Monday, 19 July 2010

Goodbye Mr Chips!

Or rather, Mr Fitton. A legend among English teachers, a true renaissance man with talents ranging from fly fishing (about which he wrote a book) to music-making; so much more than a teacher but - as a teacher - an inspiration to thousands. Quite simply, Nick is remembered by everybody: his are the lessons all his pupils will recall; he will be the teacher sorely missed; it was a pleasure to be a colleague for many years and to attend his retirement gig on Saturday evening.

Yes, retirement gig. Because Nick didn't merely run the English department at Boston Grammar School for years, he also founded and led the school jazz band. It played at our wedding four years ago, and I made several impromptu appearances as guest vocalist. But my rendition of Dr Jazz a la Jelly Roll Morton will have to wait for another time, not least because - on Saturday evening - Sarah had taken Charlie home by the time my performance was reprised, and the video camera had gone with her.

But not before capturing more of Charlie's groovy moves, plus a tribute to her husband written by Nick's wife Hilary and performed by yours truly to the tune of the George Formby classic, When I'm Cleaning Windows. It's not meant to sound like one song to the tune of  another. But the song rather challenges my tessitura. And it was performed after the consumption of much beer. You have been warned....


Ah, they don't make 'em like that any more. Thank goodness. And they don't make hard-working, intelligent and multi-talented maverick teachers like Nick Fitton either. At one time every school would have one. I can certainly remember inspirational and memorable teachers from my own days as a pupil. But can they exist in today's target-driven, micro-managed and over-inspected classrooms? I rather suspect not. In which case Nick Fitton is one of the last of the few.

Here's to a long and happy jazz-filled, cricket-watching, trout-fishing and reading-for-pleasure retirement Nick. You've earned it!
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