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OM Memories – Miles Bolus (B1 1945-49)

As I, plus a couple of fellow OMs with whom I have remained closely in touch, reach our 89th birthdays, I would venture to add our names to be included in the [OM Memories section of the website]. They are F.G. Coles (B2 1945-49) and T.M. Halton (B1 1945-49).

Gale Coles (always “Freddy” at MC) – Our friendship goes back to 1939 when we were prep school boys at Oakley Hall, Cirencester – 81 years! No less!

Tim Halton We shared a flat together in London and he was ‘best man’ at my first wedding in April 1959.

Tim lives near Pewsey, Wilts and Gale farms with his son-in-law near Framfield, E Sussex. I am happy to say that both still have their wives with them. Gales daughter, Nadine, (also my Goddaughter) helps run the farm and also presented her parents, some twenty odd years ago, with girl triplets!

A word, now, about the town of Pewsey. In those days it boasted the Rex Cinema. A small group of us had “gridden” (bicycled) over to see the film “National Velvet” with a very young and beautiful Elizabeth Taylor in it. Pewsey and the cinema were strictly out of bounds, of course, but on that occasion it was raided by “fugs” (prefects). I had got out through the loo windows and made my escape, I thought. Some few had been apprehended and back at MC were questioned with those, like myself, who were suspected and duly owned up. We were “beaten” by the various housemasters.

On another occasion, I had found myself sitting very close to a beak in the Marlborough cinema in the middle of the high street. The beak was Frank Shaw (CR 1939-52), then B2 Housemaster. Whether he saw me or not, nothing was ever said!

I had arrived at Marlborough in the Spring Term of 1945 and was placed in upper 4b class and housed for my first year in A House. A House was split in 2 A1 and A2, mine was A2. Now the whole building is Morris, I believe. During my second term, May 1945, the war in Europe was over and I had a job in the House Class Room! In those days the lavatories were called “The Woods”, there were no doors. We would actually sit facing each other! Lavatory paper was known as “Wood Cards” and strictly rationed – dreadful shiny non-absorbent stuff. My job was to distribute wood cards after breakfast in house classroom – 4 sheets per boy, no more no less. Hoarding was quite common and wood cards were even sold!

The last B1 House reunion I attended with both Tim and Gale, there was a lunch in the Master’s Common Room to celebrate 65 years on. That was in 2014 and we left MC in 1949. There were some 30 of us present including a few wives/partners and some from other houses. For example, Robert Cottam (C2 1948-52) (my second cousin), Gale Coles and Dion Beard (B2 1945-49), Peter Worlidge (C2 1944-49) and Alan Gillett (C2 1944-48). Michael Clapp (B1 1945-19) was there too. I am quite sure there are others who will reach their 89th birthdays this summer and autumn it’s just that I am not in touch with them. Desmond Grave (B1 1944-49) was the organiser, and of several previous events.

I would like to mention one other escapade during my time at MC. We did have Boy Scouts in A House though not, I think, taken very seriously. I don’t remember whether it was as Scouts or not but a few of us from B1 (myself and Tim Halton certainly) cycled (gridded) over to Stonehenge at the time of the summer solstice and camped out for the night – waiting up to witness the sunrise. We were the only people there – no guards, no fencing, nothing! It was a wonderful experience. It must have been the summer term in 1947.

I was OM Secretary for several years but now the baton has been passed to Andrew Linn (B2 1952-59). A good friend and still resident in Marbella. We did together organise a few dinners over the years (1970s) calling ourselves the “Marbellurians”. Photos, details etc were passed to the Club Secretary at MC and duly appeared in the magazine.

In 1949, on the last night of my last term – there were some disturbances in the “well” of B-House – thunder flashes or bird scarers were set off – for which I was partially responsible. But the event that rocked the school was the painting black of the baby Jesus statue set into the wall of the Chapel at the top of the steps leading up from the Mem Hall. The statue was known as the Master’s Indiscretion. This was totally unacceptable behaviour, of course but sadly I was one of the ones accused. I vehemently protested my innocence. It was never entirely proved who the culprits were but the strong belief was that it was done by the boys of Preshute!

A final note

Since writing my notes I have turned 89 and Tim Halton and Gale Coles will/would be 89 in September. Very sadly, and as a huge personal loss to me, Tim Halton passed away in late May.

Miles Bolus (B1 1945-49)