Geoffrey Colley (MTS SCR 1971-2013)

Died on 25th December 2019, aged 71

In a few short words, I cannot possibly do justice to my dear friend…and so - as he would have done for me - I will try and celebrate his memory with some of the more fun times that we enjoyed together.

It all began in the early ‘70s when Geoff joined the School, bringing his skills to the department to complement mine. He was particularly talented at hockey, cricket, gymnastics and golf, and these fitted in perfectly with mine – rugby….and rugby.

His array of skills was used to good effect, along with his humorous delivery, both in the classroom and sports hall; his humour was a hallmark of his style throughout all his teaching career.

It soon became clear that life with Geoff. was going to be different. He was an addictive joker…a constant whistler, who greeted you, not with “Good Morning”, but with “Have you heard the one about…”.

However, he also brought a degree of trepidation to entering the PE office. It could be Vaseline on all the door knobs… shaving foam in your trainers…. itching powder in your speedos …or when you opened your filing cabinet drawer - exploding fluorescent pink unmentionables!

We were not only colleagues but also neighbours, living in the small community at the bottom of Askew Road, first with the Prescotts and then the Trebbles. Our kids grew up together and enjoyed a wonderful childhood, with all the School’s facilities and playing fields at their disposal. My daughter reflected on Geoff’s impact on her - “He was a total legend, a prankster with the best laugh, but also capable of delivering an almighty rollicking if need be”. My son recalled, “He taught me to bowl spinners, to hit a golf ball and to blow raspberries with my armpit. He was bulletproof, could fix anything and always with a grin on his face; he was like a second Dad’’.

In those early days, the Senior Common Room was filled with staff nicknames, and there are many colleagues who will always be remembered by theirs. I won’t embarrass everyone, but just give you a flavour, there was: Hot Rocks, Tonka, Zappy and Bodger and of course the unforgettable - Action Man. Geoff and I, as a pair, did not escape this tradition. We were at different times: Laurel and Hardy, Little and Large, but most memorably perhaps, Batman and Robin. Perhaps that should have been Batman and the Joker!

One of the most memorable of Geoff’s jokes took place one Doctors’ Day, when the Merchant Taylors’ Court and their ladies are invited to lunch on the final day of the Xmas term. We were all “suited and booted” and Geoff was proudly displaying a new tie. A rather snazzy navy affair with an all-over motif of golden anchors, on top of each one was perched a capital “W”! How did he get away with it?!

Geoff also had a craving for tomato ketchup. The story goes that one day he and Lesley were in a rather upmarket restaurant and when his main course arrived, he politely asked the waiter if there was any ketchup available. This rather shocked the waiter, who nevertheless retreated to the kitchen, returning with the smallest imaginable pot of ketchup on a tiny saucer. Placing it in front of Geoff, he turned to leave, but Geoff called him back. Geoff looked at the tiny pot and then at the waiter, lifted the pot to his lips and took a sip. Smiling, he looked at the waiter - “We’ll have a bottle please!!”.

Throughout all the years that I knew Geoff we were many things to one another. Opponents, partners, teammates, colleagues and firm friends. He will always be an unforgettable part of my life.

When I next hear the distant rumble of thunder, will I think, “is that rain on the way? Or has Geoff just got St.Peter again with his whoopey cushion?!”

We shall miss him.

John Pallant


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