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Re: Dissent seen as Eco-terrorism.... Beckett

Posted by sigismund on March 26, 2012, at 17:17:11

In reply to Re: Dissent seen as Eco-terrorism...., posted by Beckett on March 26, 2012, at 7:51:25

I was fortunate enough to be taught by the last of those servicemen who had gone to university after the war. They were a respectable, opinionated and (I see now) eccentric, a blessing in a country as Australia then was.

My senior English teacher was also my house master. He had gone to university after the war and done an MA on Kant and ended up staying at the school. He had everything needed to be a good English teacher......curiosity, knowledge, kindness and unhappiness, perhaps a sense of failure.

He had quite a reputation when I first went there. His rooms were on a bridge between two buildings and from his balcony he could see over the school grounds. From there he could use his parade ground voice to bark at the boarders, and on one night to fire his shotgun over the head of someone he thought to be an intruder.

Every year he would select around two boarders. This meant, for me, that he would ask me up to his rooms to talk, mainly about books and politics. He was interested in our opinions and how we came about them. He asked me up to his room by yelling out "Mathter Thigithmund" (he had a lisp) and I would walk out the front of the prep room and up the stairs to his rooms. For 2 years I did this two nights a week, for a few hours each time. I can recall him standing on his verandah with RD Laing's 'The Politics of Experience', underlining parts and making margin notes, and then handing it to me saying 'Read thith, Mathter Thigithmund'. I recall he underlined the fact that in the C20 100,000,000 or so of us had been killed by our fellows. It was said (not very knowledgeably) that he was a Nazi, but this was because he was the German master and a lover of German culture. He had the entire norse sagas and introduced us to the Lord of the Rings in 1966.

With his deep understanding of tragedy he was well suited to teach King Lear on which we spent two years. He read the entire play out with considerable feeling and gave up two inches of foolscap notes of his own. Years later my son was also doing King Lear. His teacher had been the first woman to do engineering at university. She was rational, relatively optimistic and uniquely ill-suited to teach it. My son made me promise, at the teacher student interviews, to never mention King Lear, but when she said 'I think it is a terrible play to teach and to learn' my son could not resist and said 'Dad thinks it is the greatest thing ever written', which led to a friendship with that teacher.

In his time after work my English teacher/housemaster drank steadily. As he drank more his lisp increased. One night he called for me and was sitting in his underpants with his feet in front of the radiator, trying to dry out the white fungus. He said 'I thuppothe you think I'm a p**ft*r. I am not a fucken p**ft*r.' For two years he cooked for us, fed us, gave us books and talked to us as adults. In a school such as I was in, this was a blessing beyond words. Later he would have done the same with the next lot of smart vulnerable kids.

That is what I mean by good values.




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