Member notes for Irvine Mitchell


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At The Hill School

I passed the eleven plus - the intelligence test that was used by the government to rank and rate children.

I discovered later in life that in spite of its scientific aura, the eleven plus was a fallible instrument.

Children coached in advance scored higher than children taking the test for the first time.

The people who set the papers assumed that there was one correct solution to every question.

One of the multiple choice questions asked what the word conviction means. The correct answer was belief.

Many kids put the answer down that Conviction meant Guilty! (Perhaps they were from other than secure middle class homes.)

I thought conviction was one means of heat transfer.

At Turnpike School

Pupils in my year may remember that I starred in the school play "Dark of the Moon" directed by that wonderful teacher Bugsy Davies.

I played the role of Preacher Haggler and was so prolific that I have not had a single acting job since.

I still remember some of the Preachers' lines - "Listen to the Lord he'll ease your pain...he'll wash away your sin like the mountain rain....get on your knees and confess your shame"

The lines have come in handy on several occasions in my adult life - particularly with recalcitrant bar staff!

As I remember, Trevor Swatton and Michael Woodman (whom I met several years ago in Western Australia) did most of the set carpentry with Evans the "creative design" teacher (not real woodwork or metalwork - more "do-what-you-like" hippy 60's radical stuff). Thank you Le Corbusier!

I recall that Steven Haines once submitted his homework to Evans and because it was stained, he circled the stain marks and alongside wrote "sweat" to get extra marks.

He got his homework back from Evans with a low score and with some additional stain marks on it. They were circled and alongside them Evans had written "tears". - Wonderful!

At Merchant Navy College

I recall Simon Beard spending many weeks on the orlop deck building a paper mache boat.

The launch day came and though we just knew it would sink, secretly some of us wanted to see him get from the ship to shore in glory.

He failed.

The next time I saw this scene played out it was with Jack Nicholson trying to lift the water faucet in "One flew over the cuckoo's nest"!

At least he tried goddamit!