Written by Roger Gould
After I returned from the OEs' Dinner at QEH, I was shocked and dismayed to hear that good friend Harry had died in a Manchester hospital. I thought he was slowly recovering from a severe attack of pneumonia but his general health was unhelpful and a second infection was too much. He had booked for the Dinner on November 12th, but instead it was the day he succumbed.
Harry was a fascinating character and he wrote an excellent book about growing up and early adulthood called 'Up the Bumpy Lane.' It includes a humorous and entertaining review of his experiences with his somewhat dysfunctional family in Bristol. There are two chapters about his education as a QEH day boy and later boarder, entering the school in January 1953, and many episodes are described. He was not academically inclined but he was outstanding at yard football.
I remember visiting him at the BRI due to hepatitis, and also sitting in his prefab home at Henleaze listening to Rock and Roll records which were played loudly on a Dansette turntable. Bill Haley, Little Richard and Fats Domino were favourites.
We played football on Saturdays for a couple of seasons in a junior team in a Bristol league. Harry showed his clever footwork and body swerve which served him well when he later played as a semi-professional in the Midlands.
He always spoke his mind and had a warm and roguish charm which was impressive. I was not surprised that although he had left QEH in the first-year 6th with 5 GCE O levels and wandered for a couple of years, he became a shining example of a late developer, and I was not surprised that with his personality and determination he went to a Birmingham training college and became a fine teacher, achieving a deputy headship.
He always told us a good story when OEs got together and I am sure it was all true. After we became pensioners, his comments reflected a sensitivity which lay not far below the surface. He said to me 'The trouble with old age, Rog, is that it's all downhill and we can't do a ruddy thing about it!'
Despite his health setbacks, it was remarkable he lived as long as he did. But he was never going to leave the stage without resisting. I will miss him very much and the hilarious email exchanges between him, Barry Coombs and me.
Written by Barry Coombs
Harry was the one person at QEH in our school entry year of 1952 who could be called a polymath in later life. Apart from being a semi-professional footballer he was also an excellent cricketer, a fast bowler who partnered Derek Marsh in school matches. Derek went on to be a Gloucester County player.
He was also a very talented actor who often took the lead at the Crescent theatre in Birmingham. My wife and I saw him in the lead role of Richard III in which he was outstanding and also in Zigger Zagger a modern play in which he also starred.
He was an author and his book on childhood in Bristol after the war was featured on BBC local radio. He always loved the music of the 50s and would often sing in pubs or at parties. He also formed his own pop group at Birmingham Teachers Training College called Big H and the Chenelles. Another cheeky Harry joke as I believe Mr Chennelles was the Education Secretary for Birmingham Council at the time. I went to the College to see the group play which was very entertaining, and he was good. I also have a very professional CD of him singing for his supper in a club in Portugal where he had a holiday home, one of his great loves.
I will always remember him as a wonderful friend. He made so many people happy everywhere he went. His wife has told me that she has had many messages of condolence from friends all over the British Isles and abroad. He will be greatly missed. Our thoughts are with his family.
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