Eyl 14

College Teacher

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Quentin College was a place that I had taken a fancy to when I was studying for my doctorate at University and was very pleased when I received a letter asking me to attend an interview. I was one of twenty there that day and I progressed into the next interview of ten and finally for a third visit of just three of us for a position in such a prestigious college.

I was the last to be interviewed and I went into the Dean’s office to find two other people sitting there along with the Dean himself who had been present at my two previous visits. He was sitting behind his large desk and flanked by a man on his right and a woman on his left. I knew of them through my studies and the newspapers but waited until I was formally introduced to them before speaking.

‘Sit down Dr Smith,’ Dean Ainsworth said, indicating the chair placed before the desk. ‘I am pleased to see that you made it to the last three and through your work, I’m sure you know Mrs Cynthia Carrington who is attached to the Department of Education in the present government.’ I nodded in her direction and gave her a small smile. ‘And Sir Reginald Hudson, who, though in opposition at the moment, is the Chairman of the College Board of Governors.’ I nodded in his direction and gave him the same smile.

‘To recap for their benefit, you were born on the 14th May 1974 in London, christened Colin Franklin Smith and are now twenty six years of age with both parents now deceased. You won high honours at college and obtained your doctorate at Oxford in the field of Political History on a brilliant thesis showing the parallels between the English Civil War and the American war of Independence. You have also written a book using these lines which I myself have read and have ordered copies for the college library.

Now having seen you twice previously, I’ll let my esteemed colleagues put forward their questions as to why you think you are fit for the position in this college. Mrs Carrington if you would be so kind as to lead off.’

He sat back with a smile on his face and listened to the questions that were fired at me for over half an hour and to my answers. They were very demanding and I gave the best answers that I could and felt mentally drained when it was over and shook hands all round before I left, being told that I would be notified within a week if I’d succeeded to the post or not.

I went back to London to my home in Chelsea. A house in Cheyne Walk left to me by my parents two years ago. My father had been a cardiac consultant, but his profession did nothing for him for he died of a heart attack at the age of sixty one. Mother, with his loss, just seemed to pine away and so followed him two years later but it was recorded as natural causes in her case.

That was two and a half years ago and so I went off to America to further my education in my field and had only been back in England for three months before applying for this post of Political History at Quentin College. In the States, I had attended Yale University and by having the other side of the story as it were about what led up to the War of Independence prompted me to write my thesis.

True to their word, I received a letter a week after my last interview from Dean Ainsworth congratulating me on securing the post and could take up residence whenever I wished for the incumbent had already retired. It was two weeks into the summer holidays and another four weeks before the new term year began and as I didn’t have any ties, immediately packed all that I would need and set off for the college.

Before the taxi driver could even begin to grumble about helping me get my two trunks down to his cab, I gave him a fiver and then had him drive me to the station where I had to get a porter to get them to my platform. The train I wanted was there and people were already boarding and I just had enough time to get my ticket and see the trunks put into the guards van.

It was another fiver for the cab driver at the town I wanted, to help me with them from the platform to his vehicle and get me to the college which was just off Gresham Street. It had been built by Sir James Quentin in 1585, well, started in that year but it wasn’t finished till 1588 during the reign of Queen Elizabeth the First. At the time, it was the centre piece of the hamlet of Pax, taking its name from the river that flowed through and was a boundary line of the hamlet. Over time, the hamlet, because of the college, grew and became known as the town of Paxham.

The river itself curved round the college and at the town end grew many willow trees, the branches of which were much coveted later in the making of cricket bats. This became one of the house names of the college, Willow House, and its colour was yellow. Pax was another because of the river and the colour was blue. Gresham, from the street name, was red and the last was called Park from the playing fields at the rear and their colour was green.

The college itself had an imposing entrance. Arched, and still had a portcullis, which I found was now defunct, Sakarya Escort and overall, a remarkable Elizabethan style to all the buildings inside the college grounds. The porters lodge was one side in the arch and the Bursar’s office on the other. Above, was the dean’s office and living quarters as well as the aforementioned people.

The arch led into the quadrangle that had two houses each side with the main hall and chapel directly opposite the entrance. Behind which were the classrooms and gymnasium that then opened out to the playing fields with woods at the far side that led to the river Pax.

From literature I had read, knew that space was limited because of its size and therefore only took in thirty two new pupils a year and they would stay there for seven years. Each house had seven rooms which would only accommodate eight beds and one large common room, so the total number of students there was two hundred and twenty four ranging from eleven years of age up to those of seventeen and eighteen. The house also had two other rooms, though it is somewhat of a misnomer for one had been very large and had since been split up into two bedrooms and a sitting room, and one smaller room with a sitting room. These were for the teachers. The smaller one was for the house master and the other, of which I was to be assigned, was the shared sitting room and my own bedroom.

Jenkins, the college head porter, welcomed me and told me to leave my trunks where they had been deposited by the cab driver and said that he would see that they were brought up to my room later. He took me through to the quad and told me that I would be in Pax House to which he led me. The ground floor held the common room as well as the accommodation for the teachers, the upper floor being the students rooms. I found out that each yearly intake stayed in the same room for their whole time there and that the prefects, two, were selected from those students in their last year.

Jenkins led me into Pax House and knocked at the door at the far end and we heard a voice call out for us to enter. I went into what was the sitting room and saw a young man get up from one of the double desks by the window.

‘You must be Doctor Smith,’ he said as he came forward with his hand out and a big smile on his face. ‘Thank Christ you’re not another old fogie.’ I couldn’t help but smile back as I shook his hand. ‘My name is Dorian Carson though they all call me Kit. Okay Jenkins, I’ll take over from here.’

‘I’ll have your trunks brought up shortly sir,’ Jenkins said to me before he left the room.

‘As I said,’ Kit began as he waved me to the small sofa that was in the room, ‘Thank heavens for some young blood in the place. Professor Hughes, your predecessor, was a sour old goat and I don’t think I could have lasted another year with someone of that ilk. What are you, twenty seven, twenty eight?’

‘Twenty six and my name is Colin,’ I replied.

‘Well Colin, welcome to Quentin College. I’m twenty seven myself and it was my father who insisted that I be christened Dorian but my mother always called me Kit and so the name stuck. I think she rather liked western films,’ he finished with a laugh. I dutifully laughed along with him. ‘This then is Pax House. Blue is the colour…..’

‘And football is the game,’ I finished off for him. Coming from Chelsea, there was only that team I could support though I must admit, I wasn’t that keen on football.

‘I like the look of you,’ he said, looking directly at me, ‘and I think that we are going to get along fine.’ I thought so too for he was full of life and seemed to be just….so bubbly. I didn’t know then at just how well we were going to get along.

‘Okay. That’s your bedroom over there,’ he said, indicating the door to the left of the sitting room door. ‘There’s a desk each under the window here. Toilet and shower room down the hall though you can piss out of the window if you want.’ I laughed and knew that we were going to get along fine for he spoke my kind of language.

‘Now I know you’ll be teaching Political History and old Professor Hughes has left a load of notes as to where he was with each year. Bloody boring he was. I hope you can breathe some life into the subject. I myself teach Biology to the latter years intakes as well as part time Physical Education. I’ve seen your teaching schedule and see that you have Wednesday and Thursday morning and Friday afternoon off from classes.’

This was news to me for I hadn’t seen this as yet and was glad about the Friday afternoon for that is the worst time to be trying to teach anyone with the weekend looming up. At this point came a knock at the door and it was my trunks being delivered and so I saw to them being put into my room for me to sort out later. Kit lounged in the doorway as my trunks were put where I indicated.

‘You have to make your own bed by the way as well as keep the room clean. We only get a cleaner once a week to do the rooms and get a change of bed linen. Supper is at six thirty,’ he said looking at his watch. Adapazarı Escort ‘Lights out for the students at nine forty five. Breakfast is at seven forty five, though when the schools full, we have to be in the hall at seven thirty for morning prayers beforehand.’ He looked at his watch again. ‘We’ve got fifteen minutes before supper, would you like a drink? I’ve only got a few beers in and some gin and tonics. All you can get in our common room is sherry and not a very good one at that,’ he said.

‘A gin and tonic would be fine,’ I said and so we went back into the sitting room where he mixed us both a drink. We only spoke of my predecessor before it was time to go over to the big hall for supper. Here, there were four long tables running the length of the hall with a raised one crosswise at the end. This is where we went to and there was only one other teacher sitting there to whom I was introduced before we sat down.

‘I thought the college would be empty of students,’ I said in a whisper to him though why I whispered, I don’t know as I nodded towards six of them sitting together at one of the tables.

‘Well I know why for two of them. Their parents are abroad and they’d rather stay here for the summer holiday than go off to an empty home. In fact, they are helping me on a project I’m doing at the moment. Oh, do you drink wine? Red or white?’ he broke off to ask me as a waiter came up to us.

‘I’d prefer red if that’s what you’re drinking,’ I replied. So he ordered a bottle of red and this arrived a few minutes later along with our first course. ‘What’s this project then?’

‘Have you been in the cubs or scouts?’


‘Did you like camping out and seeing about how to survive on your own cooking over a wood fire?’

‘Yes, and I collected quite a few badges in my time.’

‘Well last year I had five boys out each weekend, weather permitting, to teach them field craft. That’s all I’m allowed to take with me. If you joined me, we could teach ten. It’s great fun and will be even better this year. That’s why I’ve stayed on over the holidays to improve things for them. Can I show you tomorrow?’ He was so bubbly with enthusiasm that I couldn’t help but agree to see his project.

After dinner, we went back to our rooms where I unpacked and finished off the evening by reading through the notes left by Professor Hughes.


I was woken up by a bang on my door and heard a voice call out that tea was up. I looked at my bedside clock and saw that it was seven o’clock. I got up and put on a dressing gown and went out into the sitting room to find a pot of tea and two cups, milk and sugar on a tray on a desk. This was nice I thought and poured myself a cup as Kit came out of his room.

‘Good morning. Lovely day it looks like,’ he said as he poured out his tea. ‘Are you coming out to the site after breakfast?’

‘Not this morning. I’ve still got to finish the Professor’s notes and prepare my own schedule,’ I replied.

‘School doesn’t start for another four weeks!’ he said.

‘I know, but I’d rather be in front than behind.’ He gave a snigger at what I said and didn’t realise the way that he’d interpreted my remark until later.

‘We’re opening the sluice gates this morning,’ he said enigmatically, and left it at that as he went back into his room to get dressed.

I got dressed too and we went down for breakfast, after which, he collared two of the boys down the hall before he left and I went back to our rooms to prepare my notes. Our sitting room faced south and even with the windows open, it was stifling hot as I worked and was glad when he breezed in saying that it was lunch time.

‘Is it always that hot in our rooms?’ I asked as we sat down at the dining table in the hall.

‘Yes. That’s why I stay out as much as possible. Why don’t you come and look at our camp site this afternoon. Get out into the fresh air and you’ll be surprised at what we’ve done in just two weeks.’ So I agreed and he was all smiles then and after our meal he led the way, crossing the playing fields towards the trees that were at the far end.

‘These woods are out of bounds to the students and can only come in them when in the company of a teacher. And then it’s only five at a time,’ he said as we walked across the fields and entered the coolness of the wood. It was only about five minutes before we came to a clearing where there was a big tent erected. Off to the left was what looked like an outside privy and over to the right was the river Pax, but with a difference. For between us and the river was a long large ditch that was filling up with water. It was about sixty yards long and about twenty five across creating an island between us and the river.

‘This is my piece de résistance. I’ve created a safe swimming hole. I put my plan before the Dean who agreed with it on principle but said that he couldn’t fund the project, so I did. I got a digger in and had the whole thing scooped out to a depth of about four foot and had a carpenter fix up Serdivan Escort the sluices. Come, let me show you.’ He led me off to one end where I saw that he’d dug a small channel from the river to feed into his pool and that it had two sturdy posts either side with boards that slotted in to control the flow. ‘When it’s full, I can either let the river flow through to go out the other end or close it off with this other board which slots in to stop it. The boys are digging out the other end which would be the outlet. So I can dam it up when I want to and let the sun heat it up and, voila, we have a safe swimming pool.’

‘Sir!’ called out one of the boys from the other end. ‘The water’s through.’

‘Oh good. The channel’s now open at the other end,’ he said to me and then called back to the boys. ‘Okay. Take out the top two boards.’ They did this and water began to flow in from the other end. ‘That will increase the level and I reckon in about two hours it would be the same level as the river. So if you’re still hot this evening, we could have a swim,’ he said with a laugh. He then pointed out a large tree that had a sturdy branch that hung well out over this pond and said that he was going to fix a rope to the branch so that the boys could swing out and drop into the water. He was in the process of having a platform made for them to be high enough up off the ground to get a good swing out.

He explained that the big tent he’d left up to hold all that was needed for a weekend, including two other tents, one of which would be for the boys and he hoped that I would help him and that the other tent could then be used. He had planned to make them erect their own but thought that it would take them too long on a Friday evening, so he would get them erected before the start of the term. Two circular sets of stones which were for the fires for their cooking and one big one for their camp fire.

He produced from an ice box in the tent, two beers which we popped open and sat outside to drink and watched the two boys clearing the exit channel of the pond. They gave up as the water was now hampering their efforts and so they stood and watched as the flow entered from their end and the pond was rapidly filling up. Kit went back into the tent and brought out four more beers. He called out to the boys.

‘Here, come and have these,’ and they came over and gratefully accepted a can of beer each. ‘Now you didn’t get these from me, okay?’

‘Yes sir Mr Carson. No sir Mr Carson,’ they said differently with big grins on their faces and went off to drink their beer.

‘They deserved that,’ he said as he popped another can for us both and we lazed in the sun and drank. We talked of our academic progress that led us to be at the college as teachers though he came from the college that we, from ours, never referred to by name, just calling it that other place of learning. I think he was suitably impressed when he learned that I’d had a book published and promised to read it one day.

Soon it was time to go and get dressed for dinner and he called out to the two boys to knock off for the day and thanked them for their efforts. They dropped their empty cans into the litter bin by the tent and went off and we followed them.

‘These woods are out of bounds to all students unless accompanied by a teacher and then it’s only five per teacher as I’ve already mentioned, so you can see why I’d like you to help so that we can have ten of them here at the weekends. It’ll be great fun for all then,’ he said.

It was after our shower, dressed and having supper in the hall that I said that I would help him over the weekends. He was delighted and told me of all the games and ideas that he’d come up with. He was still talking when we went back up to our rooms and he suggested that we went off to the woods to see if the pool had filled and then we could have a swim. When I remarked that I didn’t have a costume he laughed and said who would need one? There wasn’t anybody going to be there to see us, beside, the boys would be swimming naked anyway when it came down to it.

So all we took with us was a towel each and went off to the camp in the woods. As he had predicted, the pool was full and so he went to both ends and stopped the flow both in and out by placing more boards in their slots.

‘We’ll leave it like that for a few days and then remove the boards to get a change of water or it will stagnate and we can’t have that,’ he said when he returned to the tent, and then immediately took off all his clothes.

As a boy in school I had often been naked with the others in the showers but this was the first time that I’d seen a fully grown man naked and was a bit shy at actually revealing myself to another. He didn’t seem to have any inhibitions in this and I don’t really know if he knew I took notice of the tackle between his legs and was relieved to see that we wasn’t any bigger than me in that department. He stood in the entrance of the tent to wait for me to finish undressing and I did notice that he looked to see what I had got between my legs before he turned and walked off to the pool. I followed him, watching the cheeks of his bum move as he moved and wondered if mine moved in the same way. His lower body was quite pale from lack of sunlight and I supposed that mine looked the same except being an all over white.

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