John Gledhill

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John Webster Gledhill

John Gledhill
Nicknames Joe
Education University College, Oxford (BA)
Roles Head of Classics
Years at BGS 1937-1969
Departments Classics
Subjects Latin
Children T D Gledhill; M H Gledhill

John Webster Gledhill was a teacher of Latin at Boston Grammar School.


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conversed in Latin or Greek on their daily pipe smoking promenades during the lunch break, and I will never forget the day that Joe and a contemporary of mine, Paul Vysny, came to blows in the locker room outside the old assembly hall over some long forgotten jibe.

by David Wortley (BGS 1959-1967)

Latin Ladders - always starting at the bottom at the beginning of each term because my surname began with "W" "Joe" Gledhill - regularly lifting a boy called Clayton up by his sideboards and saying "Is that as clear as mud, Clay?" Joe Gledhill - A Roman Emperor's dying words "Vae, vae concacavi me puto!", which means "Oh dear, I think I have sh*t myself"

by Dennis Morley (BGS 1958-1963)

I can recall only one happy memory where "Joe" Gledhill was involved. One end of term assembly whilst we were singing Floreat Bostona - JG was playing the piano...

When it came to the end of the first verse, the part where 'laborandum' is repeated a number of times, the 'renegade' 5th Remove added a whispered 'cha, cha, cha' to end of each 'laborandum'.

As the song progressed, more and more pupils joined in this now catchy chorus line until poor old Joe could stand the violation of his beloved language no more and crashed down on the piano keyboard, bringing the assembly to a grinding halt. What a wonderful moment that was.

by Oscar Goodwin (BGS 1934-1939)

In 1939 "Joe" Gledhill was a recent master, a tough cookie. Little boys are quick to assess a new master's moral fibre and recognise the danger signals.

Joe was a pleasant enough man, apt to utter the familiar stentorian bellow: "You want flogging boy!" A miscreant was offered a detention or Little Benjamin, apparently a biblical reference that Benjamin was a ruler. The alternative choice was always accepted, a violent thwack of a 12 inch ruler across the palm, painful but not life threatening and sheer delight to the rest of the form. Only the Head, Dot Morris was officially empowered to administer the dreaded Swish with a well practised heavy hand. When he trod the corridors the silence was deafening and an awesome respect prevailed. Human rights were not a consideration in those days and a policeman could walk the streets with confidence.

by Bill Sibley (BGS 1952-1957)

I well remember the first introduction I had to Little Benjamin. Joe asked the class in general to put their hands up if they had never committed murder. Thankfully a sea of hands was raised - including mine. Joe glared around the class and his eye fell on me. "Come out here, Sib" he bellowed. I did so. "Have you never killed a fly?" "Er....!" "Hold out your hand" WHACK "That's for telling lies!".

I remember "Joe" Gledhill's Latin phrases he used to give us. "Ligna in silvam ferre" To carry firewood into the forest. (To carry coals to Newcastle); "Di te pessimum pessime perdant" Allegedly a curse meaning 'May the gods destroy you the worst of all possible fellows in the worst of all possible ways"; "Vestimenta detrahere nudo" To get clothes from a naked man (To get blood from a stone). It says something for a teacher when his pearls of wisdom can still be remembered nearly 50 years later. I think it was Joe who regaled us with the tale of the discovery of a very old pottery container buried somewhere with the inscription "ITI SAPIS SPOTAN DAGO ODONE" A rearrangement of the spaces will reveal the meaning!

by Adrian Wightman (BGS 1955-1962)

I for one cannot hear a warning bell ring without mentally reciting "tintinabulum nos monet".

by David White (BGS 1957-1964)

I still have my "vocab exercise books" from Joe's classes and when treading the chalkface myself was very keen on the Ladder System which only bit the dust after one HMI took a dislike to overt competition. One of my favourite entries is the palendromic graffito from the walls of London (I think) carved by a bored guard:


Read it anyway you like;. Not dull these Roman squaddies! And don't forget folks.... nemo repente fuit turpissimus

by Stan Meeds (BGS 1938-1943)

When I was at BGS he had a habit of writing limericks about almost everyone and one day I had the temerity to return the compliment and sidle up to his desk to show him my effort. He was not impressed.

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