French in the 1950s was taught by Mr. Warr (pictured). Short, eccentric and sarcastic, Mr Warr would parade around the classroom swerving in and out of our desks with his metre ruler, occasionally slamming it down on our desks to wake us up, or se lever. If we all learnt one word from leaving King's RGS it was his trademark put-down: "Consider yourself repudiated!" We covered the basics such as the present tenses of verbs ending -er -ir and -re, and also touched up on the common irregular verbs être = to be and avoir to have... two of the first verbs French students learn these days.
Simon Waller suffered Mr. Warr's wrath one lesson. Asked to "conjugate the verb avoir" from his seat, Waller looked on puzzled and speechless. "You've just sat an exam, and you can't conjugate the verb avoir" asked a baffled Mr. Warr. "I have You have He has She has We have You have They have They have.. That's English by the way" he continued; wide-eyed, and metre ruler in hand. Simon retaliated with "If I've got the book in front of me.. if I've got the stuff.. then I can do it!" At his wits end he exclaimed "I don't know it!" Simon was instantly repudiated. I believe Simon got an A in GCSE French 2003, something most of the class achieved... without the need to recite any verbs parrot-fashion.
Besides the stuff everyone did at GCSE, we ventured into a tense called the past historic which is a literary tense only. We read a passage called La Bague d'Or (The Golden Ring) way too many times - in preparation for the dictée, the exam where the examiner dictates a passage and for every spelling and or grammar mistake you lost a point. I think 10 people out of the 30 of us actually scored, the rest losing all of the 30 points available. Ali Unwin came top of the class in the dictée with a B, then I came in 2nd place with a B, wahoo! Everybody repeat after Mr. Warr: "Mon-sieur Ga-vel s'arr-ê-ta..."
For those who had never studied French before, they were still required to attend all lessons promptly and attempt all the work with a positive attitude. These included Tom Jewell, my fellow German! Upper 6th (our class) was not entered into the French O-Level exam. We did do a written paper in which we had to translate a French passage into English, but these two 1950s French components did not count for us as an O-Level. Hmph... Blaine Pike