Guyana: My memories of Queen’s College (“Cue See”) – By Geoff Burrowes

  By Geoff Burrowes: 

Those who know her and love her refer to Queen’s College as “Cue see”,(QC) our Alma Mater! I expected from an early age to go there as it was my father’s school. But the road there was not going to be so easy!

I went to Wray High School to prepare for the entrance exam but my time at Wray did not end well so I did extra lessons with an excellent educator, Miss Bobb. In spite of her excellence when I took the entrance exam I failed.

QC at the time was a brooding three story cream wooden building on Brickdam and Vlissingen Road and I was thoroughly intimidated by its stately grandeur and the years of history in its hallowed halls! I was beaten before I ever took the exam and was not surprised when the result was a fail.         

My father’s sister who was married to a great lawyer called Edward De Freitas and who was a typical Burrowes woman said “Nonsense Tommy – the boy is bright!”

The Roman Catholic presbytery was across the road from her house and she regularly offered the hospitality of her home to the Jesuit priests, highlighted by a whiskey and soda and she spoke to the principal of St Stanislaus College, Father Scannel who agreed to test me.  The result is that I formed up at Saints at the beginning of the year.

Under the tutelage of Cora Lopes and “Long and Fine” Singh I learnt. My main memories of Saints were of the friends I made there and being bumped in the pit, under the samaan tree at the South end of the sports field. I was blessed to make many good friends at Saints including Eddie Da Silva, Roger Berry King, Ernest Christiani and Claude Appin who taught me how to draw and incidentally destroy many scribblers during my years at QC. We all learnt under the eyes of the portrait of King George VI whose eyes followed us around the classroom wherever we stood! I only tasted the ferrula once in my year at Saints and since it was administered by Father Bowes it didn’t really count.

Queen's College - Georgetown. Guyana

Queen’s College – Thomas Lands. Georgetown. Guyana

My second attempt at the QC entrance exam was successful and for the next school year I cycled up to the New school building at Thomas Lands.

We were blessed to have as our prep Form teacher Miss Lynette Dolphin, one of a talented family of ladies who excelled at whatever they attempted. Because Miss Dolphin was a music teacher her curriculum was full of music. We learnt a song that she said was written for the Indian sepoys of an elephant regiment that went “Aya aya aya aya twist their tails and go” we sang the “Lonely Ash Grove” and many others that we later sang in the junior and senior choirs.

I can still remember our roll call throughout the early years Ali, Applewhaite, Barker, Barker, Burrowes…. to which we replied “Sir”. Ali was the son of a well-known butcher from La Penitence, Johnny Applewhaite lived on Eping Avenue in one of the first houses built in the new subdivision of Bel Air Park across from the Demerara Tobacco Company, where my dad and Leyland Muss later worked.

Johnny was tall and athletic and kind to the kids who were less phsically gifted than he was. This was not always the case with the kids who excelled in some way! The Applewhaites were a fine family and though I lost touch with Johnny over the years I later became friendly with his brother Raymond. The Barkers were sons of a well-regarded teacher “Bup” Barker.

In our class we had a Narine and a Narayan, Gary Ramprashad, Orson Forbes, Gordon Sankies who later became a Judo champion, Ayube Bacchus, Freddie   Ganpatsingh from Berbice and Bertie Wills from Plaisance who I will always be ashamed to say I stood by while certain of my classmates flushed his bughouse down our cloakroom toilet. Bertie I’m sorry I didn’t stand up for you.!

Over the years we had many teachers who taught us and more important piqued our interest in the subjects they taught. They included Mr Claude Yansen known by his students as Yango and universally loved by the students who enjoyed his care and never forgot his teaching. Mr Potter who taught us Religion, “Eddie” London who hopped on a student’s desk, a feat for someone who rejoiced in a 5ft frame, to illustrate a point about Rotterdam being at the time the busiest port that was inland. And Bobby Moore who left me with a thirst for history; particularly Guyanese history, that has never been quenched. They were supported by a crackerjack office staff including Miss Wang Ping.

You know there are certain people you meet who you know you will never warm to. That, unfortunately for me was our new principle, a Welshman Mr. Sanger Davies and the feeling was obviously mutual as he once told me that at my current rate of progress my education would fit me to be a mediocre dray cart driver. At least he didn’t say donkey cart!

My house master was E.R. Burrowes who was also our Art teacher and as he was a brilliant artist I learnt a lot from him and loved drawing. He also ran the Working People’s Art Class on the top floor, Art room where I was able to rub shoulders with great artists like Ronald Leila, Ron Savoury, Stanley Greaves, Tony Phillips, Mrs H, Indrani Ramphal and of course Mr Burrowes himself.

I wasn’t a bright boy like Habiboula Niamathali or a gifted athlete like Chesney, Growler Matthews, George Baker, or Roland Carryl so apart from singing in the choirs and occasionally painting the stage set I was never eligible to be on the school stage.

I did on occasion enjoy (?) visits to the principal’s office where he would open his desk drawer and invite me to select my instrument of punishment. After a while I discovered that they all stung equally so I shrugged and let him choose! Sanger was the only person I knew who could give you “six of the best” and leave three perfect purplish blue stripes down the backs of your legs!

While I was not a great student my education at QC set me up very well for the rest of my life and it was only in later years that I realised the quality of all I learned during my time there and the values that were intrinsic in our QC environment.

     Laude Gratemor scholae

     Nostrae Conditores

     Disce Nam uibent Ludo

     et Labore Mores

  I still get goose bumps when I hear or sing it!


ALSO READ:

Queen’s College of Guyana celebrates 170th Anniversary (Sept 2014)

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Comments

  • kamtanblog  On 07/31/2019 at 2:39 am

    My experiences at SSC were more of a “revolution” than an “education”
    The new principal Fr Hopkinson (suspected)
    paedophile we all hated.
    25 3b students were expelled and later
    re-admitted investigation by Hoppy as he
    was known completed.
    Crime…selling condoms in school (catholic
    institution…my twin brother Thomas the
    only expulsion upheld…supply source/salesperson in chief.
    It is all in my “biography” am writing ..
    my legacy for my 4 children 6 grandchildren
    before my exit into the afterlife if it exists.

    Kamtan 🇬🇧🇬🇾🇪🇸👽🦍

  • Salima  On 07/31/2019 at 6:53 am

    Hope your finger is feeling better today?
    Don’t know if you were in the same class with Geoff Burrowes but here are his memories
    of QC.

    Sent from my iPad

  • Mark Melville  On 07/31/2019 at 11:59 pm

    My father, Leslie Melville born in 1931, attended QC in the mid 1940s. He ran track and field and was in Austin House. He lived with the Gilkes family and was in QC with Michael and Gordon Gilkes. He had interesting memories of QC and growing up in “BG”. Leslie died years ago and I have a photo of him and 4 track team members getting awards for events. If anyone is interested in seeing it and helping me identify the others in the photo, dated 1948, please email me at marksac@hotmail.com

  • puigpantxin  On 08/03/2019 at 12:55 pm

    I got into QC and was looking forward to wearing the bughouse when my parents decided it was better that I should follow my two brothers to Saints, which I did. My experiences there included talking back to Miss Lopes (literally, by sucking in air while speaking) in company with a boy named Tranquada and jumping the gun to answer a maths question from Mr Jonas (Sit, boy, sit! – as he beat the space in front of him with four extended fingers.)
    Mike

    • geoffburrowes  On 03/25/2021 at 10:56 am

      Hi Mike – I spent one year at Sts. before giung to QC and remember Cora Lopes and Mr Jonas fondly. Your characterization of him was right on!

  • John C Yates  On 10/29/2021 at 4:04 pm

    Geoff you brought back a lot of memories what about Downes Willock Wilson all part of the General Form. Saw Tony at an art exhibition that the Alumni recently had.
    John “fishy” Yates

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