Burnley Grammar School

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Burnley Grammar School
Burnley Grammar School
Year: 1959
Views: 1,373,202
Item #: 1607
There's pleny of room in the modern-styled gymnasium for muscle developing, where the boys are supervised by Mr. R. Parry, the physical education instruction.
Source: Lancashire Life Magazine, December 1959

Comment by: Lance on 20th February 2024 at 23:18

It's been a while since I checked the place out. There are some really good comments coming through at the moment. Love the new IP system.

Mickey Grant - '1. We'd have been in our 20s, and most of us had chosen to go shirtless in the sun - but the shirtless ones include me (skinny, pale, pectus), my friend who was chubby and very hairy. The two who were arguably best looking and had the better physiques stayed shirted.'


Isn't it so, Mickey. It was the same with me, the body was averagely okay but I just liked to keep a shirt on it, that was how I felt best. PE prevented me from doing that too many times though and I was always self conscious being made to. But I remember at least two chubby boys in my PE group and one who was definitely far too big for his age and very chubby but he didn't give a toss about it. That's the irony I suppose. If he didn't care how he looked that's why he might have ended up overweight so young.

I also liked the post by Mark Twyford as well. Despite my own personal feelings on the shirtless issue in PE and my own feelings how I felt when like that I would never have wanted to be the only one in PE wearing a top so it comes as no surprise to read that story how it ended up.

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Comment by: Mr Wendell on 20th February 2024 at 22:02

The head teacher that 'A Yorkshire Dad' works under is going in completely the opposite direction to modern thinking isn't he. It's not so much that he wants some PE to be done with the chest bare in summer but that he thinks it the answer to his problem as he sees it - heat exhaustion, if what our friend here is correct in saying.

The more common consensus nowadays is to cover up in summer, mostly down to protecting the skin in too much sunlight if outside. Does the recent rule change apply to either a summer class in or out regards the heat, or both?

I agree with the person who told you to speak more about this with your head who made the decision. His reason is slightly misguided. don't others actually realise this and have have you spoken like you have on this forum to anyone you work with at all? By all means give the instruction but do it for the right reason.

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Comment by: Ethan on 20th February 2024 at 21:30

There were no religious differences in our treatment at school which was quite diverse at one stage with multi faith inclusion, yet everyone when it came to PE was expected to take part in the same way as each other, when asked not to wear a top we all did that and when told to shower we all did that too, as I explained just a few days ago. Whilst I mentioned the holocaust a few days ago due to my own Jewish heritage, on a more upbeat note, and the naturist comment prompted me into saying this, despite all our diversities at school and where we came from and our own faiths, when you strip down, either semi-naked in the lesson without the tops and especially when you go naked with others, all the differences evaporate and you are made to understand that we are really all just the same underneath (foreskin excluded in my case) even if we do have various skin shades and body sizes. I can truthfully say that apart from facing some childish taunting over why my penis looked different to the others I never faced any other kind of physical comments, noticed many or even had any religious hatred towards me or saw anyone else receive it either. Apart from my clear difference to the others and their ignorance at that age, nobody cared about all the other differences. It seems to be when we grow up into adults that we do.

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Comment by: Bill on 20th February 2024 at 20:49

Combining the two points of Mickey and Narada, on the body shape and also religious angle, the noticeable thing about what I saw on my flower delivering in Dunstable the other day when I came across the running boys from the school I named in that area was that it was only the white ones running bare chested and there were about, I think three or four non white runners in the smaller shirted group. I don't know what that proves or means, if anything and it might just have been a coincidence and I'm reading something into nothing.

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Comment by: Jeff on 20th February 2024 at 17:56

About this time last week I wrote the following in brackets on here.

(But someone has already said it, and I'd like to add, that we must do our best to avoid making this thread an obsessed discussion focusing too much on abusive practices as we now see them, and these things no longer happen as policy, that's a good thing everyone will agree I hope.

Just a quick clarification though Alan on this shirtless/showering thing, do you consider that to be a form of abuse if asked to do in school nowadays? Because I most certainly do not, but you give the impression to me that you do think so.)



I think you answered my questions fairly clearly, but I would suggest that you retire your abusive teacher Mr Roberts from now on and think about what I said in my first part, and even more so that teacher called Quinlan who you have mentioned a few times now from media articles.

I think every single person on this forum understands that such undesirables exist among us, whatever our opinions are held regarding how school PE operated then, or operates now.

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Comment by: John on 20th February 2024 at 17:20

On Mickey's point with his mates, it's a bit like naturists, some of the more unappealing specimens often like getting stripped off and showing it all while the rest of us with something worth looking at keep under wraps!

On Will's comment, absolutely at one on that. The primary factor in heat exhaustion won't be caused by anyone wearing his thin short sleeved t-shirt in PE in the warm and either wearing it or being a skin won't make much impact either way, it's fluids and obviously how hard they are being pushed for the conditions and if it's appropriate for those conditions. You would not expect a PE teacher to send class out on a hot boiling summer day of say 30 degrees on a five mile run, and with nobody taking water before the off. It would not be wearing a t-shirt that causes any issues.

On you Alan, I wonder how well you are able to read the room sometimes.

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Comment by: Mickey Grant on 20th February 2024 at 09:24

Slightly side-stepping.

Recently going through some digital photos from the early 00s of myself and friends playing frisbee in the park, and remembering that lads weekend, I am struck by the following which didn't cross my mind at the time.

1. We'd have been in our 20s, and most of us had chosen to go shirtless in the sun - but the shirtless ones include me (skinny, pale, pectus), my friend who was chubby and very hairy. The two who were arguably best looking and had the better physiques stayed shirted.

2. Most of us bedded down in sleeping bags in one large living room. Yet I know I would have worn my t shirt and boxers to sleep in, yet remember the non-shirtless frisbee players going shirtless. Most were, I think.

It isn't exactly scientific but I suppose it shows reasons for not wanting to go shirtless can be context dependant, and not consistent.

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Comment by: Narada on 20th February 2024 at 04:02

The man who says muslim boys are forbidden from removing clothing is incorrect. Like everyone else my ethnicity was not considered at school. I was treated the same as everyone else, I played a lot of basketball without my shirt on, and was expected to take a shower when finished mixed in with the rest. I did not complain about this, my family did not. The argument the man made about some schools in the north of England I think is false and misleading. Special favours were not given to us.

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Comment by: Alan on 20th February 2024 at 04:00

Comment by Gary on 19th February at 18.21

Gary, Clearly Mr Twyford was a very different teacher to our Mr Roberts, and a certain Mr Quinlan. The difference between those two is that Quinlan got caught and Roberts didn't:

https://www.google.com/search?q=michael+quinlan+royal+liberty+school+court+appearance&rlz=1CAFORO_enGB1085GB1085&oq=michael+quinlan+royal+liberty+school+court+appearance&gs_lcrp=EgZjaHJvbWUyBggAEEUYOTIHCAEQIRigATIHCAIQIRigAdIBCTIwMzk5ajBqNKgCALACAA&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8#ip=1

What made the Quinlan case more horrific is that two more of his colleagues were found to be at fault for the same offences, in the same school - an all boys school, which was the reason I was questioning the need or desirability of single sex schools the other day.. I will not elaborate, except to say here is the Google page, if you want to read it. The evidence from his own mouth in the second Quinlan trial is quite appalling. Let's just say I wouldn't have liked to have been a blonde lad in his class.

I have never suggested that ALL teachers are cut from the same cloth, just that while we applaud Mr Twyford and Mr Hind we should never forget that there were - and are - unfortunately, some very bad ones. In the same way that while most policemen are a credit to their profession, however, far too many men entered that profession for the wrong reasons. They should, in a modern society, have been weeded out at the selection process.

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Comment by: Will on 19th February 2024 at 23:23

Yorkshire Dad.

Take shirts off in PE in summer to avoid heat exhaustion. That would not be caused by shirt wearing. More likely dehydration and lack of fluids. Provide water instead. Going bare chested won't be that effective. I agree with you, it's an odd one that.

I went to a school that did all PE without shirts (inside) in the mid eighties.

I'm pleased you came back to say more there. Would you ever consider asking the pupils about their thoughts about it? If you're concerned, and you clearly are, then you should, don't take silence for indifference from the pupils.

Nothing wrong with shirtless PE of course. Just allow them a choice if they feel too hot, and make sure they drink water. Tell that to the head.

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Comment by: Marcus on 19th February 2024 at 23:11

So Archie has changed his tune? A teacher there then. A result. I wonder how many more Archie's are out there?

I thought that Mark sounded lovely. I had some really nice men take me for PE during that decade you taught Mark, but I always thought a few of them felt they had to play up to the typical PE teacher stereotype. I had one man who admitted to our whole class he'd happily let us all out the door without showering last lesson of the day but couldn't risk getting found out doing so by the headmaster we had at the time because it could affect his career!!!!

I had another PE teacher who was actually German who was on a one year exchange to our school with one of our own from this country. He was worse than any of the English PE teachers we had, went the full scale bare chest route for his lessons in PE, inside gym as well as a lot outside through early summer and was literally a madman when it came to enforcing us going into the showers in his German accent. We used to mimic him mercilessly both behind his back and sometimes to his face and he had no sense of humour whatsoever about it.

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Comment by: Mike on 19th February 2024 at 18:55

What inspirational decency from Mark Twyford.

I think you handled that boy remarkably well and what an outcome to get him to finally approach you and change his mind. I suspect you thought he might end up doing this eventually.

I detect a far more positive attitude generally in recent reads and a new found respect. Good!

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Comment by: Gary on 19th February 2024 at 18:21

I'll add my own praise for what I saw written here by Mark Twyford last night which I think was so nicely said. We have heard too much about "Roberts" and not enough about the decency many of our teachers had, as Mark said, in some quite difficult circumstances on occasion.

Mark mentioned how he dealt with football for instance, as well as the difficulties, and that nails it. You have a random collection of about 30 boys come together into a class, of all kinds of abilities, interests, personalities, the confident, the unconfident, the shy and the cocky and with that one big mix a man is expected to deal with them all in the same way, do much the same thing with them all, and is it any wonder that's harder then it seems. When you look at it like that it begins to seem an almost impossible task to keep everyone happy with their lot.

If that proves to have been your one and only post Mark then it was a cracking good one, and I though Nathan had some good ones too, nice to see you acknowledge that by the way Nathan.

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Comment by: David on 19th February 2024 at 16:48

A Yorkshiredad, I think quite a few people have asked for a follow up so nice to see you come along with one again.

This line is one I will take a pick at with you, if this was offered as an actual explanation and I'm sure other actual teachers on here might wish to comment who know more than me, but serious heat exhaustion as you describe it is not going to be caused by anyone wearing a single layer t-shirt on a hot summer's day in a PE class I feel sure that it would take a lot more than that to cause such a reaction.

A Yorkshiredad; 'It seems that just before my arrival at this school a couple of boys did suffer the effects of serious heat exhaustion, (head aches, nausea, lethargy), while in PE so the change in kit is designed to pre-empt this happening again'

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Comment by: A Yorkshiredad on 19th February 2024 at 14:19

Sorry Archie, I have popped back onto the site a couple of times since posting but I got the impression there was not much interest in my post. If you have questions please ask them again.

The change in summer indoor kit did seem very strange at first but I have to say that it soon became normal. No boys complained openly and neither did any parent, which is why I was so interested when I first found this site and read peoples own testimonies.

My own son is eight now and at this school so next year it will apply to him. My wife and I feel the school policy is out of tune with todays norms but as long as my son shows no concern we wont either. I guess the other parents will be the same. Seeing all the boys are conditioned to obey teachers instructions at school this probably explains their quiet acceptance of the situation.

It seems that just before my arrival at this school a couple of boys did suffer the effects of serious heat exhaustion, (head aches, nausea, lethargy), while in PE so the change in kit is designed to pre-empt this happening again. If the children became ill at school the parents would have had to be informed and you can easily understand the school would not want that to happen again. As there was no reoccurrence of heat exhaustion last year you could say the policy worked.

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Comment by: TimH on 19th February 2024 at 06:53

Like others, may I offer my Thanks to Mark Twyford for his recent posting.

TH

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Comment by: Alan on 19th February 2024 at 04:13

Another interesting set of comments. I would just take issue with oen of them:

Comment by: Stuart B on 18th February 2024 at 16:06

"The term "Body Shaming" is a modern day buzzword, a kind of soundbite.

The simple truth is that this "body shaming" if we must now use that term was rampant in school PE lessons under some men, not all of course.

If you've got a 15 stone 14 year old then it's quite fair to draw attention to such an unhealthy body weight and shape I think. I think there are things that can be said about the body that are fair, such as the example I give. To simply ignore it would be negligent I'd suggest to you."

Yes Stuart it is a modern expression, and I tend not to use them ("calling so-and so out" is my bete noir) but in the cases Mark Maynard and myself mentioned, where a teacher has either joined in with pejorative comments, started or continued it, what else can you call it?.

I have to say I never remember an obese lad in our class, and I suspect in some cases when this occurs it is a glandular problem rather than gluttony, and while I agree with you if a situation is dangerous to health it should be remarked upon - but HOW you do it is the question. If I were confronted with that sort of problem, I would contact the parent(s). I don't think showing the lad up in front of his class is the right way to go about things.

Don''t think I am having a go at you, Stuart, but there seems to be two types of PE teacher who give trouble - those who think they are army PT instructors and want to turn out army fodder rather than well rounded individuals, and those who regard themselves as a bit of an entertainer or showman, and regard their classes as a studio audience to laugh at their wit. Such as it is.

The question remains - it was hinted at by somebody other than myself, why do PE teachers think they are a special case?. You couldn't get through your school years without learning to read and write, but leaping over objects, climbing ropes and jumping to attention at the blast of a whistle is fairly unimportant, unless you want a career in sport, which is usually short-lived anyway. Most professional sportsmen are retired by the time they are 40.

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Comment by: Archie Deacon on 19th February 2024 at 02:10

Well isn't it good to see some common sense teachers putting in a bit of comment tonight.

There is very little I can disagree with regarding what Mark Twyford put in his post, and without knowing the full facts in his case I cannot comment satisfactorily on his own story about the boy and whether we would have acted the same or not. If I am to be completely frank I would have been unlikely to have followed that course. It just prolongs the problem which is best nipped in the bud quickly.

Although I hold slightly differing opinions nowadays I did not think anyone who was a boy in school should hold any fears while sharing with those the same as himself, all boys together, the same age, were expected to knuckle down and act like grown ups, empathy for the kinds of things that get talked about on here was in short supply.

Our school had its fair share of problem boys, no more or less than anywhere else and I can confirm the same as Mark Twyford that there were a small minority who would wish not to take a shirtless lesson but I never saw notes about it. I think we might have had a handful of shower exemption requests, possibly by letter to the head that got passed along. The final decision would have been the head of PE on that but there was little chance of success there. We were not going to start creating one rule for some and another for the majority. Everyone was expected to do the same, showering or shirtless PE when needed. I had little sympathy for those who played about making a fuss about such things in their underhand ways at the time. But I've changed my tune nowadays.

There was some leeway over PE participation however. Such as flu recovery. If we had boys that had been off school for more than a week and had returned but were still feeling weakened by it there was an allowance to exempt PE for a further week, and that seemed fair and reasonable to me. But this did have to be accompanied by a note detailing the illness and if possible it helped if the family doctor could provide something too but wasn't essential, we took the parents word as proof enough. If we were in doubt about a note it got passed to the school admin to follow up and come back to us and confirm.

What a pity the Yorkshire Dad teacher has chosen not to respond to the multiple requests to do so surrounding his own question he raised about his head's request this summer for his PE classes. I would have liked to hear more.

Many people who disliked PE in their own childhood will have looked at what Bill wrote and found that to be a backward old school step, but actually I take the view that it is a far more forward looking and healthy option to allow that kind of PE if desired. I concur with the follow up takes on what is likely to have been occurring there.

Shirtless PE was always applied where I was in a completely non discriminatory way, everyone had to do it when told. I don't see that as anything unkind to ask of anyone in school, but unlike when I was in the thick of it myself I'd be more willing to listen than I, and most others once were.

For his era, I found the actions of Mark Twyford most enlightening and unusual compared to my own expectations and experience.

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Comment by: James F on 18th February 2024 at 23:53

From 13-18 I attended a mixed school which placed a big emphasis on PE/Games. Vests were preferred to t-shirts though both were on the kit list but t-shirts were never worn.
Indoors vests vs skins were preferred for team games and those picked to strip off were expected to do so very quickly and without fuss.
Gym/fitness were performed with all boys barechested, and expected to show sweat
Cross country and athletics were always performed barechested too. I did receive remedial PE sessions during my time which resulted in being taken out of class, changing into shorts/trainers and absolutely no vest and instructed to run around the rather large field until basically you couldn't run any further and regardless of the conditions. Yes I really do mean any weather.
Then you had the joy of catching up whatever was missed. Once a month our teachers also had each PE/Games class workout outside all boys barechested.Tough but worth every second.

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Comment by: Richard on 18th February 2024 at 23:18

Mark Twyford.

An absolutely stunningly good and ultimately positive post about a PE teacher from one himself.

The school I was at, Filton High, just before you were a teacher, did PE all the time in gym like you wrote. I don't actually remember anyone actually wanting to escape being bare chested like that so openly and I doubt they would have been allowed actually but it;s possible I suppose if a parent is pushy enough about it.

A reminder of my school gym from Flickr, catch the rest of what I wrote on 6th February, not my actual class but the gym the year before I got there, but boys just like me all the same.

I could not imagine just one boy in my PE gym wanting to stand out alone against the rest of us like that.

It does not surprise me that boy changed his mind within only a few months and came asking you that when he didn't. That's the power of peer pressure for you and a feeling of wanting to belong that even overode a boy with such a deep sense of shyness about his appearance that his mum made school contact about it. Ultimately the belonging and wanting to bond with his mates won out and did him a great favour by the sound of it, with the help of a decent bunch of teachers along the way to help him through. Fabulous!

https://www.flickr.com/people/134490316@N07

https://www.flickr.com/photos/134490316@N07/

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Comment by: Tony on 18th February 2024 at 23:03

Very nice post Mark. I do hope that it's accepted for what it is and not confronted with too much negativity from anyone.

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Comment by: John on 18th February 2024 at 22:57

Comment - Mark Twyford on 18th February 2024 at 18:36

The comment highlighted above was such an interesting one.

I was also one of those boys in school who ended up having to learn the hard way and it working out, thinking I could easily skip PE and not do so or get given something else to do simply by not bringing my PE kit at an age similar to the boy you wrote about. In my case I was simply stripped to my pants and sent out to do the class. One time only for me.

I was feeling almost physically sick with nerves at one point and terrible but I put myself in that situation and knew not to do so again. The teacher called my bluff, and to think I thought I was going to outsmart a teacher at that age, my inner confidence about that contrasted greatly with my lack of confidence when I was down to my pants for an hour. I was thin and didn't want to be at that age at all.

Coming into secondary schools used to come as a big shock to some of us but we soon grow up and many of us don't stay so thin either, have you seen the old pictures of the late Steve Wright, actually a quite obese man nowadays but incredibly thin on TV when he was in his twenties, he must have been absolutely skeletal at school wherever he went but ended up dying of obesity in all probability.

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Comment by: Russ on 18th February 2024 at 22:35

Mark Twyford - What a great sounding PE teacher and a really great anecdote. Come back anytime.

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Comment by: Nathan Hind on 18th February 2024 at 22:29

Comment by: Mark Twyford on 18th February 2024 at 18:36


Mr Mark Twyford I applaud that comment and hold you in the highest regard for it and yet you relate it to a period forty years ago as well, partly before I was even born. I'm so pleased you have written that here. It ought to be beyond criticism.

I had not planned a return anytime soon but that made me do it.

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Comment by: Mark Twyford on 18th February 2024 at 18:36

I will keep this as a one time post only if you don't mind.

I taught physical education lessons for a period of 12 years between the age of 30 and 42, from 1979 until 1991.

An actual class within the confines of the school gymnasium or the sports hall would be as many have described for the time regards dress requirements, so I won't go into that any further.

During the dates above I worked in what I can describe as two perfectly normal state run comprehensive and secondary schools among a PE roster with a regular collection of six to eight other male colleagues.

The one thing that would irritate me or anyone else would be that pupil who was unwilling to participate properly and would show this clearly. This could be with a lack of trying, pretending to forget the PE kit, feigning illness or complete truancy.

At times a physical education class could be quite a task to control effectively.

I used to be quite frustrated myself by over sensitive boys at times. Not because I didn't care about them but because they could often be their own worst enemy. Many such boys had nothing at all to be concerned about and I'd often say so on written reports back home. That sensitivity could relate to participation in certain activity, or how they appeared.

I always knew that not all boys like football for example. But it was a compulsory part of the remit at the time to do some. With those who I knew lacked the skill or were mostly uninterested I would take them aside and give them a smaller 5 a side with each other and leave them to it, and it worked. The more football inclined ones and me then continued nearby on the bigger pitch. It worked well.

That's just one example.

In the school gymnasium that period always involved an element of what became known as the skins against shirts team participation. In my case the fairest way I used to decide this was to ask the pupils to separate into two equal groups of their own choice, or my choice. I would then pull out a shiny 50p piece from my pocket and say to one group if it's heads you are shirts and the other if it was tails they would be the skins, a bare chest appearance. The coin would be flipped high into the air and allowed to fall on the ground for all to see clearly. Decision made quickly and fairly. Once made there was no discussion, I would expect the choice to be carried out and one group to slip off their vests so we could get on. This took only a few seconds.

Everyone does things slightly differently, that was my way.

I was quite well aware that there are some who are not keen on such things but have never thought that complete avoidance is the answer.

I will now explain a real life example of why this is. One day I received a letter from a parent, the mum of a child who was about 12 years old and not long at the school. He had been unhappy and I was asked to allow him not to take his shirt off like that in such classes. This I knew could prove troublesome for the young man in question, so with permission I telephoned the lady during school hours while her boy was still at school. Having listened and then consulted with others I and they agreed to the request.

I distinctly remember making it clear to the mum over the phone that some of our classes often involved all the boys removing their vests in PE, and I didn't want the child to become a figure of fun. But we agreed to the request all the same. He was sensitive and extremely unconfident for no reason he needed to be, I still remember his name.

Eventually we came to a PE lesson in our sports hall that I knew might prove a problem, where the whole class would be doing the fortnightly fitness session, timed and recorded, traditionally done in a bare chest look and this young man would stand out, which he did of course. There was some questioning by others about this but I offered up a quick reason for him and it was left alone, a one off was not the problem, it was the continuation of this boy being the sole child in class who would not remove a top or be asked to that began to develop problems I could see.

Within three months he realised his sensitivity was counter productive and came up to me and told me he had decided to change his mind. At the first PE lesson when he returned to being like the others when asked, there was a cheer and applause, mostly genuine I thought, and I put my arm around his shoulders for encouragement as a well done.

I think he moved on quickly and gained in confidence. I remember giving this young man some very good marks actually. That's what is so frustrating about insensitive and overly shy ones, they are quite often not the ones who have any need to be at all.

I can only offer this in the spirit of encouragement.

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Comment by: Stuart B on 18th February 2024 at 16:06

The term "Body Shaming" is a modern day buzzword, a kind of soundbite.

The simple truth is that this "body shaming" if we must now use that term was rampant in school PE lessons under some men, not all of course.

If you've got a 15 stone 14 year old then it's quite fair to draw attention to such an unhealthy body weight and shape I think. I think there are things that can be said about the body that are fair, such as the example I give. To simply ignore it would be negligent I'd suggest to you.

When it comes to the other extreme, that's less clear cut. Mostly it's boys that get spoken of on here, and they don't tend to get anorexic like young women do. But if that looked to be the case and someone was becoming exceptionally thin with bones appearing more than they should I think it would also be fair to raise, in an appropriate manner, not in front of a class let's just say. That would be unfair.

But just to make reference to normal kinds of thin or a bit overweight boys for the sake of it is something that I don't think is the job of anyone, and any PE teacher who knows his stuff knows about growing bodies and that there are three main body types we get as adults and we get what we are given to a certain extent and have to work within that.

Ectomorph - This is when the body is lean and slender and tends to have less body fat and muscle.

Endomorph - This is when the body has more stored fat, lots of muscle, and gains weight easily.

Mesomorph - This is when the body is athletic and strong.

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Comment by: Gary on 18th February 2024 at 14:20

<<It would be nice to think the days of ordering people about are over - but I doubt it. Even in recent times Nathan told us that he still decides to have "shirtless lessons" in his gym. To be entirely fair to him, this might be an edict from one of his superiors, but if I were a head teacher my question would be this: If it is OK to wear a shirt on Monday, why not on Tuesday as well?>> says Alan here early today.



But it's not about what day of the week it is, is it, it's about what they were doing wasn't it, that was the factor in his decision I thought.

When you posted that Grange Hill clip that included the boys in the semi circle all in their full whites, that lesson was more or less how I remember many of mine, except we were not in anything like the whites, we all had to turn up like a lot of Benny Green's instead, in the bare basics as I tend to think of it.

Some teachers, mostly past ones, just seemed to be the kind to go with that I suppose, although in my case at secondary school my memory is gyms filled with shirtless and bare footed boys diving about, up and down things and grabbing onto each other a lot.

At least we knew where we stood, whether it was liked or not. A teacher who kept changing on a whim what was wanted would have driven me crazy, if I was lugging PE kit into school and then not using it.

When I got older (about 15) there was one PE teacher we had who suddenly decided the shower rules that had always been the thing we always had to do were relaxed, just like that, so I got annoyed I was bringing a towel in my bag and not needing it. The trouble was it was only this one man that did this and any other teacher we had made very sure we went into those showers like we always expected after PE. But you didn't always know for sure which teacher was taking you on any given day, it could have been any one of about four.

I had the more relaxed teacher for a string of gym classes (but we were still shirtless) and stopped bringing the towel on those days anymore as he was letting us off showers, most didn't shower but a couple continued to do so anyway. But then I got caught out without a towel when we went back to another teacher for gym without warning and back it was to all in the showers no excuses and had to explain why I didn't have a towel on me. At the time I thought I gave a good reason but it was made clear to me that I brought one any day I had PE stuck on the timetable. Rules of course.

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Comment by: Alan on 18th February 2024 at 04:13

Comment by: Mark Maynard on 17th February 2024 at 23:36


If it is any consolation your physique at 15 was a lot better than mine, Mark.



"The worst thing I ever did in PE was a group of us being made to decide who had the puniest body because at the time there was something of a joke on TV called Mr Puniverse and it encouraged one of my teachers to give it a go in the gym at one stage when I must have been closing in on 16. This so called light entertainment had an effect on me as I thought I looked too similar to those I saw on TV even though I was quite a few years younger and still just about at school. I remember disbelieving that anyone would want to go on TV and open themselves up to ridicule in front of millions like that ... It would not happen today. But I suppose nobody made them go on and do it. Some people used to do anything to get on TV. Some people still do."

I remember writing on here a few years ago that I was astonished that candidates who wanted to become teachers had to undergo a medical,examination (to see if they were fit enough to write on a whiteboard with ink markers?) - somebody I knew was contemplating becoming a teacher. I believe he changed his mind and went into something else. I suggested at the time it would be more pertinent if they had to undergo a mental examination instead., and your teacher seems a prime example of the need for it. How could anybody encourage what we would now call body shaming to such an insensitive degree. I have mentioned previously how much Roberts enjoyed picking up on the "TinRibs" nickname for me and "Frankenstein" for my mate Mark. He, and your teacher, should have been above such name calling, and says far more about them, and the state of their minds than it did about the pupils.

As for the last ;part of your message, people would still do anything to appear on TV, however much ridicule they heap upon themselves - even so-called celebrities - I have never watched it but there is a BBC show forever trailed on BBC1 where a grinning idiot of a comedian Michael McIntyre(?) has contestants rolling around in what looks like massive wheelchairs and Channel 4 excel themselves with things like "Naked Attraction", where people actually appear stark b*llock naked looking for sex. Again I have never watched it, but there are numerous articles in the press, and that is before we get to the programmes where money can be won. I can never understand why people want to be on TV of any sort. I suppose I Am A Celebrity is the nadir of such trash TV where a load of has-beens and never-weres will descend to extraordinary levels of vulgarity to try to restart dead careers. Nigel Farage recently, God help us.

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Comment by: Mark Maynard on 17th February 2024 at 23:36

For anyone wondering about my own build following my comment previously I think I was about 7 stone and 5 foot 7 inches at 15 year old. I was definitely thin but no more so than so many others.

The worst thing I ever did in PE was a group of us being made to decide who had the puniest body because at the time there was something of a joke on TV called Mr Puniverse and it encouraged one of my teachers to give it a go in the gym at one stage when I must have been closing in on 16. This so called light entertainment had an effect on me as I thought I looked too similar to those I saw on TV even though I was quite a few years younger and still just about at school. I remember disbelieving that anyone would want to go on TV and open themselves up to ridicule in front of millions like that in the days of mass audiences and four channels, showing off such wimpy bodies, thin arms and bony thin chests. It would not happen today. But I suppose nobody made them go on and do it. Some people used to do anything to get on TV. Some people still do.

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Comment by: Bill on 17th February 2024 at 23:16

Russ - "I think what Bill has seen isn't comparable with others who have spoken of their pasts in normal school PE lessons, such as cross countries stripped down. I think in the case mentioned it seems like a sports focused school in some way where obviously older ones are making decisions for themselves rather than being imposed which accounts for what you saw and the answer the nearby resident gave you, and it was such a very warm February day yesterday I don't blame them. It sounds like a place with a very relaxed and healthy attitude, but not as I say worth comparing to your average unfit 14 year old being sent out to run a few miles in the cold in 1975 perhaps."


I think you are probably right there Russ. I would not expect to see that very much in this day and age but having done so I do not believe they would be forced into running like that against their wishes like so many other boys did in the past times (me included) when they really were given no say in the matter, and I suppose for many boys it is seen as quite a personal decision to make about themselves and some clearly felt violated when that decision was taken out of their own hands and made for them. I didn't but obviously many did. What I've seen I found to be surprising, but also rather refreshing and interesting to observe, but nothing like old times, they all looked remarkably comfortable in their skins to me from my vantage point stuck on the roadside looking across.

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