect to the disillusioned ex-student is work and eventual retirement. Both rather too unpleasant to contemplate just yet.

Being “down” brings varying degrees of despondency—some even rejoice. But generally the word covers more than a mere change in geographical location. The “high intellectual plane” upon which many an eminent writer assures the ex-undergraduate he has been living— little do they know!— will now have to get along as best it can without his stimulating presence.

Life suddenly becomes much more sordid. It is obvious that money will soon present much more complex difficulties than paying end of term accounts, though anyone who has had anything to do with college bursars will know that this is no laughing matter. No longer is there a benevolent authority which bountifully bestows cheques thrice yearly. Alternatively Father says that he can no longer support his son in the luxurious manner to which he has been accustomed.

Such is my predicament. Luckily I do have a job, although the industrial North is not altogether a pleasant prospect despite the “bribe” I shall receive yearly to stay there. It suddenly occurs to me that I am a “has-been”—though doubtless many who know me would have written me off long ago. I have been to the R.G.S., I have been at Worcester College, Oxford, but from now on I shall be plain “Mr. Citizen.” No more leisured afternoons in which the choice is which game to play, or none, whether to sleep, go to the cinema, or call on someone else to prevent both doing any work (academic)— but keeping the thought of it just near enough in the mind’s eye to make not doing any really enjoyable.

Soon there will be Income Tax to pay— frightful thought—while even now problems connected with code numbers, the changing of my doctor and the almost impenetrable mysteries of National Health Insurance have to be wrestled with. I have to explain away my class of degree—excusing myself both to the world in general which thinks it ought to be higher—and to my tutors who feel the standards of—may I say it?— our noblest university are slipping by giving me a degree at all.

Finally, I have to explain what I am going to do now—and why —as if I could tell! All this merely because I have “come down.” No wonder so many postpone the dread day and stay on to do Diplomas in Education, Postgraduate Research or Degrees in Sociology—though they have no desire to teach, lead a permanently academic life or love people (in the abstract).

A far more valiant heart than mine might be deterred. One thing I do seem to have gained, however, besides a lot of friends I shall probably never see again and a few team photographs: I feel that everything— even “coming down ”—has been worth it. The question as to why one ever bothered to “go up” does occur to mind, but only to be dismissed immediately. Funnily enough, I do feel readier to face this apparently hostile and baffling world— much more than the passage of a mere three years might indicate. This is the most important and perhaps the sole consolation in “coming down,” but it does by far outweigh...

“The thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to,”

...which the very fresh ex-undergraduate has to face.”

PD Fry (RGS High Wycombe 1941-48)


Well written and easy to relate to: I'm sure many of us remember the bittersweet moment we leave university and have to get a job.
John Saunders
RGS 1963-70 (personal website http://www.saund.co.uk)