David joined RLS a year before I did in the late 1960s and after George Embleton, he was the second member of staff whom I met. I got to know him well when I moved into the Boys’ Boarding House the following Easter. Some of our earliest chats were by the incinerator at the back of the Head’s Garden. I was very keen on cricket and would be supervising a net after prep. and David would appear around the corner of the old Chemistry Lab pushing his wheelbarrow upon which was his super-carrier – a large plastic barrel that David has secured to a wooden frame so that it couldn’t topple and empty all the day’s rubbish that David had collected on his lock-up tour of the classrooms. It took David a while to off-load his collection and as I couldn’t play with the boys because big, burly Les Smith had broken one of my fingers during the first sixth form Wednesday afternoon cricket session, I had time to chat to him. He loved talking cricket but it would be long before a plane flew over. David would scan it quickly and announce that it was an Avro 748 “Prop-Jet”, probably on course for Bristol. “My team has a match on Saturday, Mr Knibbs, how do you think the weather will develop?” “Well, Mr Grimsdale, today’s showers are dying away, the barometer is on the rise and I wouldn’t mind betting that high pressure will arrive, and once it comes, we usually get a dry spell lasting at least a week.”
David’s roots were in the soil of North Bucks, and he was full of local folklore. He and George [Embleton] would look up at the “old fox” weathervane , and they’d see the wind was from the East before concluding that nothing good ever came to North Bucks from the East. David knew that our local clay meant planting late most springs – for wet clay was cold clay and cold seeds could drown before they had grown warm enough to germinate.
David always took an interest in Buckingham affairs – it was his home, and it remained in his heart. By chance, I have this possibly last picture of him. I suppose the date would have been July 2012 and the Olympic torch was being carried through Buckingham. David is in the forefront of this picture looking across from Cow Market in North End Square as the torch comes to town.
I expect to add more in the days to come. David was more than a caretaker to me, he was a friend and constant aid. He was a caretaker who took his job description from that title : to care for staff, pupils, buildings, grounds and the reputation of RLS. His standards never faltered. He was one of the foundation’s most loyal and hard-working servants.