AGH was one of very few teachers for whom I had great respect. He was a pearl before a load of swines, and I wonder what made such a man want to teach us. Not that I am complaining, but you would have thought that he would have taught in a posh school, where his classical talents would have been appreciated.
I do give him a thought occasionally, because he was influential and had my respect. I would just tell you a few things I recall:
Blood red ink in his fountain pen, which he used to write in a masterful, flowing sort of a way. It was a bit like he was painting with his pen. His signature influenced mine, because he always put two dots under his name. Somehow the two dots conveyed authority. My dots have become a line, but with the same intention.
I took to Latin myself, and failed O level only because the criminally incompetent ***** took over. He (A G-H) was a good Latin teacher, and it’s now part of my kids’ “take the piss out of father” routine to imitate me explaining the meaning of an English word by reference to the Latin derivation. It helped greatly with French and Spanish too. That is in fact Allan’s lasting legacy to me.
He did teach English at some point. I definitely know he taught me (and therefore you, I assume) because I recall him managing to make Shakespeare quite interesting. Maybe he was just standing in.
He was one of the few teachers who always wore his gown, and he would have looked better swaying through the cloisters of some ancient public school, rather than the smelly corridors of Price’s. It was part of his public persona, and added to his considerable gravitas. I now realise that the best teachers are great actors, but it works: We would never have mucked around with him like we did with ******, for example.
The horrible day when somebody had written “Genghis” on the blackboard. He walked in and walked straight out again. I am sure that he took it as a racist insult, and I am sure that it was meant as such. ****** took the blame, but I don’t think it was him at all. I don’t know who it was. I do know that most of us were shocked both by the racism (although we did naively use abusive terminology, I must admit) and by AGH’s reaction. We just didn’t understand about any of that in our 99.9999% white middle class world.
His very Indian way of leaving a long gap before the end of a sentence. I’ll mimic it next time I ……….. see you. It is a good teaching technique. My lecturer at college did the same. It makes you think about how the sentence should …….. end.
I am glad that others remember him fondly. I always say you only die when you’re forgotten, so he’s got a good few years left!