John Heffernan reminisces
29th July 2020
I was at Xavs from 1956 to 1962. I had been at St Annes Prep before that. I remember my interview for St Annes in about 1952 in the dark religious surroundings of Bro ??? office. (Bernard ??) I had Miss Eaton for music and her father for maths – he was a member of the Wild Geese club in Withington and was friends with my mother and her friends but he was still strict with me. In the flu epidemic of 1956 the class streams were merged into one and Mr Eaton thought I was thick because I knew nothing ( like Manuel in Fawlty Towers ) but he had forgotten that my stream one had a different syllabus.
Pug Diamond had a good line in dialogue – “ Stop dredging out your nose boy “ and Brother Amandus was very superior and banned me from taking sixth form French. There was a cool American brother who wore a ball cap but he really hated Elvis “ the worst kind of greasy low life hoodlum “ but it made no difference to our admiration for all the rockers of the time. The two worst days were the Man United air crash and the Buddy Holly ,Big Bopper disaster. We used to go out to the sweet shop on Oxford Rd at lunchtime and I was attacked by the local bad boys and got a broken nose which still serves me well – in spite of several offers to have it straightened.
Sixth formers were given their own smoking room – unbelievable now. The art teacher “Rufus” (another redhead complete with bushy beard – Bob) advised me and Brian Sage to go to art college which we did. I remember being in a girl’s flat on the other side of the wall from school when some friends were still sixth formers and feeling very superior and adult as I supped my red wine.
The sixties were wonderful – Manchester Art College and then Leicester to do a post grad. My career was in design , at Vauxhall ,General Motors in the USA and Audi in Germany. I did some lecturing at Manchester at the invitation of the late Paul Callaghan , head of Industrial Design , in the 1980’s . My southern bred daughters love the liveliness of Manchester and we try to visit regularly , it’s great to see the old school looking so well-maintained even if Rusholme looks a little shabby.