Mr Lloyd by David Essex

6th December 2013 at 00:00
Despite getting the odd piece of chalk between the eyes, the singer has fond memories of the disciplinarian teacher who inspired his songwriting

I went to Star Lane Primary School in Canning Town, East London. Even though it was a really rough area, Star Lane was a decent school. The kids were.lively. They would take advantage of a teacher if they got the chance, but Mr Lloyd never really gave them that chance.

Try to picture the archetypal 1950s teacher - that's Mr Lloyd. Big bushy eyebrows, tweed jacket with leather patches on the elbows. Welsh lilt to his voice. But this man was a great teacher and I genuinely looked forward to his classes.

He sparked my interest in English and poetry, which in turn played a part in my writing of lyrics. So he's had a huge impact on my life. And he was a crack shot with a piece of chalk. He could hit a kid square between the eyes from across an entire classroom.

He was a man of traditional teaching methods. He believed in discipline - you knew the line you couldn't cross - but he also had a twinkle about him, a way of elevating his classes above the monotony of all the others. I remember him very warmly.

Mr Lloyd once took me in his little car to pay some money into his bank. When you see a teacher outside school, they actually become a human being. I saw a snapshot of his life and it made me realise that this was a person. And he was a good person.

The only mistake he really made was making us read Silas Marner by George Eliot, which is a horrible book. Depressing. Avoid it at all costs.

Alas, I didn't really do Mr Lloyd proud when it came to the 11-plus exam. I knew that if I passed the exam, I would go to a secondary school that made you play rugby; if I failed, I would go to a school that played football. I loved football and was playing for West Ham's youth team at the time, so instead of answering any questions in the test, I just drew a picture of Popeye. That did the job. It wasn't even a good picture of Popeye. So I failed the exam and went to the school I wanted to go to.

It was bizarre, really, that none of my music teachers provided any inspiration. My secondary school teachers didn't really have an impact. But, in a way, that gave me more of an appetite. At 14, I walked into a blues club and knew instantly: that was what I wanted to do.

I started writing music. Football took a back seat; education had long been in the back seat. I remember the lyrics to my first song. It wasn't exactly Byron-worthy. "Oh Carol-Anne, the day that you leave me, girl, I'll be a dying man." Awful stuff. Mr Lloyd would have been devastated.

David Essex stars in and has scored the film Traveller, which will be released in selected cinemas and on video on demand on 6 December 2013. He was talking to Tom Cullen

Gonna be a star

David Essex

Born: 23 July 1947, Plaistow, East London, England

Education: Star Lane Primary School, East London; Shipman Road Secondary Modern School, East London

Career: Singer, songwriter, actor.

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