Tales from the Boundary
M H "Micky" Rouse was the cricket master in my days at the Gilberd School (some 50 years ago). He was shortish and plumpish but with a hint of a previous athleticism. Micky played cricket and rugby for the Colchester clubs in his younger days and for Colchester Royal Grammar School (the Gilberd's arch-rivals) and, incidentally, my father’s alma mater. He also has entries in Cricket Archive, playing for the Forty Club in the fifties and was Commanding Officer of the local Sea Cadets.
Micky had near apoplexy on the occasion that I turned up for a Second Year XI cricket photo wearing black socks. I was allowed to sit in the front row, however, with socks well covered by my flannels, as I was one of the few who had cricket boots. On another occasion Ken Bare (unfortunate name) was asked why he was not wearing socks: his reply, "I have no white socks, Sir" was met with a smile of approval. If only I'd known that bare (or Bare) feet were acceptable.
Incidentally, the Second Year wicket keeper was Godfrey Evans; not the one from Kent but Mersea Island. He was quite good but drifted off into the music scene. Presumably Godfrey's Dad was a cricket fan and disappointed.
MHR drove an Alvis saloon with running boards. It was a sporty number, black with hints of rust, and, even then, looked a bit ancient. It had low slung (or dodgy) suspension and might have been well suited to a black suited, trilby wearing gent, toting a machine gun.
There was a three year gap (well, school cricketing absence) between my black socks photo and playing for the school firsts, when I could apply my experience of playing for the village and reading The MCC Cricket Coaching Book. We had a pretty useful side for a few seasons. Micky was furious when CRGS once batted on after tea, fearful of our batting line up, which scored 366 for 3 in the match against the staff.
Anyway, Micky was also my history teacher. He taught me one vital thing "Don't answer until you understand the question.” Another useful quote I used in an essay in class work was Disraeli's "The secret of success is to be ready for opportunity when it presents itself". I also used it in the 'O' level exam and won the history prize. With my book token I bought Trevor Bailey's "Greatest of My Time", which was pretty historical then and even more so now.