Memoir. The Gerrards 1959 - 1968 by David
Before we went to Malta, we lived in Yealand, North
Lancashire, where Mum (Phyllis) ran the village school,
Dad (Richard) taught in Lancaster, and was organist
and choirmaster of the village church.
I was just turned 13 when we moved to Malta in September
1959 when Richard was appointed Head of Music. We were met by Captain Mannering and taken to the
Meadowbank Hotel where we stayed for several weeks. I started at TH in the 3rd year and after a while
Phyllis was taken on as a Locally Entered Teacher. This meant local rates of pay about which she often complained!
She taught Maths, History & Latin and was Form Teacher of 5BM.
Our first home was at 4 Mediterranean Flats, New (later Ball) Street, Paceville.
Returning from the 1960 Sicily Trip , I found we had moved to
Josephine, Birguma Road, San Pawl tat Tarġa. Although a nice place, it
was a bit inconvenient when most of your friends lived in Sliema, so
they bought me a bike.
There were a few of us living around Naxxar, so we formed a gang,
built a den, explored the Victoria Lines and risked our necks roaring
down Naxxar Gap in home made soap box carts.
The advantage of having parents on the staff
was that you got a lift in the mornings.
One of the disadvantages was that at home you
heard gossip about other teachers which you
could not repeat to your mates on pain of death.
The Den. David Warren & Kit Hills
It was about this time that we acquired a small boat (a fregatina), which we kept at St Paul's Bay.
(Hence all the photos of the Harbour Hotel.)
The engine was a bit unreliable so we never got much further than St. Paul's Island.
The favourite expression of Didi, the boatman who looked after it was "No compression ta!"
Further nautical training came in the fifth year when
a blessed few were released from the rigours of chasing
balls round hot, stony fields to go sailing from St Angelo.
Under the guidance of Lt Cdr Ken Harper and Whaler Coxswain
Brian Fuller, I eventually passed my first ticket.
Apart from his music at school, Richard was the organist, first at Holy Trinity,
then at HMS Phoenicia,
and finally for many years at St Paul's Cathedral.
On occasion he conducted the CinC's Orchestra and broadcast on Rediffusion. Phyllis sang in the Cathedral Choir.
Summer holidays were spent touring the Med,
sometimes meeting up with elder brother John
who was at University.
Boarding Queen Frederika at Messina, 1961.
He tried to teach me rock climbing but despite
an apprenticeship fell-walking in the Lake District,
I never took to it.
After a while they took pity on me slogging back uphill from Sliema
on my bike late at night and we moved to Villino Monique, Valley
Road, Msida, of which the best feature was the garden.
Now to get to the rendezvous at Egmont Close, all I had to do was
hang on to the back bumper of a Sliema Bus as it ground up Savoy
Hill, and going home was downhill.
Christmas Dinner 1961
The summer of 1962 saw the famous Lollipop Trip. This was before the days when backpacking around the world was
common, especially for 15 year olds. It had started the previous summer as the Lollipop Gang lazed around on the beach
complaining of boredom. The original suggestion of an independent trip to Sicily was extended to Italy and then some
bright spark said "Why not hitch-hike all the way home?" So plans were made. However the greatest hurdle was parental
approval which only three of us were able to obtain. After that getting a week off school and borrowing the camping gear
from MEDFOBA was easy.
Blow by blow account.
We had originally planned to hitch both ways but after a week in UK visiting grandparents we reformed and got stuck in Calais for two days. So pooling our money we found we had just enough for a 3rd class train to Naples and a steerage passage on the Citta di Livorno. Arrriving back in Malta earlier than expected, I was homeless.
Our house was rented out for the holidays!
The time was approaching when this idyllic life must come to an end.
Having read all the Biggles books and made all the Airfix models, I suggested to the Careers Master (Cdr QdC) that the RAF might be nice.
His reply having read my reports included the words snowball and hell.
Despite having arrived with quite good reports from my UK school, I had adapted too well to the easy going Malta way of life!
Note: This is a Confidential Report which is a much more candid version than the one they send to your parents. It stays on your file and follows you from school to school. You are not supposed to see it but somehow mine fell into my hands when I left college.
In 1962 I gave up Airfix and developed other interests.
Having attended an interview at the Dockyard,
I found that the RFA weren't too impressed with
my reports either, but they would reconsider my
application after a period of pre-sea training.
So I was enrolled at the Reardon Smith Nautical College - Cardiff and left Malta at Easter 1963.
As soon as I left, Mum and Dad moved back to
San Pawl tat Tarġa.
Meanwhile back in Malta, Richard & Phyllis continued at Tal Handaq, and with their busy social life.
These are from their Silver Wedding at the Villa Corinthia in 1965.
I managed a couple of short visits to Malta during my
cadetship but it was not until 1967 that I achieved the
aim of an appointment to the Station Tanker.
Sadly it was not long before the Six Day War sent us off
to West Africa but not before I had met future wife No.1
on the steps of Whitehall Mansions.
In 1968, Their Lordships declined to extend Richard's contract any longer, and so very reluctantly after nine years
they were obliged to return to UK.
Phyllis wrote this poem which she read to the Staff on the last day of term July 1968.
Nine years in the sun,
And the sandstone in my soul,
Golden against the green-blue sea.
Nine Mediterranean years; Greece and the islands,
Gated Jerusalem and time weathered Egypt.
Who do not really care about cosines,
Caedmon or the principle parts of "caedere"
(And you cant blame them);
But who found in the end
That Ma'am is not the enemy
And who greeted me with gratitude
In the Naafi at Episkopi
Or the Palace at Dragonara.
Nine years at Tal Handaq,
The Captains and Commanders come and go
But the Gerrards go on
For ever, or so we thought.
Nine years of companionship and consumption
Of Gordon's and chanting Cwm Rhondda
But now no more --------------
I shall teach in a "proper" school again
And I shall not like it.