Peter Chambers (SH 44-48) has sent in the following:

“In response to the magazine’s plea for contributions I take the liberty to enclose my old school poem.  I came across these verses recently in a fairly poor state, having been written during my first two years on School House (1944-45). I have revised and rephrased some of them and I hope that older old boys will be suitably entertained by them. The A.A. Milne influence may be apparent, and I still consider him to be my favourite poet of all time!

A St. Bees Alphabet

A    is for Awful the wind and the sleet
       resulting in chill blains all over our feet.
B    is for ‘B’ dorm and ‘Belsen’ as well.
       It’s cold and it’s drafty. We’re hungry as hell.
C    is the Chemie endured with ‘Yoong Mun’.
       Just endless equations but no firework fun.
D    is the Drenching one gets on long runs –
       I suppose it is better than fighting the Huns?
E    is our Enemy, prefects to you,
       who chase and abuse us and punish us too.
F    are the French verbs we learn with ‘Pa’ Lever.
      Trains passing the window give me a fever!
G    is for ‘Piggy’ whose real name is Gow;
       he’s just ruled the Head out of bounds for us now.
H    is our new Head, who’s wary and cold.
       He has a strict posture – at least he’s not old.
I     is the Interest demanded in sport.
       Don’t try to avoid it – you’ll only get caught.
J’s  Junior dayroom awash with ‘new ticks’,
       it’s all prep and fagging – and vanishing tricks!
K    is our Kitten - forbidden, of course -
       she lives in our study and eats like a horse.
L    is the Library, some fags favourite hide –
       no dashing for calls and a fire’s there inside.
L’s Too for Lever, who well leads the Corps,
      ‘Coom down the Armoury!’ need I say more?
M   is for ‘Monk’ Matthews, hot-tempered and freaky
       who, when he’s aroused, reports us to Reekie!
N    is the ‘Nardle’, a gent to be sure,
       his English Lit. lessons were never a bore.
O    is for ‘Oh’, before I forget:
       Ma Brown dictates Hist’ry and I’m not her pet!
P     is dry Physics doled out by ‘Bog’ Wall.
       It’s double on Mondays and no fun at all!
Q    is for Queen. Well, what else could it be?
       Off to the boiler-room for toast for my tea.
R    is for Rugger which, played in the sleet,
       especially on Graveside, leaves one dead-beat.
S    are the Slops they dare to call porridge,
      with salt! And the taste like old cattle forage.
T    are the T.E.W.T.s which we learn in the Corps
      and stripping the bren – my field-craft’s poor.
U    is for Under-the floor in Big School,
       in Mr. Gee’s Latin, we’re liable to fool.
V    is for Victory – that well-versed refrain.
      But will it bring joy to our school once again?
W   is for Why are our meals so poor?
      And why can’t we even ask for some more?
X    are the X-rays of my broken bone –
      all thanks to the brake-test with front brake alone.
Y    is the Yard where we play our touch-rugger.
       You fall on the cement, you’ll bleed like a bugger.
Z    is the Zeal that I’ll feel at the end:
      Good-bye to St. Bees and to my best friend.

These verses were composed originally while still at school. Some were the worse for wear and had to be re-written by the 81 year old author. However, after all these years, I still have a vivid memory of my days at St. Bees, most of which I didn’t enjoy – except for my wonderful measles-related spell of three weeks in the San on the opposite side of the valley. I missed all the exams, had ghoulish food and exciting visits from Matron’s 14 year old daughter!


B – Dormitory on SH with nasty prefect aptly know as ‘Krames Bird of B-dorm Belsen’.
E – No apologies whatsoever do I make here!
F – Ex WW1 hut close to steam-train-frequented railway – very distracting.
G – Zittery, very old, stand-in Head. Well-known in my father’s time- 1914-1918.
J – New-boys, all being fags, were subject to call out by neighbouring prefects.
K – Soon discovered and presented to the Head’s children, who loved her.
M – Unpopular, irritable master who ran the unpopular congregational-practice.
O – Mrs Brown taught by dictating reams of notes. Ruined one’s handwriting.
P – Miserable master suspected of suffering from constipation. Hence his nickname.
R – Junior rugger field adjacent to hillside cemetery – smelly when wet!
U – Loose floor boards at back of Big School enabled one to descend below to discover old pens and papers and other treasures.
V – Well, certainly not in my time.
W – Food got worse as the rationing also. The Berlin air-lift didn’t help us either.
X – Hilarious event held on the steep gravelled lane behind School House. Boys had to descend hill on their bikes only to brake at end. Large 1st XV boys were supposed to catch one at the bottom.

L – There are 2 L’s as the library came as a brilliant memory later. However, there was by no means always a fire there. Inside heating at School House was luke-warm pipes where only privileged boys could sit – also in my father’s day.”



The St. Beghian Society,    St. Bees School,    St. Bees,    Cumbria,    CA27 0DS.
         Tel: (01946) 828093