Saturday, 8 November 2008

Mr Coley

Stephen Fry mentions being introduced to poetry by an English master called Chris Coley. I never met Mr Coley, who apparently replaced Mr Birchall soon after I left the school in 1967.

Chris Coley, Lower Sixth classroom

9 comments:

Alan Davis said...

Mr Coley was a big bloke who took no nonsense. I think he only taught older boys.
As I've said in another post, he dished out cold showers and also if he caught you fighting, he would arrange a 'proper' fight out on the field for all to see.
This didn't last long as one lad ended up with a bad nose bleed and I think he was stopped from holding any more.
I may be wrong, but I think I saw him years later with a crocodile of children from Upfield School in Stroud (now closed) walking them to the swimming pool.
Alan Davis

Anonymous said...

John M.
Chris Coley gave me a hard time. We had to write a poem about somebody we knew and I wrote it all about him and his dandruff.
He used to give me no marks for having bad handwriting and encouraging things like that. He scored with me with the First War Poets mind you. And in the sixthform he took us to a cinema to see Polanski's Macbeth, and also to Cardiff to see A Midsummer Night's Dream. In the coach on the way be he and I and others got talking to the coach driver (Richard) about this and that and he got the idea for organizing school trips abroad. He finally must have warmed to me as he invited me back to go on my second one after I had left Stouts Hill, and then in Germany we really buried the hatchet when he found out that I had learnt to play football properly. Though having ended up at a Rugger school that was proably the last time I played with the round ball.
I also rememebr having to hunt around on the grass for a lost contact lens of his during rugger.

John Morris said...

I should rephrase my earlier comment to say that Chris Coley gave me a hard time when he first taught me.
And he was right about me having bad handwriting. So no point making it look like I'm moaning about thirty-five years later.
Since finding this blog I have managed to get in touch with him and he replied, so I'll be interested if he has a look at the blog himself.
John Morris

Anonymous said...

If I recall he played rugby for Cheltenham and supported Wales!!!

John Morris said...

As regards thoughts about the date of the photograph of Mr Coley I note that one of the tuck boxes has W Voisey on it. (Though I think that the member of the Voisey family actually using it was Mark Voisey)
And the Maths on the blackboard looks like it is not the handwriting of Robert Angus but that of Mr Boldero.

Jonathan said...

Maths? I thought it was probably chemistry when I first looked at it. But now, looking closer, I see that it's Boolean algebra. I don't think Mr Angus ever touched on that...

Anonymous said...

Mr Coley was my favourite teacher at Stouts Hill. I remember him giving us Kes, Lord of the Flies, Cider With Rosie and poems by Ted Hughes to read. Once we went to watch him play rugby for Cheltenham and afterwards had tea in his mother's hotel there.

Richard Darell 1964-69 said...

I remember Mr Coley very well and was also my favourite teacher for a time. I have a maths report from him when i was in 5b and it says 'Richard has a telent for Maths'. Sorry Mr Coley but my talent must have ended there as it took me 2 goes to pass my o level. He was a very keen sportsman and taught me tennis and cricket in my last term. He bought me my first tennis racket and cricket bat which i insisted must have Laver and Dexter written on them.

I did have a big fight with him once when he stepped on my model airplane and I am sure he did it on purpose and told him so. I was in Remove at the time. I am sure he left the school only to return again during my time there.

Richard Darell 1964-69 said...

One amusing incident involving chris Coley.
The rooftops of the building were very interesting to explore. One Sunday afternoon I along with a group of friends, Stephen Fry amongst them, climbed the ladder to the roof. This ladder went up past the 'Top Dining room'it was very exposed and only on Sundays was it safe to take this route to the top.

To get down we decided to climb down onto the roof of the 'New Dorm' which attached itself to the side of the old building and above the classrooms. There was a bathroom attached to the New Dorm and a toilet which had a skylight window from which you could access the roof. This was the route we were planning on taking to get down.

Whilst climbing down, I went first, I grabbed hold of what I thought was solid stone, unfortunately this came away and I went crashing down to the skylight window. Fortunately the window had a wire mesh over it. (probably to stop small boys from falling in). The window literally exploded down with a tremendous crashing sound. Stephen Fry, fortunately managed to catch the stone before it fell on top of me.

There was a great commotion in the bathroom where Mr Coley + 1 other were taking a bath, I think it was Mr White but cannot confirm. My companions scarpered and shinned it back down the ladder as fast as they could.

Now I was left on top of the New Dorm roof with no where to go and I could hear the masters below scrabbling to climb up the toilet and up on the roof.

Fortunately the matrons room window opened on to the roof and luckily for me one was unlocked. I quickly scrambled through the window and then had the presence of mind to lock the window behind me. I rushed down the stairs and outside. Outside the assembly hall a group of boys were looking up at the roof where Mr Coley and the other master were trying to figure out what on earth happened.

Of course they tried to blame me and some of my companions but we denied everything and anything.

I am still not sure if Mr Coley actually found out what happened that day.

If he reads this then this was the actual story.