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Anecdotes about Teachers

... and facts as well.

... additional fact and information about teachers or teachers snippets about pupils or even each other ... fact and gossip mixed up!

Here the proposal is to list all the little stories, good or bad, and additional information  about teachers or from teachers.  The anecdotes are generally posted anonymously.   You can link to these from the teachers listings page, use °°° in the right hand column.
N.B: Comments may have been made when attidudes, school and social expectations, and behaviour were different from the current day.

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In no particular order ... use the FIND feature of your browser to search.
Ernest Thompson:
One of Diss Secondary Schools earliest headmasters, from 1914 to 1916.
Killed in WWI in France 16th Oct 1918.   He was a second lieutenant.
See Diss Express and Commonweath War Graves Commision CWGC.
CWGC in memorium (.pdf).
(Thanks to Sally Lee for the research). 

Ernest Thompson     

Ernest Thompson (label)

Charles Hugh Gray:
Info from Penny Harley, Archivist, Robert Gordon College, Aberdeen, via Andrew Farrier.

Address: 46 Seaview Terrace (or sometimes referred to as View Terrace)

later 80 Union Grove
then 22 Chattan Place
Entered RGC Sept 1889 aged 11
Left Dec 1896
Classes IId, IIId, IVd, IVa, Classical 1, Cl 2, Cl 3, VII 3
Record He appears on the Prize and Merit List as follows:
1891-2 Algebra
1892-3 Geometry
1894-5 Greek, History, Geography, Trigonometry
1895-6 History, Geography, Latin, Algebra, Trig, Arithmetic, Dynamics

He entered the competition for a bursary and was one of 34 boys awarded a "Foundation by Presentation". This meant that he received free schooling for 4 years.

The family had to provide certain financial information so that he could be considered for a Foundation:

Born Cults 25.12.1878
Parent Mrs Louisa Gray
Present school Church of Scotland Normal School
Grandson of a Burgess of Guild of the City of Aberdeen
Father (William Gray, formerly Commission Agent) insane
has £110 invested, also possesses shares, value £4, none of which is presently available
Total earnings of family: 13/6 per week
Children at home 6 (3 male and 3 female) - of whom 3 are not earning. Ages 7 to 17

As well as the prospective pupils sitting an entrance exam, the Governors considered all the particulars of the family. When they had drawn up a short list they would visit the boys in their homes.

There's more to come, watch this space.

(Thanks to Andrew Farrier a great nephew of this headmaster)

Ann Fewkes:
"One of the best - she made history interesting. She was also my Brown Owl, Guide Captain, Sunday School Teacher and had a genuine interest in young people. Miss Fewkes certainly influenced my early life."

"I actually used to get 'A's for history with Miss Fewkes. Something virtually unheard of for one of the class thickos so she must have been a good teacher."

Miss Nunn/Moore:
"I liked Miss Nunn, I sat in front of our fifth form lessons for biology. She taught sitting on top of the front desk ... "

Mrs Holton:
"... only thing I remember about Mrs Holton was a small dark haired, monotone voiced lady barely visible at the front of the class ..."

Eric Pursehouse: (b:1899 d:1964)
"Money-Bag Mansion"

A comment by Eric on a boys school report (maths) "He has ability which he is determined not to develop."

"Diss is fatherless by this man's dying:

And not Diss only; over the whole earth
Men thrive and work in whose lives he gave birth
To logic of wisdom, scorn of lying
The world condones, that cowardice, those tasks
Done less well than in one's power to do;
Scorn of self gain; mean-ness that always asks
More than it gives; he did not fear the new,
But served and taught and live the sound, the food,
Looking for all these in all things, in all men,
All children; himself a maker, made them
Becom creative, talented, he would
Laugh his great laugh, sing finely, carve a stool,
But work patiently; be himself, our school."
 - S G Thickness

Phillip Clarke writes - "The Grammarian" (something else that my father rescued from DGS around 1985-1987) and in it the headmaster writes "As December 18th approaches, and with it my retirement, my mind naturally looks back over the years to September 17th 1929 when I first joined the School staff". The magazines editorial says "We say goodbye to Mr Pursehouse this term."

Hilda Patterson:
"The first lesson on the first day at DGS was chemistry with Hilda, she kept talking about 'suit' and I really did not understand till much later when I realised that she was talking about was soot (Norfick v Scottish y'ken).  Never did get the hang of chemical formulae either."

Irene Barker:
"Mrs Barker's English lessons were something else... she actually treated us like adults, although you wouldn't wanna mess with her! Scary lady! I do recall her teaching us more about Troilus & Cressida in 3 lessons than others had taught us in a whole year for A levels."

"Mrs Barker really let me down. She told us we could write a story about 'anything we liked', so I did a Stephen King-esque piece.  Mrs B held it up to the class as a 'piece of filth', which to be honest I took as a compliment.  She then took it to Rosie Palmer and they called my parents in.  I expected much more of her :-("

Mr Challoner:
"Art was the worst, couldn't draw for a toffee but soon discovered that anything with a massey ferguson tractor in it got a decent grade with Mr Challoner!"

Connie Watson:
"... some of us rather rudely wondered how much of it she was teaching from personal experience."

"Connie Watson...bonkers !!"

Bob Lewis:
"Hanging valley's - Dee-ferential dee-nudation, differential denudation."

"Mr Lewis was a fantastic teacher. He made it all seem so eeeesy!"

" 'Is your loaf underdone?' Mr Lewis's witty pun when I gave a wrong answer in geography class."

" ...best geography quotation of all time - 'Warm wet winters with wet west winds' still comes in handy when discussing the mediterranean weather."

Mrs Ives:
"If she was nasty, she was nasty to everyone, she did not pick and choose.  I am told she was sympathetic towards me due to my poor eyesight, can't say I noticed it myself."

"Ahh ! Mrs Ives luckily she retired when I was in the 2nd year !!!"

"Mrs Ives and Alfie gave me a telling off for disgracing the uniform - my crime eating chips in the street in uniform!!!  Ah the good old days."

Peter Knight:
"An excellent teacher who inspired me sufficiently to read Physics at University."

"I remember waiting to go into Pete Knight's physics class and xxxx explaining his theory that atoms were 4 dimensional. I thought "This will be too much for Pete"; I was right ... he retreated into his cubby hole to drink some meths after xxxx proposed his theory to the entire class.

"... Mr Knight, who always licked his chalky fingers and looked like he had rabies!"

Mr Mathieson:
"When Mr Mathieson first arrived at the school we had him for English Lang & Lit.  His opening words were 'We're not going to waste two years on English Language. I'll start teaching it two weeks before the O level exams, and I guarantee you'll all pass". He did and we all did, and it gave us extra time in Eng Lit, which again helped us all. Top teaching!"

Roger Deakin:
"Was the most inspirational teacher; I had him for English A level and he changed my life."

"Great teacher, great choice of books in lit.  Really opened our heads up by debate.  Don't think I would have gone on to study law if it wasn't for his input in language for me.  Bless him."

Mrs Wynn-Jones:
"Miss Fewkes told me she had no idea of Mrs Wynn-Jones' christian name even though they were in the same school for around five years. All the female staff, even in the staff room, called each other Miss or Mrs whatever! Another world."

"And yes, I did get a good grade in English - to my complete surprise... my highest (O-level) grade, in fact.
She musta larnt me better than wot I thort!"

James Govier:
"I (female) got locked in the art room cupboard with him once and poor chap was terrified.   Mind you in my innocence I didn't see how it would look to others."

Reggie Wright:
"I knew he was old when he taught us in the late 1970's but maybe there is something in exercise being good for you!  Well done, Reggie!"

"A good man who showed me (female) how to run with spikes!"

"He wasn't my favourite teacher by any means, I don't think it was him, I just didn't like sports, especially ball-games and as for boxing ... "

Colin MIlls:
"Thought Mr Mills was a genuinely nice man, but he couldn't quite get me to understand algebra."

Andrew Stratfold:
"I used to sit at the back left of the class in French and Mr S often lobbed the board rubber at me, one time I skillfully dodged it and it broke the side window... I got the blame for that too.... Alfie Norfolk said I shouldn't have moved."

"Fred Stratfold what a legend, opened my mouth to say something in French just as he was throwing a piece of chalk at IanH which I promptly swallowed! Don't know who was more shocked him, me or Ian!"

"I got into Mr Stratfolds bad books one year... whilst travelling up to Yorkshire to see my dad I left my suitcase at Norwich station around 1976. Caused a massive bomb scare (IRA was very active at that time) and closed the station for hours. Stratfold's son was coming back from Uni and was delayed by HOURS. He knew it was me who caused it, oh how the blackboard rubber flew after that!  LOL!  I'm pretty nimble, so he never got me with it hahaha. Tears later I saw him at the NEC, he was selling candles, I was buying... that was interesting!"

" - he also made us sing the spelling of 'vieille'."
"Yeah v - i - e - i - double l - eeeeee"

Here's Andrew "Fred" himself telling his story:
Fred Stratfold speaks
Click to enlarge.

Mr Jones:
"if brains were dynamite boy, you wouldn't have a enough to blow your hat off."

"Told us wonderful anecdotes about his years spent in Canada. Superb teacher given me a lifelong love of Maths." (we don't have too many of these anecdotes yet).

"He also told us about fitting chains to tyres so they could get traction in the snow, not exceptional stories I know. But there was nothing better than getting a teacher to go off topic in order to avoid doing any work!"

Alfie Norfolk:
"Wxxxs ...you're about as much use as a carburretor on a tea urn, now get out of my sight' ... "

"Mrs Ives and Alfie gave me a telling off for disgracing the uniform - my crime eating chips in the street in uniform!!!  Ah the good old days."

"Best comment I had was from Alfie Norfolk, my brother and I had both left school a while and were walking through Diss one day when Alfie passed us saying "You boys, why aren't you at school?"  Ian managed to blurt out that he'd left two years ago!"

Rosie Palmer:
"I got into Miss Palmers' bad books too. Those days when you could pay 50p and wear what you wanted (home clothes) to school for the day. My god what was I thinking? Turned up looking like a Marc Bolan groupie reject and she sent me home! I dont blame her looking back."

Miss Curnock:
"Lovely Miss Curnock, I always remember her cloggs, she was a big fashion hit next to Mr Stratfold's flowing black gown!"

"She was one of the first people I saw to have the trendy perm that Abba were sporting at the time."

Mr Hirons:
"think he gave up on me I never could get all that gravity stuff..."

"He was a really fun - he did have a cool Harley after all!"

Mr Daniels:
"Eye GS had just merged with Diss GS and Dewberry was reading the register on the first day for his class (5th formers) - '... Nicoli, Pratt' - at which point someone is reputed to have called out 'Dewberry, Cnut' or some such other angle-saxon King."

"2nd July 2012 - Mr Daniels still alive at 89. Living in Bexhill on Sea. Ordained deacon in C of E 1973 and then priest 1974. Moved to teach in Sussex in 1974. Daughter Elizabeth, was at DGS."

"8th November 2015 - Elizabeth Daniels reported that her father Geoffrey Daniels died yesterday, 8th Nov 2015, in Sussex,  he was 92.  A priest for 40 years  R.I.P ."

John Blagden:
"... and Mrs B arranged a fabulous trip to Switzeland in the mid 1960s. Train to Dover, then ferry, then train throught France to Switzerland then narrow guage railway to 'Disentis'. We then learned to ski and drink rum-punch."

"Skiing in the Dolomites on Monte Zoncolan with Mr & Mrs Blagdon and Mr Stratfold. Circa 1979. It took an hour on cable cars, chairs and button lifts to reach the peak and all day to ski back down! Had a fantastic time taking breaks in all the huts on the way down for coffee and cake. The Grappa blew my head off. Mr Blagdon's son was there too (can't remember his name but a nice guy) I was stunned when he told me his Dad used to be a jet fighter pilot, flying Vampires. Rather different from the guy I knew as a teacher, driving to school in his Reliant 3 wheeler..."

"We had Mr Blagdon for maths and I appreciate he was a genius but he never shared any information with me - maths just completely phased me."

Dave Harris:
" - a genius who loved to challenge us to ask him any word in the dictionary and he would (always) provide the meaning?"

Margaret Pascoe:
"...loathed me too - feeling was mutual. Still shudder at the memory of the showers & being forced to go back through if we were too quick."

Richard Parker:
"...and I'm no longer cowering behind a bunsen burner on a stool to kill anyones buttocks... hoping that he doesn't pick me to answer a question!"

"Nice, tidy, single file queue."

"This bloke made me a biologist, Ms McGuire made me love it."

"Mr Parker had a camper van? Cool dude! He was a real character - I liked that."

"Yes it [the camper van] was green. Claude [a skeleton] got to go camping in South Devon one year and got confiscated as he was freaking out the kids on the campsite."  "yeah sitting upright in the passenger seat, arm propped on the window sill one time too....."

"... called everyone "Specimen" and always carried a bit of fern poking out his breast pocket. I used to volunteer as a lab helper in lunchbreak and remember discovering a box labelled "broken elastic bands" in the lab cupboard."

"He was actually a good teacher and knew his subject inside out. Every lesson included practical experiments too! That lab of his was a real treasure trove!

Ken Barrell:
"He taught General Studies in 6th Form. I couldn't stand his voice (it was too soft and used to make me sleepy!), so I opted out of General Studies and took O Level Art instead!"

'He apparently bored a class rigid by getting a guitar out and singing various songs! I must admit I liked him, a good teacher."


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