Teacher’s Pet 8/1

Roger Edwards, my history teacher at Brynhyfryd, had the most profound effect on me.

Until that day when he did something amazing, I hated school with a passion. I was an untidy, disorganised child in a time before aspergers, dyslexia, and their ilk were understood and indentified. I was thick. A strange education nomina for one who’d passed the 11+ and had her choice of grammar schools. I wasn’t thick. I was bored. There were stories and music in my head, that found form in books I’d write that none would read. There was no grammar, no structure. I didn’t get that until I began teaching English! At 10 I was reading Alexandre Dumas, Conan Doyle and Edgar Alan Poe. I’d read Narnia before I was 7. What the hell did I want to read The Hobbit for? It was the stuff of childhood – not big school.The stuff we did in science, I done with Dad when he did his OU degree. I was 5 then. It was repeating, not learning. Gifted and talented, I’d done French at primary school. I could speak enough to get by. I couldn’t write it. Good gods I could barely spell English, what hope did a foreign language have? And then they expected us to be able to punctuate. Something I still have trouble with!

Of course the least said about Latin the better. Fortunately, the fools declared I was too thick to do Latin. I didn’t argue for once. Perhaps I should have done.

And so on. And so on.

Quite frankly I found school stupid. It didn’t challenge and teachers even more stupid. All they did was tell me off for not paying attention, being rude (well teach me something I don’t know then) or having appalling handwriting and no sense of grammar.

Then we moved again. Not a naval move, a change of job move, and I went to Brynhyfryd.

Roger Edwards wasn’t there to start with – a big op I seem to recall – and things began to change. I wasn’t stupid, I was in top and second sets. I was learning new stuff – Italian, Welsh, Welsh History, Algebra. Teachers were still fools but they challenged me. Then he came back. And we clashed. Big time. The man, I decided was a fool. I made his life hell. He made mine tough. Until one parents evening.

And I was dreading it.

You see I expected him to tell an inconvienant truth. I was in for big trouble when Ageing Parents got home. Big grounding, not go out ever again… trouble.

But he didn’t tell them. Said as I hadn’t told them, he wouldn’t tell them.

And overnight my attitude towards him changed. He became a legend. A go to for advice kind of guy. Looking back on it, I suppose I had a crush on him. I didn’t think so at the time, I was too busy having a crush on Bodie from the Professionals.

Thanks to Roger Edwards, school got better. I was still disorganised and untidy and all too easily distracted, but he taught me how to tolerate fools by playing them at their own game: do your homework well, challenge them back by making them mark it. (This was in the days before Ofsted so that was a nasty thing to do to a teacher.) The best thing he ever did? Got me through A Levels, got me doing history at Bangor.

The best piece of advice he ever gave, was the one I didn’t listen to. Sorry Mr Edwards, it’ll be 28 years a teacher this year. My hero is the person I failed. Big time. I’m so sorry!