RIP Tom Jeffers 1944-2020

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Otter
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RIP Tom Jeffers 1944-2020

Post by Otter »

Very sad to learn of the passing of much-loved language teacher Tom Jeffers (CH 1972-2004) earlier this week. One of the special ones. While teaching French and German, he also entertained and educated his pupils with his beloved guitar and singing. Also fantastic at pastoral care, a sensitive and reassuring person to talk to when you were feeling lost. His family includes wife of 51 years, Jackie, who was the CH librarian. Tom had been suffering with dementia for some time. As someone on Facebook said, “Hope he is hiking with Clive Kemp again now.”
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Re: RIP Tom Jeffers 1944-2020

Post by AMP »

Very sad. Tom and Jackie were ahead of their time - a very friendly and approachable couple and whilst Tom was the Housemaster, Jackie played a full part in the life of PeA. Sunday evening playing cards in their kitchen made a nice change to the normal housey routines. I think PeA was probably the first house to have mixed discos (this was pre merger) and the occasional Saturday night disco at other girls' schools - one in Littlehampton rings a bell. And of course numerous trips up to London for concerts and museums.Tom's enthusiasm was unparalleled, he loved Wagner, always showed interest in my music and was just a thoroughly decent and nice man.
My best wishes to Jackie, Ed, Kate and Sarah.
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Re: RIP Tom Jeffers 1944-2020

Post by richardb »

Never ever heard a bad word about him. A genuinely decent man.
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Re: RIP Tom Jeffers 1944-2020

Post by scrub »

That's a damn shame, dementia is a terrible disease. He was a nice guy and one of the few teachers whose classes I can still remember. For years I had to make a conscious effort not to sing "Können sie mir bitte sagen, wo der Marktplatz ist?" when speaking German :lol: .
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Re: RIP Tom Jeffers 1944-2020

Post by MrEd »

Very sad to hear of Tom's passing and his having suffered from such a terrible disease, RIP and condolences to his family, especially Jackie. He was my Housemaster in PeA in the mid-1980s. He was extremely good-natured and always brimming with enthusiasm and positivity. He also taught me German for a year. I particularly recall his tales of his time in Austria when he taught English in a school there. As we grappled with German verbs and grammar, he told us how his Austrian pupils struggled with 'He cut the tree down, and then he cut it up.'. My brother's A-level German exchange student, from the Ruhr, said that Mr Jeffers didn't have a great German accent, but his Austrian accent was spot on, so much that he took him for an Austrian when he heard him speak German, that's a rare talent.

I recall his giving guitar lessons outside the formal structures of the music school (or so it seemed) and also his immense concern that the Peele Matron ought not in any way annoyed (I once annoyed her, leading to an eruption, and he sidled up to me a few hours later to ask if it would involve him and I said not and the relief was palpable). He also took 6th Form narkishness well, I once asked him if we really should go to a lecture on Coleridge we'd been told to go to, given that he was a drug addict, and he took it in good humour. Also, doing a House play by Brecht, that old Commie, The Rise and Fall of Arturo Ui, an obvious allegory to the Nazis, to ram the point home the Red Flag of Nazism with the white circle and swastika was in the stage set, and during rehearsals, Colin Edwards (Maths teacher and attached to PeA) took a picture of Mr Jeffers pointing up and speaking with that flag as the backdrop, a send-up he took very well. I believe that the picture ended up in The Blue.

It is important to remember with all the disgrace around the scandals at CH that teachers like Mr Jeffers were also there, and they should not be eclipsed by the darkness of those wretched few.
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Re: RIP Tom Jeffers 1944-2020

Post by Chrissie Boy »

Likewise, I never heard a bad word about Tom Jeffers. A thoroughly decent cove, was Tom. He taught me German for a year and French for two years and was always fair-minded, never moody. The only time I can recall his getting annoyed was when his young daughter was ill at home and he emerged from morning lessons, hell bent on getting back to her as soon as possible, only to discovered that some joker had let his bicycle tyres down. Not that he took it out on anybody, of course. He just registered a protest at our next French lesson, on the off chance that the culprit was in the room.

I remember with fondness his guitar recitals in the classroom on the final lesson of the year. They definitely beat grappling with the subjunctive.

Good luck to the guy in the next life.
Last edited by Chrissie Boy on Wed Apr 01, 2020 12:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: RIP Tom Jeffers 1944-2020

Post by Otter »

MrEd wrote:
Sun Mar 29, 2020 11:35 am
Very sad to hear of Tom's passing and his having suffered from such a terrible disease, RIP and condolences to his family, especially Jackie. He was my Housemaster in PeA in the mid-1980s. He was extremely good-natured and always brimming with enthusiasm and positivity. He also taught me German for a year. I particularly recall his tales of his time in Austria when he taught English in a school there. As we grappled with German verbs and grammar, he told us how his Austrian pupils struggled with 'He cut the tree down, and then he cut it up.'. My brother's A-level German exchange student, from the Ruhr, said that Mr Jeffers didn't have a great German accent, but his Austrian accent was spot on, so much that he took him for an Austrian when he heard him speak German, that's a rare talent.
This reminds me on an anecdote he told us once in class, sadly I have forgotten the specifics. But it involved Tom being detained for a few hours in East Berlin as he had in his bag a book from the West that he didn't realise was illegal in the East. It was a fascinating story and I remember the whole class being speechless thinking what could have happened. Luckily he was merely, I believe, reprimanded and kicked back into West Berlin. I wonder if anyone is more familiar with this story.

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Re: RIP Tom Jeffers 1944-2020

Post by Pe.A »

Very sad news. One of my favourite people at CH. He taught me for two years. Also the first (and not last) person to bust me for an alcohol-related misdemeanour. He did it in such a nice way aswell...

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Re: RIP Tom Jeffers 1944-2020

Post by Lamb B 17 »

Lovely bloke. Arrived as a house tutor and was the first teacher there I actually liked and could talk to (the other one was Peter Farrar, he arrived a bit later) I showed him my angry, stroppy poems and he pointed me in the direction of the Liverpool Poets' 'Mersey Sound' anthology. That was that. I'll never forget that moment. Good German teacher too.
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Re: RIP Tom Jeffers 1944-2020

Post by Katharine »

I’ve just read this thread*, can I say what a joy it has been to read all these memories after the last few years of revelations about past teachers.

*I can’t be the only one with too much time on my hands!
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Re: RIP Tom Jeffers 1944-2020

Post by Straz »

Sad to hear this news.
I didn't know Tom very well, but very occasionally our paths would cross.
Definitely one of the good guys.
RIP Tom.
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Re: RIP Tom Jeffers 1944-2020

Post by loringa »

Katharine wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 8:23 pm
I’ve just read this thread*, can I say what a joy it has been to read all these memories after the last few years of revelations about past teachers.
Couldn't agree more Katharine. When all is said and done there is far more about Christ's Hospital that is and was good than was bad, and far more decent folk as teachers than criminals.

I didn't know Mr Jeffers well myself although he was on the staff throughout my time. Nonetheless, he always seemed a thoroughly decent chap as the other posters all seem to agree. I do, however, recall that he always looked rather distinguished when quite a number of his colleagues were rather more stereotypically dishevelled.

My condolences to his family.
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Re: RIP Tom Jeffers 1944-2020

Post by Pe.A »

loringa wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 10:28 am
Katharine wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 8:23 pm
I’ve just read this thread*, can I say what a joy it has been to read all these memories after the last few years of revelations about past teachers.
Couldn't agree more Katharine. When all is said and done there is far more about Christ's Hospital that is and was good than was bad, and far more decent folk as teachers than criminals.

I didn't know Mr Jeffers well myself although he was on the staff throughout my time. Nonetheless, he always seemed a thoroughly decent chap as the other posters all seem to agree. I do, however, recall that he always looked rather distinguished when quite a number of his colleagues were rather more stereotypically dishevelled.

My condolences to his family.
Spot on.

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Re: RIP Tom Jeffers 1944-2020

Post by Pe.A »

Otter wrote:
Mon Mar 30, 2020 1:06 pm
MrEd wrote:
Sun Mar 29, 2020 11:35 am
Very sad to hear of Tom's passing and his having suffered from such a terrible disease, RIP and condolences to his family, especially Jackie. He was my Housemaster in PeA in the mid-1980s. He was extremely good-natured and always brimming with enthusiasm and positivity. He also taught me German for a year. I particularly recall his tales of his time in Austria when he taught English in a school there. As we grappled with German verbs and grammar, he told us how his Austrian pupils struggled with 'He cut the tree down, and then he cut it up.'. My brother's A-level German exchange student, from the Ruhr, said that Mr Jeffers didn't have a great German accent, but his Austrian accent was spot on, so much that he took him for an Austrian when he heard him speak German, that's a rare talent.
This reminds me on an anecdote he told us once in class, sadly I have forgotten the specifics. But it involved Tom being detained for a few hours in East Berlin as he had in his bag a book from the West that he didn't realise was illegal in the East. It was a fascinating story and I remember the whole class being speechless thinking what could have happened. Luckily he was merely, I believe, reprimanded and kicked back into West Berlin. I wonder if anyone is more familiar with this story.
You mentioning East/West Berlin actually reminded me of a time Jeffers was telling us about when the Wall was about to come down in 1989. He told the class that he realised the significance of this for Germany and he realised it would probably be the biggest piss-up ever, so he basically bombed in over in a plane with another member of staff (Pattison, I think?) to join in the celebrations.
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Re: RIP Tom Jeffers 1944-2020

Post by Foureyes »

Berlin. I did not know Mr Jefferis, but did serve in and visit West Berlin (as it then was!) and offer some comments on him being arrested and then released. Both the Soviets and the Brits understood the rules very well and, provided there was no over-riding international tension, there was a lot of quiet diplomacy and cooperation at the working level, because neither party had any particular desire to be the one who started World War Three! The Brits and Soviets were also united in their thorough dislike and disdain for the Volkspolizei (DDR police) and Volksarmee (DDR army). For example, it was all too easy for a British soldier to accidentally end up in East Berlin and be arrested. The Soviets would always inform the Brits that this had happened and would then hold on to the culprit for a couple of days (which scared the living daylights out of him!) and then tell the Brits where to pick him up. Provided neither 'side' got either the diplomats or, even worse, the Press involved it was all handled quietly.

To my certain knowledge a British lieutenant-colonel (but not me) was a passenger in his staff car, returning from 'the Zone' (i.e., West Germany) to West Berlin when his driver took the wrong turning at the infamous autobahn junction a few miles short of WB and headed south through East Germany towards Magdeburg. The colonel was asleep at the time and the first he knew was that his car had been halted, with Soviet jeeps fore-and-aft and a Soviet officer tapping at the window. The colonel wound down the window, whereupon the Soviet officer, with just a hint of a smile, enquired, "Good afternoon, colonel, are you defecting?' On being assured that this was definitely not the case, the Soviet officer returned to his jeep and led the British car back to the correct autobahn, where with a punctilious salute he signalled the Brits to continue their journey to West Berlin.

Those who travelled aboard the British Military Train knew that shortly after departure the train would halt at the first station in East Germany, where the OC Train and the Train Warrant Officer would dismount and march smartly along the platform to where a Soviet officer was waiting for them. After mutual saluting the Brits would hand over a millboard with documents listing all the passengers. The Soviet officer would hand the millboard through a hatch, where presumably other Soviets copied it. While waiting for the millboard to be returned, the three on the platform stood together and at one point they seemed to shuffle about for no good reason. I discovered later from a train WO that this shuffle was the moment when the British officer clandestinely passed a pack of 200 Benson & Hedges cigarettes (remember them?) to the Soviet officer, who, on some previous occasion had expressed a yearning for such decadent Western luxuries!

I am not suggesting that it was always sweetness and light, but that a degree of cooperation was possible and it may be that Mr Jefferis was fortunate to have had his contretemps at a quiet period. Had it been during a period of international tension things might have turned out quite differently.

David :shock:
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