A letter from Chris Bowes [Heath 1943–1953]

One’s feelings about the masters at Heath probably depend on the ‘chemistry’ between master and pupil. I was good at maths until the 4th form when I fell under the influence of Bud Blackeby. He virtually destroyed my mathematical ability and my interest in the subject. Yet, when I told this to Ralph Beaumont, he explained that Bud had been an inspiration to him and resulted in his reading maths at Cambridge.

My inspiration came from ‘Tishy’ Holt. Tishy was an odd character. Physically, he was tall and gangling with a pair of the biggest feet I have ever seen. He was not religious, possibly a Humanist. The readings at Saturday morning assembly were usually not from the Bible; he would read extracts from Cervantes’ Don Quixote. At a sixth form French lesson, he was quite capable of philosophising and moralising for three quarters of the time. Learning French seemed quite incidental; yet I managed to absorb quite a lot and still speak it well today.

I still have a sheet which I tore out of an exercise book, with Tishy’s comment; ‘0/20: Either do the job properly or not at all.’ When you did the job properly, his response encouraged a lot more effort.

His philosophy became the basis of my philosophy and I owe a lot to that man. My big regret is that he died shortly after I left school and I never got the chance to tell him what an inspiration he had been to me.

First appeared in Newsletter dated