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Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
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Monday, 11 August 2014

Cruel to be kind? No, just cruel

 I have known cruel teachers but Anne G. was the cruellest. She was also the most effective. She had a secret weapon and used it relentlessly - sex.

In a suicidal gesture - albeit in happier economic times - my employer allowed me two mornings off a week to learn French. For well over a year. Very quickly I was joined by Joe plus a whole lot of sales layabouts.

Willowy Anne G., our teacher, was not only cruel but capricious. She took exception to one journalist student, possibly because of his rather prominent facial birthmark. She sneered at his incompetence, marked down his work savagely, and eventually insisted he moved to another teacher.

We, her toadies, were more or less immune. But then our Sunday afternoons at home were devoted to more and more elaborate devoirs, using more and more advanced literary conceits, the aim being to make her laugh. When this happened it was as if she had transformed herself into that woman in the classical painting - you know, the one emerging more or less naked from a scallop shell. Bliss.

But when we got things wrong, her green eyes became slitlike, her mouth a rat-trap, her condemnation piercing. The words arriving like arrows at Agincourt.

Not to put too fine a point on it, I progressed. The alternative was unthinkable. I often wondered if she'd been able to teach chemistry.

PIECE O’ PROUST
… in that little room with the high ceiling, hollowed in the form of a pyramid out of two separate storeys, and partly walled with mahogany, in which from the first moment my mind was drugged by the unfamiliar scent of flowering grasses, convinced of the hostility of the violet curtains and of the insolent indifference of the clock…

3 comments:

Sir Hugh said...

If she had been capable of teaching chemistry I reckon she would have specialised in acids.

Ellena said...

To be around people with such mood swings is like a nightmare - comes and goes.
You came out better than you went in, did you not?

Roderick Robinson said...

Both: Dear God, I've betrayed her. Hardly anyone's responded.