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emails to the editor

    Geoff Lambert    
  John Gurney
[August 2010]

Hi Ron
Many thanks for sending the newspaper clip, sad news indeed. Bobo was my form teacher for two consecutive years and lived for a time in Boxmoor opposite my childhood home. Keith Harrowell was Head Boy during my first year at AGS and was a thouroughly nice bloke who always had time to talk with us newcomers making the transition to 'Big School' somewhat easier.

 V B Rgds John G 


  Frances Stenhouse
[August 2010]


Dear Ron
Thank you so much for letting me know as I would not have found out otherwise since my mum died earlier this year and is no longer there to scour the local paper for such news.

 I was really sad to hear this news as Bobo taught me for six out of my seven years at Apsley (1962-1969) and was my form master for four of those years (1963-1967) so was one of the lynch-pins of my time there. Despite his unconventional teaching habits (I only remember one or two formal English grammar lessons in that time and one was when we had an inspector in, yet we all achieved English Language O-level a year early), he left a hugely valuable legacy of:

·         being widely-read

·         a great grasp of modern drama and poetry as well as the classics (though no longer as good as it was)

·         a love of Richard Burton’s voice (I still go weak at the knees at the thought of the power of listening to Under Milkwood on the gramophone in Room 10)

·         the joy of seeing Shakespeare performed live

·         being encouraged to perform in the school play

·         being encouraged to think for myself and to challenge

·         and last (but not least) to recognise a gerund and a complement when I saw one.

Of particular value was how in our first year of English Lit A-level, we did not touch any of our set books but read around widely – Shakespeare, Chaucer, as well as Ted Hughes, John Whiting, John Arden, Pinter, Joe Orton, Virginia Woolf and Iris Murdoch – something that would not happen today in the desperate world of grade-obsessions. In short a proper education that still stands me in good stead almost fifty years later. In conversation with my sister (Christine Stenhouse) yesterday, she too commented on what a wonderful legacy he had left for her.

 He was also a genuinely nice man that was incredibly supportive even when things did not go as well as they should, and encouraging me to push my boundaries of what I could achieve. 

What surprised me was how relatively young he was when he first went to Apsley, and that it was remarkable he had lived to 82 given the way that he smoked!

 Do keep me in the loop on the Apsley news. As I mentioned above, I’ve now lost my main connection back to Hemel and that feels a bit sad given they were such formative years.

With very best wishes

Frances (nee Stenhouse)


  Kevin Egan
[March 2010]
Ron hi - I hope you are well.

My name is Kevin Egan and I joined AGS aged 16 from Corner Hall Secondary Modern in September 1969 in order to take 'A' levels.

I've just found your website for the first time this morning and it brought back some pleasant memories.

I've started the draft of a book that I'm writing called 'Being from Hemel' and there'll certainly be some Apsley Grammar stuff in there.

Although only at the school for two years I very much enjoyed my brief stay and managed to pass Geography, English Literature and Art - but definitely without any flying colours.

For me then my favourite subject was double-games on Wednesday afternoons. It was an opportunity to pit your soccer wits against the likes of Mike Pardy and Alan Garrofall (wasn't he an Oxford blue?) on the school playing field. David 'Titch' Little also took to the pitch as did Clive Rutt on occasions, both now sadly long since deceased.

 It was a few years after I left school that I once caught Ted Lowther fielding at first slip in a match against his team, Berkhamstead III's at the Cow Roast ground. He'd batted quite patiently for a few overs until he must have seen his chance to show the ball a better view of the countryside. With two strides down the wicket he let fly with a huge mow, only to give me a top edge which left his bat like a bullet. When I say catch what I actually mean is that the ball hit me hard in the palm of the hand and my fingers managed to stop it falling out! I can recall even now the stinging pain and my strong desire not to cry in front of a former schoolmaster. I watched Ted glare at the umpire's finger being raised and clearly added to his irritation by saying ..."Oh - bad luck sir!" ... just to add insult to injury as he walked slowly back to the pavilion. However, he did offer to buy me a pint in the clubhouse afterwards!

I still keep in touch with a handful of former TOAD classmates and hope to catch up with a few more at the Boat in Berkhamstead on Thursday 22nd April commencing 6pm.

Regards, Kevin Egan


  Celia Dickinson
[23 Jan 03]
Dear Ron
I seem to have a virus problem with some attachments and the booking form came into that category. On the other hand it could be a conspiracy to keep me away! When the big re-union took place in 96 I'd sent all my details in good time but that was before the actual date was confirmed. The day after it took place I had a call from Linda (Ward) to find out what had happened to me! All subsequent enquiries confirmed the details sent to me had never arrived!  I did, however, get to the 98 class do and fully intend making this one!

Inf. about myself? Well...having decided I wanted nothing further to do with education after VIth form I ended up working for the ILEA for nearly a quarter of a century until we were abolished by the then Mrs. Thatcher. So a great proportion of my life was spent in schools and at governors' meetings. I finished as Asst. Divisional Education Officer for Camden/Westminster and had great fun. Even married a secondary school head teacher!

Surprisingly I came across a few ex-Apsley teachers. In the late 60s Gerald Grainge (in the recent Herald photo) crossed my path as something senior for ( I think ) Croydon in the world of Special Education. In the 80's Walter Morley was our Staff Inspector for Modern Languages and we met several times. Strangely he didn't seem any older than he was at AGS. If I think of anything earth-shattering I'll let you know.

I've sent a copy of the cutting to Shelley (Dudeney) - the blonde in the bottom RH corner. We write at Christmas but haven't met up for over 30 years as she now lives in Devon .


  Holy Joe Halkins
Hello Ron,

Remember "Holy Joe" Howkins? I've just recalled something about him. In the early 1960s when everyone's job suddenly had to have a posh title, you know, dustmen became refuse disposal operatives, "Holy Joe" wrote a letter to the Telegraph suggesting that the milkman should be a "matutinal purveyor of galactic nutriment." I still have the actual cutting somewhere, but as always, can't put my hand on it now I want it. I remember we used to call out the ponderous phrase when he was nearby but I don't think he ever reacted to it. He used to drive a Triumph Herald and Jeremy Parsons always insisted that this proved he was gay. Many years later I owned such a car myself and they don't come straighter than me. We had a few odd ideas back then, didn't we?

Cheers for now,

  Vine, Pearson & Burke
[8 Jan 2003]
Hello again, Ron, and seasonal felicitations (well, we did go to a Grammar School!). You did ask for a few memories and reading about Chris Vine prompted a few. He, Terry Burke and Eric (Egg) Pearson used to form a sort of unholy triumvirate and one of their tricks in class would take place while we were quietly writing. Each in turn, without looking up, would call out "Hmmn ya nah socks up!"  "Hmm nyah ha finger out!" and "Hmm yah nah bags down!" which they at least found greatly amusing. Well, we were only in the third year or thereabouts at the time. Chris also had a trick of swallowing air and producing an enormous belch, seemingly at will.

I suppose we might have guessed that he would make a career on the stage, he seemed to enjoy playing to the crowds. I recall one time the three of them performed a sketch on the stage in the music room for our class, something involving a group of soldiers under enemy fire, the commander desperately seeking volunteers to get through to HQ for a despatch. Eventually one of them made it and returned, bedraggled, to a hero's welcome. "Did you get the despatch?" asked the Commander (Chris, I recall).  "No," came the reply, "You'll have to make do with the Daily Mirror!" Apparently Chris actually wrote this as well as taking a starring role.

I also remember a time when we were doing "Julius Caesar" in class. At the top of his voice, Chris called out the famous line, "Et tu, Brute," and ruined the whole thing by pronouncing "Brute" to rhyme with fruit! Well, as he said, he didn't do Latin. Gave us all a good laugh, though.

If this is the sort of stuff you are looking for, I'll try to come up with more over the next few days.

Look forward to the reunion.

Best wishes,

  Ted Lowther
Dear Ron, 
Thank you for your e-mail. There is certainly no need for an apology on your part. On the contrary, I am very grateful to you for reminding me of an episode that had completely escaped from my memory. Any reminder of the early years I spent at AGS is more than welcome since I look back on them with a great deal of pleasure. Apsley G.S. was a great place to work in - great kids (by and large!), great staff (on the whole!) and the happiest atmosphere I have ever experienced.

Now that his e-mail has reminded me, I can recall the time Gerald came into my class, and provided a much needed break from the grind that everyone knows is the lot of a Latin student! He certainly possesses a better memory than I have, and quite possibly as good a command of English - certainly many times better than my understanding of German, which I have started to learn in the U3a. I very much like the language, and greatly regret that at school I was compelled to learn French, and then had to decide between German, Greek, and Chemistry in my third year at Grammar School where everyone had otherwise exactly the same timetable - English Language, English Literature, Mathematics, French, Latin, Physics, History, and Art.

I am pleased that Friends Reunited has made it possible for so many old Apsleyans to get in touch with one another. I have signed on at my old school, but there is only one pupil older than me, one other in my year, and one in the year after me - and I know none of them! I have visited your website. What on earth is TOADS?

Best wishes,

Ted Lowther.
  George Ostanievicz
Dear Ron
I happened across your web site through Yahoo.UK and wanted to let you know
that I too was still alive (barely) and kicking (still play football).  I was in the same class as several on your list and mainly spent time with Paul Green, Leon Flynn and Mike Richards. I also played football with Dave Alefs and Vince Needham. I even remember being a singer in a band with Glynn Lovelock.

After emigrating to Canada in 1967, I moved to Southern California in 1978
and have been here ever since. I hope all goes well with you and if you hear of a reunion, please let me know.

George Ostan (Ostaniewicz)

Hi Ron,

Thanks for your e-mail and your web site. It never ceases to amaze me how we as humans always want to return to our roots (more on that later) and your site has certainly whisked away the cobwebs on some wonderful old memories. 

After Apsley I worked with Pete Veal for almost 2 years at the DuPont labs in Hemel and then emigrated to Canada in 1967. It was there that I met my wife, Helen, and produced (I know I had a hand in it somewhere) two girls, Nicole and Danielle. During our 11 year stay in and around Toronto I eventually changed industries and became an insurance adjuster with State Farm.

I remember waiting for my wife inside a mall in Toronto while she was getting ready to quit work when a familiar face walked past. It was Addy Poretta. 3,000 miles from home and I run into an old school chum. I heard from her  couldn't see over the pile most of the time. In 1978 we moved to South Orange County in Southern California and have been here ever since.

As time went on I went through the f****d at forty stage and divorced Helen to find a younger model. As luck would have it our divorce became final on our 25th anniversary. Since then I got married, divorced, married, and am going through my third divorce, which started in April of 2001. I was told that the only reason for all these marriages was that I must be addicted to wedding cake.

Anyway, the point of this diatribe and to get back to my original thought on returning to our roots, last year when I left my third wife (actually I was kicked out) Helen took me in for a few days to help me out. God, in his infinite wisdom, saw to it that we should pick up where we left off and we've been together since. Life isn't a bed of roses just yet, but I fell that we
are on the right road.

I hope that I haven't bored you, Ron, but you did ask me to fill you in on what been happening didn't you?


PS. I'm putting my plans together to join you in March for the next "reunion"

PPS. Forgive the spelling, I still speak English but unfortunately have to
write in American

Hi Ron,

The ancient Chinese would curse you by saying "may you have an interesting life." Believe me interesting isn't always the best way to go. I'd accept different, maybe even unconventional, but I guess I may be stuck with interesting.

There is a little known rule in the American psyche that says you have to explore all avenues that open themselves to you. In one way it's what has made this country the great world power that it is. Unfortunately the underlying problem becomes that we get dissatisfied with our house, our car, our job and yes even our wives, and we find ourselves looking for the newest, fastest, shiniest and youngest alternative. It's not the best way to live.

Enough preaching! By all means use whatever you need from my e-mails in your
web site. I hope someone is interested........LOL.



  Gerald Jansche
Too Frisky on the bus eh?

Dear Ron,

Thanks for the invitation. I regret to say I won't be able to attend though. Please give my regards to Pat Sage. I remember teaching her in the Lower Sixth together with Grizelda Marshal, Marilyn Birch, Barbara Stanley, Linda ? I particularly remember her and Barbara Stanley visiting Hans Seelig together with me and Pat brandishing her umbrella on the bus lest I should become too frisky ( There was no real need to, I must just have made too lively an impression.) Today Brian Boston is in Frankfurt. I would have picked him up , but I will have to teach at the Polytechnic (University of Applied Sciences) in the late afternoon. Brian said he would have to be back in Frankfurt tonight so we cannot make it. I am writing form the Bayernkolleg Schweinfurt 2.30 p.m. My picture is to be found on the homepage Bayernkolleg Schweinfurt, middle, somewhat to the left. This is the second year I have been elected as "Vertrauenslehrer" ( teacher of their confidence, liaison something like that) by the school. Please remember me to your erstwhile (!) classmates.

All the best, 
Gerald Jansche

  Adrian Foreman


Caesar and the Conspirators - a rival pop group?

From: Ron Moss
Sent: Tuesday, November 27, 2001 11:32 PM
Subject: Hello
Adrian – you old bugger! How are you? I got your address via someone or other on the friendsreuintedthingy. Have you thought of a re-union of your school band? Loads of people seem to be claiming they were in it. What was the real line up?

Ron Moss

To: Ron
From: Adrian Foreman
Date: November 2001
Hi Ron - how are things going in the CLEAN world! - i.e. in life after AGS? At the moment I'm sort of semi-retired, doing a little bit of bar-work here and there, and enjoying life to the full in Pembrokeshire, to where we moved some 18 months ago to avoid further participation in the rat-race.

What are you doing with yourself these days? It's great to hear from some of the old boys from what now seems to be entirely another world. I still occasionally hear from Dave Lowrence, who sends me the odd (some DECIDEDLY odd!) jokes on the Internet.

As to the composition of the School Band (you may not remember, but the not too interesting name of same was Caesar and the Conspirators!), the original line-up was Glyn Lovelock on lead and vocals, Vic Brown on rhythm, yours truly on bass and vocals, and Dave Lowrence on drums. We were later joined by George Ostaniewicz as lead singer. So anybody else who claims to have been part of the band possesses an imagination to rival that of Jeffrey Archer's!




  John Gurney



To: Ron
From: John Gurney
Date:  February 2002
Hi Ron
I've just got back from a months work in Perth Western Aus.  I have been looking at your website and Tonys and at the old photos. Apart from being able to put names to several of the question marks in the photo's, the old memories came flooding back so forgive me if I write them here just in case they go again. I hope they don't lower the tone too much.

Trevor Powell
Trevor had a party trick which involved drawing air in through his anus and being able to expel the air at will he was continually goaded to repeat this party piece during lessons. His favorite was Maths with the gorgeous Miss Dickinson (later Mrs Loader) and the poor girl used to go the colour of fresh salmon which all us cretins used to think was fun. Small minds eh!

Mr Bailey
Bill as he was nicknamed was an Irishman of vile temper who walked the classroom during our History lessons with a large book tucked under his arm and would smash said book on top of anyone's head for the smallest misdemeanor. As a "jobbing" teacher he also helped our during games lessons and always was in the showers after games and we lads, as you do, couldn't help noticing just how small his penis was (miniscule). Maybe that's why he was a brutal bastard.

Mrs Montieth & Mr Cromarty
Mrs M. became pregnant (we used to shout out "pudding" as she walked across the front of the main building going towards the canteen from open windows of classrooms on the third floor) it is alleged that Mr C. may have been the culprit and I think they both left, certainly before my final year at AGS. I would be interested to find out if she divorced her hubby and remarried Mr C. I must stress yet again that was purely a rumour !!!!

Green foolscap paper
I dread to think how many times I copied out the school Codes of Conduct or School Rules on that expensive green paper. Me being a comedian I usually took the blame for anything in the class even though I was completely innocent but teachers do not go back on decisions once made (loss of face and all that) so it was Gurney, Seven School Rules or whatever. To add insult to injury I got this punishment so many times in one term I was invited to morning coffee with VJ to receive four strokes from his trusty persuader for good measure.

Stone picking
During our first and second years the playing fields in view of the Chemistry block and from the main building had only just been leveled and graded and our punishment sessions, (a favorite with Jock Gray) were to arm yourselves with a bucket and go off picking up any small stones or flints prior to the fields settling and being seeded. This seemed to go on for ages but on reflection it can only have been for one summer as all the fields were in use by our second year.

As you can see I can still remember some of my chequered past and I'll e-mail more as I think of them

V B Rgds John Gurney

  Mary Moffatt

The Demon Hairdresser

To: Mary
From: Ron
Date:  November 2001
Hi Mary
I knew I would come across you somewhere! I have been emailing various old pals from school and your name often comes up. You must have been very memorable at school. I was recalling in a mail to someone how you cut my hair in the form room one lunch time. I wanted to have chunky razor cut hair in line with my mod image. You claimed to be an expert and offered to cut my hair. I checked with Pat Field and Gerry who assured me you were expert. Bloody liars!

I suppose you are married with 6 children, a poodle and a conservatory by now. Tell all – full life story please.

Ron Moss

To: Ron
From: Mary
Date:  November 2001
Talk about a blast from the past. I knew as soon as I saw your name who is must be. Yes I do remember cutting your hair, for a Mars bar from the tuck shop I recall. I'd do anything for sugar. I'm still cutting hair, my own, my husband (#2) I cut number 1's as well, and my son's occasionally.


To: Mary
From: Ron
Date:  November 2001
I remember you with affection from school and recall the fun we all had. Do you remember how you used to push in in front of me in the lunch queue and sexually harass me? Probably scarred me for life you know.


To: Ron
From: Mary
Date:  November 2001
I, moi? Sexually harass anyone. Surely you jest?!:) I did grow up with two brothers and no sisters, so that may explain my familiarity with the opposite sex. What exactly did I do? in that lunch line?


  John Gurney
(14 Sep 02)

click to enlarge



Antipodean Website Section
Hi Ron
I'm very impressed with the Antipodean section of your website and think this should be expanded. Even though Aus is so far away and seems to be a somewhat forgotten backwater as far as International Affairs go (sport excepted), I have irrefutable evidence that some Aussies were in part instrumental in the difficult relations currently experienced between Afghanistan and the rest of the world. While I was working in Perth WA. in January last, I came across the attached plaque embedded in the pavement of a pedestrian precinct in the centre of the shopping district and use this to support my case.

Keep up the good work

V. B. Regards John Gurney

Tony Woodhouse
(14 Sep 02)
Google Web Search

Hi Ron
Thought you'd like to know. If you go into Google and search for 'apsley
grammar', you get the number 1 rating. I get about 4th.


  Bob Byrch (aka Syd)
(31 Aug 02)
Searching for old chums

Dear Ron,
I am an "Old Apsleian" and obtained this address from Friends United. (See graduates for 1963). I noticed that you are organizing a reunion and wondered whether you knew if anybody was maintaining a contact list of ex Apsley Grammar pupils. I have been in N.America since 1966 and have lost touch with just about everybody that I knew in Hemel Hempstead. Any suggestions on who might be maintaining an Alumni list would be sincerely appreciated. Also, would anyone of my age be at your reunion (I am guessing that I was a little ahead of you in graduating). Thanks.

Dear Ron,
It was very kind of you to respond so quickly. I must congratulate you on setting up such a wonderful web site. Long live the TOADS! I was obviously about 3 years ahead of you, finishing my 'A' Levels in Spring of 1963. I was booked to be at the schools 40th Anniversary in 1996 but, unfortunately, a death in the family caused me to miss it. I had hoped to reunite with some of my old mates at that time. I remember the Anniversary was being put together by a fellow who was, at the time, a teacher at Longdean School ( does Mike Kitchener sound right)? While I recognise some of the names from my year on the Friends Reunited site, I would not claim close friendship with any listed. Some of my best pals left in 1961 after 'O' Levels.

In my 6th Form years I had a fairly high profile and for some reason was known as "Syd". I was responsible for many of the school posters, was in the Dramatic Society, Chess Club, Choir and Debating Club. I was in Hatfield House. I also had the distinction of being canned on three occasions by VJ; the first for throwing a snowball at Mr. Cromarty (History) but having the misfortune to hit Mr. Gray (Senior Master) instead; the second occasion, was when I dropped a book down the stairwell and accidentally hit Ms. Millbank on the head! The third, which I think, qualifies me for pre-TOAD consideration, was for sneaking over to Leverstock Green for a couple of pints of Cider during lunch break with Dave Saville!
I vaguely recall a couple of the names you mention. I had a younger brother, Stanley Byrch, who graduated in 1973 and went on to get his Masters from Bristol. He runs his own Software Engineering firm in Surrey. I live in Tampa, Florida where I am still very active running a Cable TV and Broadband company. Though both parents are deceased, I do get to the UK fairly often and was most recently there this past May. I still like Cider and Best Bitter! Again, thank you Ron. If you come across any information on the following, let me know:- David Saville, Robert Plastow, Peter Fuller, Brenda Galvin, Carol Healing.

Bob Byrch

Hi Ron,
Yes, Dave Saville was the trumpet player. We had a Trad Jazz Band called the "Mahogany Hall Stompers" (I played the Banjo). We played the North London Jazz Club circuit, until I went into the Army. I heard that Dave led the John Dickinson Brass Band to the Albert Hall a few times and had a jazz band that played in Hemel for some years. Colin Tribe was also in our band (BBC Third Orchestra) and Peter Fuller played piano. Great times......lots of free beers!


06 November, 2004         © Ron Moss