Before the complaints come trickling in. The apostrophe IS in its rightful place.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I’ve been in Spain and I’ve been thinking a lot about Clive.
Clive loved Spain.
He died out there, suddenly oh, it must be coming up to 7 years ago now. I worked with him at the same school for 10 years or so. I miss him terribly. We weren’t ‘Best Pals’ but we did spend a lot of time together. Like many others we fought against half-baked thinking and the inadequate grasp of fundamentals in education, nay in human relationships, and especially so when it came from the unleavened Mrs Fajita. (‘Dopey Cow’) Hapless management, made our day, but at what cost to students’ education?
We shared some of the same interests in music, although it has to be said we didn’t agree on everything. We were founder members of that tiresome quartet ‘The School Band’ I have even forgiven him for, unbeknown to me, turning my trusty WEM Dominator amp off while he did some acoustic numbers at a social do in the school hall finally I took to the stage spent the first eight bars trying to work out why my amp wasn’t working.
‘It was ‘Buzzing” he said.
‘It’s a 1970s British valve amp.’ I said ‘ It’s what they do!‘
Ooooooh I was cross with him.
I enjoyed his blog ‘Going to the Dogs in Swindon’ and he was complimentary about my scribblings, which meant a great deal to me and gave me the confidence push it on a bit.
I remember a right old day out in Southsea. Ostensibly, a Sixth Form end of term trip, we skidaddled straight away and during the course of the afternoon drank a bucketful of beer, ate the second largest plate of fish and chips I’ve ever seen, chewed the fat more than somewhat, and ended up on some hideous ride at the funfair. Poor Denise Broadbent! I’ve never seen anyone go soooo green
Then there was that memorable day in Valencia. Of all the people over the years who have said ‘I’ll pop across and see you, I’m only in Javea/Denia/Xativa/Valencia/Almeria/Extremadura/Santiago de Compostella/Wherever ….’ Clive and Sue were the only ones who ever did. We ate Paella and to round off the day, I gave our eldest a dollar for the fruit machine, and he won the bloody jackpot ¡Ay caramba!
He loved the Simpsons, and in particular, Homer’s half-witted, lugbrious attempts to be a real father; wholly the opposite of Clive . I remember descriptions of his readings of bed time stories from ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’ which were gripping enough to ‘reel – in’ neighbourhood kids and passers-by!
We laughed at the same kinds of things, both of us unashamedly cynical. But he never let his … ‘worldliness’ let’s call it, cloud his teaching. He was a great teacher.
Clive turned me on to Irvine Welsh,’The Watchmen’, which I read cover to cover. Not bad for someone who hates comic-books, while I used to love hearing his tale of how he booked Paul Simon to play at the folk club he ran in Swindon in 1965, when Simon was living over here. As Clive recalled, it was not long after this that back in the US with Art Garfunkel he began to achieve his first major success.
Anyway, the story I am about to relate is true, and it happened at a West London secondary comprehensive during a friday morning staff meeting (A time when most present were still actually in a deep state of unconsciousness) Not Clive. No, I think Clive had been preparing himself for some time for that particular morning’s meeting; one which was to be chaired by the school’s First Deputy, Greg Hill.
Now, the reason that the responsibility for the weekly staff meeting – indeed the whole school, lay in Greg’s capable hands was that Headteacher, Dick Duggan, a man of principle and honour (if also worryingly long sideburns and crispy fried seaweed comb-over) was not in school, but attending the Hillingdon Association of Secondary Headteachers’ conference. Or ‘HASH’ as it was known. (I swear I’m not making this up)
Calling the meeting to order, with a most unfortunate turn of phrase which he to this very day swears blind was unintentional, Greg booms out:
‘Morning, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dick’s out’
To which, quick as a flash Clive replied:
‘Is that an order?’
Now, I don’t know whether you have ever seen a teacher spontaneously awake from a profound slumber; let alone a roomful. It is not a pretty sight. It’s very funny though: watching your colleagues variously choking on dentures, hot tea, coffee, spilling same over weeks’ worth of marking, exam papers .Very, very funny
A priceless moment from one of many. Sadly missed. Clive, this is for you with the hope that we may one day chew the fat again like we did down at Southsea.
I’ve looked at Life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It’s Life illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all
© 1973 Warner Bros
© Andy Daly 2017