"You'll Never Amount to Anything"
Jon Bratton writes..
In every walk of life there'll be stories of people who thrive in their chosen profession but who had been told at school or at the beginning of their careers that they wouldn't cut the mustard.
Over the years of running this website I've heard of such examples and I'll quote one in a moment. But I would first like to give some credit to some teachers at Gateshead Grammar who would be well aware that they had in their charge the cream of the town and it was highly likely than many of them would have careers that would be at a higher level or at a higher pay rate than a secondary teacher, albeit a grammar school teacher.
Paul Gascoigne, at the peak of his multi millionaire footballing career was sitting having a pint in the Victoria in Low Fell when he suddenly took off to Heathfield School, where he sought out a teacher who smiled when he saw the ex pupil standing outside his classroom. He opened the door and told Gazza that he'd been following his career and was waiting quite a while for this day to happen.
The specific story I have is of
Ben Conlon of Intake Year 1959.
For those of us who had incurred the wrath of Dr Caffrey they may recall that when he got angry, like President Nixon, globules of sweat appeared on his upper lip. My final encounter with Caffrey, was towards the end of term in July 1965, when he caned me, Jimmy Hewson, Rob Moul and Alan Perrett for kicking a ball around on the school roof. He made some derogatory remarks about our intellect, wiped the sweat from his upper lip gave us six of his best and unceremoniously expelled us. I had two 'O' levels.
Circa 1983, I was Leading Counsel representing wealthy gypsies in a horse breeding fraud in Hampshire, the second month of the trial was held at Southampton Crown Court. I had discovered that Dr Caffrey was a Principal at a sixth form college in the city. With the help of Prosecuting Counsel and the Judge, I arranged for our former Headmaster to be summonsed to court. He was to be told that he was required by the court to attend at the request of a former pupil, 'Benny Conlon' who was appearing before the court.
I was in the midst of cross-examination around noon, when I caught sight of Caffrey arriving. The Usher sat him down in the public gallery. Caffrey placed his treasured trilby on his neatly folded overcoat, took out his hankie, cleaned his glasses and wiped the sweat from his upper lip. After a few minutes, the Judge interrupted me, announcing that he was adjourning for an early lunch. The penny dropped! Caffrey looked at me and I winked back.
My clerk had booked me a table at a nearby restaurant so I treated our former 'Head' to lunch. I thanked him for all that he had done for me, we reminisced about the school etc. No mention was made of our last encounter.