No News Here with Davey Stone: A trip back to St George’s in the 80s

Davey Stone (or Weed as he was known for at least one day in the 80s)


Ramsgate resident Davey Stone is a former bestselling author for Disney in America and Hodder in the UK.

He recently wrote a book about growing up in Ramsgate called Too Much Information, which nobody bought so he now uses the copies as doorstops in his house or occasionally as toilet paper.

He lives in Thanet coffee shops and has no friends.

(Davey is actually a successful fantasy author best known for his series of books The Illmoor Chronicles. He runs independent publishing house Kingsbrook with wife Chiara)


It might look more like a high-tech American state prison these days but back in the late 80s St. George’s School was an absolutely incredible place to be.

Don’t get upset: I’m not knocking the old fella. I can’t – I used to GO there.

On the day I started as a pupil, I was told that the headmaster was a respected local judge and that he split his weekdays between jobs: when he wasn’t in his office, he was in the county court sentencing young offenders. It was often said that the school was so well disciplined because most headmasters could only give you detention whereas our headmaster could actually give you LIFE.

‘Don’t mess with the deputy head, either,’ a third year told me. ‘Apparently, he went to this really rough place called the School of Hard Knocks…and there isn’t a mark on him.’

Aged 11, I wasn’t entirely sure what that all meant but the legend of the headmaster definitely grew in the telling, not least because during my first year at the school I only ever saw the man twice. His office was all the more terrifying for the fact that it stayed mostly unoccupied…

…until I found myself sent there on urgent business.

You remember that bit in The Wizard of Oz where there’s all this built-up tension to Dorothy seeing the wizard and then – after a few fireballs and a giant goat or whatever it was – there’s just this ordinary bloke from Kansas who fell out of a balloon?

Well…it was like that. The headmaster was actually a LOVELY guy.

The urgent business I had was answering for the fact that I’d missed over a hundred days of school. He pointed out during my visit that I was the second most absent pupil in the entire history of the school but when I asked him what the high score was he just wouldn’t tell me. He was an extraordinary man with half-moon spectacles and a really well-groomed beard that made him look like a cross between Dumbledore from Harry Potter and Uncle Albert from Only Fools and Horses. He had a small statue of an eagle on his desk that I’m absolutely certain was upside down…but we’ll glaze over that.

Back in the 80s, St. George’s had a series of remarkable teachers and a veritable ARMY of staff. There wasn’t just a headmaster; there were also two deputy heads and two senior teachers, both of whom were more terrifying than any other members of the upper management. Their offices occupied a long, snaking corridor that fired out in front of the school like the nose of an imperial starship.

I remember the godawful day we all queued up that fateful corridor for the dreaded BCG injection. I actually screamed when I felt the bite of the needle on my arm. It must be true that gingers feel more pain, because it turned out that the nurse hadn’t even STARTED putting in it: she’d simply scratched me as she dabbed at the arm with some wet cotton wool. I have no idea if the actual injection hurt because I passed out, wet myself and woke up on a sofa five minutes later. On my way down the corridor, five different people called me a weed and only two of them were other kids.

Ah…great days.

The school has changed so much. I dropped by more recently during the reign of the headteacher who helped oversee the complete rebuilding and remodelling of the building. The transformation was incredible and I felt immediately that I would have liked the new place better. It’s like a massive Starbucks cantina surrounded by glassed-off classrooms, a state of the art theatre and a pretty good gym. Admittedly, they’ve axed a few houses from the older days: my own beloved Winchester is gone (probably for the best as we didn’t win a SINGLE cup while I was on the house team) and everything is a bit more uniform and ordered than it was…but the character of the place remains.

I spoke to a friend the other day who told me that he thought they’d completely ruined St. George’s. This is what he said:

‘It’s ALL gone: the gym building with all the burst pipes and the broken doors, the Home Economics block where the lights exploded that one time, the mobile huts that would rock in the wind and the greenhouse where John cut his hand open while we were all off for a smoke: they’ve EVEN demolished that damaged fence where everyone used to get out and wander into Margate. They’ve really DESTROYED the place.’