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Monday, 21 May 2012

Mr Gruesome : the suburban village #6

Two memories I cannot reconcile:
what was his name? McTavish, always first
to come to mind... but then Grujon... some name
like that. The reason for the second thought
is this: we called him Gruesome from his name.
But that he came from North the Border there
can be no doubt - while the name Grujon didna.
Just take your pick, I'll leave the choice to you.

World War I, he and his friend are orderlies.
A military hospital.
Mesopotamia. Each day
they'd set out for their odious work,
him tweaking his mind-set to certainty:
Not to catch the dysentery.
He never did. Mind over matter.
We heard this story endless times.
Each day's first lesson would begin with it:
When I was in... The whole class groaned.
From it we were supposed to learn the trick.

For each day's final lesson, though,
he'd mount his desk, a pipe in hand,
and stand above us, beaming down.
He had a store of pipes: Pan pipes
and penny whistles and two flutes -
end blown, and not the sort you'll see these days.
Always in plus fours, he'd start to dance -
tap dance, if he was in the mood -
and we would have to dance
in circles round his desk.
Then statues when the music stopped,
and he would flick the pipe to point it
straight at some quite fearful child and cry:
Spell pneumonia! chrysanthemum!
bronchitis or grammatical!

Get it right and you were early home to tea,
but get it wrong and round you went again.
I'd often had bronchitis and the like -
and knowing them would get me early home

I had to take a doctor's note in once.
I'd had a bout of bronchiectasis.
He peered at it and muttered quite a bit,
then looked at me above his spectacles:
Well lad, your spelling of bronchitis is
spot on, that canna be denied - but this
I'll tell you now: your doctor's spelling is na!


The Elephant's Child said...

You have captured the idiosyncracies of this type of teacher beautifully. Mine didn't give early marks - unless leaving on time was considered that way. Spelling mistakes had you kept in, and in, and in.
Though these days I spell better with a pen in my hand - and typing the word simply doesn't do.

cloudia charters said...

this was before self esteem became paramount. A strange scene~

Friendly Aloha from Waikiki
Comfort Spiral

> < } } (°>

Anonymous said...

Once I had an elderly GP who needed to write a referral but asked me to do it because his hand was clinched in an arthritic spasm - he tutted loudly each time I miss spelt one of those long medical terms!

Enjoyed this one very much.

Daydreamertoo said...

Haha... he sounds like a right character. I thought some of ours were bad enough. They just don't make teachers like that anymore!
This really made me smile, especially the end where the doctors couldn't spell properly LOL
Great read Dave, thanks.

Brian Miller said...

haha love his chastisement of the doctor there in the end...i was rather fond of the teachers that actually made you learn you know...they made an impression...

Mary said...

Great story in a poem, Dave! He definitely sounds like a memorable teacher....definitely more than a wee bit eccentric. (Can just see everyone dancing around!) With the way that many doctors write, hard to know if they are spelling correctly or not. LOL.

kaykuala said...

Hilarious, Dave! These are the likes that remained etched in our memories. They not only taught but let off valuable lessons that remained intact for decades guiding us. Great write!


Tommaso Gervasutti said...

"....My words echo
Thus, in your mind."

It's great to have words as memories echoing.

Windsmoke. said...

Reminded of red indians circling the wagons in the wild wild west, enjoyed this one very much :-).

Healing Morning said...

I am so happy I finally got around to visiting you from Writer's Rising! I love this style of meandering storytelling - you have a true gift. I will definitely return to discover more of your prose.

- Dawn

Anonymous said...

Very well-told story, Dave. Wonderful. K.