Thursday, March 17, 2022



Dear Readers,

          I’m Jon Abbott, a lifelong story teller and this could be the most unique one anybody has ever written. After this introduction I am hoping to bring you other posts authored by my fellow OD’s. They will tell you what they made of one of the best possible starts anyone can have in life - a Bishops education. It’s something for the relatively few privileged members of our society. 

        It's remarkable that at Bishops we all started this race on the same line but went on to have very different lives. Hopefully my final year colleagues, who might be reluctant to contribute their memoirs, will take this philosophical advice to heart: “Blowing your own trumpet is the most hygienic way of doing it” - JA.

         My last school year seems to have had more than its share of Very Old Boys or Old Diocesans to give them what they would prefer to be called. They all had the benefit of an education for the elite at the Diocesan College, commonly known as Bishops in Cape Town.

Jon Abbott not 
taking any chances

         What really stands out for the 1951 Class is the number of ODs who are in the running to be the first to reach a century being almost 90 now. I accept that this is like no other race as most of them will probably be eliminated before they reach the finishing line, and sadly there’s little they can do to change that.

          A lot of us have had a varied and incredibly good innings already, so it will be even more impressive if one can reach that elusive 100 mark not out. If it’s not me please be sure to let me know who makes it so I can be the first to announce the result on my blog. I am assured that if he is not already a member of the OD Union he will be given free membership for life.

          Because of the unusual feature of this race it has been difficult for me to know exactly who is still in it now, or who has gone to that happier sports field beyond, where everyone is a winner.

          Dedry Weich in the office of the OD Union very kindly gave me a list of my year’s ODs that they still have contact details for. Understandable she is not allowed to give me their email addresses, but she did email them requesting that they get in touch with me. She had addresses for 19 out of 37 on her list whereas I was told there was originally 66 boys altogether.

          The response I have had so far has been disappointing, either I misjudged the interest this would generate or there are survivors too old or too modest to give me their life story in a few hundred words, or............ This has been a bit of a minefield of touchy egos.


Michael Mathews (aged 88), who was also in School House, deserves special thanks for being quick to pass on his extensive knowledge of OD affairs to an ignoramus like me. He also made a considerable effort to persuade hesitant contributors to let me use their story and he believes there are 36 of us still around.

Mike set the ball rolling with his potted life story. Here's a list  of our OD’s and their occupations that include those who are still with us, and those who are not that he compiled from his memory bank, with the help of the names Dedry gave me. I have also added ones taken from my own research. *The italics indicate the deceased.

Chairman:  Julian Ogilvie Thompson (87) Anglo American and De Beers, also a Rhodes Scholar. He is by far the top achiever of our year.

Architects: Basil Sgoutas (87), Anthony Hockly (88) and Michael Calder.

Authors: David Dallas, Michael Mathews (88) and Neil Huxter (88), Poet and Rhodes Scholar.

Businessman: Michael Mathews (88) who was also an Author.

Conservationist: Bob Murray (88).

Farmers: Ken Saywood (87), John Torr, Godfrey Gird and Ian McGregor.

Hotelier and Farmer: Frank Musson.

Journalist and Private Eye: Jon Abbott (88), an Author as well.

Lawyer: Storm Reilly (87), Bruce Hart (88), Pierce Newton King.

Medical doctor: Steyn Louw.

Men's Clothing Representative: Peter Copeland.

Parsons: Alistair McGregor (88) and Tim Bravington

Professors: Tim Shaw (87) and Adrian Gear (87).

Rhodes Scholar: Christopher Lawrence.

Springbok rugby player: Tommy Gentles.

The ones Mike didn’t know were:  Rowland Thompson, Jeremy Hewett, William De Villiers, Bruce Balne-Hart, David Brink, Donald Ayres, Bob Murray, Michael Elliott, Rory Arnold, Jeremy Twigg, Reyner Body, Lawrence Solomon, Paul Goodlet, Martin Tromp van Diggelen, Reid Howes, Robert Burgess, David Needham, Bob Morris and Neils Hauffe.

Julian Ogilvie Thompson really came up trumps with his "A Fortunate Life." It's something every Bishops boy would have had reason to expect but his was far more exceptional than the rest of us had. 

Donald Goodspeed, John Groves and Tom Morse contacted me as a result of Dedry’s circular email. So that was encouraging until I only got one hit out of these three when it came to getting them to pen me the story of what became of them after Bishops.

Here’s Donald’s perceptive introduction to his contribution:

          “My first reaction to Jon’s request,” he wrote, “was ‘no ways’ am I going to put myself on display. But then, perhaps he is giving us the unusual opportunity to write our own obituary! So ‘OK.’”

           The other two did not see it like that. John sent me an extremely interesting account of his life together with his photograph only to back out at the last minute. Although I had made it clear that what I was writing was for my blog he some how got the idea that it would be restricted to the Bishop's website and would not be available for outsiders to see. It was not as though he had revealed any dastardly deeds in his background that he was ashamed of. I was told to delete everything he had emailed me.

           Tom on the other hand initially thought I was trying to organise a reunion, but when I told him what I was up to he replied: "I cannot imagine anyone would be interested in what I have done."

           Retired architect Tony Hockly also declined my invitation to air his life on my blog.

           Apart from Julian Ogilvie Thompson, Mike Matthews, Donald Goodspeed, I also got a good response from Storm Reilly's wife Patricia. I'll explain this when I post his life story. Then last but no least there's Your's Truly's crazy mix up life.

         I'll welcome late comes, but they must not forget that time is not on our side. 

          There must have been something special in the food for us borders in School House because the majority of these durable codgers in the Class of 51 were in that house.

Things were not nearly as enlightened at Bishops in our day as they have been in recent times. I am sure that like me the rest of our year must have been disappointed to learn that practical sex education classes were only introduced long after we had all left. It’s distressing to think that in my formative years I missed out on what some Bishops boys have enjoyed at the College. No wonder I failed to keep my first two wives happy. “Three,” my present wife of 49 years piped up.

Dream teacher

In 2019 history teacher and water polo coach Fiona Viotti made a huge media splash when she took playing ball too far for a 173 year old Church school founded by Bishop Robert Grey. She resigned after her sexual antics with a matric boy were exposed and it then emerged that she had scored with five other boys between 17 and 18 from as far back as 2015. All the school needed to complete this embarrassing episode was for one of them to have become a father.

The life stories I get will be in posts that follow this one with a heading that begins with the name of the contributor like this: Jon Abbott in Bishops College's Class of 51’s Race to 100.

Best of Luck to all Competitors,



P.S. Here are the links to the life stories of the following:

Julian Ogilvie Thompson (View Post Here)

Michael Mathews (View Post Here)

Jon Abbott (View Post Here)

Donald Goodspeed (View Post Here)

Storm Reilly (View Post Here)

P.P.S. It’s unlikely that you will find any errors in this post or the ones that follow on the same subject, but if you do please be understanding enough to excuse them because of the senility of the writer.




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