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1986 The Lower School

This has been the first year of full operations at the Lower School, as we have had both D and C Blocks together for the first time. It was touch and go as to whether the year would be able to begin at all, due to the non-completion of ablutions and the non-arrival, until the very last moment, of tables, benches, beds and mattresses. Fortunately the essentials were there in time and so we managed to start the first term in reasonable order. 170 in the Lower School buildings was a greater number than had ever been housed there, but the use of the old Sanatorium building for 45 boys made all the difference. Those who were ill were sent over to the main Sanatorium at the upper school.

One major problem overshadowed all activities in the second and third terms and that was the outbreak of viral influenza, which in a few cases led to labyrinthitis and even encephalitis. The bug seemed to attack boys of 13 - 14 as well as some women and as a result we had to close the school early, in July and in the third term several lady members of staff were away virtually the whole term Having had six weeks holiday, it was thought certain that there would be no further outbreak, but the whole cycle started again within 24 hours of the beginning of the third term, brought back again by some innocent victim. Mercifully, things were pretty well back to normal by halfway through the term, though we were never back to full health again.

What has been learned during the year? That junior boys are very messy, especially when there is no Toyes Room to act as a large litter bin; that they have enjoyed the opportunity to grow up with less pressure from seniors; that most boys grow at a phenomenal rate between the ages of 12 - 14; that the endless enthusiasm of younger boys has been exploited with positive results because of their separation; that there have been some (we hope) largely unjustified fears that the boys will have a rough reception at the upper school because the boys above then have had three years at the bottom of their Houses; that apart from the expense, the problem of shuttling to and fro has not proved as difficult as feared.

Thanks are due to many people - to Mr French and Mr Cary, who have worked tirelessly on behalf of the boys in their care, whether it has been dealing with discipline, selecting teams or producing the very successful variety show; to Mr and Mrs Crane, who have looked after the domestic side of life, feeding the hungry hordes and trying to keep track of clothes carelessly discarded; to the junior masters who have been with us during the year; to the 36 Vth Form monitors who have had a spell here, almost all of whom did a very good job: their services are invaluable in the smooth running of the school and it is they who give a good or bad impression of life 'on the other side', while gaining experience of man management themselves.

Thanks are also due to Mr Patrick Gosho and his team of workers, who keep the buildings and estate in good order - we have much cause to be grateful to them for the way in which they have done their jobs so willingly for the benefit of all. Finally, a thank you to my wife who has run the office during the year, dealing with phone calls and being the link between the school and parents.

We wish all the C Block the very best of luck as they move across to their Houses in 1987 and we hope that they will look back with pleasure on their two pioneering years at the Lower School. They have one great advantage over all other boys and that is that they have lived at close quarters with members of all Houses in their year group and so their outlook on life will be far less parochially tied to their Houses than previous intakes. Next year will be the last at this site for the Lower School before the female invasion in 1988 and we look forward to a happy and healthy year for all.

The Sidewalk Show
In Trinity term of 1986 the Lower School engaged us in a variety show of outstanding quality. The lights were low, tables laid in white cloth, the wine bottles cum candlesticks running with dripping wax from the flames which cast pools of yellow light around the room. The ambience alone could have entertained us, and if that wasn't enough, there was the mulled wine, served to us by our own waiters. This singular bit of magic, the creation of a French cafe in middle of Africa, could only have been the work of one man: Guy Cary.

His production was stunning. The evening began with a performance by the marimba band, which was excellent. I must add that the band did well to carry on with the show after one leg of the marimba fell off.
Once the marimbas had finished, we were treated to rendition of "Side by Side" during which about half the Lower School piled on top of each other in one corner of the room to form a human heap about one metre high. Was this a mixture of vaudeville and an African fertility ritual from Tanzania? No. This body pile in fact represented a stack of parts which, once bolted together in appropriate positions and synchronised by Mr Cary himself (who played the part of the indomitable German engineer) became an automobile. The sketch benefited from the script which referred to each boy, or spare part, as part of a larger body- that of the automobile. There was perhaps a certain irony in the casting of Luis Godinho as an intestine.

The rest of the evening passed in similarly imaginative fashion. The junior masters performed a number of sketches, one of which featured Nick Jordan, star rugby player for the Marondera Club, as a French housewife. Virtually the entire cast took part in the household orchestra, during which a Hoover, pot lids, a piano, an oven grate, tea cups, a hose pipe and numerous empty bottles became the instruments of virtuoso musicians for a rendition of "My Favourite Things". Grant Brummer, guest magician from the Upper School, gave us an excellent demonstration of his wizardry, and Paul Ridgewell was obviously well up to playing the coarse actor in the riotous sketch "'Tis Pity She's the Wife of Henry VI (Part 2)".

It was an evening of episodic entertainment, but the continuity of the show, and the ever-important audience participation were enhanced by the community singing. Such numbers and "When I'm 64" and "Michael Row the Boat Ashore" proved manageable for all, even the tone deaf.
Hats off and seventy-six curtain calls for the boys from the Lower School and their producer, Guy Cary.

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