Back to school for the Prize Giving ceremony - Tony Cunnane's Autobiography

A Yorkshire Aviator's Autobiography
Tony Cunnane
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Back to school for the Prize Giving ceremony

In November, a letter from Salford Grammar School arrived at home for me, marked on the envelope in large letters: 'Post Office Please Forward to new address in Wakefield'. I don't know how the Post Office had worked out that I was still living in Salford and had not moved to Wakefield, but we just took it for granted because the Post Office was a wonderful institution in those days. The letter contained my Old Boy's invitation to the school Prize-Giving Day to collect my Music Prize.

Before leaving school at the start of the summer holidays, prize-winners had been invited to indicate what book they would like to have as a prize, up to a maximum cost of 7s 6d. I had chosen a rather erudite book on the works of Henry Purcell without first checking on the price. Included with my invitation was a handwritten note from the School Secretary pointing out that the book had cost 10s 6d and asking me to remit the three shillings excess "as soon as convenient". Another unforeseen drain on my miserly weekly pittance.

I went to the ceremony to collect my prize and was even invited to join the 1st Violins in the orchestra to help swell the numbers. I agreed to do so and played several of the new items from sight, with a borrowed violin. When my name was called out to go up and collect my prize from the visiting dignitary, there was a whispered conversation on stage. Someone had apparently forgotten to tell the Head Master that my book had not arrived from the bookseller. Without a word and without looking back, I walked out at that point.

Altogether a miserable day for me but I got a vicarious pleasure from knowing that the school had still needed me for their orchestra. A couple of days later the school secretary telephoned me at work and asked me to call in, at my convenience, to pick up my prize book otherwise it would be posted to me, at my expense. She explained that the book had been there all the time, but someone had forgotten to take it to the Prize Giving ceremony. For the final time, I called in at the school office. I still have the book, but I have never read it.

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