Thanks J.H. Evans,

J.H. Evans was our English master when I was 14; tall, with an Oxford degree and a patrician manner. J..H. Evans carried a learning tool with him in the classroom, a cane. That would seem bizarre today. He waved it like a wand, a Hogwarts professor proclaiming the archaic magic of syntax. “Come here boy” he would say when we confused bathos with oxymoron. We would be caned in painless fashion and then sit down again. His teaching methods would not be approved of now; we had to memorise screeds of old poetry. But later the writing that was stored in my head became more deeply understood. Even back then we were travellers in an antique land, and some girls from another school asked me who my favourite poet was. Keats, I said. There was scorn. “Keats? No-one reads Keats anymore.” I forget who their preferred modern poets were, but I have never forgotten the chilly spell of “La Belle Dame Sans Merci”. Mr Evans didn’t underestimate the past; he was Bishop Selwyn’s biographer, though we didn’t know that. He left behind him hundreds of boys more civilised than they would otherwise have been. We never needed remedial English classes at uni, and we know an onomatopeia when we hear one.
from Jim Mora
J.H. Evans