Patrick Nobes

(teacher at KEGS 1959-1964) writing in 2019

Those of you who knew me between 1959 and 1964 will guess that I am am fairly ancient now, as you yourselves will have grown a little older. If I can remain with you for another month, I shall be 86 on St Patrick’s Day, which will answer the question many of you asked yourself: “How on earth did he come to be called after a saint?” After retiring from nearly 20 years of headmastering in 1988, I lived in Salisbury for many years, guiding in the cathedral and teaching in various prep schools needing emergency help. (I am pleased to say that I have now been retired for longer than I worked. Keep paying your taxes, or my pension will disappear.) I moved to Postwick, a tiny village on the outskirts of Norwich, five years ago, so that I could be near my middle son and his family. He and his wife are both lecturers at UEA. I play a small part in helping with their two children of 9 and 10. These grandchildren don’t treat me with the respect that most of you were kind enough to show me, and which, of course, I thoroughly deserve. In spite of this I am quite fond of them.

I do some writing, but the immortal verse flows from my pen with increasing difficulty. I keep in close touch with my old Oxford college, and am President of the Old Priceans’ Society – the equivalent of the Old Burians’ – for my own old school, Price’s School, founded in 1721 in Fareham, Hants, but reorganized out of existence in the 80s. Of course, the school lost people in both wars and some after – Falklands etc. I persuaded Fareham Borough Council to allow us to organize the reading of all the 1100 names of those from the town who fell from 1914 to the present day. I gathered a team of OPs, and we read the names before the parade and service at the cenotaph in the main street. People came from about 9.45 to hear the names being read. Other towns have followed suit.

I’m a churchwarden for the Yare Valley Churches. I take an hour to do a ten-minute job, but am still fairly lucid. I cannot grumble about my health, which is good, but that, of course, is due to the purity of the life I have led, free from alcohol or any other wickedness.

I came back to Bury as often as possible over the years to spend a few day with Peter and Eve Smeltzer. We had shared cricket, pints, laughs and G & S for many years, the first of these, and school journeys, cementing my friendship with Peter from the very start. I miss him sadly, but stay in touch with his elder daughter. Of the staff who were at KEGS in 1959 nobody, so far as I know, remains, ‘though some with whom I overlapped towards the end (e.g., Jim Lang, with whom I am in touch) are still happily with us. Dear Pat Dart was the first to go, and the procession has followed him, some to greater things, some to their just deserts.