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What My Schooldays Meant to Me
When the school moved up to Bush, I was protected from helping to move desks and chairs, because of my health. Mr Idris Cleaver (who, with his wife, later became a friend of mine) was firm but always solicitous to pupils. He tolerated my half-finished pencil case in his Woodwork class! Mr Moses somehow got us through ‘O’ Level Maths. We were frightened of his War wounds and his warnings that, if we didn’t pass, we would ‘end up on the Thames Embankment’.

I was in his ‘Scholarship Class’, where practice of general essays was so important for the Cambridge exam system. The Senior Tutor of Gonville and Caius College told the headmaster that I was ‘one of their best-prepared candidates’, a tribute to the 6th form teachers, including Mr Clive Gammon for English. He had been taught at Swansea University College by, amongst others, Kingsley Amis and we had a modern curriculum including T.S. Eliot!

At last, I moved on to the haven of the Sixth Form and the prospect of proper academic work which I enjoyed. History - under Mr Dewi Elis-Williams - was of a high university standard, which stood me in good stead when I took the Cambridge Scholarship exam at the age of 16 and gained an Exhibition in History. I achieved my ‘five minutes of fame’! Much of this success was due to Mr Mathias’s coaching.I was in Tudor House and played the piano and sang in various eisteddfodau. In 1959, my last year, I was House Captain when Tudor came first - at last. What an effort that was: even greater, it seemed, than my A levels. Herbie Rees had been the house

John Trice ...cont'd

master and was a remarkable teacher of History. I remember hearing his wife being asked, when he retired, if they were ‘…going on a cruise?’ She replied they couldn’t, because Mr Rees would get lost! At this time, I had to represent the pupils as Head Boy, when I attended the funeral of fellow student Eilwyn Morris at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Pembroke Dock. A talented rugby player, who always had an infectious smile on his face, Eilwyn (or ‘Soapy’ as he was nicknamed) had developed Osteomyelitis and had his leg amputated in a vain attempt to halt the spread of the disease. That was one of the saddest duties of my schooldays.

The ethos of the school at that time can be illustrated by the fact that 6th formers were expected to give talks to the school from the stage at Assembly. I gave a talk on ‘The Act of Union with Scotland’ – some of it ‘borrowed’, I must admit, from The Listener – now a defunct periodical. It was, I suppose, something of an ordeal, but it was invaluable in giving me confidence for the future – especially for mine as a lecturer.

Naturally, it was the friendships I made at school which were so important in my development. Then new friendships took over when I went up to Cambridge in 1959, but my school record has always stood me in good stead. When I was interviewed for my post in Aberystwyth University, Sir Thomas Parry referred to my ‘brilliant school record’ achieved under Mr Mathias. Without his impetus, I wouldn’t even have considered going to university. My parents were astonished at my Cambridge Scholarship and I like to think it gave my father some joy before he died at the age of 43 in 1962, when I was only 21.
John Trice
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