I went to Baines Grammar School in Poulton-le-Fylde. For boys only it had a very good reputation and a long history being founded in 1717. It was quite traditional; it had an annual Founders Day, taught Latin, retained some of the very old buildings, employed several teachers who still wore gowns and mortar boards, had prefects who could dole out lines as punishment, four very historically named Houses, a hideous brown and yellow school uniform and a dreary school song only sung at Founders Day to which no-one ever bothered to sing along. And I really enjoyed my time there.
And whilst we had a collection of some oddball teachers – not least Mr ‘Toss’Tomlinson who taught French and first year football but was also an authority on heraldry – we didn’t seem to produce many students who went on to fame and glory. Despite the great reputation. In fact the only former pupil I know who went on to achieve notability recently died. But he had a very decent obituary in my national newspaper. He was Barry Mason who you might not know by name but you’ll almost certainly be aware of his work. He was the songwriter behind some of the most famous pop ballads of the 60’s including ‘Delilah’ sung, not unusually, by Tom Jones and ‘The Last Waltz’ sung by the perma-tanned Englebert Humperdinck. Not bad eh. He went on to form a record label, co-wrote music with Jimmy Page and Barbra Streisand and penned some songs for that incredible balladeer David Hasselhoff. But hey I’m not knocking the guy, a song that’s passed the test of time like ‘Delilah’ deserves proper credit.
Barry was 85 when he died so he would have left the school maybe 10 years before I joined. I never understood why we didn’t sing his most famous song at Founders day instead of the inexplicable ‘Nil sine labore, semper sit in flore’. Why, why, why not Delilah?