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Thursday 19 April 2012


His name was Timberlimb,
Anglicised from something foreign, I believe.
He was employed to teach us woodwork,
but he never did. His thing was plastics.
Plastics are tomorrow, he would say.

To make the point he'd posted in the workshop
a cartoon of Tomorrow:
two suited city gents in earnest conversation
in an ulta-modern room: Everything
in here is made of glass, except the windows -
which are plastic, don't you know.

He'd chortle over that, thought it the height of wit.

We did not hit it off, Mr Timberlimb
and I: that happens sometimes -
as I'd find out later to my cost.
I made a table lamp one time. Plastic,
as you've guessed. My own design. I have
to say that I was very proud of it. Not he, for he
dismissed it with: It's modernistic rather
than completely modern, don't you feel?
Well, no, I didn't as it happened, and I wouldn't
have - not even if I'd understood the phrase.

Just every now and then - in a blue moon -
he'd demonstrate a metalwork technique.
Something quite spectacular - but not hands-on
for us. He showed us how to solder, braze
and weld. There was the time he drew a red
hot corkscrew shape from a small furnace.
So there he was, brandishing it, as a warrior
might his weapon, going into war. Sun-bright
and sizzling with heat. Cor, strewth,
a boy behind me said. I wouldn't fancy 
that thing up my ******* in the night.  
How's that to make you jump up out of bed!
Mr Timberlimb turned ashen,
left the school a short while after that.


Mary said...

Poor Mr. Timberlimb. He just had not found the right calling. Perhaps his next job!

Kat Mortensen said...

No chortles here! Guffaws are in progress.
I keep meaning to incorporate that "strewth " into my vernacular.
This is a good counterpart to your rather pathetic figure who was scratching at the door a while back. Both pieces exemplify your talent for bringing a character indelibly to life.

JeannetteLS said...

This was a corker.

Tabor said...

My goodness, who knew Mr. Timberlimb was so easy to shock!!

The Weaver of Grass said...

I think we have all met teachers who are square pegs in round holes Dave.

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Brilliantly told - poor Mr. Timberlimb!

Anna :o]

Brian Miller said...

makes me wonder a bit about the mister and what might be hiding in his closet...

kaykuala said...

If he gets slighted easily he'll have problems in life. Poor thing! Great write Dave!


Anonymous said...

i liked this part "I'd find out later to my cost." LOL

Adura Ojo said...

That boy is very naughty. How could he say that to poor Mr Timberlimb? The mix of humour with some interesting imagery - rather interesting, intriguing. So much bristling under the surface,

Dulcina said...

Black humour or grey reality, Dave, hehehe, another keen portrait, this time of a bad teacher, that modern - never modernistic - Timberlimb, that proud teacher knocked down so easily by a rascal boy's comment.
And again, an unexpected end.
Timberlimb's biggest fault was preferring dangerous plastics to natural, safe and noble wood, so bye- bye, teach; all his stupid proud was gone!
When I read the word strewth - new to me -, I thought of "it's truth". Then, looking up in the dic I have learnt it is an exclamation, an alteration of "God's truth"(?).
I like the name Timberlimb, a kind of Pinnochio, maybe, but, more properly, he should have been called Petrolimb.

Elephant's Child said...

Poor Mr Timberlimb. Teaching is not for the faint of heart, or the easily disconcerted.

Dave King said...

Yes, there was a great dearth of teachers. It was the end of the war and many were still away in the forces. I can remember afew who were not cut out for the job, but also many who were and got there chance under the emergency training scheme.

Thank for this. I was rather ambivalent about him, buut clarified my thinking a bit inwriting the poem.

Thank you for saying.

The Weaver of Grass
Yes, one additional factor was that this was a grammar school and I was part of the first intake of common oiks, allowed to go there by the 1944 Ed. Act, but who previously wouldn't have got over the threshold. The regular teachers did not really know what to make of us, I think.

Yes, like so many others then, he knew his subject, but didn't know boys.

I can't recall anything suspicious, though I was very innocent at that time. A scandal did occur a year or two later, though, involving a maths teacher.

Like all of us he was in part a product of his previous experience.

Mmmmm, I meant much later - when I became a teacher and saw it from the other side.

I don't think he actually intended it for Mr Timberlimb's ears, but said it just loud enough for it to be picked up.

It's strange, isn't it, at one time I would have used "strewth" all the time, yet I'd all but forgotten it. It came back during the writing.

The Elephant's Child
Yes. He was definitely subject- not child-oriented.

Jenny Woolf said...

Poor bloke, he probably felt he was casting pearls before swine and I dare say he was right! :)