Thursday, 11 November 2010

The old order fadeth

Another of my university teachers has passed away. Margaret Locherbie-Cameron was a teacher who truly was of the old school: she took an MA and worked at the University of Wales, Bangor (in its various incarnations) for her entire career.

In some ways, she was the classic academic as you find them in 1950s novels: horsey, quietly committed - and hardworking - to the Anglican/Church in Wales denomination, rural, and rather terrifying in a patrician manner until - without you ever knowing when or why - she decided that you'd risen above the level of amoeba and were actually worth talking to.

Beyond the horizons of the dumb teenager I was when I first knew her, she was a highly respected scholar of Anglo-Saxon literature and an inspirational teacher. To us though, she was the tall, forbidding figure to whom lazy students were sent for her to put the fear of God into. I never received the full blaze of Locherbie-Cameron fury (I was appallingly well-behaved) but several of my friends were made to stammer out their pathetic (and usually untrue) excuses before her steely gaze, before leaving the room sadder, weaker people.

When I went back to Bangor for an MA, I appeared to have passed the ML-C test and I discovered a woman of enormous generosity, kindness, wit and intellect and regretted not taking more of her courses as an undergraduate.

I don't think she'd have thrived as an academic now: large classes, pressure to publish any old thing to suit metrics, pedagogical fads, funding cuts, buzzwords and bullshitters would not have been to her taste.

Rumours that she is the Margaret Locherbie-Cameron who wrote such 1950s romances as Will Madam Step This Way and Nurse Kathleen: A Romance of Hospital Life are sadly unconfirmed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It was her mother, also called Margaret Locherbie-Cameron, who wrote the series of romantic children`s novels-they were written to pay for her daughter`s education. A few are still available on Amazon but not recommended.