Blog March 13th The No Smoking Plan – The Prom

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“The Party to End all Parties” My Tutor Group- 1991

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Off to Alton Towers – My Tutor Group -1989

Prom

“The Prom” – 1998

Dec to not smoke

“Declaration of Intent to not Smoke” (click on link to view this)

“Judas” featuring Tom Millen- arrangement Joffy Girling

I wonder how many of you ex Crofton pupils (or parents) remember the “Declaration of Intent” – to be a non-smoker during his/her Crofton School education? (featured in pic) It actually proved to be a real success and was recommended by a national non -smoking campaign.
The idea came about because I was passionate about helping pupils to stop smoking, or to encourage them to never start. I gave lots of talks in Assemblies telling the story of how I had smoked from the age of 15 to 21. How I had been invited by two “Jack the Lads “ Trev Lovett and Jamie Adams to my first “dance;” one in which a class mate Ray Shulman was playing in a band called “The Roadrunners” (see blog Feb 6th) Apparently I had mucked about in the back of a Science lesson and had got into enough trouble to be accepted by Trev and Jamie as “alright” and thus get the invite.
The “Club” was in Eastney Modern School in which Ray’s brother Phil was a Teacher. I was totally naïve and this was the first time I had been to anything more social than an Auntie’s birthday party. I had no cool clothes to wear – it was a toss-up between my school uniform or cricket whites. Fortunately I had just about time to get to “Squires” in Commercial Road for mum to buy me a Ben Sherman button-down shirt and a black knitted tie.
I managed to refuse the cigarettes Trev and Jamie offered me on the walk from the bus. “What’s up, can’t your body take it?” I remember them daunting. When I got inside the “club’” I could not believe the atmosphere – it was super charged – girls in mini- skirts – and I mean mini -skirts – music so loud it made my ears hurt and a strange smell which I later found out was body odour and girls – girls in mini- skirts and I mean mini- skirts – whoops I have already said that! Now remember I was going to an all -boy’s school and was shy as anything with the opposite sex- so when one girl later offered me a cigarette there was no way that I could refuse. Mind you I made myself look a complete idiot by trying to light the filter tip end! But that was the start of my smoking “career” which finally finished on my 21st birthday. A very wise decision- it is possible that if I had not quit then I might not be here to write this blog
After giving one particular Assembly talk about my first encounter with nicotine I had the feeling that some pupils thought I was making the story up. However a little later I brought Trev Lovett with me into another Assembly, who not only confirmed my story but also told a hushed audience how he had suffered two heart attacks because, unlike me he had not ever quit smoking. I asked Trev in that assembly what would happen if he had a third heart attack – I think you can guess his answer.
I have always enjoyed organising things and I have already mentioned “The Tube” and “Heat “Discos and the various Football, Basketball, Pony Trekking and Skiing holidays. I also took my first Tutor Group to Paris as well as, of course to the ubiquitous Alton Towers and Thorpe Park. When this Tutor group left Crofton we had “The Party to End All Parties” in the large garden of the house that I was renting at the time. As you can see from the pics everyone was in Formal Dress and it was indeed “The Party to End all Parties. “
This party was, in fact an extension to an event that this, my first Tutor Group invented -“The Prom.” In fact we were the first school to have a “Prom” – all the other schools copied our idea. It came about like this:
I had showed my Tutor Group a video of the film “Footloose” starring Kevin Bacon and in the final scene all the High School Students go to their Prom. My Tutor Group thought it would be great idea for Crofton to have one – I reckon this was 1992. We looked at different venues and decided to go for a basement club called “Ritz’s” which was under the Mecca/Locarno Ballroom in Arundel Street, Portsmouth. michaelcooper.org.uk/C/mecca.htm‎
My Tutor group decided that it should be smart casual wear but somehow it turned out that everyone turned up in Dinner Jackets and Ball Gowns. The looks on the faces of the locals was a picture when 200 pupils dressed to the nines got off the coaches and walked down Arundel St. We had karaoke and the whole thing was just a huge success. Later we moved the “Prom “ to the Pyramids, Southsea (as in pic) and then the Botley Grange Hotel. Although we had coaches take us to the “Proms” the tradition started with the pupils getting to school by Stretch Limo and now, well all sorts of transport has been used from tractors to uni -cycles, from lorries to wheelbarrows
It was at “The Prom” that I first heard our new Music Teacher, Miss Lucy Stimpson sing. It was part of the Karaoke which had by then become an established part of “The Prom.” Lucy sang the Joe Cocker version of the Beatles’ song “With a little help from my friends”
Lucy became the voice and the musical talent that enabled the songs I had made up in my head to become heard. She was, and still is indispensable to Mustard Seed Songs and me. One song sung by Lucy “For God So Loved the World” can be heard on the blog of Feb 13th but more will feature in the following weeks. In the meantime here is another song from our musical Risen! This one features Tom Millen playing the part of the disciple James. Tom trained at the prestigious Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts. James sings this song after he discovers Judas has betrayed Jesus. The arrangement is by Risen’s brilliant Musical Director – another ex -Crofton Student, Joffy Girling.

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