Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Dialogue with Colin Partridge - Teacher Extraordinaire!

After posting a bio - Staying Alive by former Cleobury English teacher Colin Partridge - who also ran the Literature Club and edited The Boarder - the school magazine, there has been some dialogue both via e mail and the comment box on this site....(See the index to find find The Boarder posts). Colin taught at the school in the late 50's and left in the summer of 1961.

The Original M28
"Yes - I also remember Mr Partridge - suppose he was something of a "one off" - during my incarceration at CCBS between the dates 1957 to 1961 I can recall most teachers but Mr Partridge was one of the better in my eyes. I recall the trepidation at the start of the lesson when our "essay" results were announced to the class - it was always either Neale Blackford or myself that came either 1st or 2nd.

Recall - on one occasion CP played some classic music at the start of the lesson and we had to write in essay format how we interpreted what came into our heads when listening to the music and put pen to paper. It's really spooky but I can recall as though it was yesterday that I wrote words to the effect that it reminded me of -standing on the quay side as a ship was pulling away from the harbour and saying goodbye and waving to a girlfriend not knowing whether or not I would ever see her again. (Must have been some sad music).

Kinda strange how one stores these memories - that must have been circa 1960 - some 52 years ago. Luckily my health and memory are still ok - perhaps something to do with the clean Cleobury air. If you are reading this Mr Partridge - thank you very much for being part of my English education - top man- and of course 10/10 !!

ps I recall Sir, you had at one time a Ford Consul (or the like) motor car and you were not too bright at car maintenance - you asked me if it was ok to flush out the radiator with water from a hose pipe, having first opened the radiator valve - and you know what - it was ok ! "

Reply from Colin Partridge - 

"It's delightful to hear from you over such time... My WISH as a teacher was to stimulate creative imagination but my JOB was to instill grammar for O levels. Sometimes I felt divided...

I still have no knowledge of car maintenance. The car was a Zephyr purchased on a Friday evening in September 1960 at a used-car lot on the banks of the Wye in Bewdley. I couldn't drive, so the car was left for later collection. I was on duty that weekend when it rained and rained ceaselessly. At Saturday tea a colleague said he'd noticed the Bewdley car-lot was flooding and likely to be completely under water... I couldn't leave the school and images of an upturned car - my first, my dream - floating downriver haunted me through Saturday evening and all day Sunday. The next day, after class two colleagues, possibly Mr Chopping and Mr Foy, drove me to collect the Zephyr and bring it to school. The waters had receded and the car was undamaged but seemed to gleam with fresh wax-polish. That is my haunting experience from those days...!

I have no recollection of the creative exercise which has remained to haunt M28!  And I wish I knew what music  was played...It could have been Moussorgsky...!

Emerson Lake and Palmer with a live rendition of  Moussorgsky's Pictures At an Exhibition

One of the more imaginative things I did at the school was to gain permission from Mr Morris to show a silent film in the winter of 1960. In class a pupil had mocked the idea of a film being silent. So I wanted him and others to see what great art had been achieved in the medium.

Mr Morris readily provided the extra funding to rent "Battleship Potemkin" from the British Film Institute and the entire school came to the hall one evening.to see it. I improvised music at the piano and the audience quickly settled down. I could feel their rapt attention as I struggled with to invent ominous chords and grim minor phrases. Quickly the school identified with the oppressed and mutinous sailors. At the end, as the battleship tore into the screen in a three-D effect, there was a moment of absolute silence and then the school broke out into cheers and applause... It was a moment of spontaneous reaction, such as a young person usually gets only at sporting events.

And I never had the opportunity to present a silent film with piano accompaniment at any other institution!

It was the last image in the film that I referred to above -  when the hull of the ship seems to emerge from the screen into the audience. And the extracts used in this trailer are excellent although the most emotional images are omitted. And the music - inspirational!

Best wishes - Colin.

Hear is the trailer via Youtube -

Comments from Facebook -

Paul Nicholas Williamson 
There is a name Neale Blackford, he has had childrens book published, he came to my wedding back in 1971 and we still exchange christmas cards, perhaps the most intelligent chap I came across whilst at Cleobury, could be very witty and funny without trying.

John Tearse
had a lasting impression on my memory so much so that I recently bought a copy of it from America. I intend to have a showing of it to any body that fancies seeing it again i have a large room with screen and projector and a bar that stocked with Otter and other brands as well anybody who fancies a trip to Hinckley one night let me know.
PS we have popcorn.

1 comment:

  1. I remember that film very well particularly the Piano it has had a lasting impression on my memory so much so that I recently bought a copy of it from America. I intend to have a showing of it to any body who fancies seeing it again. I have a large room with screen and projector and a bar that's stocked with Otter and other brands as well. Anybody who fancies a trip to Hinckley one night let me know.
    PS we have popcorn.