Thursday, March 25, 2010



Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Back To The OldSchool

Yesterday I went to a memorial party for my secondary school English teacher Patrick Underhill, who died at the beginning of the year. It was a very well attended and upbeat celebration of his life, held in the school library.

Books and wine - two of Mr Underhill's very favourite things - were in abundance, as were teachers I hadn't seen for nearly fifteen years. It was both a terrifying and surreal experience, a bit like one of those recurring anxiety dreams where you are suddenly back in the classroom.

Luckily, unlike in my dream, I'd remembered to wear trousers.

But enough about my nightmares.

My most vivid memory of Patrick is when we all watched a video of Macbeth in class. When Lady Macbeth disrobed, my friend Gavin shouted 'phwoar', causing Mr Underhill to launch into an magnificent tirade about how we were insulting women, specifically our sisters, mothers, grandmothers, and aunts.

He finished with a devestating flourish:

"Ignorance associated with arrogance is obtusive"

A riposte from which I suspect Gavin has never entirely recovered, and one which subsequently entered my lexicon, even though I've checked, and the word 'obtusive' isn't actually in the dictionary.

Mr Underhill then, passionate about language.

Even language that doesn't fully exist.

Warning: Portions of the above story are likely to have been misremembered. If anyone else recalls what actually happened, do comment below.

Patrick in his youth

Me and my old nemesis Mr Scarth

Eileen Underhill's fabulous purple stockings and £4 heels from Camden Market.