My dormitory prefect was Edmonds and once, after he had beaten me (unfairly as I thought), his bed and bedding were completely missing the following night. Naturally, I knew that he would suspect me, so I had taken elaborate precautions to have nothing whatever to do with it, and had merely suggested the different steps to be taken for the project to be carried out successfully. It had to be carefully organised so that everybody had an equal share in it (except me, of course) so that no one person could be victimised. Edmonds did not beat me again after this.
Marlborough was a better place in the summer term. Cricket was not compulsory and one was allowed to go off on one’s own in the afternoon play period. I usually bicycled somewhere by myself: we were allowed to go within 10 miles of Marlborough. This enabled me to reach Upavon, where I used to lie in the grass on the edge of the airfield watching aircraft doing their ‘circuits and bumps’; they would take off with their wheels a few feet over my head. On a fine sunny day bicycling along the hot, dusty road, army lorries would be passing in a steady procession. Sometimes I would find a nice patch in a wood, and lie there for an hour or two under the trees, reading, or watching the birds. Sometimes I would lie on the banks of a river watching the fish. These periods of comparative freedom were a great joy.
Marlborough, Wiltshire Travel Destinations Photo Gallery
I was crazy about rugby football, and had a burning ambition to get into the First XV I used to wait with impatient, anxious hope for the team to be pinned on the games board. I had read with great interest about the tour of the New Zealand ‘All Blacks’ who won every match except the one against Cardiff during a tour of Britain. They had a new idea of playing only seven forwards instead of eight, thereby gaining an extra back, which tends to make the game much faster, provided that the forwards can hold the opposition. This seemed to me good tactics, and I suggested to the captain of the XV that it should be tried. He, too, thought it was a good idea, and changed the disposition of the team. Unfortunately, I was the eighth forward, and was therefore sacked; my place in the team went to my friend Paterson as an extra back. I would have played for the school XV against Wellington College (before the changeover to seven forwards), but I was ill in the sanatorium at that time. So I not only missed my First XV colours, but also the privilege of wearing blue shorts, which was accorded only to those who had played in the First XV against one of the major public schools, Wellington or Rugby. I once captained the Second XV in a match, but felt that I had failed because I had not reached my objective, the First XV. Considering that I had to play without my spectacles, and once ran in the opposite direction because the football, kicked high into the air, passed out of my range of sight, I now think that that particular ambition was a stupid one.
When I first went to Marlborough I was a dedicated cadet of the Officers Training Corps, and when I went to the summer camp at Tidworth Pennings my first year there, I was the youngest boy of 2,000 from various public schools. The NCO of my tent was the same chap Edmonds whom I thought rather an ass. Evidently other people did too, because the Eton men raided our tent one day, took it to bits and distributed every item of bedding and kit all round the camp. In one way I sympathised with them, but on the other hand, as the youngest boy, it fell to me to go and collect all this stuff and put it together again.
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