Thursday, April 12, 2007

Mrs Dordi

While I was writing The People Who Changed My Life something (nosiness?) made me google Mrs Dordi who had taught me at Grammar School. Although she was always ‘Mrs Dordi’ her christian name flew unbidden into my head.

She was a lovely teacher, a huge influence in my school life and my love of literature. I remember her perched on the edge of a desk, always smiling. I can’t place which works I did for O Level and which I did for A Level, but I remember lots of them, and still love them: Othello, Romeo and Juliet, The Wife of Bath, 1984, Animal Farm, The Crucible, Lord of the Flies, Testament of Youth.

I don’t know what I expected to find; I suppose I thought she’d still be teaching, probably at the same school. But instead I found her details here. Having retired from my school, she has been teaching creative writing at Canterbury University, writing her own poetry and editing a poetry magazine Equinox.

I wrote her an email:

Dear Mrs Dordi (I can’t call you anything else)

I don’t know if you remember me – but I was writing something
on my blog when I decided to google you: and there you were.

And then I signed off

The next day I got an email back. It was so lovely, but she signed off

Barbara (you can't possibly continue with Mrs Dordi)

So I wrote:

Dear Barbara (oh my goodness, I’m not 40 years old, I’m suddenly 13 again)

Isn’t it funny how 25 years can evaporate in an instant?


Jen said...

I don't know why, but that made tears come out.

How lovely that you contacted her. I never seem able to do that sort of thing.

That's really special, in the best possible way.

Carol and Chris said...

That was a lovely thing to do - She would have been absolutely thrilled to hear from you.

Talking of reverting back to childhood - We used to have a rather fierce next door neighbour when I was a child (Really nice lady but my god you wouldn't want to mess with her). When she heard I had got engaged she arranged with my Mum to pop in the next time I was visiting so she could offer her congratulations. I was curled up on the sofa watching TV - she walked in, looked at me and told me to get my feet off the sofa and do you know what....I did it (without even a moments hesitation). I was 29 years old (had not seen her for about 15 years) but suddenly felt about 5 again!!

C x

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

That is fabulous. And it has also offered me a terrific procrastination opportunity. I shall now spend the rest of the morning Googling old teachers.

JJ said...

Hi Jen, Carol and Zinnia

Thank you for your lovely comments. It does seem odd to me that someone can make such a huge diffference in your life and one doesn't say 'thank you' for it. I think maybe that I must have been one of so many students for her, that I assumed it won't have meant anything very much to her. But I don't suppose teachers are very often thanked, and they should be. As a parent I do try and say thank you at the end of the year - in words, not just another bunch of flowers or bottle of wine.

I remember that other people didn't feel the same as me about her; perhaps English wasn't a passion for them (perhaps they loved the physics teacher!!!!!) so it was about the magic of the subject, the people recognising something they shared, though their ages and levels of experience in it vastly differed.

It's so easy to grumble about stuff, isn't it? And not stand up and say 'you did a great job, thank you.'

And that's what I wanted to say.


Caroline said...

I read this a couple of days ago and was then pulled away by the children. You made me cry. I am inspired to find a person from my past and thank them for the bundle of books that they gave me when I was 17 years old. It changed my life.


JJ said...

Caroline, that's lovely. Do try to find them. I emailed Mrs D again (oops, Barbara) about what I'd been up to and I haven't heard back from her yet, but I do hope to. She offered to read some of my novel and I said when it is readier (!) I would be very grateful.