Hoots from the Archive - "A Life in the Day of...Paul Ponder"

Posted by Rachel Kneale on 23 May 2024

Paul Ponder

We have previously published an article in this format, written by MGS teacher William Duggan

The following was published in The New Mancunian in December 2001:

"In the first of a new feature, MGS' resident linguist, philosopher, anthropologist, author, walking encyclopedia (amongst others) gives us a glimpse inside his world, as he recounts a typical day during term time -

Clear conscience withstanding, I wake early. This means that my first glimpse of Manchester tends to be in conditions of total darkness, and there is something to be said for that. I then read, mark, take my bath and tend my beard. I do these things in no particular order and sometimes try to see how many I can manage at once. I usually remember to dress. I dislike eating much at this point in the day, and breakfast is a literary feast, though there tends to be a coffee at some stage. There is always music. In the past it was Radio 3, but I find their new found populism hard to bear...Delius and Cesar Franck were bad enough, but when they announce yet another catchy tune from the Cannibal Isles I can achieve a creditable turn of speed or switch over.

My friend Patrick Thom is kind enough to bring me into school and unstinting in his exploration of an apparently limitless repertoire of puns. Time and time again I find myself musing on his exact relationship with the Christmas cracker motto - Which is the cause and which is the subject? Such things are driven out by thoughts of the impending Assembly. I open The Memorial Hall, check that the microphones have not been sabotaged, and that the roof has not begun to leak again, remove the more obvious Coca-Cola cans and track down the speaker for the day. 

Then a morning instructing the young, adding to my collection of excuses (why do all domestic animals give birth on second form French books?) and silly questions ("Sir, what does MGS stand for?") leads to lunchtime. Pausing briefly to wonder in what particular avatar the eternal curry will manifest itself on this occasion, I proceed to mortify my digestive tract and then (depending on the season) teach Oxbridge literature or discuss Byzantine court protocol with Dr. Martin. More teaching, and then the cessation of hostilities brings thoughts of dinner. I enjoy eating out but I enjoy cooking as well. Either way I always read. Mindful there probably is not enough pure fresh grape juice to go round, I content myself with the fermented article. Then I do whatever cannot decently be left until tomorrow, read, listen to music, very occasionally blow the dust off the television, decide on bed, read, sleep and then da capo!"


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