Lively lads, Grey House, Plumtree School 3.

Lively lads, Grey House, Plumtree School 3, and the continuing saga of Rusty of a Drysdale of and Spook’s drinking escapade. So we make it to the dining hall unspotted by any prefect or master who would betray us to the powers that be. Largely because all our Grey House mates are covering for us and keeping us safely away from Pius and his merry band. Another perishing awful supper and all. I don’t know what it was about the graze at Plumtree School, but, I have never, and I mean never had such bleeding awful nosh. Not that I can remember what it was that night frankly. You see we are three sheets to the wind or sky high boy or quite simply as pissed as newts. Supper ends, thank heavens for little mercies and the long walk begins back to Grey House for roll call before progressing from there to the Saturday night film. That’s ‘fillum’ so Irish and South African readers can understand. Returning through the corridor of Grey House Spook cuts in to the senior toilet there desperate for a wee wee. It’s a two man urinal, blimey, Puis (Bruce Brown) head prefect of Grey House then enters also for a wee wee. Somehow I finish quickly and dash out before he can start chatting to me. The lads quickly encircle me and into the prep room for roll call. The plan is hatched for someone else to reply when our names are called because if we do then the game is up, we could barely talk. All that is said is ‘sarm’ which is just the way it was at this school. When roll call is over, Spook decides not to attend the moving pictures and wanders off to bed. Rusty however, decides to go, tough bastards were those Drysdale lads.

Lively lads,Grey House, Plumtree School 3, where I boarded.

Lively lads,Grey House, Plumtree School 3, where I boarded.

I said in Lively Lads, Grey House, Plumtree School 2, that we were now in the senior dormitory, top right of photo, but, I must have been wrong as we are still in the middle dormitory, the left blinds. Anyway, awhile later my head is spinning so I move over from my bed, far left, last blind and cross the dorm to the other side which has windows and then the back lawn. I barf (vomit) out of it just as dear old Blanche Rorich, matron, sticks her head out of the downstairs window. Now why is she not watching the ‘fillum’? Sunday passes by without a hitch apart from the major babelaas that is. Monday afternoon during rest Pius comes to my bed and says, ‘Spook, Lubbe (Grey Housemaster) wants to see you’. Now before I go on one has to understand, that Puis or Bruce Brown and whom I went to junior and senior school with. He was an ace athlete and sportsman and exceptionally bright with it as well and a nicer bloke one couldn’t meet. I knew him also after school, after I went deaf and also as a farmer in Zimbabwe. The fact is at school he was known to us lively lads as Pius, name stolen from the Pope. Just saying.


I come down the stairs and waiting at the bottom of them is Skinner Olsen, new English teacher who takes my arm and escorts me to Lubbe Robinson’s (Housemaster) office. Once inside the grilling begins. Lubbe is busy getting his pipe going, patting some tobacco

Grey House housemaster's pipe.

Grey House housemaster’s pipe.

(terbaccy in, so Americans can understand), then proceeding to try and light it with a match. Suck, suck, gurgle, gurgle, and so on and so forth and then a great cloud of smoke as he gets it going and then says. “Were you drinking yesterday boy?” I give an astounded “perish the thought” reply, which has him out of his chair and screaming at me, “you’re lying boy”. Lubbe sometimes known as nipple, because he was too small to be a tit, continues, “I have overwhelming proof, not only did the Matron see you vomiting out of the window when you didn’t go to the movies but more.” So I say, “but Sir on Saturday afternoon I went into the bush and forgot to wear my hat. I’m light skinned so guess I had a touch of sunstroke which made me queasy.” And on and on it goes with him going wilder and wilder and me trying to box very clever like, innit. Eventually he tells me to get out and Skinner Olsen escorts me away. Out of the corner of my eye I see Don Fudge celebrated woodwork master leading Rusty in. The masters are out in force keeping Rusty and I apart so we cannot coincide our stories, which also means we are in big trouble. I have never heard the like of or seen this before with masters involved. Somehow, they cannot seem to break us or our bull shitting is so similar? The next day a new tactic is tried and never before at this great place of learning. Lubbe drives us into the thriving metropolis of Plumtree and drops us off at the Police station, where I am the first to enter the top officers office. Aye, I’ve knocked on some terrible doors in my short life so far. Basically it’s the same as Lubbe, he’s trying to find a flaw in my story and is raving like a lunatic. Basic difference is he has one of those

Akin to what these lads have under their arm.

Akin to what these lads have under their arm.

highly polished thin batons which top ‘awficers’ carry and he keeps on banging it down on his desk and screaming “don’t lie to me boy”. Tsuh, I’m not a boy. Later after finishing with me it’s Rusty’s turn but, again he makes no headway. Lubbe, exasperated drives us back to the school where the grilling continues for the next few days, again, to no avail. Then one afternoon I have had enough so say, “yes sir, I was drinking, but, I cannot speak for Drysdale.” Lubbe immediately jumps up and opens the door of his office where Rusty is standing and says, “Moor has admitted it.” Whereupon Rusty gives me a look of pity and loathing. Later I say to him, “I swear to God I didn’t split on you Rusty I just said I had been drinking and then he went and preempted you.”


The first thing that happens is that they move Rusty’s and mine beds down to the Grey House library situated bottom left of the photo and lock us in there. We have to call out to Skinner Olsen living behind this if we need a toilet break for example. He then unlocks the

No burglar bars in the library so why lock us in?

No burglar bars in the library so why lock us in?

door and escorts us to the toilet. What is most odd, is, the windows of the library are open and have no burglar bars either, so why lock us in? All meals are also sent to us from the kitchen, bleeding terrible and all they were to, how typical. We do not go to classes. We are now in fact, official convicts, but, it does not end there. Jim Beef celebrated Headmaster is on a mission, after all he did say the next boy caught drinking would be expelled. So he send a S.O.S. to our parents and mine are the first to arrive living in Norton whereas Rusty’s are further away in Bindura. Lubbe Robinson is escorting me to Jim Beef’s house and once we cross the swimming pool before entering this great abode, he stops and says to me; “you are not a bad bloke Kev, you are just too easily led.” Kev? Who the fcuk is Kev? We enter the adobe and small talk is at a premium. My mother has gone bog Irish on me, raising her eyebrows and rolling her eyes at everything said. My Dad intervenes and asks Jim Beef if he can have a word with me outside. J. B. acquiesces and my Dad takes me onto the lawn and gives me a bollixing. ” If you wanted a drink at home why didn’t you ask and I would have allowed it? Your cousin Charles has also just got a girl in the family (fambly, so Americans can understand) way and you have both destroyed the Moor name.” Whereupon he gives me an almighty clap on the head and we go back inside. Lubbe escorts me back to Grey House and later Rusty’s parents arrive and off he goes. Both sets of parents stay in the Plumtree Hotel. Proprietor rubs hands in glee as business is booming. The next day we drive around with our parents while the decision is made whether to expel us or not? Later we arrive back to hear, NO EXPULSION. The parents then proceed to drive back home. I often wondered about this and which masters stood up for us, but, obviously some big hitters had. We do however have every punishment in the book thrown at us. Now I have mentioned before in my Afrikaans teacher’s epistle, how he told me last period before lunch to go to the Headmasters office for a bit of the old six cuts and all. I decide to be the first, and go into Jim Beef’s office. He has borrowed a cane from the Police. Aren’t you supposed to have a Dr. present if using one of those? I enter and Jim Beef is a big man and holding the cane under his chin as I enter. He uses his right hand to bend it to almost breaking point and then releases it. By Gum a terrible sound twas to. Bend down, you know where, which indeed I do having had the good old six from Jim Beef many times before. Except this time it is different, normally he is fast and furious, but, now, tap, tap, tap, on my lily white ass, then a treeeeemendous blow, one, and so on and so forth until six is reached. I stand up to go and Jim Beef lets fly with the seventh which catches me down the back of my thigh. Keeeeeeeeerist, perishing sore it was, more so than all six before it. I swing around to Jim Beef and say, “sorry Sir, I thought I already had six?” He just smiles and says ‘get out’. I open the door and there is Rusty as white as a sheet and in he goes. I begin the long walk home. First office up is Ray Suttle deputy headmaster. “Good afternoon Sir”, and he stands there grinning from ear to ear. Damn old devil. Next the masters common room and the same old saga. I’m wondering what’s so funny being in mortal agony and all. Then I am out the building feeling so free and so wild, and I begin running whilst all the time rubbing my lily white ass. Lo and behold, the whole school is leaning out the classroom windows, laughing and cheering, ‘go man Spook, go man, go’. Followed by raucous laughter. TSUH.


After lunch and during rest after all the lads have looked at our lily white asses, black and blue and seeping blood. Just about to nod off Pius appears again with his same old same, ‘Lubbe wants to see you’. So Rusty and I march down to his office, knock and enter while he goes about getting his pipe going, pack, pack, tobacco, light a match, suck, suck, gurgle, gurgle, and then a waft of smoke, he begins. ” Do you know that tomorrow this will be all over Bulawayo, Plumtree boys caught drinking. The next day Gwelo, the next Salisbury and the next, THE WHOLE COUNTRY. Because of all the lies you told me, I have decided to beat you six as well.” He must have seen Rusty and mines face drain of all colour because he continues? ” But I think two lots of sixes in one day is to much, so come back on Monday, now, get out. Monday comes and I go in first again and dear old Lubbe lays into

Milner House Plumtree School. Ray Suttle, Housemaster.

Milner House Plumtree School. Ray Suttle, Housemaster.

me. I’m seriously annoyed about this second helping and Lubbe has just told me that with all I had done wrong, amounted to 48 strokes and he was going to beat me every one of them. So I go and see Ray Suttle deputy Headmaster and a very strict disciplinarian but whom I always got on well with and found fair. He says to me that one set of six is ample discipline. I hear no more about 48 strokes so he must have said something to Lubbe on the quiet? We had every punishment the school could give us, we had to wear a tie and blazer at all times. Every hour, we had to find a master or school prefect to sign a book we had to carry around with us. We were banned from representing the school at sport, bar, home games. We lost our studies and all senior privileges and had to return to the prep room. We had to do manual labour during ALL our free time. Guess who built the terraces at the new cinder track apart from many other things? We were banned from attending any debating society nights and also the Saturday night movie. Eventually I got my Mum to send my gramophone player so we could listen to music whilst everyone else was at the movies. Then Skinner Olsen heard us playing it one night and confiscated it. Keeeeeeeerist we were not even allowed to listen to music. Needless to say there were so many things we were banned from I have forgotten all of them now, but, it was everything they could think of. However there were of course a few good men. Rev Chandler, he really was a reverend and a former Oxford blue, cricket and hockey player, was reffing my fourth team hockey game against Milton school. Playing in my normal position of left half I personally scored all 8 goals. Incensed he wanted to know why I was not in firsts? Snotty Youngman my mate and Captain of the firsts must have agreed because from then on I joined that elite club, albeit I played seconds. From a Jack to a King? This ALL went on for the entire term and during the holidays my Mum sent me to see old Doc Burrows our family doc because I was so t’in. Explaining this to him my Mum got the reply, “is this a school or is it the Gestapo?”
The next term we were now in our last year, Pius and his merry band had left and the new Head boy was Pete Silcock residing in Milner house. Rusty and I still had all the

The 100 metre dash at sports week-end.Plumtree School.

The 100 metre dash at sports week-end.Plumtree School.

punishments going. The culmination of the end of every first term was the sports week-end where parents were housed by the school. On the first night whilst entertaining the parents of Grey house lively lads a schoolboy overheard something, there was always one around. Rusty’s Dad Ronnie who served with the Desert Rats during the second World war got Lubbe into his office. Whereupon Ronnie grabbed him by his shirt collar and slammed him into the wall saying; ” I have never heard of an indefinite sentence in all my life. You serve your time according to the crime. Don’t you think these two lads have borne enough yet. What’s more they have stood it like men.” Then in disgust he lets Lubbe go and goes back outside to his drink. The next term, all our privileges have been restored. I hasten to add I played first team cricket and hockey and went to the Matabeleland hockey trials. I passed all my exams and became a house prefect. Rusty played 1st. XV rugby also passed all his exams and also became a house prefect. What say you Pips about this little saga?



About spookmoor

I'm a 61 year old happily married man with three grown up children. I lost all my hearing as an eighteen year old whilst doing National Service and then had a Cochlear Ear Implant twenty years later. I love trying to explain these things to people and bits about my life. I never thought so at the time, but it was the best thing that ever happened to me. Thus one gets Random ramblings from a man who has seen a lot with a touch of humour underlying all.
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29 Responses to Lively lads, Grey House, Plumtree School 3.

  1. Maggott says:

    A constant diet of “road-kill” made us all as tough as old boots – eventually. I remember Denzel and Bruce coming back from the village one Saturday afternoon – so pissed, neither of them would have made it the “flick” even if they wanted to.

  2. Derrick says:

    Good one Spook. Must admit I had similar experience after being reported by one of the masters. I was having a beer that my dad bought me at a function during a long weekend nonetheless I still collected 6 from Beef. I suspected Skinner Olsen but it could have also been Enos.

  3. bulldog says:

    Yep Spook.. this does bring back a few memories of my last year in Grey… must admit after getting 6 on my last day of school from Goodburn, (for drinking) and then later meeting him by chance in Bala Bala hotel where I’d stopped for a drink on my way home to West nic, it was nice to tell him to finish his drink and leave before things got out of hand… great write..

  4. jake bremner says:

    Good one Spook. Where is Rusty now. Great laugh and how we were punished at school

  5. davidac977 says:

    Enjoyed bending over Mallet’s chair on an almost daily basis at Peterhouse. Never bothered me getting doeks!

  6. Ah Spook .. you have again described our generation’s life at boarding school and illustrated to an absolute “T” the vindictiveness of some of high school teachers. You are a true man amongst men for having endured this extended torment and sadistic treatment. I am sure we were all at some point cocky, mischievous and devious little blighters, but as was stated by Ronnie “You serve your time according to the crime”, but two sets of 6 (7) is beyond fair and just. Needless to say I loathed high school even though our “nosh” was far better than yours and was the holder of the the black mark record in our house for my first year. I think I would have preferred the cane to the petty and vindictive “punishments” that I was subjected too. (I wasn’t caned due to a physical deformity in my pelvis that could have been exacerbated by repeated blows by a cane or stick, discovered and stopped after one particularly exuberant session of beating at junior school). The petty “punishments” only served to increase my resolve to be bloody minded and resentment of some of the, imo, puerile teachers and infantile seniors that I encountered. However, having said that .. it made me into the person I am today and gave me the gumption to volunteer to server my country, which turned out to be the second happiest event of my life .. the first being the single year I spent at Maritzburg Varsity. So in the long run I have to begrudgingly apprecited all the trial and tribulations I endured and as such I salute you sir and say thank you once again for sharing your exploits, inner character and mettle that have made you the wonderful person you are today. (p.s. sorry for the long post and my grandstanding on what is, and should always remain your blog and missive.) Stay well my friend and keep writing .. we shall read!

  7. Nick Bishop says:

    Good man you are Spook in my day Spike was deadly with ole cane but admired rebel in me alas I was expelled much to my parents shame . Grey was run by Thompson then he hate me. No one would sleep in Biet hall as it was haunted. I was constantly on dress parade as my cloths were second hand my parents were poor on hind sight wish I had studied harder and made my parents proud.

  8. Tess Bold says:

    Spook……now I understand your courage….I believe that’s why our young men in our army…where men before they where called up.

  9. John Mehliss says:

    Hey spook, enjoyed your reminiscences,especially as I remember many or the characters involved. I wasn’t aware of how naughty you became. I, too, got seriously drunk one sports weekend,with d
    Dave Gilbert, I think, or Paddy Gerraty, but thanks goodness, wasn’t caught, even though Grans Moorwood suspected something. It certainly was a character-building school which furnished us with many memories. Keep blogging!

    • spookmoor says:

      Delighted to see you here Flogger. Must have been Dave as Paddy was Grey, but, who knows eh? You lucky bugger you getting away Scot free and all. I couldn’t even cross the Lloyd lawn without dear old Garthsssssssssssss spotting me and tanning my lily white ass.

  10. dylean Nobela says:

    l feel your pain,l was at plumtree school too

  11. Dawn says:

    Shame, Spook, that must have hurt.

  12. Dave Gilbert says:

    Hi Spook brings back great memories! Hell I miss those good old days! Keep in contact mate. Dave “gumboot” Gilbert

  13. John Morris says:

    Good one Spook!
    Spare the rod so they say!

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