French classes at school were very much a time of mischief for me; when I realised I was relatively good at the subject, I also discovered I could get away with a lot of stuff. For most of my time at shcool, my teacher was Mr Simperingham, who arrived mid-way through my Year 10 and took over the French class I was in. Mr Simperingham, who coincidentally shares my forename, is a great teacher and I have the utmost respect for him, but he did let us get away with a heap of mischief!!
His first year was particularly difficult, as he faced a class which was about two thirds full of people who weren't very good at French at all. There were some genuinely bright kids, and on top of that there was not only me, but also Avi. That was a dangerous combination. Avi was also pretty good at French, so we spent a lot of the time hassling our teacher about anything and everything we could. Our favourite one was when we took an entire period to complete just the one exercise!
Towards the end of that year, I found I was running out of room in my exercise book, but desperately didn't want to buy a new one for a short time. Because we rigidly had to write down all the answers to the exercises we did, and me being me, I decided to use as much of the penultimate page as I could, so as to prolong its life. Soon I was cramming the margins and writing in letters so small they were barely intelligible. I thought this was hilarious; Avi thought it was stupid; Mr Simperingham wasn't impressed. Ironically, when I gave up on that, I found that I had skipped the page before, and there were two extra pages left in the book which I never ended up using.
2006 must have brought a sigh of relief to our teacher, as Avi ended up in a different class. However, I teamed up with two fellow Latin students, who were both pretty clever naturally, Jeremy and Henry. Jeremy took over the mantle of Avi in relation to me; soon I was stealing his pens, having ruler fights and generally creating mischief with him. Nor was there any shortage of Asian Mafia/Triad jokes, given their ethnicity! That year was a little less eventful, and required a lot more work; if memory serves me right, attempts were made to break our seating arrangements but they failed. That year was a busy one for him though, as he became a general fill-in teacher around the school. He ended up taking Maths, P.E. and Social Studies if I remember correctly, on top of French and Spanish. We hassled him continuously about this, especially the maths.
Come 2007, and class numbers had dropped again. Jeremy remained but Henry was no longer with us. There was a small influx of girls, but they never give teachers problems, do they? The ruler fights became rather fierce that year, so much so that my two metal rulers are now permanently bent. Recalling the halcyon days of 2005, I decided that year to outdo my previous page-filling feat. Exercise books were so out of vogue by then, I was simply writing on refill, so there was more room on this page. I certainly didn't hold back, and as you can see, I pretty much used up all the space I could. Jeremy thought it was funny! We also had to write essays that year, and the cover sheets were always asking for me to make a mockery of them. As I've mentioned before, one time I wrote 'Monsieur Chatouille' (Mr Tickles) as my name; another time I gave the word count as a quadratic equation, accompanied by the words, 'You're the maths teacher, you work it out.' When I got it back he had written, 'No, I have been cured of this' next to it.
Near the end of that year I also acquired a laptop, prompting further mischief. One of the best features of a Mac is Photo Booth, which lets you take pictures through a camera at the top of the screen. I soon discovered that you could hide the programme so you didn't know the photo was being taken. I needed to test this out, so one French period I decided to test it on none other than Mr Simperingham. The countdown was 3 seconds, so I would press the button, swivel round the computer and aim it at him. Apart from the small flash, he couldn't see anything going on. Needless to say he was more than a little bemused. I ended up with more than 20 photos, and heard quite a few times 'Jackson, what are you doing?'
That was to be my final year with Mr Simperingham, as I was sentenced to a full year of Mr Curnow to complete my A level. I think, despite all the trouble-making and hassling, I did really take a lot from my time under him. My French certainly became very good, as a 90 grade in AS would testify. My B grade in A level French under Curnow, the only B I ever got at school, speaks volumes. In the end, it was all a bit of harmless fun and we got something out of it in the end- just like that French Camp.