Thursday, 31 May 2018

Words and Music

At the end of yesterday's page I suggested that if life is more fun if you are silly then the same could well apply in death.

I pondered the thought that I should change my will to request being sent to eternity wearing a ballet dancer's costume, a bit like the late Rudolf Nureyev seen here on the left.

Need to work on the body I am thinking.

I was chatting yesterday about some significant music in my life and invited readers to share their special tunes with us all today.

Maggie asked me to play this....

Gary sent me an email full of his special songs. He told me that the record he started his music collection off with was The Dave Clark Five and Bits And Pieces.

I think my brother had a copy of that.

Yesterday evening I sat down to watch the DVD Ring of Bright Water.  Years ago I had read the book, a great story, but I found the video production boring. Characters were not properly developed, the producer simply spoon fed the viewer without allowing his mind to explore the events.

Writing has been a hobby of mine for the past fifty years, as I watched the story on the DVD I pondered becoming a recluse in some remote location as was the central character in Ring Of Bright Water, shutting out the world and writing.

Debbie asked me to play anything by The Bay City Rollers..

Their music was always bright, lively and impossible not to
dance to.

It was impossible not to like The Bay City Rollers but for we lads, I was just about a lad when they were around, it was not quite cool to admit it. We used to call them the Bay Sh*tty Rollers.

Simon posted a comment about their Scottish heritage. How many people remember the way we wore tartan scarves tied to our wrists in the style of The Bay City Rollers ?

Nobody has purchased a copy of my latest book THE BRIDGE HOUSE.  With the ebook priced at £1.49 and the paperback at a staggering £18.72 I am not surprised. 

After spending fifteen months writing this book it is going to be a flop. 

Modesty will not stop me saying the story is good and could have made this a best seller BUT I included fifty photographs, several in colour, to support the text and that sent the price through the roof !

More music.....

I knew when I was writing yesterday's blog page that Gary's favourite band was Queen and Freddie his favourite male singer. So here's a bit more of the greatest band of all time...

Yesterday my phone rang. It was a LEONITE, a dear friend, just calling to wish me well and share the love of his family at
this particularly difficult time of my life. I am not going to embarrass the caller by giving his name but that time on the phne was so special. THANK YOU.

During the conversation we talked about school, me as the teacher and he as the pupil. HAPPY DAYS.

My own schoolboy days...YEARS...were not happy. They were miserable and I hated them. I do not think that any of my former students have ever read my schoolboy autobiography. THANK GOODNESS. If you have £1.99 to spare you can check it out in ebook format.

Some more music. Another request from yesterday's page...

If none of my former students have read my schoolboy autobiography I do know some have read my TEENAGE AUTOBIOGRAPHY. That will cost you £1.99 if you want to have a read.

I made a promise to my former students that I would not write a third autobiography, stories from my years as a teacher.

Sorry friends I am breaking that promise !

I have brainstormed forty two memories and am writing the anecdotes for each. They are random memories, I am taking them in a random order. 

Can I share a couple with you ?
February 1988. I was putting the final touches to the biggest event in my career thus far. The following day I was taking fourteen teenagers to Sacramento, California on a student exchange. I had only even flown once before in my life, the prospect of an eleven hour flight to San Francisco was scaring me silly.  By making some final preparations during the lunch hour I was keeping my mind busy.

Into my office came Bruce, that’s his real name, the school’s headmaster.

“As soon as registration is over I want you to take the entire school out on to the field and stand everyone in lines to spell the words  R E D     N O S E     D A Y. There is a helicopter flying over in an hour to take pictures for the newspapers.

RED NOSE DAY ?  I had heard of some silly idea and even more silly television station had come up with but taking some students half way round the world with me being scared stiff of flying it was of no consequence to me.

In my career headmasters, more than one of them, have come up with daft ideas. Each headmaster and each daft idea was unceremoniously dumped on me. How the hell was I supposed to get one thousand pupils and their unsupportive teachers who would no doubt this this was my daft idea to cooperate and forma picture a press cameraman could snap from a helicopter ?

“Once registration has started I will set off the fire bell. That will evacuate everyone from the building then it’s over to you.”

Please do not ask me how we did it. The pupils thought I was crazy. The Obscene Publications Act prevents me from writing what the other teachers were saying about it all and blaming me. We did it though. The picture appeared on the front page of one newspaper. I flew to San Francisco the next day, that is another story. Or should I say memory ?

Anyone remember that ?

So many people remember me from my years at Leon School but my career began many years earlier. If it had not been for this incident it could have ended almost as quickly as it had began.
“I will cane any boy who Mr Ashford gives the name to me. I will not ask any questions just cane the boy.”

Silence descended on my classroom as the Headmaster stormed out every bit as angry as he was when he had burst through the door demanding what was happening.

“They will not listen to me,” I said pathetically.

I was not yet nineteen years old trying to teach music notation and playing a recorded to boys just a few years younger than I was myself. I would have willing caned everyone of them myself, given each six of the best, but only the headmaster had that authority.

had seen an advert in our local newspaper for someone, it suggested the position would suit a sixth form leaver, to become an assistant teacher in charge of PE and games at a boys independent preparatory school.  The position was aimed at someone who wanted to take up teaching as a career, a gap year before going to teacher training college. I must have taken leave of my senses and applied. The headmaster must have taken leave of his senses and appointed me.

PE and Games were not a problem, the boys liked them but Music NO.  The headmaster had fallen out with the Music teacher and she walked out. Knowing of my love of Music he changed the timetable and put me in charge. The boys did not like Music and did not particularly like me. I was doomed.

Chetwynd House Preparatory School, that was its correct name, was for boys aged 7 to 14 years whose parents could afford the fees. Some were being prepared for the eleven plus examination to local grammar school while others were being tutored for the common entrance examination, taken at thirteen plus for public school. English and Maths were important, Latin had a role in common entrance but Music had no significance in anything at all. Everyone knew that.

My lessons were riots. I tried to teach the boys how to read music and how to play the notes on a descant recorder but amidst football chants, rugby songs, paper aircraft taking off and landing I had no hope. I knew that it was only a matter of time before I was sacked and had to crawl back to the department store to beg for my old job back.

“I will cane any boy who Mr Robinson gives the name to me. I will not ask any questions just cane the boy.”

Nobody was caned. I did not give a single name to the headmaster. The threat which every boy knew the headmaster would carry out without hesitation gave me space. Space to show those young adolescents that I was not so bad after all. It even showed them that Music was something to be enjoyed and not endured. By Christmas 1969 this, now 19 year old unqualified assistant teacher, had a recorder ensemble playing carols in the daily assemblies.

This was the number one hit when that little incident happened.

As you can see Google has started to screw up the page formatting so I'll leave it there for today.

No comments:

Post a Comment