I was 11 when I moved down to what we called the ‘Upper School’, the boarding school was much bigger with 65 boarders instead of 16. During the first few years we lived in ‘New Block’ which makes the corner of Upland Road and the Grange. In those days there was one large dormitory upstairs and another downstairs and each slept 22 boys with 18 inches between each bed.
The prefects or duty house master were responsible for lights out and would usually insist on silence before flipping the light switch and going back to whatever they were doing before their duties interrupted them.
It was then that the youngest boy known as the ‘KV’ (Abbreviated ‘Cave’ = Latin for ‘Beware’) would let us know that they had gone and the fun would start. This poem records one of the activities which used to happen from time to time.
Early Memories Guernsey IV
The lights went out and the dormitory fell silent,
beyond the door retreating footsteps descended the stairs.
The youngest eyes watched from the sash window
waiting for the duty prefect to leave the building.
The word “ok” was whispered.
From the other end of the dorm a sash could be heard opening.
Silently a young lad slipped clothes over his pyjamas.
Then he ducked through the first floor window.
A shadow stole along the wall to the lamp post,
It slipped silently down and disappeared.
Footfall, barely audible could be heard padding off into the night.
Using all available cover the young boy stole unseen along the road,
hiding from passing headlamps and skirting pedestrians.
His pulse pounded in his ear as he passed the old graveyard,
he hoped his racing heart couldn’t be heard.
Slipping between the bushes he passed the tower and fire station.
His objective now in view he waited behind a bush
biding his time, watching silently for familiar faces.
Then, all clear, he slipped across the road and through the door
approaching the counter, pyjamas legs showing beneath his jeans,
he uttered; “Twenty two packets of chips please!”
John Carré Buchanan
21 March 2012