Notes on the Sneck Experience
from the late and lamented Dak White
If you were never taught by Sneck then you missed a 24-carat treat! He was, unlike certain other teachers at the old dump, actually a pretty decent human being, with a genuine desire to bring out the best in his young charges. Given a good following wind, he could actually teach. Unfortunately he was so loaded down by idiosyncrasies/eccentricities that he never really got the chance, as we were too busy taking the piss. Between what sounded like a 'sarf London/Kentish/Essex accent, his slightly unkempt attire, his various ancient 'props' (the 'coise' which regularly got hidden when his back was turned), the piles of textbooks tied up with string, his many distinctive mannerisms, and above all, when he'd had enough, his volcanic rage. He was up against it when it came to keeping order,which often disintegrated completely.
We were taught maths by him, in our form room, (Room D?). Anyway, conveniently for Sneck, it was the one bang next door to Moonhead's 'Study'. Miscreants would often be lined up there for their dose of the 'Stick'. Chris George King's finest hour was probably around November 1969 when I took a box of stink-bombs into class, distributed them, and several were let off, in hard-to-find locations (in cupboards, on top of cupboards, empty desks etc). There was a right old stench in the air, which had the old lad going as he couldn't find the source of the niff. As the lesson wore on, and the usual background noise of untraceable humming, farmyard noises twanging rulers etc drove him to fever pitch, he lost it altogether. We'd barricaded the aisles with rucksacks to prevent ready access to the rear desks, and he gave it a big, steel toe-capped kick, scattered the baggage, and got down on all fours, patting the ground for traces of the offending substance. He was more or less purple with rage by this time. When he found the one we'd smashed with a textbook atop the library-case at the back of the class, he demanded to know who'd done it. I owned up, as did at least one other, probably two (Brown & Benson or Harley, I think) and as alleged ringleader I was despatched to Moonhead's office for a thrashing. This was duly delivered: Six of the worst strokes of the stick I ever had: brings tears to my eyes just remembering it. I could hardly sit down for days.
After the beating, Moonhead, in his most red-faced psychotic guise, stormed into Room D, pointed at me and said "White's suffering and if there's ANY repetition of this I shall deal with it."
(Whips hands from behind back)
"If I have any more messing about in Mr King's lesson I'll take steps to see that those involved are sorry! Do you understand?"
With that, he stormed out, leaving even Sneck a bit taken aback at his ferocity. We did continue to mess about, of course, but Sneck was never quite as ready to send people Moon-wards after that.
When in the 4th year, we got Stoker for maths instead, there was great disappointment. However, joy was unconfined when we got CGK for R.E. I learnt many useful things that year, including his immortal 'Ne pas de fromage' lecture. All of us must have had squeaky clean 'bits' after that gem.
There are many stories of former pupils turning up unannounced at 'Chez Sneck' (A picturesque little cottage just by Thwaite Flat signal box) and being received into the house with kind & hospitable forbearance. Not me, though. I thought the ol' bugger had earned some peace in his retirement, so I gave it a miss.
Just looking at these prints brings it all back. CGK was one of the few teachers that I had any time for on a personal level, and when the old boy did finally shuffle off this mortal coil, circa 1994, it was with some sadness I read the news, in F. Cassidy's excellent Evening Mail obit. So in the spirit of an affectionate tribute to an absolute one-off, check these out.
When? They were taken in about early May of 1970, as my form (3F) were approaching the end of term. We'd cracked through the syllabus as far as we were meant to, so there was an even less workmanlike atmosphere than usual. 'O' levels were still a couple of years away, so nobody was exactly knocking themselves out working. (3F weren't the most industrious lot at the best of times) With this in mind, we set out to have a larf. The result was three people told in no uncertain terms to 'Git AHT!', several impositions, invariably delivered in one unbroken line.
Steve Benson gets two sides [he's
a frequent site visitor] "Benson! Two soides! Tenwordsperlineoneachlineofeachside!
If that 'treatment' failed to subdue, on occasions he'd double it, but more often than not, it was straight to "Git Aht!".
Left to right:
At the very back: W.S.'Bill' Shepherd, (scoutmaster, head of English at BBGS until 1968) (Note: something of a disciplinarian, some
would say martinet), Ian (?) Walsh, Peter McBride, Peter (?) Watt.
3rd Grammar School Scout Troop, atop the summit of Goatfell, Isle of Arran, in August 1970 during the Summer expedition to Galloway and Arran, SW Scotland.
The roll call is, so far as I can remember it:
3F at Grange station Back Row: Phil Brown, Alan Bannin, Charlie Pearson, Roger Barrow, Steve Ward, Glen Jackson, & in the background, Graham Reed.