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School Days

I attended HMS Worcester (aka Thames Nautical Training College) from 1959 – 63 so was there when this film was made, although can’t recall it being made. Notice the absence of life jackets and Health and Safety. There is no sound and that might be a good thing particularly during the parts about the ship’s band.


Categories: General
  1. August 5, 2017 at 7:05 am

    Interesting film. Brought back a load of memories even though my training was a bit different to yours it seems. Mine consisted of a years residential course at Plymouth school of navigation before going off to sea for a three year apprenticeship. A few things seem to have been the same though. Morning inspections, square bashing, ours was the hands of a CPO at HMS Drake, and lectures on meteorology, geography a (whatever happened to Wagners theory of continental drift?) and all the rest of it. I’ll never forget Nories table and Nicholls seamanship, lodged forever in the back of my brain.

  2. August 5, 2017 at 7:08 am

    Jazz, fascinating!

  3. August 5, 2017 at 9:00 am

    We used to take a turn as Officer of the watch (OOW) This entailed dressing up in No 1s and keeping a gangway watch, writing up the log book, organising boat departures etc. The token of office was the ship’s telescope.
    One day when the rest of the cadets were in school the OOW was passing the time watching through the telescope a local couple (who thought they couldn’t be seen) desporting themselves in the long grass ashore.
    He felt a tap on the shoulder, looking round saw to his horror that it was Jan Howell the Main divisional officer (who is in the video conducting one of his famous high speed evening inspections). Jan said nothing took the telescope, had a quick squint at the area of interest, handed the telescope back and wandered off.

  4. August 5, 2017 at 10:35 am

    A mixture of boarding school and basic training in the army, though with less water, possibly. Bring back National Service.

  5. August 5, 2017 at 12:01 pm

    …and corporal punishment and victimisation and mindless exercises and jolly good sport, eh? Yeah, right.

    I’m reminded of this poem by Jazz’s film:

    There’s a breathless hush in the Close to-night—
    Ten to make and the match to win—
    A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
    An hour to play and the last man in.
    And it’s not for the sake of a ribboned coat,
    Or the selfish hope of a season’s fame,
    But his captain’s hand on his shoulder smote
    ‘Play up! play up! and play the game! ‘

    The sand of the desert is sodden red,—
    Red with the wreck of a square that broke; —
    The Gatling’s jammed and the Colonel dead,
    And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.
    The river of death has brimmed his banks,
    And England’s far, and Honour a name,
    But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks:
    ‘Play up! play up! and play the game! ‘

    This is the word that year by year,
    While in her place the school is set,
    Every one of her sons must hear,
    And none that hears it dare forget.
    This they all with a joyful mind
    Bear through life like a torch in flame,
    And falling fling to the host behind—
    ‘Play up! play up! and play the game!

    Sir Henry Newbolt

  6. August 5, 2017 at 5:15 pm

    Nothing wrong with corporal punishment when admiistered properly and none of our excercises were mindless you had to think for yourself and they taught us to do that.

  7. August 5, 2017 at 5:30 pm

    Jazz: I work with students aged 16 to 80. Students in their 60s-70s are far better writers than most in their teens or early twenties. Students in their 40s and older generally write far better-considered work. I sometimes want to pull out my hair because so many people turn in what could, charitably, be considered semi-literate. Older educational methods weren’t perfect, but they worked more often than not.

  8. O Zangado
    August 5, 2017 at 5:44 pm

    In addition to my comment on Christopher’s post, I would add that at my parents’ silver, golden and diamond wedding celebrations I got up and publicly thanked them for those most precious of gifts, a stable home and a good education.


  9. August 5, 2017 at 5:53 pm

    OZ: They gave you something invaluable.
    IMHO the most important thing in life is to choose the right parents.

  10. August 5, 2017 at 6:36 pm

    ‘Nothing wrong with corporal punishment when administered properly.’ Absolute balderdash! It can ruin lives and gives licence to people who may abuse it and their victims.

  11. August 5, 2017 at 6:47 pm

    Janus: My great-grandfather was very much a Wilhelmine. When anyone committed the slightest offence, corporal punishment was inflicted. My grandmother, as a child, once broke a cup purely accidentally and received a beating that she hasn’t forgotten after nearly 80 years. My grandfather grew up with a mother who thought much the same and was never able to use restraint in meting out punishment to his sons or even older grandsons. Those cousins who had more balanced parents have turned out perfectly fine even with a less physical method of behaviour correction — arguably, far better than their parents’ generation in some ways.

  12. cogitationator
    August 5, 2017 at 9:01 pm

    CT, regarding your comment on age-related writing skill: It’s not only the age of the would-be writer but also the age in which we live. Our language is decaying by the day, a process that seems to be accelerating even as we watch it all crumble. A friend who’s supposed to teach writing at a large university despairs of teaching students who haven’t even mastered basic English. It’s quite understandable that older writers may remember more of the way things used to be written.

    Going further back, there is on display in the Alamo a letter written by one David Crockett (1786-1836) that reveals far more than the simple backwoodsman commonly portrayed. I might, if I really tried, be able to write as well on a good day.

  13. August 5, 2017 at 10:32 pm

    Janus: Just the kind of feeble opinion I’d expect from you.

  14. August 5, 2017 at 10:54 pm

    Cog: You are correct. I’ve observed that people who could, in the past, write relatively well have started to make more and more basic errors. Sometimes I have to give up trying to understand them because it gives me a headache. My superiors have regular crisis meetings to try to find solutions, or at very least to stem the tide, but they’ve had no luck thus far. Only my insistence that they lose points for coming off as semi-illiterates forces improvements. Social media is at least partly to blame for this. It brings out the worst in people and fosters a climate in which the lowest common denominator is positively exulted.

    Phillis Wheatley, Harriet Jacobs, Zora Neale Hurston and Louis Armstrong were extremely effective writers. None could be said to have come from ideal circumstances. Yet, they did not let circumstances stop them. Interesting about Davey Crockett. Then again, most things that were written during his lifetime were eloquent. A simple backwoodsman he might have been, but a fool he wasn’t.

  15. August 6, 2017 at 5:56 am

    Jazz, I presume you also support the use of the birch and hanging? Feeble of me, I expect, but I happen not to agree.

  16. August 6, 2017 at 8:14 am

    Janus: Re. Your Henry Newbolt quote. We were not being trained for the military we were being trained for the mercantile marine. Hence no guns or battle training it was all to do with navigation, seamanship, meterology etc etc. Ii don’t think that Newbolt’s poem would have been appreciated being as it’s a load of gung ho bullshit….same for Kipling. The only two poems I recall from school are Ozymandias and Grey’s Elegy, we also read some Shakespeare…………in between beatings!

  17. August 6, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    ‘Nothing wrong with corporal punishment when administered properly.’ Absolute balderdash! It can ruin lives and gives licence to people who may abuse it and their victims.”

    Well, like anything if taken to extremes, of course it can ruin lives. But the excessive self-indulgence afforded so many children today, also destroys lives. I meet regularly with about 10 old boys from my boarding school and am in communication with many more. While we were all recipients of corporal punishment, or certainly eligible for it, at various stages of our school careers, I cannot think that any one of them would say that it ruined their lives. The loyalty they continue to show for the school and their fellow pupils, not to mention the successes they have made of their lives is indicative of the strength of their characters. One symptom of this is the very low level of divorce that has occurred in the decades that have intervened. Probably no more than 5 out of a class of 70. Of course the majority of them underwent national service, during a war, as well.

    For your information, corporal punishment was administered to us in a very regulated fashion. The teacher would write out a ticket with the details of the misdemeanour and the number of strokes that were to be applied. The culprit then had 24 hours in which to collect his punishment. There were set times during the day when the designated executioner, a different teacher, would perform his task. After doing so, the boy would generally say ‘thank you sir’ and that was that. Incidentally, we were beaten on the hands as opposed to the bum. This had the benefit of boy and teacher being able to look at each other during the exchange. All punishments were recorded so that any abuse by a teacher or victimisation of a particular pupil would be brought to the attention of those in authority.

    Janus, you seem to believe that because the views you espouse are considered politically acceptable by an increasingly amoral society, that somehow precludes you from accusations of bigotry. You are wrong. You have shown yourself to be overwhelmingly bigoted in many, many areas. You absolutely refuse even to consider anybody’s point of view that differs substantially from your own. And in most cases you are particularly ill-informed of the subject under discussion.

  18. August 6, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    My experience of corporal punishment was very similar. It was given in a very regulated fashion and there were always other people present. Of all the things I disliked about boarding school corporal punishment is far down the list.

  19. August 6, 2017 at 6:16 pm

    Sipu, no it’s only your ideas I can confidently reject without further thought.

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