Dear Mrs. Speller,
You taught me to love English. You helped to make me the stickler for spelling and punctuation I am today. You read us “The Lady of Shalott.”
You were, in some ways, old-fashioned. You made us take dictation and you named the class’s table groups after shipping companies. I remember the man from P & O gave me a sponge that increased in size from a few centimetres to huge proportions when it was put in the bath, much to the delighted amusement of my brother and I.
When I had been in New Zealand – and school – for only a year, and the kids in your – the higher – class seemed to be on some other plane of knowledge and sophistication, one of them lowered his voice and told me that you were a witch.
When I repeated it to her, Sarah Lamb’s mum told me “that’s not very noice”, but maybe you were one. I’m pretty sure that my English was still a bit wobbly when I entered Standard 1 but when I emerged from your class, newly minted and blinking in the sunlight I was as anew. You cast a spell that made me forever love words like “obfuscate” and “esurient” and loudly and without embarrassment point out examples of apostrophes in the wrong place.
You were my first real old-school school teacher – not like the kind pre-school teachers I’d had before, but someone who, at the time, I respected rather than loved. I suspect if I met you now, you’d be rather small and unassuming but when I was 7, you were like roast fennel. Something that grew on me, slowly and in the end had so much staying power I still think of you now, 22 years later.
Thanks for teaching me the rules, so I know how best to break them.
Can you find any spelling mistakes in this post?
Which teacher made a big impression on you?
Another “not exactly a recipe,” rather a suggestion…I better be careful lest I lose whatever scrap of kitchen credibility I have – next time there will be at least 25 steps!
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius (360 degrees fahrenheit).
Trim the bottom 1 or 2 cms of as many bulbs of fennel as you like. Trim also the green tops and save them if you’re so inclined, to flavour soups, stocks and stews (you can freeze them if you think you won’t get around to it before they rot). Peel off the outside layer if it looks a bit tough. Cut into quarters.
Place in a baking tray and rub with olive oil, pepper and salt. Bake until delicious looking and tender, probably about 20 minutes.