Bob Baigrie (1974F)
Dobbo was scary. I mean, if you were in Founders with the mild (though cunning) Brian de Kock in charge, you put your knee to your kneeler each morning and thank your maker for your having avoided the place up the road. As a Catholic in Std 8, I was way too scared to have my confirmation classes in his study and scuttled off to St Michael's parish each Wednesday afternoon for my indoctrination. Later, he and my father Bags would alternate altar boy duties at 7.30 mass at St Michael's, where he would deliver Sean Rosenberg (1974F) and me the blood of Christ.
Gerald Alanthwaite, a fastidious but very fair teacher, oversaw first set Latin. Gerald Sharp (1974O) and I battled it out for 18th and 19th slot each mark report from Std 6 to matric under "Appy", and eventually, it was my turn to be demoted to Mr Dobson in Set 2. There I came top of his set on the next report. Dobbo looked at me from under those brow's and growled "Baigrie, you poor confused soul, why can't you make up your mind?"
Dave Lewis, a fabulous teacher, was our hero. I am talking about hockey players. He also earned grudging respect from the rugby inner sanctum - Bey, Douglas and Dobson. I remember them all turning up to the Frank Reid on the final Saturday of the 1974 season (we had been nearly unbeaten I think) to watch us play Rondebosch an hour before the first XV game. We felt very honoured. You see, Dobbo has given us one of his incomparable nicknames: "The galloping golfers." Such was our respect for Paul and our infatuation with our sport, we embraced the nickname. At the very least it meant the rugger-buggers recognised us!
But best of all is the story of John Campbell (1974F), my Founders dorm-mate, who was always in trouble. John who played cricket for John Greig's fighting 5ths on the Avenue Field each Saturday morning, modelled his fast bowling style on Yorkshire, coal-mining, Fred Trueman and didn't use to shave from about Wednesday so he too could look swarthy, fast and fearsome off his run-up which started somewhere near the coal mines at The Memorial gates. You see John had a strong growth while the rest of us had bum-fluff to hide our pimples. He also always had a daily report card and invariably Dobbo would give him a B- for his Latin period. John and Brian de Kock were resigned to this. One Friday in the cricket season, Dobbo filled in "u.s." instead of B-. "What's that mean Sir?" cried a worried Campbell. "Unshaven" came back Dobbo's dry reply, without even looking up. Brian de Kock cracked a smile that evening, as he chastised the glowering, now pink-cheeked Campbell.
One day, Dobbo did the unthinkable and filled in B+. John was flabbergasted and stammered his thanks. To which came the droned reply... "Don't thank me, boy, buy me something." John is a top advocate these days but hopefully won't issue me a writ.
We all loved Paul's wonderful wife Margaret -"Morning Matron" we called, as she, blue-uniformed with crimson epaulettes, dashed across the War Memorial lawns trailing children and Basil Bey's border collie, on her way to the Sanitorium. We used to shake our heads and wonder with schoolboy wisdom why such a woman could marry such a man. Later in life, we came to understand.
The tributes to this remarkable man have been many and will continue. But this light-hearted one comes from a very deep place in my heart to a man I really liked very much. What an admirable story, is his.
John Mackie (1978F)
Bob Baigrie’s delightful words inspired me to add a few of my own!
I too was in Founders (together with Bob’s younger brother Tom) and to this day thank my lucky stars that Brian de Kock was my housemaster! Doubt I would have survived otherwise!
If like me, you were no good at rugby, interaction with ‘Dobbo’ was pretty much restricted to the mysteries of Latin. A short interlude with Brian de Kock (who I’m sure wrote me off as a lost cause) was followed by the legendary ‘Appy’.In Gerald Allanthwaite’s class Stuart Symington (1978F) and I was involved in a never-ending race to the bottom and whenever ‘Appy’ strode through the door all present would invariably be informed of yet another ‘Hash Deluxe’ by Mackie and Symington. Standard 8 brought the arrival of Anthony Mallet, and if this wasn’t scary enough he informed us all that his set- work pass mark was 75%! Terrified out of our wits we used to get up at 4 am in the often vain hope of avoiding the dire consequences of failure, Friday afternoon detention if I recall correctly. On one particularly memorable occasion, Jonathan Thompson (1978F), realising that he was going down, requested, in writing nogal, a zero. The Headmaster duly obliged!
On to ‘Dobbo’ for Standards 9 and 10. Good Latin was clearly a poor substitute for bad rugby but I was determined to achieve something! Basil Bey, no doubt egged on by ‘Dobbo’, used to refer to us Founders boys as chocolates,(tough on the outside but soft inside), although I suspect the two of them made an exception for the late Nick Penny (1978F) as he was a tough as teak first-team flank! Our fortunes, however, took a distinct turn for the better with the arrival of Mark Burton Moore (1978F), without doubt, Bishop’s greatest ever rugby player! A rising tide lifts all ships!
‘Dobbo’ had nicknames for most, if not all of us,(some far from complimentary I might add), but I was fortunate enough to get off lightly. My initials being JB he at once pounced on Justerini and Brooks, eventually shortening it to just Brooks. Not many lessons got underway before he had inquired of me if I’d enjoyed my daily ‘tot’ or ‘quaffed an ale or two’.Having scaled the lofty heights of a C for Latin in Standard 9, and very pleased with myself, I was duly informed that it wasn’t a B.Suitably chastised I then achieved a B for mock matric only to discover that it wasn’t an A. More determined than ever to go one up I worked my guts out only to end up with yet another B.
Sadly I never got the chance to speak to ‘Dobbo’ again but I sure as hell know what he would have had to say!
It’s been 42 years but could have been yesterday.