He was a harmless man and never someone Simon Macbeth ever felt intimidated by, despite our countless encounters. I respected him because he was fair with his punishments, unlike my Dad. He liked to do things his way. He told me once that the pupils were the most important part of the school. He was the only teacher I ever encountered who felt that way and it made me feel special, like I was someone worth bothering about.
In the fourth year at junior school there was a bit of a kafuffle in the playground. I didn’t know what was going on so I went over to investigate, even though it was nothing to do with me. There had been quite a few people involved in a fight and the dinner ladies dragged them all off (me included) into the headmaster’s office. I didn’t mind being there at all. Although I was in for a bit of a bollocking, it was nice to join in and be a part of things.
Ruben Robson spoke to all of us as a giggling group. He was okay with us all, and one by one he started to let everybody go. It got down to three of us, then two, and then I stood there by myself. He’d boiled it down to me as the ringleader and was immune to my protests. I was being blamed for something I’d not been involved in at all. In all fairness to him, it was a bit of a novelty my not being the guilty party and every time I had justifiably got into trouble I had protested my innocence in exactly the same way. I guess for Mr Robson there was nothing new there, but I felt incredibly hard done by on that occasion.
Another time I was sent to see him over some minor misdemeanour. I walked into his windowless cream coloured office with his desk tucked behind the door on the right hand side. Mr Robson’s chair was swivelled round so all I could see was the back of his head. I walked in the door and said, “You wanted to see me sir?” I stood there and he replied by proceeding to describe me, for what purpose I don’t know. He said without looking up, “You stood there in your blue trousers, your blue top and your blue trainers.” I don’t know if he’d seen me earlier that day, but I was quite impressed by his accuracy.