HAVING LOST contact with Skylon a while back, it was an unfathomable pleasure to stumble across a well worn handwritten leather bound notebook, which is jam-packed with tales of the old scallywags formative school days at a place called Thruston Manor School for Boys aged six-16 and Beauty School Drop Outs, in deepest darkest Luddinton, Gloucestershire.
I will leave you to read an excerpt of the great man’s scribblings.
Originally held as a mental asylum for extravert artists and musical hall acts, Thruston Manor for Boys School had been selected by my late father for me to attend as a result of a wayward law darts incident, which left him with a perforated scrotum, due to my emptying his drinks cabinet and taking on the gardener at the game one spring afternoon.
My journey to the school was made by bus, train and an excruciating tuktuk journey of some 250 miles around in a circle, due in no small part to my driver being blind in one eye, and not really coming to terms with the string of roundabouts which welcomed all visitors to the nearby market town of Ballknacker-on-the-Weld.
Despite my awful initiation into school life, the driveway up to the imposing cylindrical shape school was quite picturesque with fields capped in a crisp snow, despite the September school term opening date.
Laid in the snow were crying boys and travel bags and boxes strewn around, with every visible window in the school filled with baying older pupils letting off what appeared to be fireworks and mooning to those below.
Inside the five story building a madness prevailed, high excitement abound, and as I lugged my ‘coffin’ case to my dormitory, my ears were filled with the screams of the school’s head boy known as Sir Cadian: “RUN IN THE CORRIDORS, ALWAYS RUN IN THE CORRIDORS” .
Looking out onto the main courtyard and sports pitches of the school, I noticed what was to become known to me as Prig Day, which saw new pupils being used as naked human sleds harshly ridden by two or more older pupils and teachers alike across the fields and head first into the opposing wall.
A group of older pupils had also been rounded up, members, so I would later be told, of Miss Havershambles Theatre Arts and Drama classes, their fate was deemed as a ‘necessary cull’ by the school’s headmaster.
The chaos below was roared and loudly welcomed by the school’s automotive teacher affectionately known as Ton Up Treadshaw.
As the teacher most admired for his daring do, his choice of biking jackets seemed obvious and in the eyes of his doting and equally terrified pupils, who scattered for safety and tasted the painted walls of the school’s corridors, as he would perform wheelies around them, simply had to be Matchless.
The iconic London bike manufacturer, was the perfect fit for Treadshaw and he would mix and match his jacket’s throughout the school semester, when he really meant business, taking out a few pupils along the way he would sport the Silverstone Antique leather jacket.
This piece has the classic neck strap styling, full treated calf leather, is Italian manufactured and became part of the make up of famous biking venues such as London’s Ace Café, with the Ton Up Boys, from which pupils garnered his name. Where Treadwell would spend his down time, so legend had it often relaxing in his Charley Blouson jacket.
Treadwell, would always hurl the jacket across his desk after strolling into his class and pupils would fawn over the leather covered button masterpiece (the buttons are covered to avoid scratching a bike’s petrol tank).
Ageing gracefully is not something Treadwell intended to do, but the jacket’s tough yet supple leather acquires its own specific looks as the material dates. Plus the tartan lining looks lovely.
Utilising the same basic body shape, the Kensington wax antique boasts the neck strap closure, tartan lining, two chest pocket and zip closed hand pockets, only minus the leather.
The padded shoulder and elbows Paddington black jacket was Treadwell’s outdoors look, when he would ride across the school’s sports pitches on his track bike, which also comes in a long version.
The nylon, cotton mix jacket, also has the tartan inner, brass buttons and has button wrist fastening, unlike the Kensington that sports zips.
My contact with Tredwell sadly lasted only one short year, when, during the opening Prig Day of my second year at Thruston, by which time I I was sporting a bum fluff tash to emulate the great man himself’s handlebar moustache, Treadwell had crane winched his bike of choice onto the rafters of the school and rode wall of death-esque fashion around the school’s roof, cheering on the chaos below.
This display annually ended with the sounding of the school’s tower mounted bell with a dexterous underarm delivery of his crash helmet.
A simple miscalculation of distance and speed and several quarts of rum, during one such delivery saw the helmet bounce back off the bell striking Treadwell in the head, causing him to fall head first over his handle bars, where he suffered the ignominious end of riding over his own head.
A senseless waste of human life, although his jackets still proudly adorn the walls of the school, with the Marlon Johnny leather jacket, worn on that fateful day, taking pride of place. Just like the man himself: Matchless.