08 October 2001

remembering Miss Pugh

posted by jim wishart on behalf of David Ward

Miss Pugh.

She was the school’s seductress. That is probably a most unjust observation but she was certainly good-looking, perhaps a bit of a dominatrix and definitely fancied by her pupils. She commanded strict discipline and, without doubt, taught me German. She was haughty, very good looking and had TOTAL control over all in her class. She always wore nylons – a rarity in those days and usually attributed to friendship with an American serviceman. We all fancied her a bit and did anything she demanded of us. Most importantly her lessons really were learnt and I owe much to her for my subsequent use of the language.

Whilst these reminiscences of teachers has little to do with the war other than to portray the reliance the school had then to make on stop-gap staff, I may perhaps be excused for recalling the odd humour which has lodged in my memory. All the classrooms at Peter Symonds were named. Two of them, which were accessed from the central hall, could be converted into one large room by means of a folding partition. I never saw it thus converted but there was a door in the partitioning which made it possible to go from one room to the other without first going outside. One of the classrooms was named Nicholas and the other Bigg. A school joke concerned Miss Pugh, who in the company of a perversely identified paramour, fancifully ‘went in Nicholas [knickerless] and came out Bigg’ !!! Nuff said, I think.

Before leaving the long-suffering [although I’m sure she loved it] Miss Pugh – and it must by now be obvious she made no small impact on my teenage life - - I have one more anecdote. Our school desks were old, made of heavy wood and carved to the pint where I doubt thee was a surface on which it was possible to write without substantial backing in the whole school. Most of them had sunken inkwells and a deep groove for pens. Every so often somebody would be given the job of mixing fresh ink from the powder supplied. Miss Pugh spoke in German most of the time and moved continuously up and down the corridors between the ranks of desks [w were usually fairly big classes, in excess of forty pupils]. As she passed we would drop our pens immediately behind her and bend low to retrieve them. We would kid ourselves we had seen right up Miss Pugh’s legs but, with her long scholastic gown, I doubt anyone saw much above her ankles. Whatever, there was a constant clatter of pens being dropped in Miss Pugh'’ class and the corridors between the desks were permanently defined blue-black. Miss Pugh herself must have had a reasonably bountiful source of nylons or else she was a glutton for washing them because they were invariably ink splattered. I never saw her give the least indication that she know but she was for ever giving out replacement nibs!!

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