The life of Graham Jones

I was born in Victoria. At the age of 2, I agreed to go with my parents to London where my father looked & found work. When opportunities became available back home in the steel works we returned to E.V. to live up the “Tump”. In 1940 we moved up-market to Tothill Street, Willowtown. I joke not. With my knowledge, albeit small, I can tell you that there are only two “Tothill streets” in the whole world, the other is at Westminster, which I believe to be but a pale imitation!
One of my memories was playing cricket in the street with friends & inevitably my dog, Sandy, about 12“ tall. This was my first experience of a single parent where Sandy’s mother had to bring up Sandy in the absence of his father who had not hung around! Sandy’s fielding was amazing & many of the catches were taken in mid-air. His batting & bowling left a little to be desired but this helped because we didn’t have to worry about his “turns”. Unfortunately his sight deteriorated but the assistance of a ‘blind dog’ was not an option. One day as we played he tore after the ball only to collide with Martyn Nicholas who fell backwards on to his bottom with a look of sheer amazement on his face, Martyn that is, - the dog was still looking for the ball! The game ended in paralytic laughter with Sandy being congratulated as if he had won “the ashes”.
In those days when my mother reached for the cane both the dog & I would immediately run out through the back door, not sure for whom it was destined !.
One of my unhappiest days was eventually taking Sandy to the police station as one did - no vets ; although 17, I cried all the way to school.

This move to Tothill Street meant that I had to attend Willowtown School with those teachers, Messrs. Lou Protheroe, Jonathan Price, “Squidgy” Lewis, and Mr. Pryce!!! The latter was the original missile launcher, whose skill with chalk & board pad was unrivalled. I shall never forget the day he was looking at a knife which a fellow pupil had brought in. Having been disturbed he threw the knife close to the talker & I can still see the knife quivering after it had been imbedded in the wooden wall. If only there were such knife throwers in schools today - I mean on the staff!
Today’s therapists would have had a field day then.
These were the days of wartime & I regret that I did not fully appreciate the horror at the time - there was much glamour brought about by propaganda on the radio and in the cinema. I didn’t               think of hardships - we had never enjoyed a life of plenty. How to save sweet points & whether the rumours that ’broken biscuits’ were being queued for at Woolworths on a Saturday morning seemed to be priorities together with ‘digging for victory” on our allotment. A bomb fallen on the mountain between us and Tredegar was a thrilling event and even being carried from bed to sit under the stairs until the “all clear” was sounded was not of great significance. We in E.V., who had not lost loved ones, were extremely lucky.
I can remember seeing the pictures of bent yellow things on Ferguson lorries & asking what they were, only to be told that they were bananas!
In those days “Teddy” Boore was the headmaster and he kept us on an extra year so that the school had better performances at the 11+. A kind of school merit table even then!
Talking earlier about cinemas, who can ever forget the screen curtains in the Astoria which changed colour during the interval. It was worth 7d. just to see the curtains after we had avoided Jack Holding and someone had “taken us in”!!!

So it was that eventually at 12 years of age I entered the grammar school in 1946. There followed the happiest days of my life. In my opinion the reign of Dr. Saffell was the best event that ever happened to the grammar school.
It is worth mentioning that at this time our ‘gang’ did day tours to play Glan Yr Afon at cricket. The outstanding memory was facing Ivor “The Gimp” Jones, sadly no longer with us, whose ability to spin the ball & make it bounce high proved unplayable for me ; Shane Warne, eat your heart out!

In the VIth form as a prefect I learned about hypocrisy & sadism. Typically, I briskly walked capless to school arriving at Charlie Pugh - the cobbler’s at 1 minute to 9.00a.m. when I placed my miniscule cap on my head, strode up the drive, then turned & “booked” those miscreants behind for lateness or inadequate uniform.
I had a problem with “Josh“ in physics where I spent most of my time using the alleged formulae defining the paths of projected stones e.g. s=ut + ½ ft2; v2 =u2 +2fs. Consequently I knew nothing about electricity which didn’t help my future in physics. I can remember when Mr. Powell replaced Josh he allowed us to bring in defective radios which I did, only to be scornfully told that the fuse in the set had ‘blown’! I had never heard of fuses, remember not even the round pin plugs had fuses in them.
Then there was the great Hoppy, although one day I didn’t know how to make zinc carbonate & so I had to go out the front & write my method on the blackboard :-
Zn + ‘pop’ = Zn Carbonate + Hydrogen. Everyone learned from that.
My final year (Upper VI) was memorable for Christmas.
From Dec. 4th. until Jan. 3rd. I attended parties or dances including the parties for each school year. The highlight was our version of Cinderella where I was automatically cast as one of the ugly sisters paired up with Eric Smith. Although there was no doubt of our ugliness there were compensations - it is amazing what strategically placed tennis balls can achieve! What is great               is that Eric & I can still remember our lines -” I’m Bertha, I’m Gertie, we’re still rather flirty, with men we’re considered a sell…….”.
Off to Swansea University then National Service. As I had a degree in Chemistry it was obvious to the Army authorities that I should mend radio sets. So it was that I spent twelve months in Cyprus mending radio sets where I hid from EOKA. One event of note was a visit to Mt. Olympus where we had a military radio station guarded by Marines. Who should be on the gate but Dai Lloyd - amazing how these things happen. Amazing, too, that having worked in electronics I ended up in the semiconductor industry where I was able to combine my chemistry with the manufacture of transistors and silicon chips. Even though I have been in the industry most of my life I have never failed to be astonished by the development of the industry since the first transistor in 1948.
It was about the time of the Garden Festival that together with Anne Morgan (nee Eadie), Moira Davies (nee Preece), Margaret Hancock (nee Wishlade) and Eric Smith (replaced nee) we arranged our first reunion at the ‘old school’ with the help of the then staff. Later we were joined by Alan Tudgay and Norman Wybron and since then we have held reunions with dates mainly determined by public opinion!
When at one reunion we reproduced school dinners with tables of eight, I shall never forget the behaviour of one, Eric Hacker, who as server completely ’put the clock back’ and lost 50 years in one evening!
What surprised us was that originally we thought it necessary to have guest speakers - we needn’t have bothered the guests have simply wanted to talk and so it has been relatively easy - we have provided the venue, buffet & drinks and the guests provided the talk! We have also donated over £1000 to local good causes.
The reunions have been successful & we have certainly enjoyed them especially when we have viewed the greetings between friends who might not have seen each other for 40 years or so.
On a personal note I have looked back on my life and been amazed how simple decisions have resulted in my gaining so many friends and great experiences in Nepal, India, Malaysia and Australia. I consider that I have been so lucky.
I have rambled on but I hope some of my memories might have helped you jog your memories.

© evcgs former pupils 2013