1965 was a mixed year for me when it came to passing exams. As predicted I failed my eleven-plus in Spring and was sent to secondary school in September in the bottom grade at Dunsmore (or Duncemore in my case) but to compensate for that I did get my Leaping Wolf certificate in the Wolf Cubs and passed my Elementary Test for swimming a whole length of the swimming baths and that was quite something let me tell you, the certificate was signed by the examiner, Mrs Dick, who was a fearsome creature, Councillor Pattinson, the Chairman of the Baths Committee and Jim Duffy, the Town Clerk no less!
Who needed the eleven-plus? Not Me!
Life at secondary school didn’t get off to a brilliant start and in my first year at Dunsmore I was in form D. To put that into perspective that is form D out of A to D; A and B were grammar streams, C were the hopefuls or maybes and D were the hopeless and the write-offs. A and B studied Latin and Grammar and joined the chess club and D did metal work and wood work and smoked Players No. 6 behind the bike sheds.
Just as at junior school I was hopelessly misunderstood by the teachers so these were not happy days. I fell in with the back of the class trouble makers and consequently made slightly less than zero progress in my first full year and was doing best in report book entries and detentions. I’m afraid I just didn’t find school very stimulating and I was about to set out on frittering away what might otherwise have been five productive years.
I wouldn’t say that I didn’t enjoy school, just that I found it a bit of an inconvenience. Not as bad as my sister Lindsay however who when she was fourteen went down with the longest recorded case of tonsillitis in medical history and stayed off school for eighteen months until they didn’t recognise her any more and told her not to bother going back.
On the positive side I did pass my second class swimming certificate in 1966, which involved a bit more than just swimming a length so it wasn’t a completely wasted year.