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Mr Loades and Mr Bond by Ray Davies

Two teachers helped the lead singer and songwriter of The Kinks to become a dedicated follower of music

Two teachers helped the lead singer and songwriter of The Kinks to become a dedicated follower of music

It was a privilege to go to William Grimshaw Secondary Modern in Muswell Hill, North London. When I was a student in the late 1950s, the BBC did a live broadcast from there to show how education was developing and evolving after the Second World War. Creativity was encouraged, as was learning outside the curriculum.

Two teachers had a great impact on me. One was the headmaster, Mr Loades. He put on lunchtime concerts and films and sanctioned me to play the guitar. So when I was 14, I performed solos, playing Spanish classical guitar and blues. Mr Loades encouraged my talent, although he did once take me aside and tell me not to get involved with Peter Quaife - The Kinks' late bass player - saying it would only lead to the path of ruin.

The second teacher who left a significant impression on me was Mr Bond, who taught art. He thought I showed some promise and kept me behind after school for extra studies in painting. He wanted me to explore my creativity, rather than just dab paint on paper, and to build up a body of work. He helped me to pass the A levels that I needed to get to art college. I remember he wore a tweed sports jacket, pinstriped shirt and always had colourful ties, which was allowed because he was in the creative arts department.

The rest of the staff wore very sombre clothes. The maths teacher, Mr Lill, wore the demobilisation suit that was issued to him when he left the Army.

In those days, you were expected to be either artistic or physical, but I was both. I was very keen on track and field, football and boxing. Mr Bond once reprimanded me for training too hard to win the athletics. He said: "Do you want to run as fast as a greyhound, or do you want to go to art school?" I did both. When I left school, I trained on the local running track at Highgate Harriers.

I was quite a conformist at school. I was house captain and sports captain and was also a prefect for a while. But I wasn't head boy; I wasn't head-boy material.

I would say I was quiet and conspiratorial. Once I was staring out of the window and Mr Bond asked me what I was doing. I said I was going through my contemplative phase, which was an outrageous statement to make at the time.

Life was a whirlwind after I left school and I lost touch with both Mr Bond and Mr Loades. I went on to do a two-year pre-diploma at Hornsey College of Art in the early 1960s but then The Kinks took off. If they hadn't, I would have done a five-year course.

Then, in 1998, I heard from Charles Loades. He'd retired to Norfolk and contacted me when I was presenting a choral work for the Norfolk and Norwich Festival. It was lovely to hear from him and he told me how much he liked my work. A couple of years later, he wrote a book called Born Teacher, which is a fascinating insight into what it was like to be a teacher in a secondary modern school in those days. In it, he talks about those lunchtime concerts and says my performances were a favourite of his. That touched me.

Mr Loades died in 2011 and I think of him fondly, as I do Mr Bond. I have good memories of Grimshaw and feel lucky to have been there at that time.

Ray Davies was talking to Kate Bohdanowicz. Americana - The Kinks, the road and the perfect riff by Ray Davies is published by Virgin Books at #163;18.99. Muswell Hillbillies by The Kinks was re-released by Universal on 7 October.

20th-century man

Ray Davies

Born: 21 June 1944, Fortis Green, North London

Education: William Grimshaw Secondary Modern, London; Hornsey College of Art

Career: Lead singer, songwriter and co-founder of The Kinks. Solo artist and actor, director and producer for film, theatre and television.

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