Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Stan Cruddy Story (part 2) - The Beat Goes On!

Train throws wind through tunnel
Platform of people sighs
Oh shit! Where's my fuggin' ticket?

(from 'Northern Lines', 1966)

Thus we begin the second part of the thrilling story of Stan Cruddy, Tefl's most uncelebrated and unacknowledged teacher and methodologist, with one of his very first 'haiku poems', written during his students days at the Stockwell Higher Institute of Technology and Education (SHITE) in the mid-to-late 1960s.

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.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

More absurd nonsense from the Mcmanus one. Why do you bother, Sandy? Maybe you should get out more, find a proper hobby, or just take on a few private classes - very lucrative, I hear!

Shaun Ryder said...

Aye, feasibly San' might be fritterin' away 'is time, Anonymous.
But not as much as you are, Anonymous, you fookin' 'yprocritical, feckless coont. Why fookin' read it if you don't fookin' like it? Twat.

The TEFL Tradesman said...

Yeh, damn right, Shaunie! Anyway, what's wrong with a bit of light entertainment on this blog, eh? Makes a change from all that serious stuff, dunnit!

But I do like that construction "absurd nonsense". It's a bit of a metaphor for teaching in EFL, innit!

ayuko hirodashi said...

to shaun ryder
What is this language you speak.
I think it is rubbish.
Try better

Dr F Kim said...

ayuko-san,
don't mess with mijn friend shaun ryder. japanese always think they is perfekt.

soon korea take over japan and make you learn the korean language. i will teach shaun korean and then he will be your teacher.

The TEFL Tradesman said...

'Ere, watch it you two - I'll not have this blog-posting hijacked by a couple of squinty-eyed Asian masturbators. I won't!

Anyway, nobody wants to learn Japanese, OR Korean. And Chinese is only for the take-away people who can't cook. No, keep it English, mate - that's what I say.

Shaunie's a very good teacher of EFL actually, especially after he's got himself 'inspired' on a bong or two. After all, teaching is three parts inspiration and one part perspiration ... is that right?

Sandy Kim's father said...

Yet Maang! [fook off in Thai] WE slice en dice you in take-away

The TEFL Tradesman said...

Ach, yer great big pussy, above. Take one step near me and I'll set one of my lizard-men on you. Then you'll be sorry!