The Parish Church of St George the Martyr, Waterlooville

Our Speaker on the 8th October was Mr. Roger Clark. His talk was titled “Tales out of School”.

Roger was a Primary School Teacher for 30 years. He started his talk off by something that happened one morning at a breakfast table. A mother said to her son, “hurry up and eat your cornflakes, you have to get to school”. The son said “I don’t want to go to school, I don’t like the children”, The mother then said “I don't want to hear anymore excuses, I have to go to the shops and I have cleaning to do, you really must get off to school.” The son said “I don’t really like the teachers either”. The mother said “I am fed up with this, you really do need to go now, after all you are the Headmaster”!

A teacher writes on the board, “Make a sentence with the word Judicious in it. A boy piped up and said “Hands that do dishes”.

Another mother said to a teacher “I have some very good news and some bad news. The good news is that Little Johnny will be off school on Friday, but the bad news is, he will be back on Monday”.

Roger went to a Teacher Training College in Winchester for 2 years. He then got a job in Totton in Southampton teaching 14 to 15 year olds. One day he was teaching them maths, which was never a good subject for Roger. He was teaching them “congruent triangles”. He was struggling with this subject and finding it a bit embarrassing as he really didn’t understand what he was talking about himself. The teacher sitting at the back of the class after a while said “shall I take over now”? Roger was really pleased that he did.

His next teaching job was in Romsey, teaching 8 year olds. For the next two years he applied for various jobs without any success. He was 22 years old now and living on the Isle of Wight. He didn’t want to work in any villages. He would have liked to work either in Portsmouth or Southampton.

His next appointment was at Barncroft County Junior School at Stockheath in Bedhampton, which was on the site of a former Naval Camp. Roger had Class 4B. On his first day, he went to get something out of a cupboard which was in the corner of the classroom. He opened the door and everything that was in it seemed to all fall out. It had been jammed shut so tight and everything crammed in to it by the previous teacher. Two little girls came over and said “we will help you Mr. Clark”. After that, Roger knew that if he wanted anything done, girls were more likely to help than the boys.

Roger got himself a scooter on hire purchase, at the time he was living in digs in Farlington. After a while he decided to take his driving test in North End. In fact Roger failed his test twice, and decided to take it in Newport on the Isle of Wight, this time he passed.

One day Roger was taking some papers home to be marked and he had attached them to the back of his bike. When he got home, the papers were nowhere to be seen. He got back on his bike and rode back to the old A27 and there he found around 100 papers blowing about in the road. He managed to retrieve some of them by running in between the traffic, but some of them had tyre marks on them.

When he got home, he looked on his list of the children’s names, and decided to give each child the appropriate mark by how he knew them, eg Ben was good at writing, so he would get a high mark, Lucy was not so good, so her mark was a bit lower etc. Luckily for Roger it worked out well for him and no-one knew what happened to the papers.

A parent went to see Roger one day. She was a very pale faced thin woman. She told Roger that her son had got scratches on him because he had been climbing up a tree and had an epilepsy fit and fallen, but a branch had saved him. She then said in the next breath, “I have got a dropped womb”.

Roger didn’t know what to say to this, he was a bit taken aback, as he lived with parents and a brother and he had never heard anything mentioned like this before. He did think perhaps the woman meant she had a dropped room like subsidence.

One summer term Roger took his class in to assembly where there were three nice ladies from Chichester Teacher College. He was a shy young man, but decided to take one of the ladies out to a dance. He caught the bus to Chichester and they had a good time at the dance. The three ladies were at the school for 3 or 4 weeks until the end of term. One day he was invited to meet the parents of one of the ladies. She lived in Coventry, he lived on the Isle of Wight. He decided to go there on a Friday after work, so he wore his grey flannel suit. His class after lunch had craft making with balsa wood and cement and craft knives making aeroplanes.

One boy went up to Roger and said that he couldn’t open the balsa paint lid. It was a metal lid and very rusty. Roger got it open but the paint which was a bright yellow went all over him. It was a water base paint and he did manage to sponge it off.

Roger met his “now wife’s” two younger sisters. Her father had a car. Roger’s father couldn’t afford to run a car, he was a removal man.

Roger’s next job was at Riders School in Havant and his wife was at Front Lawn Junior School also in Havant. They lived in a flat in Havant. He next went to a school in Alton. He was in the Junior School for four and a half years. His wife was at a small village school near Jane Austen’s house.

In 1966 they had their first son. Then the second son came in 1968, both boys born in December. They now have a grandson, he will be 18 on Christmas Day.

Roger’s next school was in Peterborough. His son Jonathan was only 3 weeks old. Roger and his wife had decided to drive up there in a Reliant van with no heater and the baby sat in a Marmet pram in the back. They drove back home to Alton in the snow after he had an interview for a job.

He was Deputy Head for 4 years in Peterborough. They lived in a brand new council house built on an airfield. He remembers the beautiful sunsets, but didn’t like the awful smell of the sugar beet which seemed to get in to the house. He also remembers that the people who drove seemed to have such large cars like American ones.

The Headmaster at this school seemed to be always out and Roger was used to filling in for him. Roger thought “I can do this job”, so decided to apply for a Headship in the South West and South areas. He went to Gloucestershire and Wiltshire for interviews, but always seem to be disappointed and the jobs would always go to a local teacher. He then went to a place in West Sussex on the A272 road called Wisborough Green. It was a small village with bluebells growing and conker trees around. He had his interview and another chap from a local school was also there to be interviewed. When Roger got the call, he thought that the job had gone to the local man, but was very surprised to be told that he had it. He drove back to Peterborough to wait for his letter of confirmation.

Roger became the Headmaster. He recalls Harvest Festival time held in the local church, the marrows always seemed to be so huge. Christmas term meant nativity plays where a “Mary” and “Joseph” had to be chosen. One particular time, a little boy wanted to be Joseph, but another boy was chosen instead. The other boy was the Innkeeper. When it came to the part where Joseph and Mary knocked on the Innkeeper’s door to ask if they could stay there, the Innkeeper said “Mary can come in, but you can clear off” (pointing to Joseph).

Another time when a man who used to dress up as Father Christmas for the Infants School party and give out presents couldn’t do it, Roger said he would fill in and do it. He put on the Father Christmas suit, pulled down the hood, and heard a loud voice say “that’s not Father Christmas, that’s Mr. Clark”. “How do you know that” a teacher asked. “Because he is wearing his wristwatch”.

Priscilla Barlow

Sadly, St George’s Ladies Group is being disbanded, but we have some further reports of their final meetings which will appear in the next issue.

Christmas & New Year 2015/6

St George’s Ladies Group