Harrow County Staff

Charles Crinson

by Cardew Robinson

If I describe a slim, handsome young man with smooth fair hair whose twenty-two inch bottomed silver-grey flannels always boasted a knife edge crease, and whose blue blazer always looked as though it had come straight out of the window of a West End outfitter, you would not immediately think I was referring to a retired schoolmaster of 80 years or more. Yet that is the image I shall always retain of Charlie Crinson, not only because that was the way he always presented himseff to us in the form room, but because, even a year or two ago, the hand of time had touched him so lightly that I could still so easily see him as he had been in my days as a schoolboy.

Charlie was that wonderful rarity, a schoolboy's schoolmaster. We had several at HCS, lucky little devils that we were. 'Beaky' Fooks, still spry as a cricket at 96, was another one. It's a gift, of course. We used actually to welcome their arrival because we knew their periods were going to be fun, whatever the subject. In Charlie's case it was Religious Knowledge in IVd; and in IVd's case you couldn't have picked a less likely bunch to whom to impart it. But Charlie not only made the Testaments come alive, like some kind of classroom De Mille, he also got us talking and writing about the meaning of Life and what it was all about.

Charlie never had any disciplinary problems, not even with clowns like me. He held our attention from the moment he came in. He also had our admiration, because IVd thought they knew a man-about-town when they saw one. We always reckoned that Charlie, the moment he finished with his schoolmaster's day, hurtled up to the West End to dance the night away. Years later I once asked him about the truth of this rumour. He neither confirmed nor denied it, But in those days we all knew that when we left school we wanted to be like Charlie.

I remember how proud I was when, a week before the School Dance, a rather ambitious one-off affair, he asked me, "Are you bringing a woman, Robinson?" Just like that. Man to man. I blushed and said, "Yes, Sir, I'm bringing Doreen Balingall.' "Good man," said Chadie, and I felt ten feet tall.

Happily, I used to see Charlie from time to time, until fairly recently when he went back to the North East, at the Old Boys Dinners and at Paddington Tennis Club, where he was the President. He was still, as always, charming, smart and as kind and warm a human being as ever came out of Geordie-land. I am very glad that, even in IVd, I had the sense to appreciate Charlie, and for the rest of my life I shall remember him with affection and gratitude.

Reproduced from the 1988 Old Gaytonian by permission of Colin Dickins

Mr. C. R. Crinson

Charles Crinson rejoined the staff of Harrow county Grammar School in 1945.  None of us remember him from his earlier years, when he first came to the school from King's College, London as a Student-Teacher, joined the staff in 1930, and soon became the lifelong friend of Reg King.  During World War II he had served with the R.A.F. as a meteorological officer.  As a geographer, he was one of the first to join this branch at the outbreak of hostilities, and saw service abroad in Africa.  His extensive practical experience produced a profound understanding of weather forecasting, which must have avoided the all too frequent errors evident today in an era of mathematical modelling and computer-led speculation.

Charles brough to his teaching all the attributes of schoolmasters of his generation.   In caring to develop the whole potential of his pupils, he achieved it by the devotion of much additional time and energy out of school hours.  His particular interests were athletics and cross-country running.  With a cheerful disposition in and out of class he encouraged all his charges to broaden their aspirations and to deepen their competence, by leading them in a quiet confident manner.  His success might seem an unlikely outcome to some modern educationalists immersed in the introspection and analysis of techniques in pastoral care, but generations of Old Gaytonians remember the influence Charles crinson had upon their development with great affection.  His role as Head of Religious Knowledge symbolised his attitude to the whole growing man.

Away from Harrow County he was held in high regard at the Paddington Sports Club, of which community he became the secretary in retirement.  After the death of his wife, long disabled, Charles went back to his home town of Sunderland, where he died earlier this year.

Colleagues who worked alongside him till 1969 will recall his dignity, kindness, and unfailing courtesy.

Written by M. G. Venn in 1988

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