Mr S J Lowcock - my encounters with him, how he shaped and changed my life
To those who do not know me, I am Dr. David Sung, 1965 graduate of DBS. Some people may describe me as meek, gentle, and quiet. An average guy.
I spent 9 years at DBS, from Primary 5 to Upper 6. Academically, I was above-average. In extra-curricular activities, I did a bit of foot-ball. Swimming could be the only sports that I excelled in, being a member of the school team and elected house swimming-captain in F4. I was a member of the photographic society, music promotion society, both of the school choirs, and had played some minor roles in house-drama. I had never been caned, or given a DC. Quite an inconspicuous and low-key member amongst other active boys in a school like DBS.
Upon my return to school in the summer of 1965, to collect my school-cert results, I made my first personal encounter with the head-master, Mr. S.J.Lowcock, for the first time. We exchanged conversations for a few minutes - nothing remarkable that I could recall. On another occasion, we exchanged a few more words at the school field, when I brought my brother, 7-years my junior, to show him what DBS was like, and to play skate-board.
All of a sudden, I found my name on the prefects' list.
I joined boarding school at the start of Lower 6. My bonding with the HM started there and then. I considered this the most fruitful event of my life. More often than not, after school, and even more so during week-ends, upon our return to the boarding school, groups of "senior" boarders would go over to his house after dinner. We admired the settings and the "culture" of
his home - the furniture, the paintings on the walls, the books, his collection of whiskies, and LP records. We enjoyed classical and jazz music flowing out from his huge electro-static speakers. We chatted freely, ending up feeling intrigued by how he could easily read people's mind, and the way he dealt with crisis. We listened with admiration to his stories which were
imbibed with philosophy, and yet so original. We all enjoyed our time with him, sitting at the balcony, under the stars.
In Upper 6, I took up the post of house-captain of Sargent. I indulged myself in the role and responsibility with utmost devotion. That year, Sargent had a very strong team and was a strong contender to win the over-all athletic championship. During the 400m relay, the decider event, our final-leg runner crossed the finish-line at the same time as another from a house which was not in contention. There was no electronic device back in 1966, and our team was ruled second by the judge. As the house-captain, I naturally made an appeal, ending eventually having to confront Mr. Lowcock. His remark was a flat: "the judge's decision is final".
Clear as crystal. A good lesson on "the rules of the game", a motto which I have adhered to for the rest of my life.
My next significant encounter with the HM affected my life and career altogether. One of the seven senior boarders, the late Victor Yeung Charn-Hung, suffered from recurrent hip pain which was undiagnosed at that time (it subsequently turned out to be "rheumatoid arthritis", diagnosed years later). The HM took him, together with a few senior boys, to seek treatment by an acupuncturist. It turned out I became the "patient" instead. I fainted at the sight of needles going into Yeung's body.
I began to doubt my endowment in applying for medical school after matriculation. That was the first private encounter I had with Jimmy, face to face. With no hesitation, he took me to the corner of the room, sat me on the floor, produced a paper-thin, glistening and brand-new razor-sharp blade, and instructed me to cut into his hands. I was flabbergasted and refrained spontaneously. Then he took my hand to hold the blade, and made a cut across his own hand. I tried to compose and control myself, as best as I could. He told me that was not good enough, and not deep enough. He wanted me to do it again, independently, with my own hands.
Only a super-natural human would attempt such a daring feat.
I was once again deeply touched when he handed me a cheque for pocket-money upon my entry to medical school, knowing that I did not come from a well-to-do family. He told me that the money was not from him, but from an anonymous sponsor and that it was part of an on-going project under his discretion.
To this end, I returned the act, upon my graduation, to support and carry out his well-intentions and mission. To me, he was the master of "give and take".
Into my 4th year working at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, I caught pneumonia, with persistent high fever for a few days. 80% of my lungs were opacified on X-ray. The experts could not find the causative agent, be it bacteria or virus. I was in the isolation ward and nobody was supposed to come into contact with me. Jimmy visited me. He embraced me deeply with open arms. I tided over.
These incidences are some of the memorable encounters I had with Jimmy. My understanding has been: he never expected any acknowledgement from me. But I feel deeply indebted to him. He is more a father than a mentor, or friend, to me.
He shaped and changed my life.
Sung Tai-Wai, David
Class of 1965