The Day Gunner Lost His Bite

 Our Class fell for Gunner for both Latin and French.  I think others had Harry Bamber for French, which must have been more relaxed.

Sometimes lessons were hijacked when an ingenious and plucky pupil diverted Gunner onto explaining the differences between a howitzer and a cannon, the length of Roman spears, why the British Army marched in threes, etc, etc.

When it was business as usual, it is fair to say that Gunner completely held the classes’ attention.  I still remember him going on about “football team – (5, 3, 2 formation in those days) –French pronoun word order”, though I can’t remember what the hell that means now.

Of course Gunner ruled by fear. One of his techniques was to advance slowly, fixing a pupil, struggling to come up with an answer, with those piercing blue eyes, while tapping his empty hand menacingly with a chair leg in the other hand. His “magic footsteps” he called it.  More often than not, terror or adrenalin (is it brown?) would result in a correct response or at least a good try in the nick of time.

Sometimes, in the event of some minor misdemeanour by a pupil – laughing at someone else getting a bollocking on one occasion – would result in Gunner dragging some unfortunate from his desk to the front of the class, as he lost his temper big time.

Anyway, on one particular day, I don’t recall if it was Latin or French, but something had irked Gunner and all the signs were that he was about to lose it again and bash some one.  But, well into a thunderous outburst, Polygrip let him down and his gnashers escaped his mouth.  He caught them expertly before they fell far, and turned to the blackboard to put himself together.

There was, I suppose, what they call a pregnant pause.  Tittered we not! I can still see faces around me, straight but not without considerable force of will in some cases, some open mouthed in shock and awe, to pinch a phrase.

When Gunner turned back to face us, his temper had miraculously subsided and the lesson continued sedately.

It wasn’t until break that we could relive the moment and give full vent to our merriment, and share it with the rest of the year.

I reckon that, for those of us that were there, Gunner was just a tad less formidable after his dental mishap.

Incidentally Pip Harris could “go off on one” too.  In a first or second year geography class, just before lunch break, he gave me one of those comedy style one slap per syllable left and right ear bashings: “You; will; not; talk; in; my; ge; o; gra; phy; less; on…” etc etc.

By the end of the school day my lugs were still bright red beacons and I decided that history was a more attractive ‘O’ level option.

Item sent in by Dave Thacker 5K 1970/71

The Tower Revisited  - The website for former Pupils of the Technical High School, Trinity High School & Trinity Grammar School, Northampton