Wednesday, 6 February 2008

CJ Cozens (Cozy)

Memories of CJ Cozens taken from Neil Jenkinson’s book, The History of Peter Symonds.


………….FWM. Cox, ordained deacon in 1922, had succeeded Cockle as second master in 1929, as well as presiding over Wyke Lodge. On his retirement in 1937, he was succeeded in both posts by Christopher John Cozens. This remarkable man deserves more notice.

George Pierce has written of him: "Christopher John Cozens who came from Andover Grammar School via University College, Southampton, was always referred to by staff and boys as "Cozy" for as long as I can remember. I first met "Cozy" in 1923 when I entered Peter Symonds' School as a boy. He then taught maths to the lower and middle school who feared and respected him. We learned, though he did not tell us, that he had been an artillery officer in the Great War and that he had been awarded the military cross. He was certainly a crack shot with a piece of chalk. Nobody ever ragged Cozy;such behaviour was unthinkable. Even minor misdemeanours such as yawning and inattention were punished by a shrewd blow on the head with a wooden board rubber which left the culprit with a lump on his skull and a film of chalk dust in his hair.

He used to teach in Bigg Room and we often wondered how he could detect and name an inattentive pupil when he had his back turned to the class and was writing on the blackboard. It was some time before we discovered that a picture, craftily hung above the board, reflected any movement in its glass. In those old fashioned days, boys were expected to know their multiplication tables and their rods, roods, bushels and fathoms. To confess to Cozy that you did not know your tables was to ask for trouble. "You don't know! "he would storm. "Tell me anything you know ‑ anything at all about anything." Aghast at this paralysing carte blanche, the wretched boy would collapse into silence and tears.  [I must say that I don’t remember this kind of thing happening! Jim Wishart]

Those who have read so far will have come to the conclusion that Cozy was something of a martinet. Indeed he was. Cribbers and Slackers had a terrible time with him but they learned to be grateful to him in the end for he was a first class schoolmaster who expected, and obtained, first class results. He never forgot to set the prep, and plenty of it, and he never forgot to mark it thoroughly. He never spared the boys and he never spared himself. It was rumoured that he refused to give 100% for any set of examination answers claiming that none could be perfect and that on one occasion when confronted with a paper with which he could find no fault, he shook a blot on it, put a ring round it and deducted one mark for untidiness.

In 1933, I came back to the school as a master and, except during the war, worked side by side with Cozy for 22 years. It was somewhat embarrassing at first to call him "Cozy" to his face and one instinctively raised an arm to ward off the intimidating board rubber. However, these reactions soon disappeared and one turned to him for wise advice and found him a kind and sympathetic friend. He was by then senior mathematical master and in 1937 he succeeded the late Rev. EWM. Cox as second master and as master of Wyke Lodge.

Perhaps his piece de resistance was the school timetable, a massively complicated sheet which he compiled and amended himself. This was regarded, at least by the junior members of the staff, as sacrosanct; tampering with the timetable was not to be thought of.

Occasionally, in some staff room horse‑play, it was accidentally torn or defaced. Retribution was swift and devastating. Cozy's wrath had to be seen to be believed.



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