Memories 4

I love reading and will read well past my bedtime if I think I can get away with it. Over the past month, I have been starting work early in the morning and finishing late at night. Nevertheless, I will always make a little time – or even more than a little time – to read before turning off the bedroom light.

This love of reading has gotten me into trouble before. It was a sultry day in Singapore and the ceiling fan was whirling almost frantically at its highest level of ‘4’ to help move the still afternoon air around. Mrs Loh, the human and social biology teacher, had the unfortunate habit of teaching her class by reading out from the textbook, whilst we followed her with open textbooks to hand. I was gradually getting more and more bored and practically falling asleep at my desk.

This is how the skies and landscape looked early one Spring morning from our guest rooms at Blenheim Lodge – trees and shrubs bare of foliage, with snow on the highest mountain tops. It is a far cry from the sultry temperatures of Singapore, where I spent the better part of many afternoons during school term in classrooms barely cooled by rotating ceiling fans.

Then I hit on an idea! I had been reading an absorbing book borrowed from the class library but hadn’t had the opportunity to finish it before class started. It was then sitting comfortably in the compartment under my desktop. Stealthily, I propped my book up so that it was slanted towards me. Then, softly picking up my storybook, I slid it on top of the open pages of my textbook and held the latter just so, so that I could read my book without being found out.

I think the fact that I had turned from a bored looking pupil to one suddenly very diligent pupil totally absorbed in what I was reading in my human and social biology textbook gave me away. Within a few minutes, an irate teacher was standing by my side glowering down at this disobedient pupil who had dared to read a storybook during her lesson. Turning quite red in the face with embarrassment and feeling as tiny as Thumbelina, I had no choice but to admit defeat and muttered an apology.

Mrs Loh was most kind. She could have punished me, but she did not. She understood instead that I had been shamed enough and would learn from my mistake – which I did. In actual fact, I was rather fond of Mrs Loh – just not her teaching style. She was lots of fun and as game as teachers come.

When I think back of my school days, I do wish at times that I could make contact again with my old teachers. Although some teachers have faded into the murky background of memory, others still stride alive and well across the ocean of time. Many of these are the ones who made an impact in my life; whether large or small, it does not matter, since even the tiniest gestures have had an influence on my development from childhood to this day. This, I think, is something that teachers nowadays should consider when they come face to face with their pupils everyday.

Blenheim Lodge, a beautifully refurbished guesthouse in Windermere.

Where I live now: Blenheim Lodge, nestling against woodlands and boasting panoramic Lake Windermere views, only a 5-minute walk to the village centre and pier. It’s an ocean and more away from Singapore, where I was educated and still think fondly of my schoolteachers.

Blenheim Lodge . . . panoramic Lake views, peace and tranquillity, nestled against acres of beautiful fields and woodlands, in the heart of the English Lake District National Park.’

Visit our website: www.blenheim-lodge.com

Email: enquiries@blenheim-lodge.com

Telephone: 00 44 (0)15394 43440

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