Stuart Toms wrote:Re 1962 junior photo: F46 is Malcolm East. I remember him well from School House and from endless games of fives, at which, in the parlance of the day, he was 'dead jammy'! Interesting how the rules to fives evolved according to the area of the school in which they were played, but then we were boarders with little else to entertain us!
Re 1962 junior photo - E17 is Andrew Picton. I remember him well from my home town. Last heard of in America, nothing more known.
Re 1962 junior photo G8 I think is Viv Snell.
I'll have a look through as there are more faces I recognise but alas, memory plays me false and the names escape into the void.
What I found fascinating was seeing the 1962 senior photo which I had never seen before. The juniors and the seniors of the boarding house (for I was in School House ) were all thrown together and knew each other well, but the seniors are but fading sepia-stained images filtered through the diminution of memory, and to compare what I remember with what the photo remembers is enlightening.
Should you need further topics for discussion, may I suggest re-evaluations of the significance of The Magic Tus Number! - 149 - (as we all know, one of the fundamental numbers of Modern Physics!) I do remember John Skipp saying that we never sang hymn no. 149 at assembly for fear of the ruckus that would ensue. How many people still use it as part of their passwords? I am giving away nothing here.
My brother got my facts slightly wrong. I teach music and still play in several bands, anything from rock to folk to jazz. If anyone is interested in communicating I would be delighted to hear but it may take a time to reply as I am not 'internet savvy!'
I do have a few more memories of the John Mayall gig about which I see there has been some correspondence. When this crowded life of mine allows I'll try and pass them on.
All the best to you and yours
Stuart Toms (alias 'Yogi') 1961-1968
Thanks for that, Stuart. Re '149': Andrew MacTavish wrote the definitive piece on 'one four nine' at the Old Boys website in the January 2007 issue. EDIT: unfortunately, I can't give reliable links to this because they keep messing around with the official RGS website, so I have taken the liberty of filching MacT's splendid article and putting it in its entirety here...
One-Four-Nine by Andrew MacTavish wrote:ONE FOUR NINE
by Andrew MacTavish
(Jan 2007 RGS Old Boys Newsletter)
At some time in the 1950s, the number “149” became a joke at the RGS. It was all very odd. If anyone came out with that number, everyone would roar with laughter. Maths: “The answer is 149” (Ho, ho, ho!) Geography: “149,000 tons of copper were exported” (Ho, ho, ho!) Any lesson you like: “Turn to page 149” (Ho, ho, ho).
Some people said it was connected with a rather weak joke about an old woman on Wycombe Station. She was seen to chuckle now and again. When asked, she said that she had read that one person in 149 was a lunatic. She sat there, counting up to 149 and identifying them as they passed her. That was one theory. Another linked the number with a Geography master, one Mr T.V.Sheppard - known as “Tuss” - and it was said to be his car number. Certainly if anyone drew a car, it usually had “TUS 149” as its number. Some people thought it had started in a Maths lesson that went wrong and it was connected with one squared, two squared, three squared.
The fact was that “149” infected the whole School. If “Boss” Tucker had ever announced that as the hymn number in daily prayers, the roof would have collapsed under the cheers - yes, even Mr Tucker was not proof against the power of those figures. As it happened, the hymn with that number in the school book - “Hymns of the Kingdom” - was a one that was never chosen. I seem to remember it was one of the two or three in Latin, “O Quanta Qualia”, whatever that was. Certainly from time to time people tried to get it announced by altering the hymn number on the list published on the Headmaster’s notice board. There was only the one list in those days of manual typing, and they thought they might get away with it. They never did. Tucker must have been aware.
The number remained funny into the 1960s. In 1965 the staff put on the play “The Happiest Days of Your Life” which ran to packed houses for three performances (and resulted in two marriages between members of the RGS common room and fellow thespians from Wycombe High School). Tim Newling, the Art Master, played the caretaker Rainbow. In the last act, he had to do a calculation:
Rainbow: There’s eight compartments to a carriage (He takes a scrap of paper and a stub of pencil and works it out as he speaks) Four a side in each. That’s sixty four. A hundred and ninety two in all.
But Tim, with careless disregard for Maths, came to the dramatic conclusion. “That’s one four nine” - and the Hall erupted in delighted hysteria, the biggest roar of the show.
A month or so later at the end of term, the CCF Army section went to Stanage Edge in Derbyshire. The junior officers - Neil Cooper, Rex Jones and I - arrived in a Landrover and a three-tonner at the campsite. We read the mileage on the speedometers as we had to record it on the vehicles’ work tickets. It was 149. I remember the momentary silence as this registered. We decided we couldn't enter that figure as people would think it was a joke, so we added a mile and made it 150. That looked sensible.
Sometime between 1966 (when I left the staff), and 1983 (when my sons entered the School) the number disappeared from the RGS culture. One-four-nine returned to being as normal as one-four-eight or any other number. “Is one-four-nine still funny at the RGS?” I asked them. They looked at me oddly “One four what? What do you mean “funny”?” I tried to explain, and lost.
When I was at university, I remember the lecturer giving us all a substance to taste - phenyl-something or other. Two thirds of us curled up as we found it fiendishly bitter. The rest were totally blank; they could taste nothing. And so it will be with you. If you were in the 149 generation, you will have had a strong reaction to this little memory. If you were not, you will be blank too. And please don’t expect anyone to be able to explain any more than I have done. It was just a dropped stitch in the warp and weft of the RGS fabric - probably the 149th.
Re 'one four nine': I wonder if we could determine how far back the beloved number goes in time - could OWs of the 1940s and early 1950s vintage let us know here if they can remember 'one four nine' from their own school days? By such scientific means we might hope to discover when it became a matter of mirth. Ditto, 'Tus' - who coined it and when. These are vital issues to be worked out for any future edition of the school history.