Sunday, August 30, 2015

The English teacher

The given words at today's Sunday's Whirligig are ears, dread, smothers, cane, hobbles, swart, wanting, disguise, poem, vowels, imagines and uncanny of which I have used all but two.

A shadow appears in the doorway. The rowdy boys of Class 5T suddenly fall silent and stand to attention like  anxious soldiers about to face the enemy.

Head of English, Rex Salter hobbles into the classroom, walking stick in one hand and Rastus, his bendy bamboo cane in the other. He smashes Rastus down on his desk and although we are expecting it, we jumped as one. “Sit” he bellows.

Extremely tall and uncommonly thin, he stands for a moment or two looking down upon each of us in turn. His swart features, dishevelled hair and droopy moustache add to his intimidating presence.

Suddenly he bursts into life.  Rastus sweeps through the air, this way and that, pointing one second at the blackboard, the next at a student.

 “Double superlative boy”

“Call that a poem lad?” 

“Vowels child, vowels”

 “Open your ears young man”

 We wonder which of us will be the next to feel Rastus across our open palm!

Whilst we sometimes dreaded his classes, in an uncanny way many of us were left wanting more. We learned from him. Strangely, his demanding and unconventional methods enthused and motivated us  

And now, fifty years on I think of him fondly. For all his menacing ways, he was somehow inspirational. I imagine that if it were not for Rex Salter and Rastus I would not now be spending every spare moment writing.

In case you are wondering, this really is a true account. If he just saw me start my second to last  sentence with a conjunction he'll have turned in his grave!



  1. Happily turning in his grave because fifty years on you are still writing and he is remembered...your description of him made him seem like the cane he wielded...perhaps back then passion for your subject and teaching was conveyed in a different's always good to remember a teacher who actually taught you something! Heaven knows what he'd make of people who pilfer fairy tales and never use punctuation..a-hem ;)

  2. Yes, I so agree with Jae - how wonderful a tribute and how truly wonderful the impact this mentor left - truly to be remembered so is the stuff from which immortality springs.

  3. Thank you for adding your link - And visiting my 'Moment'... I have this account for ease of commenting.

    English rules were never my forte...But I guess I squeak by by the skin of my teeth. I did have some teachers who were encouraging in the creative avenues... which I can do. I think of my own English teachers from time to time. And alas... they too must be gone, but not forgotten.

    Thanks again, Jules

  4. Wow, bravo. This is amazing. I haven't tried writing something like this before.

  5. Wonderful tribute to a demanding tutor. We do remember them, don't we? Blessings to you.

  6. If you remember him in a positive way then he was a successful teacher.

  7. Curiously I tried twice to comment on this piece on my iPad with no luck I see. This took me back to my school days when the cane was still a threat even to the mildest of students from the vilest of teachers. Being a goody-goody (mostly) I got caned just twice. A worthwhile experience in retrospect something like a medal of honour to brag about!