|Brian Gowen, 1935 - 2012|
What a popular man he was! There must have been two hundred people at his memorial service including former Headmaster, Marc Van Hasselt. I found the memorial service in the chapel very moving, the school choir was amazing and I learned a lot about the man who played a major role in my life for 5 years (from age 13 to 18). Mr Gowen was a Biology teacher and Biology was my favourite subject, so I used to enjoy picking his brains for more information about whatever made me curious both in and out of class. In fact I used to regularly get into trouble in class for asking too many questions (as my school reports prove).
Far from the service being a somber affair, the tributes by Dick Moore, Julia Barnes and Will Fawcett were really funny! They even made reference to a "biology practical video" he once caught some boys watching, and to the dew drop that seemed to always be on the end of Mr Gowen's nose! Surprisingly, no one mentioned his inability to pronounce the "TH" sound or the letter "R"- two things never missing from our schoolday impersonations of him!
From Will Fawcett's tribute, I also learned about something very interesting which happened in 1979, the year after I left, when Monty Python's "Life of Brian" (funnily enough) was released. Mr Gowen was a committed Christian and that movie was widely considered to be blasphemous, so he banned anyone in East House (or maybe even the whole school!) from watching it. Since I am such a big Python fan, it's a jolly good thing I left in 1978, because his ban might very well have created some friction between us if I had still been there!
At the canapé reception that followed the memorial service, it was wonderful to see Mrs Gowen (Rowena) again, and to properly meet Brian and Rowena's now grown up children, Hamish and Alison for the first time.
My one big regret of the day... I forgot to wear my old school East House tie! Let's face it, there aren't many occasions in life where you would want to wear your old school tie. In fact this occasion might have been the only one, but it didn't occur to me until I arrived and saw other Old Cranleighans wearing theirs! Mr Gowen presented me with mine, because I did well at target shooting in some inter-house competition (of all things!). Oh well, here's the tie I never wore:
|My East House tie, awarded to me by Mr Gowen in approx 1977|
Here are the photos I took on the day. If there are any faces you recognise that I have not mentioned in the captions, or if I have put the wrong names to faces or if I have spelled any names wrongly, please let me know: