27 September 2003

Ullswater Secondary School Mr Baines

In 1946 and 12 years old we were now in Year 8. We now had a new Form master. His name was Mr Baines and he had not been long de-mobbed from the RAF. He was a large man both in height and breadth, he had sandy, curly hair and a sandy moustache.

From the start we liked him, he was an easygoing, humorous man, his favourite party trick was when there was repeated inattention in class by someone, was to pick up the long window opening pole, walk up the row of the offending boy with the pole horizontal, each boy in the row ducking until he reached the boy in question. At that point he stopped, held the pole still and bellowed the boys name. The offending boy would swing round or looked up and his head would hit the pole with a wack. All the boys thought this was hilarious and would roar with laughter.

Unfortunately Mr Baines had a down side in class. He had a short temper. When everything was going to plan Mr Baines was fun to be with but unfortunately this was not always the case. Most of the class escaped Mr Baines's wrath but the few laggards were his problem and he would, starting with raised voice increasing progressively to a bellow, I've told you before... do I have to repeat myself, Can I not get it through your thick skull, etc., etc. "Out here Bamber, Warwick, you too and we'll have you as well Ostle". "I'm going to tell you once more" he would bellow and he would proceed to explain in detail some point or other. "Repeat what I said, Bamber" and Henry would in all probability just stand and look dumb irrespective whether or not he knew the answer. Lol wouldn't know if it was Monday or Sunday and he would just stand looking terrified.

By this time Mr Baines's face would be brick red, even his ears and with sweat on his brow, breathing heavily, he would return his enemies to their seats.

Enviably, one day everything came to a head. Mr Baines completely lost his temper. Henry was out in front of the class facing Mr Baines with his usual stubborn attitude with Mr Baines bellowing in his usual way. Mr Baines took a deep breath, opened his mouth and as though lost for words, nothing came out, he was purple in the face. Mr Baines reached forward, lifted Henry up by his shirt and jacket front and flung him into the empty corner by the classroom door. Henry, a big boy for his age just sailed through the air. Mr Baines was very large and powerful.

All during this confrontation we sat wide-eyed and completely focused on this battle of wills and its outcome. I can still see Henry flying through the air. Mr Bains stood just staring at Henry in the corner saying nothing, doing nothing. Henry just lay there. After what seemed an age, Mr Baines seemed to come to his senses and in the silence of the room spoke and asked Henry if he was alright. Henry said "yes" and slowly got up on to his feet but did not move from the corner. Mr Baines quietly told Henry to return to his seat and again asked if anything hurt and Henry retorted with a "No". Mr Baines then walked to the classroom door, opened it and walked out closing the door behind him. We all just quietly sat and no one spoke, we were each in our thoughts. We were 12 years old and I think we were in shock.

Sometime later a relief teacher came to our classroom and told us quietly to open our books and read from the last exercise, Which we did.


Mr Baines did return to our classroom after a few days but he seemed different. Gone was his humorous ways and also gone was his short temper. He taught us quietly and probably efficiently, he still asked questions of us but there was no berating of any student.

A little later we learnt Mr Baines was leaving the school and under a cloud. Whether or not he was going to another post or not, no one seemed to know.

Sometime later we were going to woodwork classes. These were held outside of the school premises about 400 yards down the road. A late student came bursting in breathlessly with the news that Mr Baines was leaving today at 3 o'clock, it was just past 2 p.m. now. Henry at a nearby bench looked up and after a moments thought looked around for the woodwork teacher and saw he was in the back inside the wood store. Henry walked to the outside door and disappeared. Half an hour later Henry reappeared , the woodwork teacher looked at him and asked where he had been. Henry said simply "to say goodbye to Mr Bains" I think most of us was stunned including the woodwork teacher, for even he had heard of the classroom problems.

Later I asked Henry why he had gone to says his good byes to his foe and Henry said "I liked Mr. Baines, it was my fault he had to leave" and he left it at that. I thought awhile about his answer, andI left it at that, too.

In the following 2 school years I knew him Henry worked much better in class and he never mentioned Mr Baines as far as I can recollect. I've thought of Henry many times since and from the beginning I've never thought it was Henry's fault even for a moment. I too liked Mr Baines.

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