Mr. R. T. Attridge
1. - from Gaytonian 1995
Mr. R. T. Attridge retired in July after 36 years in the school, the last six as Senior modern Languages Master. He had a truly phenomenal skill with languages and a passionate interest in semantics: there seemed to be few European tongues that he had not mastered and he taught several at evening classes as well as teaching German, French and Spanish at school.
He was keen on archeology and spent hours tramping the Downs in search of Roman villas. He was blessed with remarkably good health and scarcely ever lost a day through illness: he was at school in the morning before most people had breakfasted and his elastic step and upright carriage belied his years. For many years he taught the essential art of life-saving to school swimmers: he caused great amusement in the Bath with his famous imitation of a porpoise - - - he would slide easily into the water at one end and reappear a minute later at the other just before a search party was despatched to look for him.
He spent hours in the painstaking world of cataloguing his beloved library, to which he devoted an enormous amount of free time: the story will no doubt one day be told of his struggle with the planners when the new library was built in 1953.
In the Common Room he was the outstanding exponent of the art of solving the "Times" crossword: he appeared to need only the time it took him to fill in the answers. If he seemed unduly upright and confident on some Wednesdays when taking Assembly, it was perhaps with the knowledge of the puzzle already done.
Educated at Latymer Upper School, R. Attridge was a Scholar of Christ's College, Cambridge. After service in the Inns of Court Rifles and the R.A.F., he taught at Haileybury, Manchester Grammar and Yeovil Grammar Schools. He came to Harrow as Senior German Master in 1929, teaching German and Spanish. As Welldon Housemaster or duty Master his imposing face bristling with fierce kindness will long be missed: we wish him and Mrs. Attridge a long and happy retirement.
2. Obituary by D. G. G. Wilkey - written in 1988
We have learnt, with great regret, that Reg Attridge died in 1987. Educated at Christ's College, Cambridge, he served on the staff from 1929 until his retirement in 1965, in the latter years as Head of Modern Languages specialising in German. He was indeed a very true polyglot: he was a master of German, French, Spanish and also of Russian, which he taught to evening classes, but in addition he was always dabbling in other languages - I remember him learning Hungarian at the time of the uprising in 1956 ("We may get some refugees over here needing our help" was his explanation) and on another occasion Maltese.
Reg - one almost hesitates to use his first name, since he was one of the old school for whom surnames were the only right and proper form of address - was an intensely private man but at the same time kindly and with a strong sense of humour. He almost invariably arrived at school earlier than anyone else in the morning and would take his accustomed place in the small common-room to begin building up the daily cloud of cigarette smoke, later to be replaced by that of cheroots - the sharp smoker's cough with which he punctuated his conversation was a memorable characteristic. He could be something of a rebel - at a time when Dr. Simpson considered any but the most formal type of leather footwear to partake of the worst excesses of Scandinavia Reg deemed it not unreasonable to wear sandals during the summer months.
In his unassuming way he must have contributed a great deal to the life of the school if one can judge by the fact that in his later years he was running life-saving classes, devoting many hours to the library, and serving as a housemaster. Known affectionately to generations of boys as 'Bulldog', the wartime photograph of him with the A.T.C. squadron shows a sergeant in Home Guard uniform looking positively Churchillian with that jutting chin.
Conversation with Reg would allow one to obtain a glimpse of the wide-ranging interests he possessed - he was, for example, an expert gardener, he had a considerable knowledge of local history, and he was no mean actor: for many years he was a member of the Spanish dramatic society at the City Literary Institute.
Reg remained active during most of his long retirement and could often be seen striding purposefully around Harrow, though his last few years were unfortunately saddened by the protracted illness and death of his wife.
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