I return to teaching — 1985

For reasons I won’t go into here, I took a break from teaching between 1982-3 and 1985, during which time I was involved in editing a little magazine and, for about a year, in bookselling in Glebe. In the second half of 1985 I recommenced teaching at Sydney Boys High.

In Surry Hills last Monday — 1

Posted on April 2, 2014 by Neil

The other objective of my Sydney trip was to visit my old workplace.

My association with Sydney Boys High goes back [almost sixty*] years to 1955 when I arrived as a pupil, Ken Andrews having just started his term as Principal. Then in 1985 I began teaching English there on a casual basis, after a year spent working at Harkers Bookshop in Glebe: I’ll never forget the Class of 1986! (Or the Class of 2000 if it comes to that!) For the next 20 years much (but not all) of my work was at SBHS. You can find a sample here. – *I wrote the original in 2005 and said 50! How time goes!


So that’s thirty years on now since I first met that class of 1986 when they were in Year 11. (Scott Morrison was in Year 12 in 1985 but I can’t recall anything about him.)

I have mentioned the class of 1986 several times – for example Philip Larkin 1922-1985.

Indirectly, as often happens, I found myself passing from a rather good blog post by J R Benjamin — What Kipling’s “Recessional” Means for Today – to the poems of Philip Larkin. I had not looked at Larkin’s work all that often since memorably teaching it to the Class of 1986 at Sydney Boys High – memorably for me as well as for them. Hence the cryptic remarks on the card accompanying the bottle of Veuve Clicquot that wonderful class gave me at the end of 1986.


SBHS 1986

I mention them again because I had this delightful message from one of them, now an expat in Europe, on Facebook on my birthday last week:

Hi Neil 🙂

I just thought I’d take this opportunity to say how much i enjoyed having you as a teacher – should have said this before… I remember you as treating literature slightly irreverently, but making it more accessible to us as a consequence.

He goes on:

It was also helpful to me (and I dare say others), to have an out gay teacher – possibly my first gay role model 🙂 even if it did still take me years to come out…

Anyway, very happy birthday.

What he didn’t know at the time, when I was actually younger than he is now, was that I had “come out” only about twelve months before myself, maybe slightly less in fact. See For Mardi Gras: a recycle, Facebook does it for me again… and Old haunt derelict now.