I remember starting at St. Joe’s in 1938 and always being the youngest and smallest, in every class, from Form 1 to Lower Fifth. I don’t recall coming across any bullying, other than by some of the teachers, particularly Brother Rooney, Callaghan the French teacher, Brother Troy nick-named ‘Horsey’ and one other Brother, whose name I have mercifully forgotten. There were a few nice ones, Mr. Slater, the chemistry teacher and Brother Underwood, not forgetting my favourite, Brother O’Leary. Apart from those few, there was generally a reign of terror. Just after the war started in 1939, De La Salle College was evacuated from Manchester to Blackpool, and a shift system was put in place, St. Joe’s from 8a.m. to 1p.m., De La Salle from 1p.m. to 6p.m. In these circumstances, I certainly found it harder to sustain interest for all that time, with only the playtime break.

From memory, my classmates for most of the time were Fred Elmey, Stan Bainbridge, Paul Bligh, Denis Martin, Peter Callis, Stan Croasdale. My apologies to those whose names I have forgotten. 67 years ago is a long time to remember.

One of the few happy memories of St. Joe’s relates to my participation in the Shakespeare plays that the English Lit. class did. Being the smallest boy, I seemed to be always selected to fill the female roles. Portia and Lady Macbeth were my most memorable. I have a vivid recollection of a performance of Macbeth, which was staged on the playing fields. Anybody was invited, including the girls from the Collegiate school, next door. The shenanigans that went on between pupils from these neighbouring schools was legendary, but that’s another story for another time. Anyway, Brian Waye was Macbeth, and after the argument with Lady Macbeth about when to murder the King, I went backstage, ostensibly to do the evil deed, instead I was coating myself with blood, brought in a bucket by George Ripley, whose father was a butcher. Inevitably I overdid it and by the time I got back on stage I looked like a refugee from the Texas chain-saw massacre. The audience was very impressed!

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