David Parsons: memories of a long-time absentee

What a pleasant surprise to see that a bunch of old codgers like me have  set up a web site aimed at those who left EVCGS in the early 50’s. I can identify with many of the names and events currently described on the site. I recognise myself on the photo of the school trip to Stratford in 1951 and few of my own memories follow. 

Alan Jones, Terry O’Leary, Peter Marchant and I were among the cohort of pupils who entered                EVCGS in 1946, from Glyncoed Junior School, Badminton Grove. We remained good friends during our school years, for the first few of which we played football each lunchtime on “the patch” above the Tintab, with others including the Hendy cousins from Cwm (John and Jimmy). We were in our first year (Form 2) when the school trip to Aberystwyth took place and we all remember the murder in the back lane of Badminton Grove/Fitzroy Avenue, not far from the back gate of our house. I was also one of the boys who went to Innsbruck with Hugh Griffiths in 1950. I have a list of those in the party, but have lost the group photograph. I can’t say I remember Peter Marchant being kicked by a French lady - although he may have the scars to prove it! - but I do remember John Harding and I trying vainly to climb on to the overhead luggage rack on the overnight train between Ostend and Basle to try to get some sleep. As I remember, the seats on those post-war continental trains were composed of wooden slats. The other memory of that trip was getting my first taste of Schnapps!

For my part I cannot claim great academic success in the early school years, but having gained some O-levels in 1951, the challenges of the 6th Form, coupled with a good talking-to from my parents, encouraged me to get my act together. Pupils in the Science 6th form at that time were taught Physics by Frank Powell (also part time rugby referee at weekends), Chemistry by Gordon (Hoppy) Hopkins and Maths by Alan(?) Thomas. All were excellent teachers in their different ways and Alan Thomas somehow gave me an appreciation of the beauty and elegance of Mathematics that has remained with me to this day. I was never an outstanding sportsman, but did play cricket in the school XI several times and I won the Governors Cup for the Mile, in my final year at school. In those days the quickest way to get your A-level results was via the “Western Mail” on the day the results were declared. My abiding memory of that August day in 1953 was looking out of my bedroom window at about 7am awaiting the arrival of the van that dropped newspapers in the doorway of Tranters greengrocers shop opposite the house. I remember seeing the van coming down Badminton Grove, hotly pursued, as I remember, at a distance of about 50 yards, by John (Tucker) Thomas running like a gazelle – well, giving a fair imitation anyway! By the time I got out of the house and across the road, a copy of the WM had already been located and we scanned it furiously looking for EVCGS and our names. The relief when we found the results we were hoping for is something I shall never forget.

Since that time I have not lived in EV for any significant length of time, although I visited regularly while my parents were alive, and thereafter to see my younger brother, Robert, who taught at Tredegar Grammar (subsequently Comprehensive) School for many years. After taking early retirement, however, he decamped to Saundersfoot. An abortive year studying Physics (I loved Physics at school, but absolutely hated it at University), National Service in the RAF, and a return to University to read Engineering, occupied me for the first 5 years after leaving school. Thereafter I spent a few years in the Electronics industry, undertook postgraduate studies at Kings College, London and subsequently pursued an academic career, mainly at the Universities of Birmingham and Liverpool. All this meant that I lost touch with Ebbw Valians outside my immediate family. This is something I regret, and a chance to meet up again with old school friends of my own vintage is something I would welcome.

David Parsons (1946-1953)

© evcgs former pupils 2013