Mr. Sumption taught the classics in the senior classes. Towards the end of the year he taught Ethics and Civics to the lower standards. It comprised an overview of Greek culture, Roman law, Norse mythology, Scandinavian influence on Britain, origin of common law, ethical and civic behaviour. Riveting stuff sprinkled with philosophy and above all, speech was the logos of thought.

He was courting Miss Amstel, Junior School teacher. This act of romance endeared them to the idealist – me! He disliked long hair and, while master on duty during meals, would sneak up behind you, pull your hair and say, “Get your hair cut”.

One year, during the school holidays, Miss Amstel died in a tragic train accident. We were all sad to hear the news. I think of them from time to time during nostalgic wanderings. In fact, I thought of him today while reading an article on Socrates. At 70, imprisoned, waiting to drink hemlock, he heard of a man who taught the lyre. “Bring him to me, I want to learn”, Socrates’ friend said, “You are going to die in 3 days”, Socrates replied, “Yes, but I have 3 days to learn”. Mr. Sumption would have known that story.

Back Row: Mr. Fitzgerald (Fitzy), Mr. Ahmed (Fuzzy), Mr. Luther (Martin), Mr. Cyril Murtough? (ex OG 1932), Mr. Ballantyne (great at hurdles on the sports field).
Front Row: Mr. Harkiss (Harkey), Mr. Bellew (Monty), Mrs. Ferrier (Dance teacher), Mr. Peterson (HM), Mr. Ferrier, Mr. Lubeck, Mr. Maskell.

Mr. Ahmed (nicknamed Fuzzy) taught Geography. He was a prince among equals. Kind, charitable and a gentle man. Fifty years ago, in 1953, I told my buddy Dave D’Lemos, “I’m skipping two classes after breakfast today”. “Where are you going?” “To Mussoorie to buy a 78rpm record”. “You will get into trouble”. “I know, but I’ve got to buy this record”.

Straight through the covered shed, front pitch, lower pitch, past the Principal’s house, dip into the valley, jog past Jhits, run, walk, jog to Barlowgunj. Natural born runner with a testosterone overload. Don’t go through Bala Hissar (named after an Afghan rebel who the British incarcerated during the Afghan wars), take a left past Skinners and the St. George’s reservoir, cut through to Kincraig bus terminal, sharp right, Savoy hotel, clock tower, record shop, make the purchase, head back to school. Cross the road to the Majestic. Check the movie poster. Damn, haven’t time to see this. Greg Peck, Richard Widmark, 20th Century Fox, Yellow Sky, Hike back to OG.

“Mr. Ahmed wants to see you in the HM’s office. Mr. Clarke, PT master, saw you leave”. Couldn’t Mr. Clarke have chased me? No way, not fast enough!

Why was Mr. Ahmed in charge? Mr. Bellew was indisposed. My lucky day! “Come in, shut the door. Why did you do it? You’re a nice boy”. Conduct unbecoming. I told him the 78 was important.

“Sit down”. That’s unusual! “Let me tell you a story. During recent school holidays, your father was very kind to me. He is the AST in Lucknow?” Correct. “I was on the platform and he asked me where I was going. To pray at the Allahabad mosque. Don’t go in this compartment. Use my officer’s car at the rear. Servants will provide refreshment. Will you require return service?” “No thank you, I’m staying with my family in Allahabad. I have taught in Oak Grove many years, no one has shown me such kindness”. You have dishonoured your father by this action. Now bend over (three of the lightest touches of cane) scram and take your record with you”.

The cane didn’t hurt but the fact that I had dishonoured my dad did!


This article was emailed by Daryl Spencer to Nikhil Kumar on 1 September 2018. It was first published in the OG magazine published by Bill Celand, TOGA Australia.

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