The ‘Chi High’ overseas group, including Tony Horne, Dave Richardson, and Keith Upton has decided that, as I know more than most about John, I should put down a few observations on his 76 years. Others within our network have added anecdotes and observations.
Ormonde Avenue houses are not large – the Haines family was. However, Ken, Mavis, Margaret, John, Roger and Chris somehow managed but, after John’s encounter with polio, it could not have been easy. The house was always a happy buzz of comings and goings, with Mavis organising the set-up, and playing a big part in the conversations.
The Haines family branch, based at Itchenor, can trace its maritime past way back into history. The Haines Boatyard was a relaxed and interesting place. Messing about in boats, with John in charge, was a good way to spend a day. John took his turn in manning the foot ferry to Bosham. When a famous thespian passenger explained his vital roles at the Festival Theatre, John put on his best ‘yokel voice’ and said, ‘I hope it keeps fine for you squire’. Affectation was never high in John’s reckoning!
Following his degree at Southampton (door-to-door in a two-stroke monstrosity in 27 minutes), John was taken on by one of the largest accountancy firms in London – the co-owner just happened to have his yacht at the Boatyard.
John’s career really moved on after his firm assigned him to Swindon to set up The Book Club. W.H. Smith knew a good thing when they saw it and he was soon ensconced in offices in The Strand as Chief Accountant. On the acquisition of Doubledays, John was soon ‘Concording it’ to the Big Apple and back, much to the envy of the rest of us. Remodelling the firm meant that John was able to take advantage of a restructuring plan that set him up for early retirement in the Witterings, the idyllic seaside space where many of us spent their schooldays revising for their exams!
His house on the seafront, with balcony views from Selsey to the Isle of Wight, was magnificent.
John’s generosity to helpers, friends and relations was second to none. His Christmas bash at the local ‘Italian’ showed the full extent of his friends and acquaintances.
The range of expertise and experience at the ‘lunch club’, established over the last decade, always led to long and interesting meals. Chris Thomas, Ian Odin, Dave Wellbelove, John and I would take over a corner of a pub and cover topics in which one or other of the group had genuine in-depth knowledge. It also provided a forum for other visitors from far-flung parts of the country and the Empire, to share their knowledge too, with the odd incident of ‘men behaving badly’. But also ‘men behaving gallantly’. From the pub conservatory, we spotted a couple of ladies traversing a dwarf wall in their car and coming to rest with front wheels in mid-air. Under John’s strategic leadership, we managed to lift the car back to the right side of the wall – with applause forthcoming from the other conservatory dwellers and thanks from ‘Gert and Daisy’.
Many of John’s nameless chums have added their own anecdotes and observations as follows:
- CHSB was the ‘flux’ that contributed to the ‘welding’ of my friendship with John back in the day – and yes, I can well remember- the 50s/60s! Whenever it was my turn to push his wheelchair around the school grounds, we went to parts thereof, hidden from KD and his master team and where rules could be broken…no need to define. Formative years that brokered many a lasting friendship, not the least of which, mine with John.
- I’m told that Dave Harris and maybe Tony Lanaway travelled from Wales to lovely Sussex one time just to have a beer or two with John and the lads.
- I left the UK for Australia in 1972 but kept in touch with the author, Chris Francis and John. Whenever family, work or a holiday brought me back I would catch up with John with Chris’s help. Not only John and Chris, but also other lads of the CHSB era such as Ian Odin, Dave Wellbelove, and Chris Thomas.
- John was a very pragmatic personality, in my eyes, who was a delight to chat with, never holding back and always offering me sound advice as I ventured through corporate life in Australia. Importantly, he had a sense of humour that simplified life, and which readily broke into a smile. I will miss him sorely.
- I left for Australia too, but will always remember John for his inspirational qualities.
- I am constantly reminded of John’s misfortune, as an early sufferer from Polio, in missing out on the vaccine which followed soon after. Instead, he suffered the dreadful treatment that enabled his survival.
- John was an example to us all, both at school and in later life. When I have met up with John, since school, he hadn’t changed from the way I saw him at CHSB – strong in character, and fun to be with.
- He also had a wicked sense of humour. In the day, long Paisley casual shirts with no buttons were very popular, not just with me, I’m sure. John’s instant quip was ‘Hi Dave, nice frock!
- John took every opportunity to get involved in whatever social activities were going on, from dancing with the girls (spinning on his wheelchair) to just hanging out in Priory Park. Those were the days when kids simply walked everywhere (no cars; no lifts) throughout Chichester, and John was always the centre of these informal activities.
- A chum from the Northern American Colonies recalls a lunch in 2018 where there were some different boys at the table. It was the Friday before the anniversary at the school. John was in the same place as were Chris and Dave W. Tony, Dave H and I were scattered around also. It was a treat to also have Maurice Hall there too, looking younger than most of the rest of us – memories! It was a splendid time to have been a part of.
- It strikes me that John was very brave, both as a boy and as a man. I imagine that John was in pain, of varying degrees, all his life after Polio but his focus was always on ‘cup half full’, and what he could do, rather than what he could not. The fact that he maximised his independent and very successful life, bears testimony to his courage and resilience.
- Looking at our teenage years, John was ever-present at the Whyke youth club every Wednesday evening through our teenage years. I have clear memories of John being very much in charge of the record player, but he would kindly accept ‘requests’.
- There were fond memories of parties too, often in the back room of the New Inn pub across the road from the youth club, weekend visits to the Punch house, Gala Day floats etc. However, the overriding memory was our 6th form lunches. Due to John’s mobility issues, John was assigned a table of his own in the dining room and allocated two helpers to assist with meal collections and returns, both named Chris. And what a good position that was. In addition to avoiding queues, we were located near the teachers’ table. This gave us surreptitious access to such luxuries as sauce, salad cream, extra custard and other unused foodstuffs.
- Being close to John enabled friends to witness his early attempts at cryptic crosswords – a skill at which he became an expert.
- He was a person of strong will and determination and, at one stage, considered a political path. John Haines MP, now there’s a thought! John’s nature can be simply summarised as a person who never complained about his unfortunate illness. He is to be admired for his resolution and ability to live an independent life. It cannot have been easy. He was a very generous and good man who will be sorely missed.
- Coming out of the other side of Covid – hopefully – I trust the remaining foursome will re-form and meet up soon. In fact, we rely on it. The first drink will be to ‘absent friends’- and one in particular!
Chris Francis – Author
From: marcus wigan <email@example.com>
Subject: Tony Horne
I was interested in the posting of Tony Horne.. we did an early 1yr maths a-level together with Tony Miles in 1958 (they both won oxford exhibitions the next year, leaving me in the dust)
The post said he now lived in Newcastle Australia.. I’ve been in Melbourne since 1976.. so it would be interesting to hear how he has got on over the last 60 years or so!