When I was at school (Which wasn’t very often) this group of teachers had the pleasure of trying to teach me!!
The gentleman to the front and centre was the deputy head for over 30 years. His name was Mr Whelan. He was a retired Sargent major who had served his country during the latter years of the second world war. I remember him being a very strict task master. Nobody was allowed to put a foot out of line. He used to have the whole school march around the school grounds every morning before first lessons in perfect single file. (No wonder I chose to go hiking through the local woods when I should have been in school)
However, he was strict but fair. When he noticed me marching in the morning he would make a beeline for me, and shout “You managed to make it today Burns! My office at lunch time”. I swear to this day that he had a slight smile on his face as he walked away.
When I knocked on his office door, he would shout through the door for me to wait outside. 10 minutes later he would shout “Come” and I’d go in, shut the door behind me and hold my hands out for the leather of the strap to warm them up.
‘Six of the best’ every day I could be bothered to go to school!
It didn’t seem worth going to school, did it?!
He would always say the same thing to me before he allowed me to leave his office. “Don’t waste what you’ve got Burns, wake up”.
I never really fully understood what he meant so I can only take a guess now that I’m a fully grown man.
Strangely enough I didn’t feel any animosity towards him for punishing me, I felt a respect for him that I’ve never felt again for anyone else in authority.
He would ruffle my hair if he passed me after the bell that signalled the end of the school day and say “See you tomorrow Burns ” knowing full well that it was a lottery!
I also believe that he had a hidden respect for me.
I heard that he died a few years ago.
I wish I had known because I would have liked to have gone to his funeral to pay my respects.