Topless sunbathing and a staffroom burglary were among hair-raising and amusing incidents recalled by a former headmaster.
In a witty speech at the 2017 West Country Luncheon, Peter Larkman, headmaster 1983-94, urged OHs to air their own amusing reminiscences, by sending them to OH Magazine.
Speaking at Sidmouth’s four-star Victoria Hotel, Mr Larkman described how Allhallows was changed by the introduction of girls throughout the school.
His speech, about 15 minutes long, mentioned two pupils whom he barred from the school, and those recollections hinted at stress and emotion experienced by headmasters resorting to expulsion. Mr Larkman recalled a senior boy sent home in disgrace after pouring beer over a member of staff. When he came across the boy some time later, according to Mr Larkman, the boy apologised for his behaviour. Mr Larkman said the apology had “meant an awful lot to me then, and still does.”
The ex-head recalled another meeting with a former pupil whom he had expelled years before. Had he been treated fairly, the headmaster asked that young man. “Oh yes, I deserved it. It was the best thing that ever happened to me,” said the former disgraced pupil, describing how he had gone on to become a QC.
The topless sunbathing was done by the attractive wife of a young master, Mr Larkman told his OH audience. He said someone had complained about the uncovering, which happened at the school swimming pool during Cricket Week. He dispatched the bursar to see to the problem. “I am told he ran to the swimming pool and arrived sweaty and breathless.”
Mr Larkman recalled the staff being incensed when pupils one night raided the drinks cupboard in the masters common room but when he spoke to other headmasters about the violation of the sacred staff bar, he was amazed to hear they all had a similar story to tell.
Mr Larkman thought the introduction of girls brought problems for Allhallows rugby and cricket teams, though girls did make very good hockey and tennis teams. He said the female presence probably hastened the end of corporal punishment, and reduced bullying.
He praised the coolness and bravery of the girls in Charton House who laughed at a nocturnal flasher who was exposing himself through a bedroom window. Two girls grabbed hockey sticks and ran downstairs while a third raised the alarm. A man was arrested by police.
The speech followed a bargain £25-a-head three-course lunch at the luxury seafront hotel.