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This episode, taken from The Wizard issue: 1721 February 7th 1959.

Tom Smith, of the Lower Third, a junior of Clay’s House at Lipstone College, one of Britain’s most famous public schools, was very busy in the Junior Common Room after Prep. He was working on a pair of football boots, too big to be his own. He had greased them until the leather was soft, pliable, and shiny. Now he started to thread in a new pair of laces. A recent sensation at Lipstone had been the severe punishment inflicted on T. A. K. Simmerson and Tony Loxley, two Sixth Formers, for betting at Lipstone Races. They had been gated for the rest of the term and deprived of their fags. Not that anyone worried, for Simmerson was a dark, scowling fellow, unpopular because of his bullying, and Loxley wasn’t much better. Other news was that the new Headmaster of Lipstone, Mr Jack Pepperel, had now left Clay’s House to take up residence in his own house by the main school. Ratliff, an ex-Naval Chief Petty Officer, was still doing a spell on trial as School Porter. Paddy Moss and Ian Shaw, two other members of the Lower Third, came into the room. “Are those Ape’s boots, Tom?” asked Paddy. Tom nodded. A. P. E. Carew, nicknamed Ape because of his initials, was the good natured prefect for whom he fagged. “I’m just giving them a clean-up for the Shawbridge game tomorrow,” Tom said. “It will be a terrific game,” Ian said. “Shawbridge haven’t been defeated this season.” “Neither have we,” retorted Tom. “That’s why it will be a terrific game,” chuckled Ian. Tom finished putting the laces in the football boots and went off to the Ape’s study. Carew was lolling in an armchair. The Ape seemed lazy, but was really a very wide-awake person. He looked up and stared at the boots in Tom’s hand. “Who d’you think I am?” the Ape asked with a grin.” “A footballing Beau Brummel?” “Who?” gasped Tom. “Beau Brummel was a dandy once upon a time,” said the Ape. “Thanks, Tom I shall be a credit to you yet.” Tom put the boots on the window ledge. Carew was the School goalkeeper. “Wait a minute,” grunted the Ape. “Where did you put my sweater?” “I hung it up,” said Tom. “Here it is – on the door behind your overcoat.” “If you’d left it on the floor I should have been able to find it,” grinned Carew. “Okay! You can buzz off.” Tom was leaving the room when the Ape called out, “Whoa!” “There’s a bag of biscuits somewhere – oh, here, on the floor,” he added. “Help yourself.” Tom went out with a couple of biscuits. As he left the study Clive Mitchell, the Clay’s House Captain, strolled in. He tripped over a hole in the threadbare carpet. “Still wallowing in your squalor, Ape?” he said. “I like it!” chuckled Carew. “If you had the carpet turned round, the hole wouldn’t be so conspicuous,” pointed out Mitchell. “Oh, I’m not fussy,” said Carew casually. Mitchell walked over to the hearth. “I’ve just been talking to Mr Gull,” he began. He was referring to Clay’s Housemaster. “He’s going to make you House vice-captain in Simmerson’s place.” “Hang!” exclaimed Carew. “I don’t want the job, Clive. Both Cliff Howling and Rob Renfrew are senior to me as prefects.” “They’ll be in favour of you having the job,” retorted Mitchell. “Anyway, Mr Gull will be mentioning it to you himself. I’d like to have you as vice-captain, Ape. I know you won’t refuse.” I apparently haven’t much choice,” answered Carew. “What’s the time, by the way?” “Time you went up and put the lights out in the junior dormitory,” said Mitchell. “Oh, I’ll give ‘em another few minutes,” yawned Carew. Lipstone was a school with many old customs and traditions and there were unwritten rules to be observed about a football match. Masters, Sixth Formers, and visitors watched the game from the pavilion. The pitch was surrounded by duck-boards, on which the other spectators stood. Fifth Formers, for some long-forgotten reason, always stood behind the goal at the school end. Juniors had to stay on the side opposite the pavilion. When the teams came out they did not run off towards the goals. Instead, they scattered about anywhere and two or three footballs were booted about haphazardly. Strangers would also have noticed another unusual happening. After a minute or two of kicking about, A. B. Baxter, the Lipstone Captain and Gant-Thompson, Captain of Shawbridge, strolled casually towards one another. There was no hand-shaking. They had a chat for half a minute or so and then Baxter pulled his hands out of his pockets and spun a coin. Gant Thompson won the toss and said that Shawbridge would with the wind. “Would somebody referee for us?” he called out. Mr Sandy Stevenson the Second Master, in charge of sports, immediately walked out. He wore a football cap with a tassel and a red and blue blazer. John Gregg, a new boy who had come to Lipstone from Canada, was standing by Tom on the far side. “Why do they do all this?” he asked. “They always have,” Tom said. “I suppose it’s to emphasise that it’s the game that counts.” Tom himself had won a scholarship to Lipstone from South Street Central, a Council school in Ironboro’, where his father was a grocer. When he had first come to Lipstone, Tom, too, had sometimes been bewildered by the school’s traditions and customs.

Last Minute Thrills

Once Mr Stevenson had blown his whistle, the procedure was normal. Lipstone, in their brilliant pink shirts and stockings, contrasted with Shawbridge in light blue. The home eleven consisted of the Ape in goal; C. C. Buckram, also of Clay’s House and Lowbridge, of Foster’s, as backs; L. P. Reed (Peel’s), Baxter and Staverton (Foster’s), half-backs; and B. L. N. Marshall (Foster’s), Clive Mitchell (Clay’s), P. T. Goslin (Parker’s), A.R.T. Shrimm (Manning’s), and Van Dorn (Parker’s), forwards. There were five Houses at Lipstone. The names in brackets show which House each player belonged. Tom, who took football very seriously, felt anxious at the way Shawbridge started to press. He thought that their forwards were very good. The centre-forward, Brenson, was a hefty fellow and made good use of his weight in worrying the Lipstone-defence. Gant-Thompson, who played right-half, was cleaver with his passes. Tom held his breath as Gant-Thompson put a slick through-pass ahead of Brenson. The centre-forward shot hard on the run. The Ape dived and held the ball on the line. As he scrambled up, Brenson charged him. Carew lobbed the ball to Buckram just before he was knocked into the net. “Wow!” gasped Tom as Ferryman the Shawbridge inside-left, took a side-pass from Brenson and shaped for a shot. The Ape strode out. As the ball flew from Ferryman’s feet Carew hurled himself over in a sideways dive. The ball struck his hands, curved and rolled just outside the upright. The corner-kick was taken. The Ape sprang and whisked the ball away as Brenson shaped for a header. Carew bounced the ball forward and got in a long windward kick. Van Dorn, the South African Lipstone senior, had a great turn of speed and the Ape’s kick gave him a few yards start. He sprinted forward, swerved in, inter-passed with Shrimm and then placed the ball ahead of Mitchell. Clay’s House Captain shot on the volley into the net. It was a surprise goal against the run of play. Tom threw his cap in the air and it was kicked about by Paddy Moss and John Gregg before he managed to get it back. Until half-time Shawbridge still had the better of the game without being able to score. Lipstone did well for the first few minutes of the second-half, but Shawbridge then got into their stride again and launched raid after raid. Brenson had a shot. Carew hugged the ball to his chest and cleared. A few moments later Gant-Thompson sent in a sizzling long shot. The Ape just managed to tip it over the bar. He saved the corner with another amazing leap. Gant-Thompson, playing a captain’s game, beat two players and weaving in. He put the ball low and hard across the goal and, slipping as he tried to intercept it, Buckram knocked it with his hand. Mr Stevenson’s whistle was heard and he pointed to the penalty-spot. “Gosh, that’s a bit harsh!” Paddy Moss exclaimed. “That wasn’t an international foul!” “He had to give the penalty,” muttered Tom dismally. “The ball would have reached Brenson if the Ram hadn’t stopped it.” “Who’s going to take it? Oh, Gant-Thompson,” Ian said. The Shawbridge captain placed the ball and walked back for a long run. Tom stood on his toes to see better. Gant-Thompson broke into his stride and hit the ball low to Ape’s left. The goalkeeper dived at the speeding ball and, as cheers broke out, pushed it away. The shot was too hot for him to hold. Brenson was rushing up. He lashed out at the ball. At point-blank range it hit the Ape on the side of the head and rolled him over. Baxter kicked upfield and the ball bounced out of play. Mr Stevenson helped Carew up. Carew gave a shake of the head and rubbed his temple. “I’m all right,” he said stubbornly. Mr Stevenson watched as the Ape tottered back into goal and put a hand against the upright. Then the master blew his whistle for the throw-in. The din was continuous as Shawbridge battled furiously to try to save the game. “Here it is!” Ian yelped as Brenson turned the ball through a gap. Ferryman shot. Carew was seen to dive half the width of the goal and clutch at the ball just outside the line. He got up, kicked out, and the whistle, going for time, was hardly heard for the storm of cheering. Baxter called on his players for three cheers for Shawbridge and the visiting players replied. Tom was in the rush towards Carew. Baxter had gone over to congratulate him. “I thought that shot would have knocked your head off!” the captain exclaimed. The Ape grinned. “It’s a good thing I’m marble from the ears upwards,” he said. At Call-Over the same evening, Mr Gull told Clay’s House that he had appointed Carew as vice-captain. Judging by the applause it was an extremely popular choice.

Mr Pepperel’s Plan

On Monday morning Tom was downstairs with a few minutes in hand before breakfast. He went straight to the letter rack. There were no letters for him, but he noticed there was a letter for Carew, so he took it out to take it to the new vice-captain. Tom went to the study. The Ape had lit the gas-fire. He was standing on the hearth rug, hands behind his back. “I’ve a letter for you, Carew,” Tom said. The Ape took the envelope and opened it. He read the letter and put it in his pocket. “When are you going to do a proper job as a fag?” he snapped suddenly. Tom grinned. He thought it was a joke – till he saw the anger on Carew’s face. “You’ve let this place get like a pig-sty,” rasped the Ape. “Look at it –” He flourished a hand round. “Books on the floor, stuff under the table, and a shelf that looks like a junk shop.” Tom’s eyes were wide open in amazement. “Look at these!” The Ape stooped and picked up a pair of brown shoes. “Look at them! Filthy!” “I’ve cleaned one pair for you,” Tom gasped. “You wore those shoes last night. I was going to clean them later.” He lifted an arm and ducked. Carew hurled one of the shoes at him. It whizzed over Tom’s head and struck the wall with a thud. The other shoe followed and hit his shoulder. “I’ll wear this pair,” Carew said sharply. “Clean them now.” Tom was biting his lip as he picked the shoes up. The box containing brushes and polish was under a shelf at the back of the armchair and he went to fetch it out. “Not in here.” Shouted the Ape. “Go and clean them somewhere else!” Tom moved slowly towards the door with box and shoes. He had always cleaned the shoes in the study previously. Still feeling dumbfounded. Tom went to the room at the end of the corridor where there was a sink and where the fags did their washing-up. Tom was brushing away at the shoes when Ian came in. Ian was Clive Mitchell’s fag and had several cups and saucers to wash. “Gosh, what are you doing here?” Ian exclaimed. “You’ve never cleaned Carew’s shoes here before.” Tom did not tell Ian about Carew’s angry demonstration. He rubbed at the shoes till they shone and took them back to the study. The Ape glanced at the shoes. He seized them without a word, sat down, kicked off his slippers, and started to put the shoes on. “Come back here after breakfast and put the study straight,” he snapped at Tom. “Later on you’ll get some of the other fags to help you move the carpet so that the hole is away from the door.” The bell for breakfast began to ring. Tom was brought up by a shout. “Put my slippers away!” exclaimed the Ape. “Have I got to tell you every little thing?” At breakfast Tom cast frequent puzzled glances towards Carew. The new vice-captain was sitting at the top table with Mr Gull and the other prefects. The boys left the room about half-past eight. A crowd of juniors were in the hall when Carew strode up. “Perkis!” he rasped. “You’ve neither brushed your hair nor washed your neck this morning. That goes for you too, Pike. You’re a disgrace to the House. Go upstairs and clean yourselves. Sprat Perkis and Freddie Pike, both of the Lower Third, looked flabbergasted. Other prefects had jumped on them now and then for untidiness, but this was the first time they had been pulled up by Carew. “Moss,” snapped the Ape. “I looked into the Junior Common Room before breakfast. It looks as if it had been used by a troop of monkeys. You’re leader of the Lower Third. Take a gang in there and get it put straight. Paddy Moss looked as startled as the others had been. Tom hurried off, however, to start on the job of putting Ape’s study in order. First of all he picked everything up off the floor. Then he fetched a brush and started to sweep. The job was not half-done by five minutes to nine. The Ape scowled when he saw the work was not finished and told Tom to get it polished off before dinner. Tom had to fetch his books. He ran all the way across the quadrangle and only just beat Mr Creef, the peppery master of the Lower Third, into the classroom. Mr Creef rapped his table for silence. “I want Smith, Shaw, Moss, Hart, Cooper, and Churchill up here,” he said. “While, I am talking to them, the rest of you will complete your map of the European coalfields. Tom and Ian exchanged surprised glances as they stood up. “What have we done?” murmured Tom. “Can’t think of anything,” replied Ian. Paddy, Frank Hart (Peel’s), Noel Churchill (Manning’s), and Ralph Cooper, also of Manning’s, followed them to the front. “You boys have been doing some pretty good work,” began Mr Creef, “and as a result you have been chosen to take part in an experiment. Mr Creef’s voice was friendly. “In about a fortnight’s time the bright boys of the various senior schools in the town will be sitting an examination,” he went on to say. “Those who pass will be awarded scholarships to the technical school and the grammer school. “As you are about the same age, and should be of the same standard, you are to sit the papers – not, of course, with the idea of winning anything, but for purposes of comparison”. “Our Headmaster, Mr Pepperel, is really behind this idea,” said Mr Creef. “But it was readily accepted by the Lipstone Education Committee and local teachers.” He smiled drily. “We of course, hope that you will put up a good show and trust that your papers will be at least equal to the best any of the town boys will produce. In a very real sense you will representing the school.” “There will be five subjects,” stated Mr Creef. “English – including composition  and grammer – arithmetic, algebra, history and geography. “I’m not very good at algebra, sir,” Paddy blurted out. “You will be by the time the examination takes place,” said Mr Creef. “Some extra coaching will be given to you. So far as possible you will not be asked to work overtime.” “That’s a mercy,” whispered Paddy. “What did you say, Moss?” demanded Mr Creef. “Er – I said – that’s a mercy,” spluttered Paddy. “I shall see if I can mingle mercy with making you work,” said Mr Creef. “Now, for a start, I would like an hour with you tonight. You all start your Prep in the various Houses at half-past six, I believe. I shan’t be ready for you till shortly after seven. So, if you ask for permission to leave Prep on the hour and come to the Elms –” He mentioned the house in College Avenue where he had his quarters. “ – It will fit in nicely. We can then survey the work that has to be covered and make our plans for dealing with it. You may sit down.”

What’s Wrong With Carew?

Soon after tea that evening, Clive Mitchell pushed open the door of Carew’s study. He came in cautiously, remembering the hole in the carpet. Then, with surprise on his face, he stopped and looked around. Not a thing was out of place. The carpet had been turned. The shelf was orderly. The gas-fire burned evenly. “Gosh, Ape, what’s happened in here?” gasped Mitchell. “You look as if you’ve had a spring cleaning.” “Not before it was due,” said the Ape. “I’ve been doing a bit of chasing round.” “I must say it’s an improvement,” remarked the captain slowly. Mitchell had come in to discuss some minor House matters. Then he mentioned Prep. “You’ll be taking Prep tonight,” he remarked. “Mr Gull is too busy. Keep an eye on Bennett, the Third Form lad, and Penge, the Fourth Former. They’ve had poor reports from their Form Masters. See that they don’t let their minds wander.” “I’ll watch them,” said the Ape. At about half-past six Tom, books under his arm, was in the stream of boys going into the big classroom that was used for Prep. To his surprise he saw that Carew was already in the room. When he took Prep he usually ambled in when everyone had more or less settled down. The prefect uttered a shout. “There’s too much noise,” he roared. “Hurry into your seats and start work!” John Mottram, captain of the Fourth, turned towards him. “I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten my history exercise book,” he said. “It has a half-finished essay in it that I want to complete tonight. May I go over to school and fetch it?” “No” snapped the Ape. Mottram looked flabbergasted. “But I have to finish the essay tonight,: he protested. “Finish it in you own time then” retorted Carew. “Sit down!” Mottram flushed and went to his desk. He was not a boy who tried things on. He had not been offering an excuse for a walk across the quadrangle. The Ape’s refusal meant he would have to work for an hour after Prep – and waste time up till then. “Quiet!” shouted the Ape at some of the fags. Carew sat down at the table and opened his own books. There was an uneasy silence in the room. Prep was not usually too strict. If a boy wanted to borrow a ruler or consult a neighbour upon the lessons to be done, there was no objection, providing he did not make too much noise. Tony Bennett did a sum. Then he slid a hand into his pocket. He swiftly smuggled a toffee into his mouth. The Ape jumped up. “Bennett!” he thundered. “Go to my study and wait for me!” The Third Former stood up, trying to get rid of the toffee and shuffled out. Carew, after warning the boys to get on with their work, strode after him. A minute or two passed. The door opened. Bennett came in slowly. His face red and he was biting his lips. It was as much as he could do to walk. “How many did he give you, Tony?” demanded Mottram grimly. “I lost count after ten,” Bennett said. “After ten?” gasped Mottram. “A prefect isn’t supposed to give more than six.” “Ssssh!” The Ape walked in. “If you can’t sit down, stand up by the window ledge, Bennett,” he said savagely. The sympathy of the boys was with Bennett. There was tension and hostility towards the Ape in the atmosphere. Tom glanced at the clock. Then he put up his hand. “Can we go now, please?” he asked. “Can we go where?” mocked the Ape. Tom explained that, with Paddy and Ian, he was to go to the Elms. “It’s for extra coaching for the Town exams,” he added. The Ape’s expression was one of hot resentment. “You can’t go,” he said. “I’ve heard nothing about it. In any case, I don’t approve.” “Mr Creef will be waiting for us,” Tom protested. “If he wants you, he will have to fetch you,” Carew was saying, when the door opened. Mr Gull, a shoe lace unfastened and his tie slipping down, stood in the doorway and peered over his spectacles. Clay’s Housemaster was untidy but popular. Because of his harsh voice he was nicknamed the Squawker. “I forgot to tell you, Carew, that Smith, Moss, and Shaw should be at the Elms by seven,” he said. “Smith has just mentioned it,” Carew replied with a frown. “It’s a wild idea, this examination, isn’t it, sir?” “No, it’s a very good idea,” said Mr Gull. “The boys in question will be given such time as they require without further question.” Mr Gull was probably surprised at the excited buzz, a buzz almost of applause, that his answer occasioned. He could not be aware, that by putting Carew in his place, he had gained the keen approval of the boys. Tom and his two friends followed Mr Gull out of the room. A minute later they were running across the moonlit quadrangle. Ratliff, the acting Porter, was on the alert and came out of the Lodge, but when he heard where they were going he let them go without question. Mr Creef in his own study, and without his mortarboard and gown, was not such a formidable figure as in the classroom. He sat the six boys round the table in his comfortable study and they discussed their programme. The last thirty five minutes were spent in doing an arithmetic test paper. Promptly at eight, with the remark that they probably wanted their suppers as much as he needed his, Mr Creef dismissed the juniors. In the quadrangle they separated. Ian had a tennis ball in his pocket. He threw it down and Tom and Paddy ran along with him, exchanging passes. In the moonlight they could see the ball easily. They were nearing the House when Paddy really got his toe under the ball. Tom tried to stop it, but it whizzed past his head and travelled along the side of the building. “You fetch it,” he exclaimed. “It’s your ball, Tom,” chuckled Ian. “I took it out of your locker.” Tom gave a laugh and ran to fetch the ball. It had come to a stop just outside the Ape’s study window. Blinds were seldom drawn at Lipstone and Tom looked straight in. The Ape was sitting at the table. His Head was resting in his hands and there was a strange, brooding look in his eyes.

Smith of the Lower Third (First series) 163 episodes appeared in The Wizard issues 1133 - 1295

Smith of the Fourth Form (Second series) 45 episodes appeared in The Wizard issues 1296 – 1332, 1334/6/8/1340/2/4/6/8

Smith of the Lower Third (Third series) 17 episodes appeared in The Wizard issues 1473 - 1489

Smith of the Lower Third (Fourth series) 15 episodes appeared in The Wizard issues 1539 – 1553

Smith of the Lower Third The above episode (one of 32 of the Fifth series) appeared in The Wizard issues 1718 – 1749

Smith of the Lower Third Episodes were repeated in Rover and Adventure during the 1960’s


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