Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team

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Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team
Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team
Year: 1935
Views: 218,952
Item #: 1741
Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team of Atherton, Greater Manchester.
Source: G. Smith.

Comment by: Hugh on 16th May 2020 at 11:01

Comments by Hugh on 14th April 2020

I was a boarding school boy in the 1960s and early 70s like many here, I started at seven in prep school and went all the way to eighteen and had many of the same experiences already described.

We slept in open dormitories, showered in communal showers both in the dormitory and sports centre, we not allowed underpants for sport of any kind and we swam naked in the pool though there were never outsiders present. Even on sports day there were no parents there mostly because school was for most of us a long way from home and not all parents were able to make the journey and often did not have a car.

I went on to study medicine and was for a time a navy doc so I can shed light on the posts of Philip and James if anyone is interested.

In the process of joining the navy as an undergraduate I experienced exactly the same sort of medical Philip and James describe and during my time in the navy carried out very many similar ones. It was a laid down procedure that we followed, I believe common to the armed services both at home and overseas and certainly while I spent some time with the RAN methods were no different.

So yes, we examined in groups of usually thirty and less on occasion if there were not thirty candidates but there were never less than twenty.

The main rationale for the method was speed. If I was seated in an examination room and men came in one at a time fully dressed then undressed and were examined and then dressed again before leaving I might have been able to examine fifteen to twenty a day. If they were lined up naked and waiting then I could examine thirty an hour so it was a much better use of my time to work in the way laid down.

I think it's true to say that because of conditioning at school most men were reasonably comfortable to be naked in a group and I was rarely aware of anyone who was not. In any event the orderlies would have ensured they were stripped naked and once naked would have checked temperatures, weights, heights, blood pressures and sight before I entered the room.

Examining body parts was also more efficient in terms of time than examining the whole candidate one at a time. Bearing in mind that you were examining what were in the main healthy young men you didn't really expect to find much wrong and it was rare that you did.

If you are working along a line first looking in sixty ears then thirty mouths followed by listening to thirty heart beats and sixty lungs you will soon see or hear even the slightest abnormality and the upper body really is about looking and listening. Only as you move below the waist does touch matter more so you feel for hernias then healthy testicles and finally probe for any internal rectal abnormality and again for instance to focus on the rectal exam you will soon feel anything abnormal as you probe thirty rectums in rapid succession even though you can of course see nothing but touch is everything.

There was also an element as has been pointed out about desensitising men during the examination. There's certainly a power dynamic when you are fully clothed and the man in front of you is naked and you are palpating his testicles and even more so when he's bending over for a rectal exam even if he is expecting it and much more so when he isn't but the handed down policy was not to explain but to examine.


Comments by Hugh on 16th April 2020

William, thank you for your reply.

You ask about young men and sensitivity.

After my time in the navy which I thoroughly enjoyed latterly as a ship's surgeon I moved to general practice which was differently demanding though still in the first line of practice which was not so different to being on a ship at sea. I am now retired though and have been for several years.

As you may well know far fewer men than women consult GPs and only do so when they have no other choice, at the time you would always take particular interest in a man with thin notes and be particularly thorough when he came to see you because you never knew what might be wrong.

In the nature of boys and young men you would see them mostly with childhood things and trauma injuries usually as a result of sport but then also sometimes for medical examinations.

Medical examinations presented in a few different ways.

First, some private schools required a pre-entry medical normally around the age of twelve or thirteen, this was most common at boarding schools.

Then you may recall a time when there were university grants that some local authorities required those seeking a grant to pass a medical exam before the grant would be paid, that has long died out but I had to have one myself before getting a university grant.

The next common group were men where pre-employment medicals were needed. That was a lot more common at one time than now and it died out because of disability discrimination, cost saving and the population being generally more healthy.

The last group was younger men taking out life insurance policies early in life and insurers used to insist on a medical before issuing the policy.

In all cases the appointment would be paid for privately and be for an hour in duration so it was plenty of time in comparison to the navy where I would examine thirty men in the same time.

I used to adopt the same approach to men's medicals in general practice as I had used in the navy and would have initial observations carried out by a practice nurse though the patient would remain fully clothed during that time.

For pre-boarding school and university medicals a lad would usually arrive with a parent, I would guess in over 90% of cases his father. As a practice we had a policy that if father was registered too we would offer him an examination too particularly if he had thin notes. Invariably they accepted.

Pre-employment and life insurance patients almost invariably came alone.

Once in the room I would explain what was to happen and ask the patient to undress. Most school age lads did just that and stripped off, it was more often the ones in their early twenties who thought strip off meant take off your clothes but keep your underpants on. In my direct naval manner I always dealt with that by telling them to step out of their underpants and we could begin.

When it was a lad and dad I always offered them the choice of take a turn or be examined side by side and almost always they opted for side by side, sometimes one or the other appeared shy but mostly they were quite comfortable.

My experience was that if a man was naked from the start of the exam he was not awkward when it was time to check testicles, the gluteal cleft and rectum.

While it's perfectly possible to check testicles with underpants at the knees or ankles, the gluteal cleft and rectum really need underpants off simply because if a man opens his legs before bending over he will feel less on the rectal examination and resistance to the finger will be significantly reduced. (One of the reasons rectal exams are seen as uncomfortable is a current fad for having the patient lie on their side. In that position, legs together and buttocks as good as clenched you need far more pressure to both spread the buttocks and insert a finger than you do legs well apart and bending over).

So, some degree of awkwardness among those in their early twenties among younger men but not really significant.

The next group you see are generally aged 50+ when waterworks problems are starting to kick in. Often that is an enlarged prostate (perhaps many posting here have one!) and of course the checks for that are also underpants down perhaps for the first time in thirty years. Most men coming to talk about waterworks reasonably expect an examination of penis and testicles, few know how a prostate is examined and so a rectal exam comes as a surprise but having had one, most are not bothered about a further one in due course. Of all the groups, it's older men who are least bothered but perhaps that will change over time.
Comments by William on 15th April 2020

Hugh
That's very interesting and clear, thanks. Many contributors who were at boys' schools in the '60s and '70s have remarked on how many young men today avoid at all costs being seen naked in gym and swimming pool showers and changing rooms.
Do you know whether this sensitivity has become a problem for doctors when young men present themselves with something that requires them to remove their underpants?
Like you, we had no notion of privacy at school but there are some today, including on this website, who demand an extreme form of modesty for boys that may make them cripplingly shy about their bodies.
I just wonder whether someone of your background had come across this and whether in practice it caused difficulties.


Comments by Hugh on 19th April 2020

Matthew, thanks for your comment.

With dads and lads I always offered the choice of one then the other or side by side. The vast majority chose side by side which meant they were naked together and I don't remember a situation where the dad changed his mind once in the room. It was normal that dad would be in the room for his son anyway so it was really whether dad felt comfortable naked in front of his son and my memory is that almost all did. If they were not examined side by side then the boy would be examined first and then leave the room though that didn't happen very often.

William, thank you for your comment.

Over the years I came to believe that what one person regards as dignified another will not and may have a diametrically opposed view. My belief was that we should always carry out the most effective clinical examination for the patient we could while causing them the least discomfort. For a man once routine early years examinations are over the main reason for carrying out a rectal examination is to check the prostate. If a man is standing, bending over the prostate will be directly under your finger almost immediately and if that's the extent of the examination then he will barely feel anything and you only need to go in about five centimetres with little pressure if he is bending over. If he is lying on his side your hand will be immediately at the wrong angle, out by ninety degrees, the pressure needed to both spread the buttocks and pass the anal sphincter will be much greater and you will then need to twist your finger all of which will cause the patient significantly more discomfort.

There is also the matter of visual contact, a man lying on his side can see your face and you his. Many patients would prefer this not to be the case and if the man is bending over you can’t see each other. On both sides of the examination I prefer not to either see the patient’s face or the doctor’s face. I would add that outside of the military medicals, it’s normal to ask the man to either bend and lean his upper body on the examination couch or to bend over the back of a chair leaning his elbows on the seat so in either position he is steady and stable. I don’t see either of those positions as undignified.

The navy was a bit different; men were in a line all bending together and so to steady them it was normal that an orderly would move along the front of the line as you moved along the rear. With the men already bending, he would press down firmly on the shoulders of the man being examined steadying him, holding him in position and ensuring he was bending as far as he could so that you could move with speed and efficiency along the line.

Bearing in mind I had been examined myself in this manner on joining, I didn’t find it undignified either, it was what the navy did, you very quickly accepted it and got used to it. I think it’s still what happens to this day for men though women are examined individually.


Comments by Hugh on 26th April 2020

James - ex navy - thank you for your comment and question.

Yes, I was at Dartmouth both in training and later on the medical team when I was there for about a year. I also worked at Haslar and of course at sea though on a short service commission I didn't spend as much time at sea as other medics.

I think the medical exams were thorough, the way they were carried out lent themselves to that and as the doc you were totally focussed on what you were doing.

You ask about officer and rating exams. They were exactly the same, carried out in the same room - but of course never at the same time - and the procedure was identical in all regards. The examine don't explain philosophy held good for both groups. I guess the only difference was once you reached a degree of seniority you would have been examined by a suitably senior medic, probably in private but I was never that senior a medic.

Yes, for most lads and young men, the rectal exam was probably a first. For whatever reason the navy had an obsession with haemorrhoids possibly because they can be made worse by physical work and in any event they are uncomfortable which is why the rectal exam was a feature of every physical exam.

The advantage of the line up again was that doing thirty of the same exams one after the other allowed you to do them with speed but I recall being on the receiving end did make you gasp and in my case it made my eyes water. Wise to what was coming when my turn came in future I made sure my feet were well apart and I was bent as tightly as I could be just to optimise my physique for what I knew was coming.
29th April 2020
Josh H,

Before there was equalities legislation pre-employment medicals were pretty normal and in the public sector which is where I guess Eastern Gas was at the time you were first employed there?

The reasons were two fold.

The first was that companies public or private wanted to know they were employing someone who met physical fitness standards and was going to serve them well rather than be someone with chronic health problems who would spend a significant time off sick. When you remember how generous public sector sick pay is that in my opinion was reasonable.

The second was that you would at least in the public sector be enrolled in a pension scheme. While there was nothing available immediately in service death benefits were very generous and payable quite quickly after joining. Again they wanted to know you were not about to drop dead on them.

Even when I left the navy and moved to general practice I had to have a medical exam.

Larger companies like Eastern Gas probably had a doc come in once a week, often a GP on his free afternoon to do this work. Smaller companies wrote to the employee's GP asking them to do the examination. It was either way, pretty lucrative work and in our practice we had one contract with Thames Water and another with LEB. We also saw a number of patients every week who had been referred by a new, smaller employer.

Few companies specified exactly what they wanted other than to know the person was fit and healthy so I tended to examine men in the same way as I had in the navy because I was used to that and it was thorough. I didn't examine women because we had two female partners who did.

You will have had your testicles examined simply because it's part of the most basic examination of a man. FWIW I would never have had a female nurse present though she would have done the preliminaries but I would have checked you for haemorrhoids both outside and in which I was always taught was part of the basic exam.

Pre-employment medicals died off in the mid nineties because you were not allowed in almost all cases to discriminate against someone on the grounds of physical fitness, if they said they were fit to do the job you had to give them a chance. There are and always will be some exceptions to that though including jobs where the safety of others is paramount so airline pilots, bus drivers, lorry drivers, train drivers and so on still have to pass a medical and in the case of pilots it's every six months. The NHS still send all new staff for a medical before appointments are confirmed too but for office jobs as you describe you would now be spared the experience.
Matthew, you ask about circumcision, I’m retired but during my career I was a GP and also a doc in the Navy.
I think some doctors did indeed have a ‘thing’ about circumcision, when I moved to general practice I remember one of the senior partners was very adamant that every boy should be circumcised for ‘health and hygiene’ reasons. He was very old school and of course in times gone by it was a lot more fashionable. He recommended it to all parents and most took him up on it.

Those of us who were younger had I think a more balanced view. When doing a medical on a boy, I always wanted to know that the foreskin would retract easily and if it didn’t I would recommend circumcision but if it moved freely then I wouldn’t even suggest it. From memory I would say 20-25% if boys needing circumcision was fairly normal, 80% would be very high but then the examination is very subjective. You ask a boy to pull his foreskin back and you can only observe. If it didn’t move freely I always used to ask him to repeat and only on the second occasion would I recommend it.

Other doctors of course had different views and the slightest hesitation or failure of the skin to slide freely meant to them it needed to come off. What always did alarm me was how many lads had never been spoken to by their father about their foreskin and some in their mid teens had no idea that their foreskin should move.

As a doc what was unpleasant was seeing a lad in his twenties who had torn his foreskin or maybe was in significant pain having had penetrative sex for the first time and then having to tell him he needed to be circumcised before anything else. It is one of those things that’s better done earlier in life if it needs to be.

Comment by: Matthew on 14th May 2020 at 08:45

With regard to the reminiscences of medical examinations, a few seem to have resulted in circumcision being deemed necessry. It was noticeable in the case of Paul J's posting that almost the whole class was considered in need of it. Does it suggest that the particular doctor had a "thing" about circumcision?

Comment by: Paul J on 11th May 2020 at 13:08

I’ll report on my school medicals as it was a bit different to what has gone before.

I have a vague memory of one at primary school when I was about six, I remember my mother was there and being dressed only in my underpants. It was done by a female doctor but I don’t remember any more about it.

I remember when I went to boys grammar school during the first term (in 1967) a letter arrived about seeing a nurse and that an appointment with a doctor would follow later in the year. By then I was old enough and self-conscious enough to be horrified at the idea of my mother being there and my main purpose was to stop her being. She didn’t work so had plenty of time but somehow, I managed to persuade her not to come to either thing. I had three school medicals, one in the first year, one when I was fourteen and the last when I was in the upper sixth.

The MI Room as it was known was at the end of a dead-end corridor next door to the headmaster’s study. The only other room along there was his secretary’s office. We had to queue up in the corridor to see both the doctor and the nurse, being sent from class in groups of ten. We were warned that the headmaster would not tolerate noise while we were waiting.

To see the nurse we went in uniform. Lining up in the corridor the headmaster’s study door was open and as first years we were very quiet. She checked sight, hearing, height and weight.

It was during the spring term we were told we would see the doctor. Again we were sorted into groups of ten and this time told to report to the changing room with our white PE shorts. Once there one of the PE teachers ordered us to strip and put on our shorts. Underpants were not allowed for PE but there was some hesitancy and I remember him shouting that strip meant underpants off and he wanted to see a pair topping every pair of trousers on the clothes hooks and very quickly every pair of grey shorts was topped with a pair of white Ys.

Wearing our shorts and barefoot we were ordered to make our way and queue up outside the MI Room, it was about as far from the changing rooms as you could get and it was a cold day. Queuing up again the headmaster’s study door was open and this time there was a cane hanging on the handle. We kept very still and very quiet.

We were called one by one into the room where there was a male doctor. As soon as he was finished with one lad he shouted the name of the next one. Immediately on entering the room we were ordered to take our shorts off and stand by his desk. The lad ahead of you was putting his shorts back on and leaving. The doc asked lots of questions and then asked if you wanted to ask him anything. I did ask him about bad acne on my back and he told me I would grow out of it.

Then he stood up and looked in ears and mouth then he listened to my heart and then felt my testicles and told me to pull back my foreskin. My foreskin was too tight and a few weeks later I had to go to hospital to have it removed. I seem to remember he sent nearly all of us for that so it was nothing abnormal but I remember in the showers a few weeks later 80% of us had been cut. He then moved behind me and listened to my back, I later learned that he was listening to my lungs.

That was it, I was told to go and as I put my shorts back on the next lad was already taking his off.

At fourteen it was the same medical without a foreskin to pull back but while waiting there was some noise from our group, we were chattering. The headmaster appeared, asked who didn’t understand silence and looked round the group. At random he summoned three boys to ‘take a step through my study door’. I was one of the unfortunates and we each got four strokes of the cane. I’d had the cane a few times by then and it wasn’t the worst caning but four strokes still did sting and burn. I remember the marks only lasted about a week instead of the usual two so maybe he was lenient.

At eighteen I didn’t get the cane but we also had to bend over for an arse crack inspection, we had been warned it would happen so no surprise.

I wasn’t at all bothered by these medicals. Being naked in front of a doctor didn’t bother me at all, I was used to communal showers and being naked in the changing room, we also swam naked in the school pool.

I also had a few work medicals, they followed the same drill, some were more thorough when bending over included the probing finger but it doesn’t hurt and as you get older you get used to it for a prostate check.
For clarity, there was not and never could be any abuse in a school or for that matter any other medical exam and anyone who thinks otherwise needs help.

Comment by: Danny on 11th May 2020 at 11:41

One can't take Mr.Dando's posts seriously. I actually consider them as humour when I read them, if I read them at all since they are repetitive.
I find it a little on the humorous side when he suggests that boys should wear tops for swimming to cover their chests for modesty, or for boys to wear clothing covering them from neck to toes for PE.
The only explanation if he is really serious is that he could be a Muslim since only they as far as I know require such extreme modesty, including for males.
So I invite him to tell us what is his motivation or cause in his "PE modesty" crusade.

Comment by: Andy on 11th May 2020 at 11:20

It strikes me as very bizarre that on a site which is full of school boy reminiscences which are completely harmless that someone chooses to make posts showing that they have been trawling current websites in 2020 for school uniform policies.

To me this is the action of someone quite perverted, an interest at this level in school uniforms seems to me to be very unhealthy and the poster should seek help as a matter of urgency.

Let's get back to our harmless reminiscences

Comment by: TimH on 10th May 2020 at 19:31

Like, I suspect, many people, I read Mr Dando's posts with a degree of incredulity.
One school which he has commented on recently is Corbridge Middle School. Were it not for the present situation I would be stopping, this week, with friends in the Corbridge area (although I don't think their grandchildren go to that school). I think I know the area (and the people there) quite well.
So Mr Dando - in your 'crusade' - have you ever considered what parents might want? (Or, heaven forbid, have you ever asked them?)

Comment by: Sterling on 9th May 2020 at 23:57

Mr Dando I suggest you seek professional help and deal with issues which seem deeply held. And are quite troubling for you, obviously.

Comment by: Sarah on 9th May 2020 at 22:49

Mr Dando

"methinks thou dost protest too much"

after Hamlet, Act III, scene II (William Shakespeare)

Comment by: Tom B on 8th May 2020 at 22:50

Unusual comments I feel Mr Dando. The medical practices and punishments have stopped.

There is nothing outrageous about swimming trunks (your quote does not include the word “skimpy”) and [loose] shorts would drag in the water - not good for competitive swimming.

Spare underwear or swimwear under shorts for football, rugby and cross country seems sensible given things get sweaty and potentially muddy.

There is nothing at all wrong in showering, and I suspect that while showers are still available in school, students aren’t forced. That said, there is also nothing to be embarrassed about.

Comment by: Barry G on 8th May 2020 at 22:10

Mr Dando, cry away but please go and do it somewhere else and whatever else you do don't cry for me. I think I'm a well adjusted guy whereas you are sick.

Comment by: Mr Dando on 8th May 2020 at 20:52

It is time we ended all degrading treatment of school children in all educational institutions. When I read the experiences of Barry G I am distraught and reduced to tears. Back in the 1960's, 70's and 80's such perversion dreamt up by sexually dysfunctional PE teacher were all too common.

On this anniversary of VE day lest we forget!

http://www.meldrethhistory.org.uk/page_id__106.aspx

The swimming pool was delivered on 19th March 1965 and work started on its erection. The building of the pool was a collaborative effort. Both boys and girls had to swim naked aged 8 and 9 outside.

http://www.meldrethhistory.org.uk/page_id__116_img__1541.aspx

Even now at many schools boys are forced to wear skimpy trunks and not shorts, made to bring a towel for showering and forced to change into spare under pants which is not a requirement imposed on girls.

http://www.bb-hs.co.uk/uniform/

Girls Boys
Games shirt Games shirt
Black school PE shorts (not cycling shorts) Black school PE shorts (not cycling shorts)
Black football socks Black football socks
Football boots Football boots
Black badges PE polo shirt Black badges PE polo shirt
Training shoes Training shoes
Shin guards Shin guards
Black swimming costume Gum shield
Towel Black swimming trunks (not shorts)
Blythe Swim School Hat* Towel
Blythe Swim School hat*

A towel should be brought to all lessons as showering is necessary on occasions.

In swimming, anyone with a medical complaint e.g. epilepsy, asthma, heart condition must wear a differently coloured cap to the rest of the class. Minor medical conditions – WHITE. Major medical conditions – RED. Blythe Swim School hats of all colours are available for purchase from school.

Boys will need to bring swimming trunks or spare underpants to wear under shorts for all activities, both for personal hygiene and comfort.

Please after 75 years lets end man's inhumanity to man.

Comment by: Barry G on 4th May 2020 at 10:32

School medical at a boys secondary modern.

I had two medicals, one at eleven, the other at fourteen. They were in the hall in a corner that was screened off. The hall was used by the headmaster for what he called defaulters class for lads who had been sent out of lessons, not done homework or in other trouble. They had to sit and work under his gaze and at the end of the class you got the cane, always six.

We were sent from class to wait to see the doctor, we had to line up by the screened off corner and the headmaster warned that any misbehaviour would get you the cane so we all behaved.

When it was your turn you went behind the screen to the doctor he asked questions then he told you to take your blazer off and pull your shirt and vest right up to under your armpits and drop your trousers and underpants down to your ankles. He looked in your ears and mouth, listened to your chest then felt your nuts. Then he went behind you and listened to your back and then told you to bend over and he looked in your arse crack. That was it, you got dressed and left.

Comment by: James on 4th May 2020 at 10:27

Stuart,wearing just our shorts and t shirt with nothing underneath may have been acceptable in the confines of the gym,but we had to participate in our games in front of spectators and long cross country runs through villages.
It was extremely irksome to wearing just shorts and a t shirt and when I complained to my parents they had no objection at all.

Comment by: James on 4th May 2020 at 06:49

Andrea,

The girls at my school that I attended wore gym slips and T shirts for PE and games.

Comment by: Andrea on 3rd May 2020 at 11:16

James,
Out of interest, what was the girls PE kit at your school?

Comment by: Stuart on 3rd May 2020 at 08:06

@James . Same as for you. PE in the school gym was definitely shorts and t shirt nothing underneath. Occasionally teacher would check, any boy wearing underpants would have to remove them and then get a whacking.
It was all about hygiene you don't exercise in your underpants and you had a mandatory shower after.

This was an all boys school. Forget your pe kit you did it naked, gym was not overlooked but would be embarrassing for any boy , only happened rarely.

There is an excellent description of the fear engendered in a boy who forgets his trunks for school swimming lesson in Jonathan Coe's book " the rotters club" where the boy is teased by his mates beforehand and he imagines what it woukd be like and his desperate hunt to borrow a pair of trunks.

Comment by: Peter R on 2nd May 2020 at 18:10

The only thing I remember about a medical was being told by a female nurse that she liked my bare chest when I was 19.

Comment by: James on 2nd May 2020 at 14:06

Andrea,Certainly at the mixed secondary school that I attended it was considered normal practice for boys not to wear anything under their shorts.
As mentioned when nylon shorts became de rigueur the filmy material would often be seem as transparent,which could be slightly embarrassing particularly when the shorts became wet.
We would often be seen in our shorts by girls especially when we shared the gym and had sporting activities which were often supported by them.I'm sure they found it amusing to see us wearing just our shorts when they were more appropriately attired for their sporting activities.

Comment by: Richard R on 1st May 2020 at 11:46

Keith, my school medicals were another variant.
I know I had one at primary school because I remember being undressed in a very cold room which was just off the cloakroom but I don’t remember anything more about it.

Moving on, I went to a boys grammar school and had three medicals there, one at eleven, another at fourteen and the last when I was eighteen. I remember in all cases a letter arriving at home before anything was said at school and my primary aim was to make sure my mother didn’t attend which fortunately she never did and I don’t remember anyone else’s mother coming either.

Our medicals were in two parts the first with the nurse who checked sight and hearing along with height and weight and then a couple of weeks later we saw the doctor. The medical room was off the main changing room.

To see the nurse we were given a time to report there in groups of ten. We didn’t have to undress at all for that. Waiting was supervised by one of the PE masters who no doubt had a plimsoll ready for action if there was any misbehaviour. We were just told to sit quietly on the bench outside the room and wait our turn. Once in the room we were there about ten minutes and it was straight back to class.

Then a couple of weeks later it was time to see the doc. We went back to the changing room again in groups of ten and on duty again was a PE master. This time we were ordered to strip and line up and told that if anyone was in any doubt strip meant everything off including underpants. Stripping in the changing room did not seem abnormal as it was what we always did there. We used to swim naked so it wasn’t unusual not to be putting something on.

Once naked we were told to line up in alphabetical order in silence and standing at attention. Two of three PE masters were ex-military and were keen on having us stand at attention. I remember on each occasion the master was dressed in black shorts and trainers which is what they always wore – always bare chest too and over his shoulder was a black strap which was a couple of feet long and I can attest had a very nasty bite when it landed on your bottom so the line was always quiet and ordered. As someone else commented I can remember being told to line up ‘nuts to butts’ so maybe it was a common military expression.

Once in the room we stood in front of the desk while the doctor asked questions about illnesses we’d had, I remember he put ticks or crosses on a form. Then he came and stood in front of you and looked in your ears and mouth then listened to you heart. You then had to bend towards him and he listened to you back which I later learned was how he listened to your lungs. I remember bending and then he put one hand on my neck to make me bend further and his cold stethoscope was on my back. After that it was testicles and foreskin which I had to roll back, I must have passed the loose enough test but other lads didn’t and several weeks later they were cut. We then had to turn round and bend over. I remember again not bending far enough and having the doctor’s hand on my back pushing me further down and then feeling him spread my buttocks to inspect between them. I guess the whole thing took about ten minutes.

Then it was back to the changing room, get dressed and back to class.

I had a few more pre-job medicals and all followed the same drill as a school one with a preliminary with a nurse and then an examination by a doctor. Perhaps conditioned by school when I went in to see the doctor and asked to undress, I always took off my underpants then as I knew sooner or later I would have to and being naked with another man didn’t bother me. I still played team sports, trained at a gym and remained very used to changing rooms and communal showers so naked in front of other men was normal.

Comment by: Chris G on 1st May 2020 at 00:18

I went to two secondary schools, and in each case water we wore under our shorts was our own choice. At the first school, most of us went commando by choice for the first two or three years, until nature took its course and we felt the need for some form of support. It was after one lad got kicked in a tender area that the PE master suggested we might like to start wearing some form of support, and mentioned jockstraps. Most of us started wearing our Y-front briefs after that. At my second school, most of us wore something supportive, briefs, swimming trunks or jockstraps

Comment by: Andy on 30th April 2020 at 18:04

Andrea
I can't say that them knowing was embarrassing at all, not matter how transparent the shorts you where still wearing something and nothing was visible. Apart from some games lessons where we shared the sports hall due to bad weather, the only time we where really with the girls was a few joint lessons (when exams meant limited facilities where available) and sports days, I don't even remember these occasions being embarrassing as you just got on with it.

Comment by: Andrea on 30th April 2020 at 15:13

Andy,
I know what you mean about white shorts, particularly when they were wet. Years ago I remember watching my Ex's playing football in white shorts and it was obvious whether players were wearing jockstraps, briefs or no underwear!
Did you find it embarrassing that the girls, including your sister, knew about you lack of underwear?

Ellen and June,
From the postings, it would appear that some schools recommended jockstraps and others didn't allow anything. My Ex wore one from the age of 13 (in the 1970s).
By the time my son was at Secondary School, they just wore their normal underwear for PE. The only time he wore a jockstrap was with a box for cricket.

Comment by: Keith on 30th April 2020 at 13:00

Pete, James ex navy, Mark C

It sounds that your medicals at school were more shall we say "open" than mine in having to stand naked in a line, at least I was in underpants or PE shorts, then removed or dropped them with the doctor, the one when I was 16 was a shock mainly because it was with another boy who was a stranger to me and at 16 I was perhaps a bit conscious of my body being seen naked, I wasn't overweight or anything out of the ordinary, just conscious.

The one at 18 was actually on my 18th birthday and it was for me to start on British Railways in the Motive Power Department as what was know as a "cleaner" a prequel to being a fireman and then of course an engine driver, my actual boyhood dream, I didn't have another one until I passed my exams to be a train driver and that was ten years later at 28, and the way a medical was conducted had changed.

You went and had an extensive vision and hearing test and then give a urine sample and undress in a cubicle to the waist and go and have an ECG, return to the cubicle and undress just to underpants and sit and wait for your name to be called.

The doctor did all the usual upper body tests and the agility ones and weight and height and blood pressure, before you were asked to remove your underpants and lay on the exam table and have a thorough chest and back exam now and finally the usual genital exam, all in all I was probably in there around 45 minutes to an hour.

The next was at age 40 and that followed a similar line as the one at 28 except the doctor was different and he was proud of a new exam table the had been installed which allowed him to adjust the height and and tip it forward or back and raise the middle which he did with me and then he pulled my underpants down and off and gave me a thorough genital and anal exam the latter being a prostate exam.

The next was at age 50 similar again but no prostate exam at all, just a quick testicle feel and off to get dressed.

What I didn't know then was that would be my last, sadly 2 years later I contracted prostate cancer and had a Radical Prostectomy which I am pleased to say caught all the cancer, subsequently took early retirement after being off work for 8 months.

Comment by: Josh H on 30th April 2020 at 10:27

Hugh. Thank you for that full explanation.

Comment by: Ellen on 30th April 2020 at 07:00

June

My husband wore a jockstrap for sport as did our boys just to support the valid point you made! And this was the period 1960 to 1980. And very common a practice it was too in independent schools (better known at this time as public schools.)

Comment by: Hugh on 29th April 2020 at 21:19

Josh H,

Before there was equalities legislation pre-employment medicals were pretty normal and in the public sector which is where I guess Eastern Gas was at the time you were first employed there?

The reasons were two fold.

The first was that companies public or private wanted to know they were employing someone who met physical fitness standards and was going to serve them well rather than be someone with chronic health problems who would spend a significant time off sick. When you remember how generous public sector sick pay is that in my opinion was reasonable.

The second was that you would at least in the public sector be enrolled in a pension scheme. While there was nothing available immediately in service death benefits were very generous and payable quite quickly after joining. Again they wanted to know you were not about to drop dead on them.

Even when I left the navy and moved to general practice I had to have a medical exam.

Larger companies like Eastern Gas probably had a doc come in once a week, often a GP on his free afternoon to do this work. Smaller companies wrote to the employee's GP asking them to do the examination. It was either way, pretty lucrative work and in our practice we had one contract with Thames Water and another with LEB. We also saw a number of patients every week who had been referred by a new, smaller employer.

Few companies specified exactly what they wanted other than to know the person was fit and healthy so I tended to examine men in the same way as I had in the navy because I was used to that and it was thorough. I didn't examine women because we had two female partners who did that.

You will have had your testicles examined simply because it's part of the most basic examination of a man. FWIW I would never have had a female nurse present though she would have done the preliminaries but I would have checked you for haemorrhoids both outside and in which I was always taught was part of the basic exam.

Pre-employment medicals died off in the mid nineties because you were not allowed in almost all cases to discriminate against someone on the grounds of physical fitness, if they said they were fit to do the job you had to give them a chance. There are and always will be some exceptions to that though including jobs where the safety of others is paramount so airline pilots, bus drivers, lorry drivers, train drivers and so on still have to pass a medical and in the case of pilots it's every six months. The NHS still send all new staff for a medical before appointments are confirmed too but for office jobs as you describe you would now be spared the experience.

Comment by: Josh H on 29th April 2020 at 17:19

With regards to medical examinations,apart from school, the next one for me was when I was still 16, and had applied for a job with what was then the Eastern Gas Board as a clerk in the offices. I had to go for an medical as a condition of employment. this was carried out at their offices and I was still at school. I was seen by the Company nurse and the usual strip to the waist for preliminary checks, and then moved onto the Doctor who was sitting nearby with the nurse present. After various checks came the normal order drop you trousers and pants. This was different to being at school and the nurse was in full view . I was a bit cagey about dropping them too far with her there, but the doctor abruptly said "right down" I could not refuse,and it was the cough test. To this day I do not know why I had to "drop them" and cough when I was going to work in an office with no physical work involved.

Comment by: Pete on 29th April 2020 at 15:47

Keith - school medicals.

I had four, the first in primary school, the only one at which my mother was present. I remember being undressed to underpants and a doctor pulling the front open and looking down and he commented that all was in order. I don't remember much more about it.

The next three I had at grammar school - all boys school, one at eleven, another at fourteen and the last at seventeen at the beginning of upper sixth.

In all cases the drill was the same, they took place in the gym and for the day they took there was no PE in the gym. At the appointed time you reported to the changing room where you stripped to your underpants and made your way into the gym.

There you joined a line up to see the nurse who was in a cubicle made of screen partitions. In there she tested hearing and sight particularly I remember for colour blindness and she weighed you and checked your height. It was OK the first couple of times but I wasn't keen at eighteen on sitting in my underpants with a woman even if she was a nurse.

You exited the cubicle a different way between two rows of coat pegs and as you exited you had to take off your underpants and hang them on a peg and then join another line to see the doctor. There was always one of the PE teachers there, he had been a military PTI as he often told us and he used to insist we lined up at attention and as he always put it 'nuts to buts' and the line had to be straight. He always had a plimsoll ready for anyone who wasn't standing as required, up straight and hands at your sides.

Once in with the doctor he looked in your ears, in your mouth, listened to your heart and chest, asked about illnesses and felt your testicles then he asked you to pull back your foreskin. Mine moved easily but some lads were sent for circumcision.

In the sixth form only we were then told to turn around, stand with legs apart and bend over and he inspected between our buttocks. That was a bit of a shock as I wasn't expecting it but after that it was part of any medical I had usually accompanied by a probing finger.

You then had to retrieve your underpants and return to the changing room to get dressed. I guess from getting undressed to getting dressed the whole thing took fifteen to twenty minutes about half of which was standing around.

School medicals or for that matter any medical didn't bother me, I think those of us who remember communal showers and taking off underpants in a changing room are comfortable enough naked in front of other men.

Comment by: James - ex navy on 29th April 2020 at 13:23

Keith,

You ask about being naked for medical exams, I presume you mean for those who were not in the navy/military?

As I've posted, in the navy it was the norm.

At school medical exams were in the gym. We had to take off everything except our underpants in the changing room and line up in the gym. A nurse did some checks - sight and hearing and then you joined another line to see the doc. When you got to the front you had to take off your underpants before going behind the screen to see the doc.

It was all very orderly because there was always one of the PE masters there gently slapping a plimsoll against his hand and no doubt ready to slap it much harder against your bottom should he deem it necessary.

Comment by: Ben on 29th April 2020 at 12:52

Pete W - yes, it might seem crazy but sometimes you would put on your T shirt, only to take it off a few minutes later. Quite often though, the teacher would announce at the end of the lesson "Same teams next time, lads." So then if I'd been a skin I knew not to bother bringing my top next time we did PE. In some ways it might have made more sense if we'd just been told our PE kit would be shorts and trainers, with every boy in skins and bibs supplied when necessary!