Thursday, September 01, 2005

Chance meetings with Tennesseans

If you're reading this in America, the South or particularly in Tennessee a chance meeting with a Tennessean may not seem like a big deal to you, but for me it's a noteworthy occurrence. So here's my note.

The first meeting wasn't entirely by chance. After all I had met this particular Tennessean once before and he's a friend of a friend whose birthday drinks I attended last night. My friend originally from Somerset had two Tennesseans, two South Africans, a Californian and the Vol-in-Law (Northern Ireland) in attendance. This kind of transnational anglophone gathering is not uncommon in London. A good time was had by all and too much wine was consumed at a subterranean wine bar called The Cork and Bottle just off Leicester Square in the heart of Theatreland.

Me and the other Tennessean mused about about school being cancelled for Katrina in Nashville and then chuckled over school being cancelled for the threat of snow in TN.

I asked him where he went to high school and he said Hume Fogg. "Oh, the smart kid school" I said. He cringed. I asked him if he'd had Bill Brown for English, and he said unfortunately he hadn't but he'd heard what a wonderful experience it was. So just to let him feel at home I told him that indeed it was a wonderful experience, I'd had him in the 7th grade at West End Jr High. Bill Brown was an amazing teacher. It was truly an inspirational experience being taught by him. I know he's retired (I can't believe that it's been over 20 years since I was in his class) but I believe I heard from someone that he had died. The person who told me this wasn't sure it was true. I certainly hope that the rumors of his death are very much exaggerated.

My other chance meeting with a Tennessean wasn't with a genuine Tennessean. I was speaking on a work matter with a client (we have a sort of help desk) and she asked me about my accent and where I was from. When I told her she said that her family was from TN and that even though she sounded British she clearly still felt some link with the state. She said that her family was from Townsend, and she was amazed when I told her that I had been through there many times. She then asked me if I could remember the name of the old village in the mountains. I hazarded Cades Cove and she was so excited "that's it" she said. "I wanted to take my daughter there."

That's me, always happy to help. I was able to give some assistance on the work query,too.


melusina said...

I went to Hume Fogg, and did have Bill Brown for an English and Creative Writing teacher. I knew he had retired but I hadn't heard that he died. I really, really hope that isn't true. He was still pretty young when I had him, granted it was 20 years ago that I graduated, but even so, I don't imagine he would be more than 60 or 65 now.

He is someone I will never, ever forget. He taught me how to have "furniture" in my poems. =)

Vol Abroad said...

Hey, I've searched around the Internet but can't see anything recent on him. I..
a) hope it isn't true
b) hope I haven't caused any distress but putting that up...

but I really want to know that it's not true

melusina said...

I have been thinking all day if I am still in contact with someone who might know (students who were quite close to him and his wife), but I believe I have lost contact with them. I'll have to see if I can't find out.

Well, while it would be distressing for Bill Brown to have passed away, I suppose I should expect my teachers to die eventually. But I don't think you can ever really be prepared for it.