Music and the charismatic 'Mac'

Fawcett School
©Ian Brook

‘Mac’ was charismatic

When I was a pupil at Fawcett School, at around the age of eleven, Mr Mckinnon, sometimes daringly called ‘Mac’ to his face, taught some of us to attempt to play the violin. At one point, he also invited us to audition for a place in the Brighton Boys’ Choir. I seem to remember that the audition involved simply standing up and singing. Mac was charismatic and lots of boys wanted to join in.

Another world

Being in the Brighton Boys’ Choir was an introduction to another world. First, we did not realise that pupils from other schools were part of the choir. The standing joke with Mac, when things got a bit shrill, was ‘don’t Fawcett, boys’. We thought this was hilarious. It was, too. Fawcett School was normally devoid of any sort of humour. 

Did you attend here? Do you remember ‘Mac’? Share your memories by posting a comment below

Visiting different venues

The world that opened up to us was travelling, if only in a limited way. We were taken to older people’s homes, in and around the Brighton and Hove area, to Chailey Heritage and – across the road from school – to St Peter’s Church. For children, like us, who hardly went anywhere, this was great excitement.  So was singing in a choir. The other great thing about the Brighton Boys’ Choir was our learning about other sorts of music. One of my favourite pieces was Franck’s Panis Angelicus. The fact that we didn’t know what we were singing about made no difference to the beauty of singing it. 

Comments about this page

  • The photo for this piece makes Fawcett look like a long-term institution. And that’s exactly what it was. 

    By Philip Burnard (12/09/2015)
  • I was at Fawcett from 1959 to 1963. Mac was  my music teacher and I was one of the ones he taught the  violin, which I still have, and can still get a tune from at a push. I played with the Sussex Youth Orchestra and would love to hear from anyone who remembers me. I was mates with Graham Martin,  Derek Keates, David Newman,  Sergio Papadopoulas and Vitor Heal whose father had the amusements by the Aquarium. Cheers

    By Peter Rogers (13/09/2015)
  • My memories of Fawcett, 1958 to 1962, are generally good, certainly nostalgic; I recognize all of the names in Peter’s comment above and would like to make contact with them; other names I recall are Robert Bleach, ? Killian, Mathew? a Canadian lad? Cisco; we were all in form 4C in 61-62. A few of our teachers showed interest and care, like Bill (Wilf) Benson; unfortunately most of them were obviously unhappy and  gave little of themselves – such as our ‘militant’ history teacher, ‘arrogant’ carpentry teacher and ‘disinterested’ technical drawing teacher. Despite this, I received a good basic education and did well after five years of tertiary education. I left Brighton and have lived in Africa for almost 50 years.

    By Leon Bradley (21/01/2016)
  • I was at Fawcett from 1961 to 1963 when I took the 13+ exam and went to Varndean.  There was nothing “secondary” at all about Fawcett’s education and, except for not having to study Latin, in all other subjects at Varndean, a Fawcett education never left me lacking at all.  In fact in Physics (Mr Silverman), French (Monsieur Servelle and Mr Tolhurst), English (Deputy head Sam……???) and English Lit (the Navy guy who loved to slipper misbehavers) and Geography (Jazz Bolton) I was well ahead of my Varndean classmates.
    I have many very happy memories of my time at Fawcett.  Admittedly break time in the playground could be a bit of a challenge for a 12 year old what with wandering bullies looking for fresh victims, but class time was great – at least it was for me.  I do remember a David Rose (probably two or three years older than me) who beat me up and tore off my two-week-old inoculation scar with his transistor radio because I dared to drink my ? pint of milk when he told me that the whole crate was his. I’ve never been one to tolerate bullies like that.
    My education at Fawcett was great and stood me in good stead for a life at Varndean and subsequently university in London and then Columbia University in New York.  I left England in 1978 and have lived and worked in the US ever since.  Living in Phoenix, Arizona – despite our whacko state politics and the bizarre national circus that passes for an election campaign.

    By Phil Allsopp (01/06/2016)
  • Hi Phil.  The navy guy you refer to was Des Moore who was my form master when I attended Fawcett and yes I got that slipper a couple of times and it sure did hurt for five minutes. He was a great guy though and we exchanged letters when I was serving overseas with the army in 65.

    By Roger Ivermee (02/06/2016)

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