A dorm raid usually took place within the house itself, but not exclusively. We were divided into dormitories according to our age and form pecking order, and each had a prefect whose role it was to keep an eye on his charges.
As mentioned in an early post my first year in Pridham was spent in the Annexe, adjacent to the Library. One evening a few of us hit upon the idea of conducting a dorm raid on our third form counterparts in their dormitory. Armed will pillows and water bombs (which were made of folded paper in a tried and true origami -styled pattern) we skirted around the back of the house after lights out and crept towards the partially open lower ground floor windows.
I went ahead of our small team of three and was first to hoist myself through the open window. My voice had barely uttered the blood curdling phrase "Dorm Raid!" when I felt a firm hand grip my leg from behind.
Fearing that one of my fellow conspirators had 'chickened out' and wanted to return to the safety of the Annexe I kicked back against the restraining hand and muttered the oath "Let go you B@#stard!"
The hand did not let go and if anything it tightened its grip and I detected what I thought to be a deep chuckle.
I turned my head only to discover that my captor was none other than the Headmaster Jack Webster, who had happened upon us on one of his evening strolls around the school.
'Jack', for this is how he was known, was revered for the effectiveness of his caning style, something to which I can now attest for the next morning I was lined up outside his office after assembly and felt (literally) the 'full force of the law'.
The Headmaster was a tough but fair man and later that year has was killed in a car accident in the centre of the North island; an event which shocked the school.
End of term dorm raids were a step up in their effectiveness although some might say viciousness. It was not unknown for a fire hose to be turned on and slumbering forms in bunks to be spayed with water.
By the time we were seniors we also go quite adept at making a dummy for our bunks using spare blankets and clothes. A master on patrol would think they were seeing our form deep asleep under the blankets, whereas we were out in the night up to no good.
This was the technique I and others used to sneak out on a Saturday night after lights out. In my case I recall hiding a duffle bag of civvies (clothes) near the science labs at the back of the house after prep. An hour after lights out I would sneak down the stairs in my pajamas, carefully avoiding those steps that creaked and which we had memorised. If caught one could pretend to be sleep walking, an excuse I thankfully never had to put to the test.
While parties were a high priority I used to enjoy best of all visiting the Trades Hall to hear the latest bands. Groups such as Bari and Breakaways and The Underdogs (pictured left) turned out raunchy R&B to a crowd that was rough and often quite inebriated.
I had gone to primary school at Waitara Central with Doug Thomas who was a drumming prodigy from an early age. He drummed for Colin King and the Harmonisers while still a young teenager and later became drummer for The Underdogs; he is pictured at left in this photo of the band.
I had lost touch with Doug but discovered in the course of writing this article that he went on to a successful career in the music industry including stints in Australia and Los Angeles. He now produces "ambient mystical instrumental music for the New Millennium & beyond".
Many an hour was spent in the dark room hand rolling 620 film on to plastic spools and placing this in a developing tank in total darkness. Then it was the ritual of enlarging the negatives and seeing the result emerge in the developing tray.
It was a skill that resulted in most of the images on this site and later stood me in good stead when I began a career in visual arts teaching and semi-professional photography. Most of all I enjoyed the various effects one could do with photography in the darkroom and as this portfolio shows I am still experimenting.
John 'Pill' Hammond from Moyes was also a darkroom regular during my years at NPBHS.