I went to St Hugh’s in September 1954, at the age of 13. I had completed two years at a grammar school in Leeds (commuting daily from York to the Jesuit St Michael’s ), when my father’s job took us to Grimsby. My parents took it for granted that I should continue attend a catholic school – but there was no catholic grammar school for boys in Grimsby and, before the Humber Bridge was built, no question of going to the Marist College in Hull. On the other hand, as a moderately pious altar server, I had probably – though I can’t recall it - expressed some interest in the priesthood. Anyway, my father must have learned that there was a ‘minor seminary’ in the diocese and that a Grimsby boy, who lived not far away from us, was a pupil there. They arranged for me to meet him – I still recall with a tinge of embarrassment that when he came to the house, I was already in my pyjamas, ready for bed. Yet he must have given a positive impression of life as a boarder at St Hugh’s, and I must have been willing to embark on the road to the priesthood, for I applied and was accepted (though where and by whom I was interviewed, I can’t remember). Later in life, when trying to remember what my state of mind and motivation as a 13-year-old must have been, I would say, not altogether flippantly, that I probably wanted to be a priest much as, earlier and like so many boys then, especially in York, I had wanted to be an engine driver. I can’t recall giving this seemingly momentous decision much serious consideration – and certainly, as a still pre-pubescent boy in short pants, the question of lifelong celibacy as a challenge never crossed my mind.
The only other memories I have, prior to actually setting off for Tollerton, are of going with my mother to buy the various articles of clothing the college specified as necessary. Given my age, I went straight into the third year – Syntax, I think the form was called. Most of my year group had been there already for two years, so I felt very much the ‘new boy’. But I seem to have adapted fairly smoothly. The only unpleasant early memory I have was when the school barber arrived: he cut my hair so much shorter than I was used to!