Jim Walker looks back at his life from his time at boarding school to national service, working in Russia and Africa to teaching in Northumberland. A fascinating read!
Author: Jim Walker
I describe myself as a retired teacher. But I’ve also done work as actor; book-keeper; building labourer; ice-cream seller; interpreter; long-distance bus-driver; newsreader; paint salesman; pharmaceutical rep; proof-reader; property manager; and ski rep.
In September 1972, I took up two posts at Northumberland College of Education just outside Ponteland: one was as lecturer in English; the other was as a resident warden and Senior Resident Warden as from January 1973. The college had been a children’s home. When the site opened as a college in 1965, the cottages […]
In 1970, I returned to Britain from my teaching post at the University of Dar es Salaam and got a fixed-term job in the Overseas Education Study Group (OESG) in the Institute of Education at the University of Leeds. Our students were teachers whose governments had sent them to us to undertake advanced courses in […]
What a difference from Uganda in climate! Fort Portal is over 5000 feet above sea level, Kampala is over 4000 feet but Dar es Salaam is at sea level. The university is on a hill outside the city but, although we got a bit of a sea breeze, the humidity was very uncomfortable. Largely owing to the influence of the President, Julius Nyerere, political development in Tanzania was more advanced than it had been in Uganda but one British custom remained unchanged: the working day.
As I mentioned in the first part of Teaching in Uganda, the teachers’ wives did not work. At that time none of the couples had children living with them, they had a “houseboy” to do all the work around the house and a “shamba boy” to look after their garden. But my wife Anne could not stand the idea of such idleness. She was a nurse by profession but the school had no post for such a person.
The school had no mains water or sewage and no grid electricity. Water came up to the school by means of a ram pump placed in a nearby volcanic lake; electricity was provided in the morning and evening by a diesel-engine generator. My fridge was powered by paraffin.
I spoke Russian and could get by in French and German; but I had never driven anything larger than my father’s Daimler (in which I had failed my first driving test). Nevertheless, I applied and was accepted. The main driver was a mechanic who had driven heavy lorries across Australia between Sydney and Perth.
So commerce was not for me. What next? “I’ll try teaching,” I thought. My brother John was now a vicar and a governor of Staveley Road Secondary Modern School in Chiswick, London. I wanted to see what teaching was like and he got me a temporary job there. (This was when you didn’t have to have a teaching qualification in order to teach; you just had to have a degree.)
Jim Walker in Red Square 1957 My brother John was at Trinity College, Cambridge so it was assumed that, after my national service, I would follow him there or go to Oxford. My mother, who was the parent who decided such matters, of course thought that she knew about Cambridge but wanted to find out […]
In 1954 all young men had to do two years of national service. Unless you deferred it (to become an apprentice or go to university) you went straight from school, as I did. It was a prospect that few relished. But few went on to have quite the experience that I did. If you joined […]
When the war started, I was only four years old, so I don’t really remember much about Christmastime until about 1942…
Only 7% of the age cohort attend private schools. But 65% of Johnson’s cabinet, 65% of senior judges, 59% of civil service permanent secretaries, 57% of peers, 52% of diplomats and 51% of journalists were privately educated.
From 1945 until 1957 we spent our summer holidays in Wales. At first, my parents hired a cottage called Gaerwen a few miles south of Cardigan and later another cottage, called Gwtws, just south of Fishguard.
The window didn’t shatter, so I thought that I had proved my point. But it turned out that I hadn’t. Anne, Peter’s little sister, had been looking out of the window at the time and had got the fright of her life when an airgun pellet made a neat little hole in the pane of glass she’d been looking out of and had shot by her left ear, just missing it.
I was put in Rose dormitory, which slept about 12 of the youngest pupils; we were allowed to take a cuddly toy to bed with us, so I had my woolly elephant. I had to give him up when I graduated to Thistle dormitory 18 months later.