The Real Story of the Moose

The Dining Room Moose...

Have you ever wondered why there is a Moose’s head imperiously monitoring behaviour in the school canteen? This incongruous sight has been there for over 70 years – and I am afraid I deserve the credit or blame.

As a second former in 1932, I developed an illness which banished me from lessons. While the bigwigs decided what to do with me, I was left in the care of Messrs Last and Pickstone in the woodwork department. One day, a large wooden crate arrived, emitting an unpleasant pong. It was addressed from an old boy who lived in Canada.

We jemmied it open, to find a dead moose’s head staring blankly at us. The poor beast had been shot by the sender on a hunting expedition.While I was secretly praying it was heading for the rubbish, where it would have fitted right in with that smell, the teachers had other ideas. I was equipped with an industrial-sized box of crushed camphor and told to get rubbing. And rubbing. I toiled for hours, over days, embalming the moose.

Eventually, the smell of the dead beast disappeared, and the head was ready to take up its rightful place. And, no thanks to the teachers, I recovered and returned to classes. I returned to the school in 2003 to see an excellent performance of Les Miserables, and it was comforting to see my old friend looking down on me.

Addendum: Vistors to the School might have noticed that, for reasons aligned to Health and Safety, the Moose Head had been removed from the wall. I am pleased to report that after refurbishment, this icon of School life has been restored to its rightful place to watch over future generations of Students!

Ivan Haxell (Athens, 1931-1937)