THE TEACHER WHO INSPIRED ME
There have to be two. At school (Lauriston Girls) it was Miss Fran McKay, senior history teacher, young, raging, passionate, unattractive short hair [ like most of the senior teachers], sported mannish clothes (what was that all about ???-god, I was innocent!) and wearing that black academic gown, shooting from the lip she cut a swathe through us matric girls, sorting the wheat from the laff. I was both, class clown and hungry for knowledge. Modern History, Renaissance and Reformation (well, it was modern back then and dont forget, I'm quite old).I got the cold cuts quite often, such a smart arse; her eagle eye, acid tongue and dry humour drew secret admiration from the best of us. So pleased to deliver to her a 2nd class honour & Commonwealth scholarship.
Second, Allan Coldicutt, lecturer Building Construction(BC)/Maths/Physics/the lot /Architecture yr 3/Melb U. How did I ever get through architecture who had passed out before Intermediate Maths? My headmistress's best advice was for me was to do Interior Design and marry an Architect. (thanks Gladys)
Third yr was make or break. BC3 was the break part and if you made it thru to BC4 they'd do their best to put the boot in and grind you to a pulp mill.
Coldicutt was like Yoda with legs .He also smoked and his fingers were the colour of amber.His smell was not that refreshing but his mind was like a bag of Gandalphian fireworks, in fact there was a touch of the Gandalph about him. His brown suit always dishelleved, his shirt collars rumpled never ironed because his beloved wife, Bessie was also a lecturer in maths at the school and just as whacky- if either of them had ever picked up an iron it would have been to use as a counterweight for some balancing experiment in the home. Coldicutt in love with an explanation of the beauty and mystery of the world...
I failed BC3.
I just couldn't do maths; calculus was what? cos- a lettuce?, sine -sin with an 'e'?, tan- the thing we all want in summer?, roots ? ETC.In my exam I wrote a message in the margin admitting I knew my calculations were up shit creek and the sizes of the footings and beams should've come out as such and such... He gave me a Supplementary exam, truly it was a repeat performance! and yet he passed me. What could he see that I couldnt?
I entered Yr 4 and faced the Balrog of BC4, but I was not alone. My boyfriend (later husband#1) tutored me and the scales fell from my eyes. Mathematics was sublime, I entered a magical world which continues to delight and rattle me in both the spiritual & physical realm. In the midnight cloisters of MU, torches in hand we searched for our numbers on the results sheets. Pen had got a pass but my number wasn't there. Devastated, I stepped back, my throat tight. I had failed BC4. My life over, I would never be an architect, failure, you never went back after this one. Then Pen shrieked at me, "Dingles! Look here!" What? "You got a second class honour!" What?
The next morning, first thing, I ran thru the concourse to find him.He was in his studio pottering away with pieces of string and wire and unmentionable objects. I hugged him and kissed his less than fragrant cheek. 'Mr Coldicutt, I got a 2nd class honour in BC4!' 'of course', he replied matter of factly, 'and why not?'
No, without you my dear, dear teacher who had enough faith to give me a tick and not a cross, I would have had a less than happy life.