Mr. Stonehouse looked so old and we thought of him as a real fruitcake. Thin hair on top of a head that seemed so pointy: or maybe it just seemed pointy because there was not a lot of hair to hide the top of his head. He always wore trousers with pleats so sharp you could sharpen a pencil with them, a tie, and a tartan coat. It wasn’t a loud tartan but a mixture of subdued tans and light browns. He wore horn rimmed glasses, the type that are fashionable now. They were probably Ray-Ban Wayfarer or ClubMaster. Each class once a week was always the same. We sat two to a desk facing the front of the room: there were four rows of desks. When books and pencils were out and hands clasped on the desk Mr. Stonehouse would get up from the chair at his table, and walk to the edge to step onto the slightly raised platform at the front of the room and approach his blackboard. He would reach down for a stick of chalk, raise it to his mouth and lick it and then with his back to the 4 rows of desks create with blazing speed the working out to solve for X for a simple linear equation. The front of the room was a cloud of suspended chalk dust and it would settle on Mr. Stonhouse’s shoulders and thinning hair.
There was no talking allowed in class. We would all sit quietly with our desk mate and diligently copy what Mr. Stonehouse had created on the blackboard. Sometimes he would slowly turn from the board, face the class and slowly ask a baffling question. John Colville and Robert Ballard’s hands always went up first: like a horse out of the starting gate. They were the brains of form 3AB. Mr. Stonehouse would stop time for several minutes waiting for other hands to slowly go up before pointing at a raised hand. That was the only talking allowed: answering a Mr. Stonehouse question. Sometimes the urge to talk without being asked a Mr. Stonehouse question was overwhelming and a few words were shared with a desk mate in hushed whispers.
We waited for Mr. Stonehouse to be hidden in another cloud of chalk dust created from another solution for X in another simple linear equation before letting the whisper escape. No sooner had the guilty whisper escaped then Mr. Stonehouse would spin around, extend his arm, and point at the guilty whisperer with his stick of chalk. Mr. Stonehouse would leave the board and walk to his table and reach into his chalk box and remove his leather strap. Sometimes it would be six of the best for the guilty whisperer. No talking allowed in Mr. Stonehouse’s class.
We always wondered how he did it: no one had eyes in the back of their head. It’s only now that I realize Mr. Stonehouse wasn’t just some old third form mathematics teacher He was adopting and using wearable technologies. He understood and was applying classic Fresnel Formula to the laws of refraction and reflection of light. As he faced the dark board he would see an image of the class on his glasses.
I wonder if Mr. Stonhouse’s glasses could video record for later playback so he could review his board work.