By ALAN FRAME
Clearly not having any work to do I did what all right thinking chaps do after lunch – I went straight to the Drone. Always guaranteed to enliven even the dullest day.
The section on the Lopes Cup and the memory of the fire extinguisher episode with Bertie brought back an episode which even to this day causes a shiver. I refer to the Great Extinguisher Confession and Bertie, were he alive (and oh that he were) would recall it also.
Bertie and I were briefly at school together in Cambridge before I returned to the family estates in Ireland.
Bertie was a year ahead of me but I obviously spotted a chum-in-the-making. Sadly I also had a pal in my year, well known to young Brooks (and the canes of various masters), called Seamus O’Connell. Seamus, I seem to remember, was the son an eminent prof at the university who didn’t much take to his boy’s wilder ways. O‘Connell Minor was always in trouble and his most recent crime involved nobbling the pommel horse and removing the bars that went up the walls in the gym (thus rendering PE a bit of a doddle). He had been caught and duly punished. He was also warned that the next offence would lead to his immediate sacking.
So it came to pass (with the certainty of Bingo winning the Lopes) that O’Connell went on a new crime spree. He took the extinguisher off a wall and sprayed its contents on the newly-laid parquet flooring of the Headmaster’s Hall). As I happened to be leaving the school to be educated (I use the word loosely to say the least) in Ireland Seamus prevailed on me to take the blame. What was a chap to do? Suffice it to say that the last thing I wrote was to the fearsome Dr Eagling which was admirably to the point: ‘I did it Sir. A.S.Frame, Remove WB' (not a crossword clue, I was in William Barton’s Remove Form).
Unfortunately what I didn’t know was that the foam in the extinguisher was of such acidity that the parquet lifted and had to be replaced, resulting in a very large bill (which a lifetime of pocket money could not begin to settle) and which my parents were expected to pay.
There was only one thing for it, after the beating from my father, and that was to confess. I recall Bertie telling me years later that the mad Seamus was duly expelled but he went on to play a big part in the lives of two other Old Cantabs (as old boys of Cambridgeshire High School were known), namely Roger (Syd) Barrett, pictured, and Roger Waters who went on to be the nucleus of Pink Floyd. O’Connell worked with them as a designer and general factotum well into their careers.
As for Bertie, he might be comparing notes right now with Syd…