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Mansel
Boys with the complementary need go to the top of the top yard, beyond the Ultima Thule of the Biology lab, to the Bog. Here be dragons! Perhaps the golden dragons on the school crest? Here is the place where they breathe clouds of smoke, and use words that blaze with profanities. It is only mildly policed by teachers or prefects. Perhaps it was on this very spot that, many hundreds of years earlier, Time saw a band of outlaws make their den in the forest, and around a bright and smoking fire, make their plans, tell their tales and piss in the undergrowth. Certainly there is something of that spirit still in the place. What does Time see of the nice new house that will later be built on the spot, and later grow old and later still be demolished to be replaced again by trees?
After break there are another two lessons. Let us peep into the Chemistry laboratory on the second floor and watch some third formers. They sit on high stools at the heavy wooden benches. There are gas taps for the Bunsen burners. There are water taps and basins at the ends of each bench. There is a fume cupboard in the North wall to extract fumes from the more poisonous reactions. But that is the limit of the safety precautions. There are no goggles and no protective clothing of any kind. Since the benches run at right angles to the teacher, all the boys turn backwards and forwards between looking at the board and looking at their books. They learn the basics of nineteenth century chemistry: the formulae which capture the ways in which atoms combine into molecules. They perform simple experiments, and then write down the details of what they did, what they saw and what they concluded, illustrated with simple diagrams. Some are interested; the majority rather bored, for in their lives the whole business is a meaningless ritual, soon to be forgotten. The teacher is Mr. Gwilym Williams, a man of principle and therefore a conscientious objector in the war. But to most of these boys that fact has no real meaning: the war is history.