Indeed, Stan's first contribution to the teaching profession was his haiku poetry, which he taught to some of his very first students. In this artform, although it is almost impossible to single out any particular style or format or subject matter as being definitively Stan's, he attempted to replace the traditional 'contrast and compare' approach of haiku, in which two natural events, images, or situations are juxtaposed, with a more urban and contemporary range of subject matter, including certain more 'modernist' topics such as fare-bunking, illicit sex, and overt affiliation to narcotic substances.
The sharp rain of the morning's cold shower
grates like a sizzling kebab on my parched skin
Oh, I should never have shagged that little Paki tart last night!
To return to Stan's EFL career, after leaving the services of the local unemployment exchange, he chose to work as a volunteer ESL teacher in the burgeoning Indian communities of the Tooting Broadway of the era, rather than waste his time and money in the pubs of his native Tooting Bec. Although the attractions of an almost permanent supply of free curry and cheap beer must have been strong, Stan soon became aware that the booze was keeping him from the long term effort needed to become a respected EFL teacher and, more importantly, to produce a successful EFL course book.
Contemporary reports state that Stan was usually in bed by early evening, having been drinking since his first morning class had finished at 9:30 a.m. Given these rather extreme personal circumstances, it is amazing he managed to turn up for classes at all – sometimes as early as 8:00 a.m. – and legend has it he often taught in a drunken stupor for days on end, later retiring to The Trinity Road Tandoori to give poetry recitals to the restaurant’s regulars on Friday and Saturday nights. Newspaper interviews then followed, as well as a column in The Bedford Hill Informer, plus the occasional spot of television work, appearing in adverts for hangover pills and a wide range of stomach-settling concoctions.
It was on just one such occasion that Stan Cruddy give his first and only interview to a professional journal, proclaiming himself to be a little-known methodologist, inventor of ‘The Silent Way’, post-modern haiku poet, and irrepressible joint-roller and drunkard. My colleagues at the EL Gazette have revealed the following:
"The interview had to be carefully planned, as in order to get Stan to talk coherently for more than ten minutes, he had to be kept away from the bottle. It was therefore scheduled to take place at the ELG offices early on a Saturday morning, so that he could get back home to Tooting Broadway before the pubs opened. However, the wily Cruddy managed to escape the journalist’s vigilance by disappearing to the toilet. When he was finally hauled out, some twenty minutes later, he was as drunk as a lord. He had concealed a small bottle of whisky in his jacket, and had managed to down the lot while the journalist was making a few phone calls.
Yet somehow the interview went ahead, with the ever-more voluble Stan demanding more drink as he rambled on – with the result that on the only surviving recording of his voice, we hear a man slurring his well-chosen words, obviously very drunk. Although the interview was praised by the ELG editor as 'an early classic of an EFL misfit staking out the future of teaching methodology', it was unprintable in the Britain of the early 1970s, and hardly represents a fitting tribute to its subject."
However, by the late 1960s, Cruddy had somehow managed to put together two ground-breaking course books, "English Up My Arse" (1968) and "The Balham Bus-depot Archives" (1969). A draft for a third course book, "Mind the Gap: English for the Northern Line", was unfortunately lost on a bus to Brixton in 1970, and from this tragic moment on Stan moved to Spain and devoted his life to perambulating private language schools and perfecting the techniques of The Silent Way. Although both his course books have their bright moments, neither are as well regarded as his earlier attempts at perfecting the urban haiku for E2L students.
These, then, were the conditions in which the humble Stan Cruddy began to develop his famous (some say infamous) Silent Way method of teaching English. The rest, as they say, is history: first, the unfortunate story of Stan trading his unique Silent Way techniques with Caleb Gattegno a year later, in exchange for a fortnight-long orgy with a band of Bangkok lady-boys; and second, his untimely demise in a fire in a Chinese brothel (pictured alongside) in 1990.
However, the path marked out by Cruddy is still being followed today, with works such as "English Upside Down" and "Blowjob English: A textbook for the sex trade" owing much to Stan’s spirited complexities and his unique approach to teaching the language. Of course, whether they’ve captured Cruddy’s lightness, his hidden humour, or his equally well-concealed charm, is another matter entirely.
In retrospect, it is hardly surprising that a habitual drunkard with bad breath and no teaching qualifications slid into obscurity after disappearing into the ill-considered language schools of Europe and the Far East; his ill-timed death attracted no attention at all at the time. And yet … perhaps if just one of his many publishers had accepted his later masterwork of the mid-1970s, "One part pissed, two parts stoned", or if Cruddy had had the self-confidence (and remained sober enough for long enough) to try and eventually succeed in placing it elsewhere, the course of EFL methodology might well have been very different.