There will always be those who, from a teenage perspective, we never seemed to get on with, or tried to wind up whenever opportunity presented itself. I guess that even those teachers fade from memory in time. Those I remember most clearly are the mentors who left an impression because we were in awe of their larger-than-life personality.
Known by many simply as DB, (Mr) David Berridge and I both joined Beaumont Boys' School at the same time; he as a fresher teacher and me as a pupil in Lower One A. David never ambled anywhere; his steps were short and fast, his body slightly swinging from left to right as if to make more efficient his journey to the next task.
To those of us who found grammar a challenge, or wondered why notable novels and plays achieved a cultural status, given seemingly impenetrable language, DB could, in turn, challenge us with the kinds of experiences we could relate to, and so help to unlock the mysteries of those works.
Then, of course, there was DB's involvement in sport, particularly rugby. Beaumont was not a rugby-playing school, but I suspect he had a part to play in introducing it to the PE curriculum. A rugby-playing teacher has a head-start in the "respect" stakes among teenage males, even if those wiry boys were ill-fitted for the scrum and tackle.
You rather expected your teacher to conform to fairly restrictive norms, and standing up in front of the whole school and singing a wooing solo was definitely not one of them. But DB shared the limelight with others in (Mr) John Hope's concerts, and encouraged many individual boys to present their newly-broken voices to the world; he giving much support to the tenor section in the sixth row.
|David Berridge (third from left) as Jack Point, the jester, on the stage at|
Beaumont Boys' School in its 1959 production of Gilbert & Sullivan's
Yeoman of the Guard.
DB might have been slightly below average height, but his standing in the school community towered, because this young man with his mellow mid-Yorkshire accent was sufficiently confident to inspire pubescent, awkward, searching youngsters careering towards manhood.
He transferred to Marshalswick School (now Sandringham) in 1959 and no doubt continued to inspire students in that school until his retirement.
An article, celebrating his lifetime's work for and with St Albans Operatic Society, appeared recently in the Herts Advertiser.
DB died, aged 82, last week. Thousands of former students of these two schools living in this city have good reason to remember his part in their younger lives.