From the archive - Only three types of student teacher

3rd December 2010 at 00:00
20 April 1962 - Slipper-clad staffroom Eccentric shows a Shy one how to handle flirtatious 15-year-old 'minx'

Most student teachers fall into two groups: the Put-Me-Down-From-These-Wall-Bars (Shy) type or the While- My Notebook-Is-Handy-How-Long-Have-You-Been-Bilateral (Unbounded Enthusiast) type.

Happily, there are exceptions who can best be described as "eccentrics". I, as a student teacher, was a Shy one.

If I had belonged to either of the other two categories, a shellacking I received at the hands of a minxy, ankle-socked 15-year-old girl would have been adroitly avoided.

The dialogue, mercifully brief, ran somewhat in this fashion:

"Sir, we think you have a lovely face... when you smile."

"Sir, are you blushing?" This shattered my resistance and I retreated to the staffroom to brood over my failure and the success of my fellow student, a gangling eccentric oaf called Haxted.

Andrew Haxted came from a family - or better, A Family - who had fallen upon hard times - his legacy included a beautiful speaking voice, a pulverizing square cut, a 60-year-old Norfolk shooting jacket and a pair of hideous sandals which were his only defence against the northern winter.

One day when icy sleet was lying inches thick and Haxted's ancient footwear was issuing spirals of steam after frequent applications of his soaking extremities to the classroom radiator, he came under the maternal wing of the young and hard-bitten ladies who considered me such a flop.

With coy, demure-eyed trickery and arch modesty was the sentimental scene enacted when Haxted was presented with a pair of handsome waterproof shoes.

A natural aristocrat by breeding, he transformed a charitable handout into Tithe Day at Haxted Towers, and I was good enough to voice this opinion in the staffroom.

The years passed, we both qualified, and I forgot about him until one day a notice posted up in our staffroom announced that Mr Henry Bretherstonlegh would favour us with his presence as a student teacher.

I mused over the Englishness of the name, recalling Haxted through association. The image of a noble gentleman in the Haxted mould was destroyed by the entry of a mercurial Yorkshireman, breezing into our staffroom and addressing the dozy gathering with a loud hand clap and a booming, hearty: "Howdo Lads!"

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