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School Memories

GERARD DE NEGRI former teacher (1978-83)
My name is Gérard de Negri, I was first a French assistant, then I became a full-time teacher from 1979 until 1983. I spent 5 happy years as a teacher living with my wife and child  in one of the flats near the cricket field on Warrington Road. 

Yes, five happy years (I'm now 67) with nice colleagues, the headmaster was Dr Blatchly, yes, I recall, I would say, not just colleagues, friends, the list is long but I remember so well Edmund Ticker, with whom I'm still in touch from time to time, Roger Holt, Alex Burnett, I keep in mind Michael Lee before he went to Oundle School. Of course, I have in mind John Goodhand, Andrew Gregory, John Le Mare and so many others who greeted me so well as a teacher at Ipswich School. 

I remember well the numerous French plays that we went on...I also remember some of my students who did very well. I'm still in touch with some from the notorious 4A! 

Memories come back now of a great achievement from one of excellent students called Andrew Gower who won the national French Verse reading competition, I was so proud of him! I also remember "introducing" pétanque as an activity for the first time. 

I recall memories of trips to France in Chevreuse, to Russia with nice people and nice students. 

Well, well, so many memories that I revive with lots of nostalgia. After I left Ipswich School, I became a teacher of French and English in Savoie, France (Alberville), after that I moved back to my hometown, taught in Mayotte (A French territory in the Indian Ocean), Morocco and back to Mayotte when I retired.  

Since that date, as a retired teacher and due to my second marriage to a Russian woman, I have discovered Russia again, in Ekaterinburg. I started teaching part-time French and English in two Universities for a few semesters. Great experience with good, motivated students.

Nowadays, I still teach part-time English. I write fiction books and I have published five novels. I live in the south of France, near Alès and I have three wonderful daughters.

Voilà, this is my humble account of my memories of this wonderful time at the school.

I wish all the best to everyone from the school. Please keep safe and away from this terrible virus.

Yours friendly,
Gérard de Negri

I was at Ipswich School 1944-55 and when I was at Prep School I was the instigator of an incident I shall never forget.
One day I was taken to school by my father as usual but this day was different in that I had a cigarette hidden from dad with me. The reasoning I think must be 'showing off' because while the class was waiting for the teacher I produced my trophy and lit it to gasps from the onlookers. Then the warning call, "cavy, cavy", rang out meaning teacher is coming. Now from my memory the teacher was a very formidable lady (Miss Simpson I think) and so my immediate move was to put it out and so I blew on it with all my might. I realised it was not the right way when one of the boys grabbed it, threw it on the floor and jumped on it.
As the teacher had not quite entered I thought I had got away with it until one little sneak said "Please Miss Simpson, Wootton has been smoking".
The end result? That was the only cigarette I have ever smoked in my whole life.

IVOR BODY OI (1942-45)
I arrived in Ipswich in about 1942 from Portsmouth. We were in Portsmouth during the heaviest bombing from January 10 1941 having arrived from Egypt (RAF Ismailia) before Hitler's troops. 

I think I was about 10 when I entered the Prep School and didn't have any formal schooling before that. 

I enjoyed my time at school and although I did not excel at any subjects I did represent the school in the Bunn cup, a boxing competition at the Public Hall. The expectation was high as my Grandfather had previously represented England in 1882/3 in Boxing. I managed to make the 5th X1, and I think I played quite well during that time. 

Other than this I must have set a record for "Six of the best'' mainly because I was the idiot who trespassed onto the hallowed turf when the tennis ball we were playing kickabout with landed there!

I have very fond memories of being at Ipswich School. 

I was at School from 1960-1969 and have lots of memories of School including of Dougie Yelland, Mrs Young (junior school), Ian and Marion Prior, Incey playing the organ, a janitor named Mr. Clutterham inevitably nicknamed 'Clutterbang’, 'Poppa' Job referring to the projector flex as 'the rope', Mont, The Haskells, swimming after prep on summer evenings, walking to the playing fields, Jaspers (junior school prefects) usually power crazed, 'Shipwrecks' in the gym, the cloisters - excellent for roller skating, the headmaster's study - usually not for the best of reasons, German lessons with Mike 'Uz' Butler, sports day or any other occasion when you might see a girl! 
Oxo flavoured crisps from the tuck shop, cream buns at break, free milk, flu jabs and medicals, cross country runs when games were off, double maths with Mr. Mermagen, cinema club showing North by Northwest every year. Ronnie Vaughan playing Beatles hits on the piano in The Vaults - 'Me sir ? Noooo!'. Overcooked cabbage, playing British Bulldog, hardly any TV (as a boarder), no computers or any associated tech, transistor radios and Radio Luxembourg - later pirate stations like Radio Caroline. 
Horrible haircuts, the hospital over the road, the arboretum and park, sledding in the winter, coach trips to away games, packed lunches with yucky cheese and tomato sauce, the sixties, Pink Floyd and the Doors, a pervasive sense of security and goodwill, counting down to the holidays, mixed feelings about leaving…..

Keep up the good work boys and girls, stay safe and love to all.
The current crisis prompts a childhood recollection of my father telling me about his first term at Brazenose which coincided with the last effects of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic; an extraordinary echo now from a hundred years ago. He told me that a number of his Oxford colleagues had lost their lives to it, as I gather it affected the younger age groups the most. 
I have used the school's splendid Archive search facility to retrieve my father's 1964 OI Magazine and brief ‘Times’ obituaries. Published when I was in my second year at Nottingham University, it still has a very emotional impact on me to realise that there may still be OIs living who feel the same way as those who added their comments about his physics teaching at the end of the obituary - read H.H Grimwade's obituary here 

I also wrote a piece for the OI magazine, a long while ago after finding the staff room punishment book among my father’s old papers soon after he died. My favourite entry was from, I think, the 1940s of a boy beaten with a cane for ‘being in the end of term spirit before the end of term’..... how times have changed! 

I have included a picture of the manual and new physics lab in circa 1960 as well as some of my father. I ‘ran’ the School’s met station behind the white palings and was rather proud of making 3x daily weather readings and reports both during the term and in the holidays too. I reckon the picture of my father in the white jacket was taken during WWII. 

It’s a fascinating fact that these images give us clear evidence of climate change in that there were still no leaves on the avenue limes at the time.  

I am still in correspondence with my old sixth-form Geography master from 1961-2, John Weeks, about whom I wrote in my last piece for the OI Mag. His recollections of what it was like to be a very young Cambridge graduate among the many older, seemingly ‘Victorian’ characters who still inhabited the Staff Room at the time are fascinating! 
He now tells me that at the time he was completely unaware of just how radically new his teaching methods must have appeared. Fortunately I thrived on it, inspiring me into the profession I took up.

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