Chapter VI

Spelling, Etc.


OCCASIONALLY we get boys, even at Leeds Grammar School, whose h’s are rather uncertain and some whose u’s are too broad. For the former I had the old “Hercules was a hard-hearted huntsman. He hit his horse over the head with a heavy hammer and it howled horribly.” One B. M——was an offender. He came in late after one break and, apologising, said he had “’ad to go to the ’eadmaster.” So I told him to repeat ‘Hercules’, which he did imperfectly and he was told to start again. Finally he became so mixed, poor boy, that he told me “Hercules had to go to the ’eadmaster!”

GREAT FUN (and annoyance) has been caused by ‘spelling’. Often a boy is not too sure of his own name. Wimbles has been Wimbley; Ashley, Ashles; Roberts, Roboberts—a useful name because there were two of that name in the same form; Schofield, Schschofield; Burns, Buns, Walmsley, Walmsleyawmsley; Strickland, Sickland. The Christian name of Gordon was written Gorodon.

One boy, C. B—— whose spelling was atrocious, got the nickname of ‘Troxy’ because that was how he spelt the French word ‘trois’.

Another boy was called ‘Judy’, because in Major Ward’s lesson he pronounced ‘jeudi’ like that. The Head Master wanted to investigate some misdemeanour, and asked me if I knew of a boy whose nickname was ‘Judy’. I did!

I remember an essay on ‘A Walk Through the Main Streets of a City’. I had, “If you wont a car peeple have to go to berars which are ossipit Woolworth 3d. and 6d.” ‘Absolutely’ was once ‘upstowly’; ‘for instance’, ‘frinstenc’, ‘postal orders’, ‘post lauders’.

I have the original work of a boy, who for his prep. had learnt Young Lochinvar. It reads:

0, Youg Locutur has come out of the
West thoug all hisword bords
His steend was the besta to
Savus his bordsord he
Wepun had nuoun he rod
All wredn and he rod all a
Lonun there never was a
kigth like youg Locuinur.
He sten not for back and stan
not for ston he swun the
Eet rive and ligth at the

Worse as it goes on—that was as far as he got. A boy in my form once wrote:

She hisses home and shoots the dood
And then she droops them on the floor.

It should have been:

She hurries home and shuts the door
And then she drops them on the floor.

In his exercise book, to my horror, I saw “My god”, so I looked closely and read: “My god chases cats every night”. Just an anagram of ‘dog’!

I LIVE IN a jerry-built, semi-detached house with very thin dividing walls. During the Abyssinian War my next door neighbours were Italians. They kept very late hours, and apparently celebrated the Italian victories. After three very bad consecutive nights, I went to school feeling very sleepy and with a bad headache. To one form, before a French lesson, I explained why I was feeling very bad. The form were most sympathetic and suggested that I should try ‘sanctions’. When I asked how I should do this, they said “Just go to their gate and prevent all their supplies of groceries, etc. from going in.”

A boy, Brian F——, came to me after the lesson, and said: “Please Miss Christie, why don’t you write to Mrs. Jim?” I enquired who Mrs. Jim was, and Brian told me she was somebody in Home Chat who would help in any troubles and tell you what to do, without charging for anything. I tried to get out of this by saying that I did not take Home Chat. That afternoon Brian turned up with several recent copies of the magazine. I am afraid I never wrote to consult ‘Mrs. Jim’, though I did read a few of her letters!

This same boy once had a hole in his satchel. He told me “I have had it mended now and I am feeling quite lonely. I can’t get my hand in.”

In a science lesson, apropos of what I have forgotten, I said: “F—— does not eat insects does he?” He said, indignantly, “Yes, I do.”

I GENERALLY start nature lessons in September by talking about seaside animals. A little time ago I asked which boys had been to the sea for their holidays. Some hands did not go up. Then I asked if there were any who had never seen the sea. One hand (J. B. M—’s) went up. I was full of sympathy for him and said: “Poor old M——. You have a treat in store. Where do you generally go for your holidays?”



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