everybody has a story to tell about their life

Miss Best’s class

Joan Murray and Yvonne Cleave, 2013

YC: Well, moving up from the infants was Miss Best’s class and that was a different story altogether. Miss Bess came from St. Breward, came on a motorbike to school every day and picked up with a boyfriend in the village, Mr Harry Mormon the cobbler. She was very strict and the boys had it cruel really didn’t they? Anyway Miss Best would love geranium plants, she had geraniums all around the window…………they were geraniums and they was full of greenfly and so Miss Best would light Woodbines to put them in the bottom of the earth for the smoke to go up to the plant to kill the greenfly.

YC: Every time she left the schoolroom, the boys would get up and start puffing away at the Woodbines! She caught Mark Townsend doing this and he had the ruler on his hand edgeways and she broke his little finger. Yes she did. He could not straighten his little finger after that.

JM: She was a holy tyrant she was…. I remember her because 2 or 3 of my children are left-handed well I started being left-handed, picked up everything with my left hand. Going back now to Miss Bess, my god she was a holy tyrant she was. She used to wear that old blue overall, didn’t her Yvonne? Remember?

YC: yes yes she did

JM: She used to sit at her desk digging her ears out. As I said I used to pick up my pen, whatever, with the ruler and again she would hit me across the back of my hand with that ruler. And like Yvonne said, it wasn’t the flat end of the ruler it was the edge of the ruler and it was right across… (indicates knuckles.) In the end, cor my hand used to ache. Anyway I went home and mum came up but Miss Best didn’t take any notice of her. In the end uncle came up and he said that that had to stop. But my hand… (indicates pain.) Yes she wouldn’t hit it with the flat, she’s hit it with the edge of the ruler.

YC: All the parents used to come up all the time because of how they treated the children. My sister Bernice was never any good at lessons, always in trouble, and Miss Best, she gave her the ruler for some such thing and she went home and told mother and mother went up to see Miss Best and Miss Best’s boyfriend come over to see my mother and said ‘Mrs Leverton, you have bullied Miss Best so much that she cannot go home on her motorbike. She is so upset.’ And mother said ‘And a good thing too!’

JM: He was like a little dwarf wasn’t he?

YC: Yes he was.

JM: Used to wear a trilby hat. Little old scrap little bloke he was.

YC: Yes little tiny man….local preacher.

JM: He had the cobblers shop….up there, going up Church Hill.

YC: And Miss Best, she knitted a very long scarf to put around her face. When she went on the motorbike …cos it was very cold and everything….This unravelled as she was riding home to St. Breward on her motorbike and nearly strangled Miss Best. And the boys said ‘And a damn good job too!’ (Laughter)

JM: Can you remember Miss Best’s class was they had the (dinner) canteen, there was this great range (t’was Lillian Thomas) there was this big fender across and I had my hand (sort of) on the rail across and she brought out this big poker from the fire and went right like that across my hand! I had some hand!! Some helluva hand. Yes she did, right across my hand. Terrible.


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