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Heritage Guide to The Geelong College






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RIDDLE, Malcolm

RIDDLE, Malcolm


Malcolm Riddle, businessman, publisher and writer, was a day student at the College from 1931 to 1934 before attending Scotch College, Melbourne from 1935 to 1937 after his father accepted a parish in Ringwood. His older brother, Alan (1914-2005) also attended Geelong College from 1930 to 1932. Their parents Rev Thomas John Riddle, a Presbyterian Minister, and his wife Ellen Robertson nee MacDougall were then living at Batesford. Previous to Geelong College, Malcolm had been at Batesford State School.

Not long after World War II, in 1947, Malcolm established the first temporary staff supply agency in Australia. He later operated printing works, and established three Riddle Business Colleges, which, along with developing six staff placement outlets, consolidated his place in the industry. More recently, having divested himself of these business activities he took degrees in writing and drama, and became a freelance writer, assisting his wife and son in their successful production of the 'Fifty Plus News' for older people's interests and the, now discontinued, 'Quality Time' newspaper for young families. He has contributed to the Herald Sun newspaper and various other publications, mostly connected with Art.

Malcolm has also appeared in amateur stage productions and toured Victorian schools staging Classics, Comedy and Drama as well as appearing in several student films. His film career includes an appearance in Stanley Kramer's film 'On the Beach ' and, more recently, in Kieran Galvin's 'Terra Nova' of 2002.

Malcolm wrote a reminiscence of his days at School which he generously allowed the School to reproduce.


Malcolm Riddle offers some memories of those days, when he, turning 11, entered The Geelong College portals for four years, first as a day boy at Primary, then boarding from 1932 to 1934.

I, the wet-behind-the-ears Presbyterian Minister's son, living at Batesford, some six miles north west of Geelong, was suddenly lifted from the one teacher school on the Batesford hill to what at the time seemed to be a small city - The Geelong College campus, in the salubrious precincts of Newtown.
The Minister's family were the natural recipients of many favours from parishioners for miles around the tiny hamlet which nestled close to the Moorabool River Valley.

And so it was that my big brother, Alan and I, travelled the six miles in the Manse jinker drawn by various horses loaned to us from time to time, starting at 6am to drive to College each school day. I remember during Winter mornings, I clasped a small bottle of hot water in my hands against the frosts, as we clop-clopped our way up the Batesford hill, and on to our destination, arriving in time to release the horse and make off to morning assembly.

My primary education was continued by 'Frosty' Campbell and staff in a small building, separated from the main school. 'Frosty' was probably the kindest of men, or so it seemed, because at the Batesford one - room school, my image was of a raging, roaring, single teacher, Mr Mackie, poor fellow, who had to manage everything on his own. I used to cower in my seat, hoping to be completely unnoticed until the blue air cleared again.

At College, my brother Alan, some five years older, was soon recruited to the cricketing Firsts team, and reputed to be the best off-spin bowler, while his colleague Lindsay Hassett, was undoubtedly the leading run maker. The latter, as we know, went on to Australian Test glory, but any such ambition was not even considered for Alan in light of the need to get out there and earn a living, which he did fairly promptly in Geelong.

Now, a further adjustment for shy young Malcolm, who was then introduced to boarding at College.

This was quite a wrench for the 14 year old me, finding himself a member of the resident community, with its trappings of name tags on possessions, routine evening study periods, an obligation to conform to ringing bells, sleep in a large dormitory, take cold showers every morning but one (when the residue of heated bath water the night before was carefully meted out in turn to each dormitory till it ran out) and so on.

Evening study was held in a large room set apart in our house ( called Warrinn) across the 'cow paddock' from the main school. Any boredom experienced during this nightly silent stint had little alleviation, except perhaps noting the regular coughs which emanated from a small annexe set off the study area, peopled by a House Master who laboured under the nickname of 'Boop'.

Boop chose to supervise the study room from behind a semi-closed door, which made the noise 'boop' when closed - hence the nickname. But the interest was to record the number of coughs Boop made, which signified another sip of the fine whisky he imbibed throughout the long shift. At each cough, a small army of boys made yet another dot on their pad. The count over the two hours was to see if a record number of 'sips' occurred. The usual count was at least 80.
'Dormitory feeds' were the go from time to time, but house masters usually knew what was up after lights out because they found themselves somewhat noisily scrunching through sugar, scattered at strategic points along the passages. Not a very smart ploy for sure.

The main misdemeanour, however, involved the whole of the student body in Warrinn House one moonlit night towards the end of final term, 1933. In the early hours of the morning we all piled out of the fire escapes, which gave ready access to the grounds, and, racing across to the main school quadrangle, proceeded to turn on the huge fire hoses stored there, directing a steady flood to the top storey where it was known the resident masters slept. Someone even rang the quadrangle bell in some sort of defiant act. Confusion erupted, as rivers of waste flowed through bedding, bookshelves, and even began running down the stairs of the historic Gothic edifice. My abiding memory was being marched back to bed silently by an ominously simmering, damp set of masters, no doubt planning retribution, which duly emerged later that morning.



Sources: Ad Astra June 2004 p2; Ad Astra January 2005 p2. ''
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