|A Most Disagreeable Person
Val Prinsep was a first class mimic and could do hair-raising
imitations of Rosemary Ellis. I never liked Rosemary, nor met anyone that did
except possibly Clifford and he seemed an all right sort of chap.
Despite Rosemaryís many excellent qualities as an educator and her unfailing energy
in managing the Graphics department, she could sometimes be extremely rude for no apparent reason.
Val had a trick of sending shivers down our spines as he arrived at the studio at Beechfield with
a perfect rendering of her querulous shriek: "You know, the trouble with you is that you never do
any work ..." or words to that effect. We really thought it was her coming in, and somehow Val
always managed to fool us! Rosemary always seemed to begin her nastiness with
"The trouble with
you is ...".
It is unfortunate having to speak ill of the dead but I really canít remember anything
positive about her manner. I thought her a most disagreeable person; she put my back up on more than
one occasion and Margrťtís too. Rosemary once said to me, possibly with some justification though I
canít remember what sins I had committed, "I am never angry with anyone I consider stupid, but I am
very cross with you." I was never sure whether to construe this remark as a compliment!
Upon my arrival at BAA we all had to take a colour-blindness test
under Anne Phillips's supervision. Anne was the Admissions Registrar
and Senior Librarian, a very
tweedy lady but extremely nice to both me and Margrťt. There were spotty numbers
in red and green where people with normal vision saw one number and colour-blind
people were supposed to see another. I had seen this test before and found that
by squinting my eyes I could see BOTH numbers. Anne was very surprised and said she
had never met anyone before that could do that trick!
I also remember that we all had to fill out a form with details
about our interests and that sort of thing. Under Hobbies I wrote Languages because I
have always enjoyed trying to understand what people are talking about. At
school I sometimes listened to Dutch broadcasts after the English pop transmissions on
Radio Luxemburg had shut down for the night. I had learnt French (the Belgian
variety, fairly fluently) and German at school and also a bit of Latin. I also had a
smattering of Flemish as Dad had been in Belgium during the war and had a lot of friends
there whom we sometimes went to visit. Most of them were Flemings who only spoke
French for Dadís convenience because he didnít know any Flemish. They had the
habit of beginning sentences in French and ending them in Flemish so of
course I picked up quite a lot of it. I found that the technique was not to listen to
the words in any connection with their meaning, but rather to listen in the same way
that children do, listening to the talking and not the words. I think itís something
like what you do when youíre drawing, looking at the shapes without thinking about
what they mean.
Different bits of the brain doing different things, or something
like that. Anyway, I was always called upon whenever some foreign bumf turned up at the
office at the Court and needed translating, thanks to Anne Phillips. And nowadays
itís Icelandic so you never know your luck!
Early on in the Pre-Dip we were roped in for life drawing in the
Barn. Telfer Stokes was supposed to teach us but I think most of us didnít
understand what he was on about. Or didnít really care. He often said cryptical things
like, ďI donít actually want you to draw the model. I want you to feel the model and draw
what you feel.Ē Too deep for most of us Graphics bods and certainly for me! The
result of the life drawing classes was more often than not some kind of a
representation of a vegetable marrow. I never did like life drawing much, not that I was
particularly bad at it. But I was only allowed to draw vegetable marrows! A very strange