January 28th 1921


JANUARY 26th 1921

A schoolboy, whose name was not divulged, speaking the inaugural lines at the opening of the World Service Exhibition at the Town Hall, Oxford. This youth was intended to represent anonymously the spirit of youth as the Unknown Warrior represented the spirit of sacrifice in the War.

The photograph and caption above are from yesterday’s edition of the ‘Daily Mirror’ and is of great interest to us all here.

Just why a schoolboy came to open this prestigious event and how he was chosen was reported in another local newspaper (the ‘Nottingham Evening Post’) a few days ago:

“The schoolboy’s rank or wealth will not be considered. His only qualification will be a voice that can be heard throughout the town hall. The decision to select the anonymous schoolboy followed the inability of the Prince of Wales, owing to the pressure of his engagements, to open the exhibition, which aims at improving conditions of life throughout the world. A prominent exhibitor will be the International Labour Office, whose ideal and function is the methodical improvement of world labour conditions.”

We are quietly very proud of our own young Per Mallalieu (aged 12) who is the ‘anonymous schoolboy’ in question.

The inaugural lines he recited in opening the event (which runs until February 6th) were those of  ‘The Trust’ by Dr Cyril Alington:

They trusted God. Unslumbering and unsleeping
He sees and sorrows for a world at war,
His ancient covenant secretly keeping;
And these had seen His promise from afar,
That through the pain, the sorrow, and the sinning,
That righteous Judge the issue should decide,
Who ruled over all from the beginning - 
And in that faith they died.

They trusted England - Scarce the prayer was spoken
Ere they beheld what they had hungered for -
A mighty country with its ranks unbroken,
A city built in unity once more;
Freedom's best champion, girt for yet another
And mightier enterprise for Right defied,
A land whose children live to serve their Mother - 
And in that faith they died.

And us thy trusted: we the task inherit,
The unfinished task for which their lives were spent;
But leaving us a portion of their spirit
They gave their witness and they died content.
Full well they knew they could not build without us
That better country, giant and far descried,
God's own true England: but they did not doubt us - 
And in that faith they died.

Per has had plenty of practice recently, having just played the role of Macbeth in our annual Shakespeare production, alongside Esmé Vernon as his Lady.

Esmé Vernon and Per Mallalieu

The ‘Oxford Chronicle’ reported that “Esmé played the part of Lady Macbeth with great and feeling power, whilst Percival Mallalieu as Macbeth did splendidly. He knew his long part perfectly, and acted and spoke with intelligence and effect. His appearance was perhaps too youthful and amiable, and indeed he obeyed his fierce Lady in looking ‘like the innocent flower,’ but at the same time there was a good deal of ‘the serpent under it.’”

January 14th 1921

S K I – I N G    I N    S W I T Z E R L A N D 

The British Championship

The first ever British Ski Championship was held at Wengen in Switzerland on January 6th and 7th, and yesterday’s edition of ‘The Times’ reveals that it was won by an Old Dragon!

The correspondent writes:

“The championship was awarded on the combined marking of a race and a style competition. It is notorious that races are often won by inferior ski-runners who run straight, risking falls and using their stick for changes of direction and control of speed. It would be a pity if the British Champion was a stick-rider, however plucky, who has not mastered the graceful and effortless Norwegian style, and it was to insure against any such depressing result that the committee decided to mark the race and the style competition equally.

Mr Leonard Dobbs, a young Cambridge undergraduate, won both parts of the championship. He scored 82% on style against Mr RB McConnell’s 80, and was 67 seconds faster than McConnell in the race. His victory was popular, for he is a sporting runner who does not shirk steep slopes, and he is the son of another fine ski-runner, Mr GC Dobbs, so well known to Wengen and Villars visitors. Mr Patrick Dobbs was second in the race and fourth in the Championship, so the family have every reason to remember with pride the first British Championship.”

Leonard’s father, Mr George Dobbs, was a director of the tourist agency belonging to Sir Henry Lunn and as a result the family spent a lot of time in Switzerland before the war, where they learnt to ski.

Whilst Patrick displayed great academic ability whilst at the OPS – indeed he won a scholarship to Winchester College – Leonard was less so. On the advice of a friend of the family he was sent to Bedales School. He is currently up at St John’s College Cambridge studying mathematics and science.

The Draconian of his time records one less than successful moment in his career with us, regarding his performance in a poetry recital in December 1913:

“Of 35 boys, half got practically full marks, and there was only one failure, L. Dobbs.”