Hasmo Legends III: Cyril, aka Mr. Bloomberg

Arguably the greatest Hasmo Legend is the school’s former French master, Mr. Alan Bloomberg, known to all merely as “Cyril”. So numerous and wonderful are the stories surrounding this man that thousands of North West Londoners who never even attended Hasmonean are familiar with the nickname. I have never heard a definitive explanation of its origins – in fact, the only one I have heard relates to the Nice one, Cyril record, inspired by the former Tottenham Hotspur left-back Cyril Knowles – but it fit the slight, eccentric Swansean perfectly, and stuck (though, of course, no one dared call him it to his face).

The large majority of teachers at Hasmonean could be divided into eccentrics, sadists and downright lunatics. That Cyril fits into the first category is a testament to a humanity and humour, however weird, not displayed by too many of his staffroom colleagues. As a result, while Cyril’s eccentricities might have been ridiculed, he was not disliked.

Bring together two or more thirty to fifty-something ex-Hasmo boys, and they will soon regale you with the most wonderfully entertaining stories pertaining to Cyril and his French lessons. I can vividly recall desperately trying to get to sleep every Monday evening, to hasten the arrival, on Tuesday afternoons, of double French, an hour and a half of unbridled hilarity. And I can honestly say that, if I could choose to revisit any ninety minutes of my life, I would not select a memorable “conquest” or a game of football (even my beloved Leeds United effectively clinching the First Division Championship at Bramall Lane in 1992), but just one of Cyril’s French lessons.

Cyril was meticulous to a fault. If we had overpowered him, pinned him to the floor, and forcibly measured the length of each bristle of his trademark pencil-thin moustache, I am certain that we would have found a range differential of no more than a tenth of a millimetre. He kept immaculate records of attendance and test results. And, if he made a mistake, he would pull out a tiny penknife from his inside pocket and scrape the infringing ink off the paper.

My personal favourite Cyril story – and, no doubt, that of most of my former Form 1BK classmates (see photograph below, a year later, with Cyril, our Form 2AB form master) – actually dates back to our first ever lesson with him, in Room 13, in our first week at Hasmonean, circa September 1978 . . .

Cyril compiled his register for the coming year by going through the alphabet and asking boys to raise their hands when he called the letter matching their surname. A hapless Israeli, with very poor English, put his hand up when Cyril called “A”. “Yes,” he said eagerly, “Amnon”. Then, some half an hour later, when Cyril had reached “Z”, Amnon put his hand up yet again. “Zakaim,” he said, rather more gingerly this time, the penny having dropped. Cyril went absolutely mental, his brand new register ruined on the very first day of the new school year. He probably spent that entire evening scraping through thirty-odd names (Zakaim left the school shortly afterwards, probably delighted to get back to the relative normality of Israel, never to be heard from again . . . though he will remain forever in our hearts).

Mencer, Topol, Schuldenfrei, Leigh, Meyers, Barak, Lange, Hazan.

Form 2AB (circa 1979) Front row: Gittelmon, Whitefield, Nachshon, Winer, Reiss. 2nd row: Kenley, Frank, Elbaz, Cohen A, Alexander, Amini (z"l), Cohen J. 3rd row: Bolour, Melcer, Yarrow, Israel D, Israel A, Hakimian, Schneider (who Cyril would later, when he first laid eyes on the developed photograph, absolutely bollock for wearing Reactolite lenses!), Yours Truly, Cyril. Back row: Mencer, Topol, Schuldenfrei, Leigh, Myers, Barak, Lange, Hazan.

Cyril punished misbehaviour by dishing out what he called “sides”. “Take four sides” (the minimum), he would bark, “two on Obedience and two on Sensible and Decent Behaviour” (preceded, sometimes, by “You’ve wasted my time, now I’m going to waste yours“). Oddly, for such a resourceful man, he never came up with any new topics, which made things difficult for repeat offenders, who had nothing new to add on the subjects. We would fill the “sides” with absolute drivel (“I must be obedient, because it is important to be obedient, because obedience is important . . .”), after it became clear that Cyril never took them home for evening reading.

Cyril would dismiss boys from class with a cry of “Get out, you lout!” And, with the exception of his “star pupils” (Bassous and Coren in our class), who could do no wrong, the rest of us were all, at one time or another, referred to as “wretched creatures that you are”.

Unlike some of his sadistic colleagues, however, Cyril rarely resorted to violence, a quick and incisive wit (if, again, weird) being his weapon of choice. There was, however, one occasion on which he pulled three boys – Garfinkel, Kelly and Kenley – into our classroom (Room 12, I think, “over the bridge”), for making faces through its window. Cyril had his back to the door at the time, and my perennial partner in mischief, Grant Morgan, and I – who had been banished to stand at the back of the class earlier in the lesson – had grassed the three up in the classic fashion: “Sir, there are these boys . . .” Yanking each one in turn by his sideburns, from their standing positions downwards (as if shaking a lulav), while yelling “Stop annoying meeee” (at increased volume with each victim), one half expected the sides of each of their faces to be ripped off from ear to chin. And the looks of shock on those faces as a result of the unexpectedly vicious assault – I can still picture Kenley’s exactly, over 25 years later – had Morgan and I laughing so hard that we were reduced to our haunches.

Cyril’s lessons, even more than most at Hasmo (as it gave more daring boys an opportunity to test his famous unpredictability), were frequently interrupted by requests for spare chairs. On one occasion, this happened so often that Cyril became infuriated, vowing that “the next boy who knocks on this door is gonna be for it” (another one of Cyril’s favoured expressions). And we didn’t have long to wait. Cyril rushed to the door, an enraged Welsh dragon puffing smoke, and pulled it open in order to administer another Chinese haircut. . . until we heard the now famous words: “Oh! Sorry, Mr. Chichios!”

Cyril possessed a wonderful sense of both drama and comic timing. It was as if the classroom was his stage. And his performances were usually captivating. He would read out examination results in ascending order. On one occasion, he reached the top mark without having called the name of Marc Reiss. Lifting Reiss’s red ink-covered exam paper to the class, as if it was diseased and he didn’t really want to be touching it, Cyril commented that marking it was “like wading through a sewer”.

Cyril, on his "stage"

Cyril, on his "stage"

Even though they would be sitting right in front of him, Cyril employed the highly effective dramatic device of referring to errant pupils in the third person, beginning sentences with “This boy . . .”  Indeed, one of Cyril’s favourite putdowns was “He is like an idiot. No. He is not like an idiot . . . he is an idiot!”

True, Cyril enjoyed the odd cringeworthy play on French words – for example, “Toute suite” (the instruction he would give his wife [who, for some reason, we referred to as “Agnes”] when she picked him up from school), and “Was he pushed? No, Eiffel” – but he also possessed a wonderful turn of phrase, coming out with some truly memorable lines:

  • He would occasionally regale us with tales of his post-war military service in Burma, but – not being able to imagine him in the pith helmet he was obviously so fond of – I once asked Cyril what he was doing in the army, to which he fired back “What do you think I was doing? Sipping cocktails?!”
  • He summed up his contempt for football by describing it as “22 grown men chasing a pig’s bladder”.
  • And, Cyril’s amusing nicknames for pupils tended to stick – Anthony Levy, for instance, who once hesitated with an answer, became “Errr Levy” for the remainder of his Hasmonean days.

Every few weeks, Cyril would administer a test for revision purposes, with each boy’s answers being marked by the boy sitting in front of or behind him (“mark out of twenty, sign your name, and pass it back in the usual manner”). Cyril would comment on each mark individually, ranging from “very good indeed” down to some expletive or other, with all those just clearing double-figures being greeted with the term “scraper”. More cheating occurred in those tests than in most middle-class suburbs of Paris, seeing as a single-figure mark resulted in “extra work”. It was remarkable that Cyril so rarely became suspicious that the vast majority of marks fell into the “scraper” category. And, to this day, I have never heard of a half being referred to, as it was by Cyril, as “ten and one half”.

No nightmares now, boys!

No nightmares now, boys!

Other than “Un bon vin blanc” (Cyril’s demonstration of the full range of French sounds), “Bonjour monsieur” and “Asseyez-vous” – our greeting to, and reply from, Cyril on his entry to the classroom (with his books piled perfectly one on top of the other) – hardly any of us can now speak a useful word of French. That is, however, less the fault of Cyril, and more that of the then archaic syllabus. Judging by the appallingly unimaginative Lectures (French texts), the publishers of our textbooks, Whitmarsh, were obviously oblivious to the fact that anyone in France was called anything other than “Jean” or “Marie”.

In fact, the full extent of our practical exposure to all things Gallic consisted of a one-day ferry trip to Boulogne . . . from which we returned with no French, but plenty of flick knives (don’t ask me why) and pornographic playing cards (no need to ask why). When a more progressive French teacher joined the school, and dared to set her own, more practical examinations, Cyril – fearing his hegemony was being challenged – would refer to her merely as “the wretched Mrs. Samuels”.

We knew how to push Cyril’s ‘buttons’, and they rarely failed to work . . .

  • He had particular contempt for those boys – in our group, Reiss, Mencer and, of course, Elbaz (or “Elll-baz” as Cyril referred to him) – who should, hearing French at home, have been better at it. When any of them underperformed, we would generally prompt him with “Sir, that boy is French-speaking.” And Cyril rarely failed to take the bait, hissing “Yesss . . . French-speaking.”
  • Cyril didn’t like his routine disrupted, which he felt it was by the fourth year Israel Trip, a one-month study visit to Jerusalem, attended by about a third of his French class. Following our return, he scornfully blamed every underperformance by any of us on the trip. The class would gleefully, in unison, greet every wrong answer or low test result with “Sir, that boy was on the Israel Trip.” And Cyril, again, would always rise to the bait . . . even when the boy in question hadn’t even been on the trip!
  • Even a seemingly straightforward request by a pupil to remove his school blazer could be blown up into a major incident. Cyril, commencing with his trademark “Hmmm . . .”, could deliberate on such a request for several minutes – weighing up the weather conditions, whether he himself  felt the need to remove his jacket, etc – before reaching a decision (and would sometimes even hand out “sides” to the maker of the request for, irony of all ironies, wasting the class’s time).

We were more than willing participants in the drama of Cyril’s classroom. For example, Morgan, who always marked Elbaz’s tests (as we always sat in the same places), was ever keen to expose the “French-speaker’s” mistakes to Cyril and the class, whilst pretending that he wasn’t aware of the boy’s identity: “Sir, this boy,” he would begin, holding up Elbaz’s exercise book. When Cyril would enquire whose work Morgan was marking (even though he knew), Morgan –  who had been marking the same exercise book for months – would, theatrically, slowly examine the name inscribed on the front cover. “It’s Elbaz, sir . . .”

Paul Kaufman used to use French lessons as a vehicle for his impressive and amusing take on Call My Bluff. On one occasion, he succeeded in convincing Cyril that the French word bas (meaning “low”) derives from deep-swimming sea bass. Cyril was taken in for some time, until – when it dawned on him (probably assisted by us) that Kaufman was selling him a whopper – he suddenly exclaimed his renowned “Wait a minute!” (which sounded more like “Wayderminnit”), and ‘rewarded’ Kaufman with a generous helping of “sides”.

In fact, there was no greater challenge or enjoyment than getting Cyril to dish out “sides” to a classmate. On one occasion, Whitefield, too academic to be a “lout” or a “wretch”, but wanting to be part of the fun and games, started mimicking Cyril’s trademark “Ohhh” sound (which sounded similar to Loh [the Hebrew for “no”], and – though I have never had the pleasure –  how I imagine a Welshman sounds on reaching the height of sexual arousal). Boys would often mimic this sound within earshot of Cyril, and then scarper. On this occasion, Morgan and I, sitting behind Whitefield, and sensing the opportunity, egged him on. The noises got louder and louder, and Cyril, cunning to a fault, pretended not to hear them . . . until he pounced. Suddenly regretting his ill-conceived departure from “Swotdom”, Whitefield turned round to us, entreating “It wasn’t me, was it?” He couldn’t complete the question, however, before our heads started nodding vigorously, providing Cyril with the confirmation he required.

Mr. Bloomberg was a cultured man (certainly more so than most of his colleagues), once even taking us to the opera, La Traviata. . . something he probably regretted, when one “wretch” (either Kenley or Gittelmon if I recall correctly) rolled an empty soft drink can down the aisle, causing a racket (and, no doubt, more anti-Semitism amongst the British middle-classes).

Mr. Bloomberg, who is now in his eighties, still lives in Hendon (we attended the same synagogue, Raleigh Close, where one of his former pupils, Mordechai Ginsbury, is now his Rabbi). He enjoyed his retirement, going on regular cruises with his wife, but was also struck by tragedy, in 2001, when his daughter-in-law Techiya was killed, and son Stephen and granddaughter Tzippi paralysed from the waist down, in a drive-by shooting by Palestinian terrorists.

Mr. Bloomberg, thank you for all those happy hours and memories. On behalf of all your ex-Hasmo pupils, I wish you all the very best.

"Don't take that photograph, you wretch!!"

"Don't take that photograph, you wretch!!"

[Thanks to “That’s not French, that’s Morgan” for helping to jog my memory of Cyrilisms. Next on Hasmo Legends, “Sid” or “Chich” . . . haven’t yet decided which! And if any of you have any good Hasmo photos, especially of Legends, please get in touch.]

Next on Hasmo Legends, Part IV: Sick in the Head – Mr. Chichios


394 responses to “Hasmo Legends III: Cyril, aka Mr. Bloomberg

  1. Terrific, as usual.
    The “not daring to call him Cyril to his face” was not entirely precise however. Grunewald, labelled a true lout of the highest order, and rightly so, when asked to say in french what he had for breakfast, said that he had had “Cyril for breakfast”.
    “What, What is this lout saying?” and Grunewald joyfully repeated his previous sentence precisely. Now, you may remember, Cyril rarely spoke directly to the culprit, but conferred with the rest of the class, as if to justify his opinion and recieve class approval.
    This discourse must have continued for several moments, until Grunewald, thinking that if Cyril would get any redder in the face smoke may actually come out of his ears, said “you know, breakfast cereal”. The joy and relief on dear Bloombergs face when realizing that it was all a misunderstanding and no-one was taking the piss after all remains implanting in my brain till this day. The rest of the lesson was dedicated to french culinary habits, of which our welshman knew very little at all.

  2. I’ve just about recovered from the pain of laughing so much. Schneider…yes, what a wretch for “deliberately” sabotaging that photo.

    Mike, you really encapsulated Cyril so well. He really was THE LEGEND of Hasmo, and he really did have an inner kindness beneath the querqy exterior. I remember the great sympathy and concern he showed for Paul Kaufman, who sporting a black Moshe Dayan eye-patch, explained to Cyril (with a straight face) his debilitating ophthalmic ailment. (Everyone in the class was wetting themselves).Of course the next lesson Al Walters saw right through this charade, and pulled back the patch’s elastic fully 50cm before releasing.

    One of my worst experiences in my entire life was the Oral exam for O-level French. But Cyril, who could have chosen to wax his moustache in the staff-room, chose to sit outside The Old Middle Library (Rm 13), to give his charges some moral support. After the chastening experience of hearing French for the first time with a French accent, rather than a Swansea accent, I exited and sat down with Cyril for a debriefing. ‘Well, Lange?” he asked sympathetically. “I think it went Ok, Sir”. I then explained how actually I was a bit unsure, as I didn’t know what “Le Piscine” was. I told him that I had guessed and thought it was an alternative for toilet…..silence…his expression changed to one of disgust, and then “well, that was a bit stupid, you idiot”. Of course I got an “F” for the oral (not even close to being a “scraper”), and failed overall. But I look back at this episode with THE LEGEND with great affection, – this summed up Cyril – he meant well, and those who understood him, hold a not inconsiderable affection for the man…….עד 120.

  3. While he may rarely have resorted to violence, one of my more vivid recollections is of coming down the main staircase to an open doored room 1 just in time to see Cyril dragging Terry Maslin across the front of his class by his decidedly non-religious sideburns.

    My earliest experience of the brylcreamed wonder however was during our first French lesson in 1ML. As usual he began the year by going through the class register.

    All seemed to be going off without a hitch until he reached ‘N’ and the name of Nissim Nissim.

    On discovering that the poor lad had the same first name as surname he doled out sides to the boy on account of his ‘parents having no imagination’. What an introduction to the man!

    And so began the fun years of French until Cyril was assigned the C group and I was put in the B group with the Mr Tarrant – he of oddly knobbly legs and timeless Prince Valiant syrup. Thank heavens for music lessons…

  4. Yitzchak Landau

    Mike – fantastic blog! Our final lesson before our O Level exam was, not as you might expect, a revison session but, unbelievably a homework marking lesson (incidentally, how come no-one ever questioned the fact that at least 25% of our total weekly lesson time was taken up with marking homework which should have been marked by Mr Bloomberg!). We decided en masse that, for once we would all give our genuine marks out of 10 and that even those boys who had done well would artificially lower their score.

    When it came time to call out our marks, there followed a procession of noughts, halves, ones and twos, with a six and a half being the top score from the one boy who had refused to be party to our cunning plan (incidentally, this boy once managed to get nought out of twenty in a multiple choice test which so bemused Mr Bloomberg that he couldn’t actually think of an appropriate response, as the law of averages would have surely meant getting at least a couple right!).

    As the marks were called out, Mr Bloomberg became angrier and redder with each name until, at the final mark he practically exploded and, to this day, I can remember his exact words to us – “get out the lot of you – this is the rubbishiest class I have ever had”!!! Yes, he really did say “rubbishiest” – good job he wasn’t an English teacher!

    What a bunch of louts!

  5. By the time I arrived at the school Cyril was winding down and teaching Music more than French.

    Those lessons in the Third Year would consist of Cyril talking about his favourite compostions and then playing themto us on his antique portable record player.

    Nobody paid much attention to the music and pretty much everyone used it as an opportunity to relax with their head down “concentrating” on the music.

    In one particular lesson Cyril announced that he was about to play a piece of music by James Gallway. He held up the album sleeve and it was called “JAMES GALLWAY PLAYS THE FLUTE”.

    Cyril asked “Do any of you uncultured louts know what instrument James Gallway plays?”

    Nobody seemed to notice and I put my hand up and with a touch of innocence in my voice said “Is it the Flute sir?”

    “Well Done” Cyril beemed…..”at least somebody here knows something about good music!”

    The rest of the class looked on in disbelief……….

  6. Daniel Greenspan

    One classic Cyril line that’s still with me (although I’ve forgotten the miserable wretch’s name), flowed freely from him on receipt of 6 ‘sides’, no doubt on the subject of “Sensible and Decent Behavior”…

    “Why are these sides written in pencil? Next time you give in sides, they should be written in pen. When you write sides in pencil, they look as if they’ve been written using carbon paper…. …. …. WAIT A MINUTE! This is carbon paper….”

    …no doubt resulting in 12 (“doubled!”) sides, this time written properly…

    Thanks for the great blog. I guess I’m going to have to start compiling ‘Flop’ anecdotes in preparation …

  7. The recollections left me mirthful all morning although it would be falling short of our duty to not recall that the Great Man’s prescribed method of inscribing homework was ‘on alternate lines by Monday…’
    I was reminded of an occasion during my junior years when, as I descended the main staircase, I spied a lone, loutish, 4th year proceeding along the main corridor. As he passed the French room he rapped sharply on the door without breaking his stride and continued on his way. Moments later the door cracked open just enough admit Cyril’s puzzled visage before he retreated back into his den.

  8. Shimon Soester-Soreq

    Before the Israel trip, I went for an injection. I arrived back to class 4AB , just after Cyril had taken the register and greeted me with his famous “You’re late”. I was chided for causing him to scrape away the “A” for absent in the register . The discussion that followed was how to define preventive medicine – “I” for ill , or “T” for treatment , as treatment usually followed illness , but not pre-illness treatment. Any other human being would have been joking (unless he was a j.s. teacher trying to teach Gemara) – but Cyril was serious

  9. moshe shatzkes

    hi mike, excellent, well worth the wait and build up. just one thing, if you didnt get 10 or more in the weekly test and therefore we not a “scraper” you got “test extra” not “extra work”.

  10. The legend that was Daniel “Molly” Marks used to randomly hand out hundreds of pages of paper on the 240 bus to passengers, and ask them to please fill the pages with anything they liked.

    Next day, when Cyril gave Marks “4 sides”, Marks kept arguing his innocence, and Cyril kept doubling the imposition. Eventually Cyril completely lost his rag and screamed at Marks, “You wretched creature ! 64 sides, by tomorrow!”

    Cool as a cucumber, Marks delved into his jacket pocket, removed wads of paper, thrusted it in Cyril’s face, and said, “Done Sir”.

    Cyril then proceeded to pull Marks’s very long hair out by the roots, and beat the c**p out of him. Still makes me chuckle !

  11. moshe shatzkes

    another gag cyril would enjoy was if someone had a cough, or if someone was just coughing alot to add to the general melee, the great man would say “it’s not the cough you cough in, it’s the coffin they carry you off in”

  12. And, “I opened the window and influenza”

  13. I remember coming in late to Cyrils lesson after being slippered 6 times by Flop the previous lesson ! The normal punishment would have been to stand up the entire lesson which I would have been happy to do BUT he insisted that I sat down which of course was agony!
    A great blog Mike … looking forward to the AB and Greenberg installments….I do think that most people would prefer a French lesson at any time than to watch Leeds though!

  14. In my day, lad, it were definitely known as “extra work”!

    This post was difficult to write, as I am still hoping (perhaps naively) that non-ex Hasmos might also enjoy the Legends. But can one truly convey the theatre of Cyril’s French lessons to someone who never actually experienced them?!

    Marc Reiss reminded me of yet another story, on the way into work this morning . . .

    One French lesson was interrupted by a fire alarm, and – not requiring too much persuasion – we all rushed into the playground, where we lined up, registers were taken, etc.

    About half an hour later, we all wandered back to Room 2 . . . only to behold Cyril, “cool as a cucumber”, slowly descending the stairs in his coat and trilby!

    What a character! Come to think of it, there was something rather Rowan Atkinsonesque (both Blackadder and Bean) about the man.

  15. Why did Cyril insist on writing with that tiny pencil. Legend has it that he said he’d retire when his pencil ran out.

    I experienced many exciting music lessons. He would always say (in his unique accent, well unique for a boy from NW London) “It takes a few moments to play in”. 10 minutes later we would still be waiting, as he realised the pause button was on.

    Still remember Udi Moche (definitely a candidate for the louts and wretched delinquents), sitting at the back of a lesson. He had forgotten to do his sides, quickly scribbling them out in time for Cyril to collect them.
    Another time the same Moche (Joughin could never grasp his name), being asked for his sides, emptying his blazer pockets, creating a huge pile of papers. Then folded it all up and put it back in his pocket. Never giving any sides in, Cyril in the mean time appeared to forget.

  16. mitchell taylor

    yes what memories of cyril……..
    he would enter the room ….stand in front of the class ………put both hands in his pockets and head slightly elevated he would twitch his moustache and murmer hmmmmmmmmm
    i never quite managed to find the french meaning
    LOL great memories we love you cyril

  17. Okay, my Cyril Bloomberg tale. To our sheer delight it was to transpire that Cyril Bloomberg would be our form teacher one year, it was a magnificent year when tachanun was rarely said. Early on our esteemed teacher made it clear to us that his form had always raised more Zeddaka than any other class and he expected nothing less of us. Unpredictably, we were exceedingly accommodating and an assortment of projects were embarked upon not the least of which being the singing of a stirring anthem composed by the ever accomplished Graham Summers:
    It’s a good thing to give zeddaka.
    And to help those who are poor.
    It’s a good thing to give zeddaka.
    So why not give some more.
    Don’t be tight fisted.
    Turn no man away.
    It’s a good thing to give zeddaka.
    So, give some more today!
    Time went on, we counted our pennies and, indeed, our Pounds were to count themselves. Nearing the end of the year a princely sum had been raised and all that remained was to determine which of the many worthy causes would merit our hard earned fortune.
    There were some obvious candidates, Shaare Zedek, a Yeshiva in London whose name eludes me and other uninspiring suggestions. Then a pupil, whose name I shall not mention for reasons of modesty, suggested Battersea Dogs Home. Cyril’s first initial reaction was to ridicule the idea, assuming it would rejected by everyone without further ado.
    However, this was our school master’s fatal error. He had thoroughly misunderstood the psyche of the Hasmonean. There was hardly a pupil who would not have merrily up his last penny if it meant incensing Cyril and there was sudden overpowering support for the canine haven. Mr Bloomberg was seeing black and visualizing his disgrace when Mr. Stanton (ZL) would, during some prosaic assembly, proclaim the results of our endeavors and then divulge to one and all who would be the proud recipients of our labors, not Homo sapiens and worse still not Jewish.
    A vote was taken but it was redundant, only one or two were not overwhelmed by an inexplicable sudden love of man’s best friend. It was a rout, a landslide, total victory.
    The end of our story is less important. Cyril begrudgingly acknowledged defeat but stipulated that the poor mutts would receive but 10%, the rest going to a more “worthy cause” and needless to say the incident was never to be reach the ears of Mr. W.W.W (“I fear I have said to many Ws”) Stanton.

  18. Schneider Saul (Not the little one in the picture)

    This is the best cure I have found to date to the depression called the Credit Crunch. I have tears streaming down my sides and will think about this all evening. There really is nothing better than an evening spent retelling Hasmonean stories.

    Unfortunately for us Schneiders, not only was our family from Swansea and we often heard “I know your grandfather”, we were also nobbled by our connection to Madame Schneider!!!

  19. Lawrence Hajioff

    Great blog Mike Thanks!

    I lived through five years of being in Cyril’s French “C” level group, never learning a word of French in all my years of being there…quite an accomplishment in and of itself really!

    However my best memories were not French, but Music with Cyril. I had heard from friends at other schools, Habs and UCS, that they had “real” music lessons, like learning how to play an instrument or something. I would be ashamed to admit that our music teacher, took out an old record player, made us sit and listen to Beethoven on album for 40 minutes!!!

    Having Cyril grab you by the hair on the back of your head and bang your noggin against the table for “insolence” was also very funny…when happening to a classmate…

    He actually once shared with me his passion for very short pencils. He would shave down pencils with his pocket knife to have them extremely short and then use them….

    A fine man, with a great sense of humor…

    Oh, and Simon Corney has a great story about Micky Roenfeld (now the official Israeli spokeman for police in Israel)…but he needs to tell it…I know he reads this blog, so Simon when you get a chance…

  20. Jeremy Braude

    Fantastic as always !! Can anyone confirm this story – it would have been around the late 70’s or early 80’s (my brother’s year). Apparently some boys found in the Yellow Pages a phone number for a funeral parlour. They called up saying they were a neighbour of Cyril’s and that his wife had died and they needed to pick up the body. The only problem is that the husband is in denial and won’t admit that she’s dead! They hid behind some trees near his house and lo and behold a hearse turned up. They knocked at the door and the boys heard Cyril scream
    ‘ NOOOOOO – she’s not dead – now get out’ !! It took a few minutes until they were convinced !

  21. Lawrence Hajioff

    Oh, and the ‘cidella’ is a submarine…because it lives under the “C”!!

  22. Amazing. We learnt absolutely nothing in French and yet we all echo Mike’s sentiments and have a certain regard and affection for the man.
    Cyril was, like Tony Blair; “Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime”. So, for example if one boy asked a harmless and innocent question and another boy called out a stupid answer, BOTH would get awarded “sides”. The second for his stupidity, but the first boy for asking the question which prompted the stupidity in the first place!
    There was also an absolute rigid adherence to process in in dealing with different situations. If your homework was handed in late, for example; the following would happen: you would still be awarded a mark but written at the top of your homework would be the word “Late!” in red pen. And the same comment would be written again at the end of your homework, but always in a smaller size. Then the actual mark awarded would be written in an even smaller size; as if to signify the potential of a missed opportunity. The procedure never, ever varied.

    But give Cyril his dues; in the disorderly chaos which was Hasmo, he at least instilled some sense of order in his classes. At the end of my first year, I had achieved a stunningly bad exam performance and a report to match. (Two examples: 9% for Maths – which scarily placed me in Mr Elman’s “D” Group for the second year – and 4% in Jewish History with Noddy Lever – whose comment in the report next to the mark was “a great improvement on last term’s work”!). My mother – who unluckily for me was a headmistress so had some inkling of what an education should look like – turned up at Parent’s night and basically gave every single one of my teachers a severe telling off (thus, of course, sealing my fate with most of them for the rest of my school career). Not one teacher could even produce a register or mark book to provide any evidence of them even having known what I was doing. Except for Cyril, of course, whose pristine register listed all my “lates” , 4.5 out of 10 test marks and so on. Even my Mum was impressed.

    Thanks to Cyril, the only words I now know in French are: “le perroquet” (the parrot), “l’encrier” (the inkpot) and “la plume de ma tante” (my auntie’s pen).
    Every time I visit Paris for work-related reasons I live in the hope that an exotic African bird (the avian variety) will fly low over my head, circle three times and then dive into a large inky receptacle belonging to my mother’s sister. Then and only then would I be able to turn to a French colleague and converse fluently with them as to the spectacle I have observed. Still waiting, sadly.

    By the way, Molly Marks. You once burst through the door into Cyril’s lesson and took a photograph of him running towards you, finger pointing accusingly. I’m sure I saw the picture. It depicts the man at his most magnificent – please post it online if it still exists.
    (P.S. Molly Marks – did your mate Arkus really shoot himself through the foot when he was serving in the Israeli Army? Or is that just a Hasmo urban myth?)

  23. Mike and crew, you had me in stiches. I just need to mention a few key phrases and I start cracking up:

    “You wreeeeetched creeeature” was a favourite and the wonderful “scrayypah”.

    I remember sitting next to him on a trip back from somewhere and instead of dreading it, had a great time seeing another side of the man.

    Life has not been kind to him, granted the tragedy he suffered in Israel a number of years back, so don’t be too cruel to the man. He was and is an institution – but underneath it all, he is also a very decent human being, with a pretty wicked sense of humour.

  24. pauly herszaft

    at the last hasmo reunion a couple of years ago cyril brought his wife along , granty and i proceeded to quiz her about him , we asked her had he ever given HER sides ? before she had a chance to answer he just jumped in and said ” no, not yet , but its never too late ” . The man is a true legend of our times , he still had the same jacket on and the bloody pencil with it.

  25. Jeremy, I heard an different version of the funeral story, which I am still not sure whether or not is true.

    Apparently some students called a number of coach companies in his name and put down an order. The next day, a whole row of coaches were lining the length of the street in which he lived.

    When Cyril opened the door, he wasn’t best pleased.

    Is this story true or apocryphal?

    Cyril hated me from the moment I walked into the room, as he knew that French was my mother-tongue. My parents used to really wind him up when they went to parents evening and spoke to him only in French.

    I also haven’t heard anyone else referring to a modern day pen as “une plume”.

  26. To follow on from the first comment, another genius Grunewald moment of chutzpah:

    For some reason Roberg popped into our french lesson to have a word with Cyril. After he left Cyril turned to his class with one his musings and said ‘now I’m pleased to say that you were relatively well behaved when the head walked in’ he was about to continue when Grumewald shot his hand up making noises as if he he was about to explode.

    He turned to the boy and said ‘THIS HAD BETTER BE GOOD – WHAT IS IT?!’ Grunewald replied ‘Sir, Sir whose head walked in?’

    Needless to say he got a hair pull and 8 sides.

  27. regarding cyrils name I have found out from his son Joe the following story which should fill in the blanks:

    The story I heard and relate on this is that a group of boys were watching a film together and that the appearance of one of the characters strongly resembled that of my dad and since that character’s name in the film was Cyril, from then on that name was applied as a nickname to my dad.

    I have to tell you that he quite liked the name and was always grateful that his nickname was such a nice cultured name and not an offensive or otherwise unlikeable name!! Also, parents of pupils, not realising that Cyril was a nickname, often sent Rosh Hashana cards addressed to Mr & Mrs C Bloomberg!!

  28. Mmmm. The highlight, surely, of any Cyril lesson had to be the famous hair pull. Sometimes he would announce it with “Right! I’m going to pull your hair…” but more often he would yell “Come Here!” with an outstretched arm. As the unfortunate wretch would make his way to the front of the class Cyril would launch into the air and latch onto a good shock of the lout’s hair bringing him to his knees (Quite impressive for a man his age).This would inevitably coincide with a cacophony of laughter and a collective shout of “AUUUUGH”.

    An unforgettable confrontation or disappointing lack of one was when Master J. Platt was roaming the playground with a football during classes. It didn’t take him very long to start target practice against Cyril’s plastic, classroom windows. Like an artillery gunner he would get his sights in from a distance and gradually shorten his range until he was on the patio outside the classroom. You can imagine Platt pounding the windows with the football and screaming “Auugh Cyril! You lout! Auuugh! You wretched Creeeatchah! Auuugh!!” Cyril initially tried to continue the lesson, but the distraction was too great. The class went utterly silent waiting to see what Cyril would do. We tried our very best to encourage him to take on Platt but Cyril just stood there with his eyes narrowed, totally focused on Platt, eventually declaring: “Don’t worry boys…I’ll get him.” I’m sure he hijacked Platt later on that day such was the determination in his voice.

  29. In answer to Tony W, I cannot take any credit for the photography incident. It was somebody who was two years above me that took the photograph of which I did have a copy of once. If I find it, I’ll post it, but it’s unlikely.
    As far as Arkus is concerned, I saw him a couple of months ago for the first time in 20 years at his father’s funeral. He is a senior ranking officer in the army. I have never heard about him shooting himself.
    I know of a much more moderate version of the story about Cyril and the undertaker. Basically, somebody, it may have been me – I forget – sent a hearse to pick him up. I think the rest is mainly exaggeration.
    Finally, I can happily confirm the story about the 240 bus and the imposition. Again, the end bit about him pulling my hair is, I’m pretty sure inaccurate, but there seems to be an emerging pattern that every Cyril Bloomberg tale has to end with someone’s hair being pulled. A bit like the inevitable “slap up feed” that ended most comic stories of our youth or Benny Hill being chased by everyone at the end of his shows from that period.
    Talking of Benny Hill, when will we discuss the sex life of Hasmoneans of the 70s? The girls waiting at the Bell or the “snogging” at Golders Green Station.

  30. Can’t believe no-one has mentioned the ‘exemption list’. Being on or off the list was an endless source of debate and hilarity.

    (For the non-Hasmos: This was a list of swots that Cyril kept who were excluded from class punishments).

    How many of you louts out there will own up to being on it? To my shame I never made it on to the list …

    I well remember the time when a class punishment was given and J Pell and myself were the only ones in the class not on the list! Once this became apparent to Cyril the number of class punishments soared.

    As with so many others, french lessons were the highlight of time at Hasmo.

    My very best wishes go out to Cyril and his family – he truely is a Hasmo legend!

  31. Elll-baz was bashing balls against Cyril’s windows when Platt was still in (XXL) nappies.

    And, talking of Elll-baz, I am reminded of another story, from 2AB, when, in the middle of the mincha amidah (i.e., total silence), and with Cyril present, he unwisely decided to unpack a bag of “snap-its” into his scarf. Then, absentmindedly using said scarf to wipe orange juice from his mouth (in the true Moroccan tradition), “snap-its” started exploding. So did Cyril. And, with unexploded “snap-its” now lodged in the hinge of his desk, the more Elll-baz tried to rescue the situation, the more it came to resemble Apocalypse Now.

    So don’t talk to me about Platt . . . 😉

  32. The worst ever insult Cyril paid to one of the “French-Speaaaaaaking” boys, when he fluffed an oral answer (addressed of course to the claaaaaaass as a whole, with a despairing frown):

    ” MMMMM…..and the boy’s SUPPOSED TO BE French-speaaaaaaking !!”

    Then there was the regular procedure of the class putting words into his mouth – eg, Simons walks in late –

    Cyril: Why are you laaaate, Siiiiiimons?

    Simons: Erm..Mr Jacobson wanted to see me, sir


    Cyril: Yes, in myyyyyyyy lesson?!……and the rest of you be quiet, too much to saaaaaay !!!

    There are a few key Cyril words which cannot be omitted from any blog about him:


    desPIC able!




    I agree 100% with Mike – there is no experience in my life to which I would rather travel back in time, than double French with the great AHB ! There is, quite simply, no place of entertainment on earth that has ever come close.

  33. Thanks for this, it’s extremely funny. I can’t believe these lessons really happened.

    Talking of “Test Extra” (the name must have been changed at some point) I recall the concept of the mark being “reduced”. This happened if you infringed any of the rules governing the layout of the test, such as writing on alternate lines (Homework was “on alternate lines for Monday”). These offences would cause half a mark to be taken off your work, in which case you needed to call out “11 reduced”. If you called out “20 reduced” you would automatically get sides.

    If I remember correctly, the reason we had to swap with the person behind us was to stop cheating. In fact there is a legend that an A level class with 2 boys in it had them sitting behind each other for marking.

    This strategy was completely ineffective. Every week when I marked homework I used to get an “order” for the results. Sometimes I just filled in the entire homework of the boy I was marking, and gave them 10.

    Cyril always got suspicious if two people got the same wrong answers. I still remember him saying “where did all these horses come from?” when the wrong word resulted in the same wrong answer.

    “I’ve heard of Loshon Horah, but your French is Loshon Horrible”

  34. Can’t forget the time Steve Posen gave us each a test tube, containing acid and a piece of sausage, to take home and observe, for 24 hours – in a biology lesson, timetabled just before double French.

    K’ish echod b’leiv echod – as one man – the class resolved to take them out and shake them, every 5 minutes, in Cyril’s lesson.

    Unsurprisingly, the tirade and edict were forthcoming at the first attempt (“Raaaight! I’m punishing the whole claaaaaaaass!”)

    But then, against his better judgement, the great man was unable to resist an opportunity to showcase his unique brand of humour :

    “Mmmmmmm….I thought we’d have a good lesson today, before you started behaving like baaabies………mmm……TEST TUBE BAAAABIES !!!”

    He was so pleased with himself, that he completely forgot to impose the siiiiiides on the class !

  35. We always put his eccentricity down his being interned by the Japanese during the war. Was this a Hasmo myth?

  36. Avromi Hirsch

    Can anyone in my 1JB music classs circa 1985/86 vertify the following?

    If I remember correctly we got a class punishment from Mr Bloomberg. We did not take it seriously as we were new to Mr B. Anyway at the next lesson when he asked for the punishment a group from our class led by Chagai
    Kahn were very persuasive in claiming it was not our class that received any punishment so it must have been the parallel music class. He fell for it and made the other class do their sides.

    As an aside I do occasionally see him in Raeligh Close and always make a point of saying hello to him and having a brief chat. Next time I see him I will ask if he has internet so that he can look up this site and post on here!!!

  37. Having spent the past half an hour doubled over in pain with eyes streaming and laughing louder than I have for a fair while, much to the distain of my darling wife, I would like to think that I am well placed to comment, given that I was one of the very few to have been ‘taught’ by Cyril for five consecutive years. All you say about the man is indeed spot on. His anarchic sense of humour and justice, his corny sayings, punishments and even one might say slightly autistic behaviour but for all that – I absolutely loved the man. Don’t get me wrong, I was the wretchedest, most loutish creature (that I was) that god ever put in his classroom and I did indeed make it my mission in life (together with Elbaz, Kaufman and Isaacson) to incense, irritate and rile him at every possible opportunity. I witnessed both the ‘sorry Mr. Chichious’ and the ‘stop annoying me’ moment, I was there when Kaufman most articulately delivered the ‘bass’ story. It was I who asked him on numerous occasions if I could take my jacket off – the sides were worth the response, and yes I remember fondly the flick knives and soft porn stolen by Elbaz while AB Cohen acted as decoy. Michael forgot to mention that Zimmer (self named Zimmerman – not unlike Super Man) jumped out of a speeding train during that trip and clung on to the outside of the door for a full twenty minutes (it was probably less than a minute but Hasmonean has a way of making you embellish a story) before using his weight to hinge both himself and the door back into the carriage and him firmly back onto his seat. How this escaped the attention of the ‘teachers’ I will never know. However, unless you knew the man (Cyril, not that wretch Zimmer), and I mean really knew him, as funny as these stories are – you cannot fully appreciate how brilliant he really was. He never marked homework. He never marked tests. He would cause boys to plot against each other only to ultimately deliver punishments to both to prove it was ultimately he who was in control. Yes, he really hated the Israel trip and boy did he let us know it. In fact, on only receiving a ‘B’ at O-level I discussed this with the great man and advised how much better I would have faired had it not been for the Israel trip. Nodding quietly in agreement with pursed lips and feet together, he awoke from his temporary lapse of concentration to say ‘wayderminnit – you didn’t go on the Israel trip!’ and with that he told me to ‘get out of his sight’. Through all this he had a soft spot for me, as I did him, helped I’m sure (during my second year) by a chance meeting at the National Theatre, during a showing of Guys & Dolls (now that’s culture), between him and my parents. The following week I creepily gave him in class a tape from the show and from that day on he would every so often ask me in class how my parents were (while boys started singing ‘sit down your rocking the boat’ under their breath). I got away with murder – well, to a degree. Every so often he would forget his fondness towards me and having pushed him just that inch too far he would say ‘He’s so quick to call someone else an idiot’ – something I did quite frequently, usually Elbaz, Isaacson or Kaufmann just loud enough so he could hear – ‘when he’s an idiot himself – you can see me later. No, in fact you can see me now’. To this day Eric Elbaz and I still ponder each other’s questions with ‘Hmmm’ or leave messages on each other voice mails including ‘He’s so quick not to answer the phone’ and it never stops being funny. 26 years on, my wife and kids can impersonate Cyril, a man they have never even met which must bear testament to his greatness ! Elbaz, along with all the other ‘French Speakers’ including Marc Reiss (who I’m sure wasn’t ‘French Speaking’ in the slightest – in fact I’m still not quite sure what the criteria actually was for wearing that mantle) had a tougher time than most. So many boys did and Cyril believed us – making their lives hell, even if their only association with France was having once eaten Laughing Cow cheese (chas ve shoylims). If the boys in question ever got something wrong, collective groans would ensue followed by ‘and he’s French speaking sir’. Cyril would nearly always take the bait and say – ‘that’s not French, that’s Elbaz’ followed by even louder and further class groans. You never really knew where you were with Cyril and in part that was both the fun and excitement of being under his rule. Would he agree with you and make a bigger laughing stock of the boy in question or would he turn on you, just when you thought you had him on side. I could write all night about the time Cyril spent an entire lesson deliberating whether the boys in the front row were too near his desk while marking reports or the time I called Elbaz’s name through the key hole of Room 1 only for Cyril to shout ‘what was that’ and for Elbaz to respond ‘sir, I’m really not quite sure but I think it could be Morgan outside the door’ but I will allow the likes of Paul Kaufman (without whom our school would have been a far duller place and had me laughing for 5 of the best years of my life, a funnier boy you couldn’t have met), Eric Elbaz and Leigh ‘Not Now’ Topol to tell their own tales of a man who must be described as a Living Legend. Michael was right, through all the eccentricity Cyril was indeed respected and much loved by most whom he touched – or was that Mr. Chichious ?

    Thank you Mr. Bloomberg for offering me, and dare I say us all, some wonderful years and a semblance of hilarity and dare I say humanity in an asylum filled with freaks, sadists and bullies -(and yes, you all know who you are and one fine day you will all get yours, of that I have no doubt).

  38. Yitzchak Landau

    Don’t know why everyone is complaining about not knowing any French at the end of Hasmo. Personally, I’ve always been able to get around France fine, just by asking any Frenchman whether they have any brothers or sisters, or what the weather is like today whilst cunningly looking at my watch to try and catch him out!

    Added to Tony W’s parrot, aunt and inkpot, what more could one possibly need?

  39. Can never forget the time that Alex Hool (later to become the only headboy ever to follow his brother in the post in immediate succession – and now a leading light in Ponevezh Yeshiva) answered Cyril’s “quel temp fait il” (what’s the weather like) – with

    “Sir! Sir!” (Cyril: Mmm….yes Hooool?)

    “Sir – Je ne sais pas”

    It was on a Friday. Hool received a hairpull, and 16 sides; then on Monday, Cyril came back and announced that his wife had agreed with him over the weekend, that Hool’s behaviour was PARTICULARLY deplorable – and doubled it to 32 sides.

  40. Simon Kosiner

    Although did not frequent Cyrils classes too often as there were more important things to do such as going to Kosherina for falafels when I felt like attending a good laugh was always guaranteed. Maurice Golker, nobody must have got as many sides as he did. From what I can recall almost every lesson without fail he was given sides which would rapidly go up as the lesson wore on. We eventually lost count but went into the 100’s and the more he gave the funnier it got. As we all know Cyril was famous for pulling hair and there was the time he pulled Tommy Hazan’s hair so hard he pulled out a clump which of course to the class was hilarious. A very angry Tommy stormed out the class with the evidence in a book straight to Roberg. Good times!

  41. graham summers

    Morning all…!!

    have literally cried while reading these hilarious stories…happy days indeed.

    Before my own recollections of MY Hasmo years and some cracking stories,I must say hello to Mike, congratulate him on this incredible site, and ask him whether he minds being grassed up to Reb Naftoli ( the Gateshead side of the Reiss family) for his night of passion with the ‘fragrant’ Ruth on Allington Road. Not sure how impressed Naftoli would be – I think HE shagged her first, anyway !!
    so, on to a few of my great moments recollections of teachers, sayings etc.. in no particular order.

    Must start with D ( Molly ) Marks…
    this is one of the greatest Cyril stories of all time.
    As I am sure we all remember, we had what we called Form Mincha
    (…which reminds me of the time Nevies Blitz and a few others were sunbathing on the rear fire escape staircase of Nth Hendon Adath shul totally oblivious to the whole school’s Mincha going on inside, having stripped off their shirts and ties ( hmmm. they think they’re on the beach !!)

    …who remembers THAT one…!!

    Anyway, back to form mincha – One creature who was that day’s Ba’al Tefilah made the terrible mistake of not waiting for Cyril to finish HIS Amidah and proceeded on to the repitition.
    At the end of the ‘service’ the hapless boy was told, in no uncertain terms of his wretchedness. Insults ( with Cyril’s great Swansea Hebraic accent ) were bandied about – lack of Derech Eretz, Kavod, etc… no more was said and we carried on.

    Well the next days’s davener was none other than Mr D.Marks – SAY NO MORE !!
    ( haven’t forgiven you for ecouraging me to sing ”Brit Hanoar HaIvri…al shem LIONEL KATZ!! and then get a good kicking from Anthony ( tounge out) Katz for my trouble.

    So the the stage was set…No boy dared miss the spectacle, everyone was present that day, who would miss what would promised to be the most memorable moment of their schooldays ? Not I …even though I bunked off the whole 4th year !!
    Anyway, the ‘ service’ began, the anticipation and excitement was electric with boys casting knowing grins at one other ( though, of course NOT during their silent amidah)
    Cyril was still davening HIS Amidah and DM blatantly started ‘ boruch atoh etc….’
    Mr B looked across at the culprit and obviously said nothing but we all knew we we 18 brachos, a short tachanun and an Oleinu way from the greatest 5 mins of our young lives…
    sadly my Hasmo education does not furnish me with the literary skills to do justice to this event but every boy/man reading this will have a clear mental picture of the great man with his blood up as it surely was at the moment I refer to.
    No sooner had Cyril said’ bayom hahoo…etc, he kissed he little siddur, placed it carefully in his pocket ( the contrast between this sane and seemingly ritualistic behaviour and what was to follow only added to the spectacle)….he then LEAPT a full 3/4 feet in the air incredible since he was WITH pants and no ‘wassos’…and bounded over the desks to where DM was standing at the front of the class.
    He then grabbed his hair and yanked, NO – threw him to the ground where the ‘pathetic’ figure of this usually loud, brave, heroic and brash boy now found himself with the villian CB towering over him… and screaming all sorts of insults etc.
    I can still, well over 30 years later, see DM’s face as if I was looking at a picture of him in front of me….Fantastic !!

    As I said, happy days……..

    another brief story…Ricky Kahan, Tony W and I had French just before lunch in the room with the concertina doors by the hall. By about 12.55 the dinner line had started to build up and Mrs B had lost control of the situation.
    Boys (sans dinner tickets) had infiltrated the queue and were jostling for position.
    Quite why they did this escaped me, though it made great training for a Reich Kiddush..always first to nice plate of Cholent and Kugel !!
    Myself and all the boys who sat directly in front of the concertina doors would bang on them with our fists and then shout to CB…’sir, sir, its those wreched creatures in the dinner queue’. Cyril would then rush out and leap on these unsuspecting boys and give then a good thrashing…!! ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT !!

    Rabbi Golan ?

    Soester, as well as ‘boy talking, stand’ used to say ‘ change the bottom sign and add’ a reference, I think, to the dreaded simultaneous equation.
    Shmuli Heller and Helen Krollick snogging outside one of the rooms over the bridge while the whole of 1G were standing with our hands on our heads having been ordered to do so at the very start of our
    (music) lesson.

    Mr Parnell-think he tought woodwork ?

    keep them coming, guys…

  42. Jaicky Tammam

    Outstanding Work and bringing back lots of memories.
    Have not had a chance to read in full the legends II and III, but have printed for some light reading.

  43. Dovi "The Dove" Weinbaum

    Anyone remember Cyril’s endless, pointless examples, to teach us the French for a single word? Such as

    supposing you crossed the ocean in a ship….. you see……… and the ship was marooned on an island, mmmmm, and the ship’s cook was the last one off the ship, hmmmmm…..

    …what would the French be for “last”?

  44. or better still how he would make you close your book when ‘teaching’ you something new (and pointless) as he wanted your ‘undivided attention’ – sir, sir, Whitefield is reading ahead !!!!!!

  45. Jonathan Landau

    I have an old school magazine which says that Cyril joined the Hasmonean teaching staff in May 1965 from Sloane School, Chelsea. He taught me English and French and I recall he was an excellent teacher.

  46. pauly herszaft

    i remember mr hackett turning up every week 4 our pe lessons with a manky old black bin bag and a pair of scissors , he then carefully cut it out into the shape of a t-shirt and spent 20 minutes trying to get it on without ripping it , to this day i still dont get it

  47. moshe shatzkes

    hi paul, hackett was trying to lose weight he thought that the sweat he would produce by wearing a bag whilst playing football with us would take off a few pounds. though no really possible because if you recall, all he ever did was pass the ball back to the keeper!

  48. pauly herszaft

    moshe …. thanks 4 the insight , i can now die a happy man

  49. Michael Schuldenfrei

    I seem to remember a great sentence Cyril once blurted out – “Ever time I open my mouth the same stupid idiot begins to speak…”

  50. Daniel Greenspan

    There are so many parties in the Israeli elections next week, that they can no longer be explained as ‘left’, ‘centre’, or ‘right, and it takes at least a 3-dimensional map to show where they stand on social matters, religious matters, and security matters….

    …which got me thinking. Maybe we could draw up a similar map to show how the Hasmo teachers relate to each other in terms of incompetence, sadism, insanity, etc…

    …but soon, I realized there were two many variables even for Excel’s wildest charting options…

    …then I had (IMHO) a brainwave!

    There are enough Hasmo teachers to create a set of cards for the game of “Top Trumps”.

    If I remember correctly, the “Sports Cars” set had categories such as “engine size”, “cylinders”, “gears”, and the better cars generally had higher numbers almost across the board. Likewise, if someone will volunteer to collect the data, we will have something to give the kids to play with while we’re busy drinking decent whisky and recalling old stories.

    I’m thinking that we will be able to allocate scores (1-10) to each of the teachers, according to the following categories:

    O Insanity
    O Sadism
    O Religious fundamentalism
    O Sexual perversion
    O Educational incompetence
    O Temper-losing abilities

    Can I make one suggestion, though – that we exclude those who are still teaching – this would be to avoid confusing the current pupils (whom I’m reliably informed are a bunch of swots anyway), and is nothing at all to do with my being a Flop’s Pet (Emeritus).

    Oh, if you haven’t yet worked out who to vote for, this might help: http://israel.kieskompas.nl/

  51. The Minchah story is all 100% accurate. The only observation I would make is that I am and have always been a quick davener. In fact, I managed pesuke dezimra in 8 minutes today before giving over the pulpit to a cantor far frumer. Funnily enough the speed of my divine communication with the omnipresent is still delighting fellow daveners but dismaying figures of authority, and the chief Rabbi of Maale Adumim , the saintly Joshua Katz Shlita, often groans when he sees me leading the congregation in prayer. Fortunately, he is not a hair puller.

  52. David Prager (Puggy)

    Great blog, keep ’em coming. Can’t wait till you get to Curly’s “history” lessons, Bert’s music lessons “non-singers put away the benches”, Elman’s reign of terror, etc, etc. Oh – and my daughter ended up marrying my form-master’s son (no names, he’s family now) which was awkward because I still owed him some homework….

  53. has anyone got the photo of Cyril waving his finger in shock and horror at Eli Gross the photographer shouting “don’t do it”! does anyone remember the story of my cousin Jonny Deal waving an axe at Simon Rubenstein in front of a terrified AHB? how about Cyril accusing me of flobbing a distance of 100m simply because I had a massive grin on my face when he announced that he had a pool of saliva on his desk? is it true that he used the same pencil all the way from 72 to 79? is it true his gardener used to trim his aural hair?

  54. to add to Moshe’s Cyrilesque gags – when he used to lose his voice – “i’m a little horse today!”

  55. Daniel Tarlow

    Great Blog Mike.
    This has reminded me of one time when one of the swots at the front of my French class farted – not audibly – in the middle of the lesson. All of a sudden Cyril stops the lesson standing just int he front corner of his classroom by the bay windows and starts to sniff.
    “What is that horrible smell?” he enquired. Soon it became apparent that we were dealing with man made environmental air pollution. Cyril worked out which part of the room the offensive smell had originated from and then asked the boy responsible to own up.
    The lout and wretch in question then received 4 sides!!!!

  56. Joe Bloomberg

    Just been laughing out (very) loud at some of the stories, to most of which until now I have been completely oblivious! Mike, kol hakavod for facilitating all this and for your brilliant style of writing.

    As many of you will be aware, I was taught by my Dad and because, in his words, he was fairly strict but always strictly fair, in class he called me Bloomberg and I had to call him Sir (how weird was that?!).

    In this context I was prepared to “muck him up” just like I did many of the other teachers (especially the JS/MH teachers from Israel whose English was hopeless). I recall in one morning he had 3 complaints about me from his colleagues and confronted me about this after lunch. I told him he was out of order as no father could be in a position to do this other than him and with that innate fairness of his, he agreed and immediately dropped the matter!

    In the 1st year, I was the first in the class to receive an imposition (don’t recall anyone else using that word on the blogs so far) for looking at holiday photos in his lesson! They were entirely decent but it’s remarkable how the story became embellished to suggest they were not!

    In later years, I was the “victim” of a “knock on” punishment from my Dad. I had been chucked out of a JS lesson and told to wait outside Willie’s study until after the lesson when the teacher would meet me there. Of course he never showed up but it caused me to be late for my Dad’s lesson and I got sides from him for that. I complained at home about this (he could have reversed my earlier argument but didn’t) and he told me to just write anything and he wouldn’t read it!

    As many of the stories denote, my Dad was ripe for the contrived joke at his expense and I did this to great effect on occasions one of which went as follows:

    I deliberately didn’t have my Whitmarsh text book (it was actually in my desk) knowing for sure that he’d ask where it was. Predictable as ever and in that legendary mild Welsh tone of his he asked “Bloomberg, where’s your text book?” My pre-planned answer was (as opposed to “I left it at home sir”) “I left it at YOUR HOUSE sir!” “What d’you mean by MY HOUSE?” he retorted to which I replied “Well you paid for it didn’t you?!” The class roared with laughter and he too saw the funny side of it and merely called me a silly fool and it went unpunished!

    Finally I have to confess that he offered to speak French at home to help me with the oral part of the O level (worth 15 marks). I declined (“unfair to Mum” I recall saying) and contrived to fail the oral but passed the French O level with a C grade (A, C, E were the pass grades in those days before it was no longer pc for anyone to fail anything) which having failed the oral meant I must have made a pretty good fist of the written papers. Sure enough, on visits to France over the years it has been a struggle to remember to say oui and non instead of ken and lo, let alone much else in French!!

  57. After spending too many years at school taking the mickey out of Cyril, I bumped into him at shul one Friday night, very nervously greeted him and walked him home, without taking the mickey and instead, I just spent 45 minutes talking to him and immersed in his shy charm.

  58. Just a rather obvious comment that from a timeline perspective, Cyril’s nickname vastly preceeded the “Nice One Cyril” song and the song could not have been its source.
    I remember how delighted we all were when the song was released as we could hum it when hi back was turned etc.
    Shabbat Shalom – I’m on the list of those who can leave early on Fridays.

  59. Hi Joe,

    Well, I have to admit, my only reservation about writing about your dad was how you might take it (I, somehow, can’t see your dad as an Internet surfer!) – my mum even asked “What if Joe reads it?” – but, being an ex-journo, I rather conveniently decided that I had a duty to the facts! And there was certainly no way that I could exclude your dad from a series on Hasmo! Anyway, I think that, unlike what I have written (and will write) about some of the other teachers, the post on your dad shows him in a good light. The comments, too, display a great deal of affection for him.

    You were taking the children’s service at Raleigh Close the first time that I received 12 sides. It was in the first year, before I realised that I could write absolute rubbish, and I was quite upset about it. I told you about it in shul, because I envisaged having to spend the entire Sunday writing an eloquent discourse on Obedience and Sensible and Decent Behaviour! Anyhow, on the Monday morning, your father came up to me and said “Michael, I understand that you think the 12 sides was rather unfair . . .” I didn’t know where to put myself!

    Would you – with your dad’s permission, of course (we don’t want you doing sides on Sunday!) – shed any light on some other matters which might be of interest: The origins of “Cyril”? Did he ever speak about the name? Did he used to talk about specific pupils and incidents over Shabbos lunch?! And, have you told him about my blog? I suppose the ultimate would be having a response from the great man himself (though, perhaps, that is being rather optimistic!)

    Anyway, thanks for your comment and stories (how did we collectively manage to forget “imposition”?!), and be in touch.


    PS Just to make you jealous . . . I am off to Antigua and Barbados next week, for the 2nd and 3rd Tests! Always wanted to do a winter tour!

  60. confession time :

    i never ever wrote an imposition – i used to save all my english exercise books from previous years and just ripped out some old essays and handed them in to cyril (anyone remember the Yisroel (Dusty) Chalk Jesus Christ Superstar story???

    graham summers mentioned the lunch queue disruptions that enraged Cyril – well Chezky Hepner & I used to sit at the back of the class for cyril’s lessons – we discovered 2 little holes in the concertina doors – we used to discreetly put a finger in the respective hole (no sniggering please!) and on the count of 3 we would simultaneously pull the doors towards us and then let go – as far as Cyril was concerned some first formers were intentionally banging on the partitions – so on behalf of Chezky and I – we would like to convey our sincerest apologies to all those innocent boys who got walloped by Cyril for no reason at all!

  61. Hi Mike,

    You and your Mum (please convey my best wishes to her) needn’t have worried about me reading all that – as I intimated in my earlier comment, he treated me like any other pupil so I treated him like any other teacher!!

    Please see Ivan Taylor’s earlier comment in which he copied and pasted my take on the origins of the Cyril nickname and how it was a most acceptable name to him!

    I don’t recall him “talking shop” at home about pupils etc and I’ve not yet told him of the blog – perhaps I will over the weekend when I’ll be tempted to ask him for his take on certain of the stories. I trust it’s not veering too close to “loshon horrible” (!) to say that my parents are somewhat far from being computer literate so don’t hold your breath for a direct comment from the man himself!

    And yes, I would love to do a similar trip to see England on tour in the Carribean and I have looked into it but it won’t be this time. I would also like to see Eng in Capetown, a more “user friendly” destination, perhaps on their next tour. Anyway enjoy your time there and let’s hope that the cricket is good and matches the weather and atmosphere there.

    Thanks for a lot of fun this week! Shabbat shalom, Joe.

  62. moshe shatzkes

    my thanks to joe who i bumped into yesterday in shul and corrected the great man’s “coffin” gag i wrote earlier. i’ve forgotten it again. the other one ahb would say i remembered this morning was, “cough and sneeeeezes spread diseases”

  63. Arye "Stroller" Goldberg

    First off, I’ve got to say sherkoyech to Mike on a class series of Hasmo articles.

    Now, to my own Cyril story. Having only joined Hasmo in the 4th year and left at the start of the lower 6th, I was not among the priveleged to have actually officially been taught by Cyril. However that didn’t stop me from being onthe receiving end of his wrath.

    It began as we were walking out of a whole school mincha (it was rosh chodesh) and Chaimo said to me ” I want to get Mencer in trouble. I’ve got a private lesson with Cyril now; come and whack the ball against Cyril’s window, make sure Mencer’s in the vicinity and I’ll grass him up.”
    Perhaps naively, I agreed.

    Shortly thereafter, I managed to maneuver us towards Cyril’s window, picked up a tennis ball and threw it at Cyril’s plastic, very rattly windows. There was a huge crash, but it wasn’t enough to tip Cyril over the edge. So I got the ball back, and really let it fly at the windows. This time it got Cyril’s attention. As I saw him striding towards the window to look for the culprit, I spun round, and with my back to Cyril waited for Mencer to be savaged. Mencer who was next to me surprised me by saying “he wants you”. Certain that there was some mistake, I turned round to see Chaimo pointing at ME and saying “yes sir thats the lout who threw the ball.”
    I was able to hear Cyril yelling threw the window “get in here!”.

    Still smarting from my betrayal, I went round to report to Cyril. Being new to the school, it was like meeting a legend. It was my first glimpse as well of the legendary notebook and pencil stub.

    “Whats your name boy?” he hissed at me. I told him. “You’re a 5th year?” he asked and wrote it in the book before I replied that no I was a 4th year. This really angered him as it meant a correction having to be made in his beloved book. While he was doing this, I made the mistake of glancing over at Chaimo & Danny Davila, who were having this private lesson, and seeing them purple in the face from suppressed laughter. Unable to control myself, I spluttered a laugh for all of half a second. Unfortunately, that was long enough. Cyrils’ head snapped up, he calmly put down his pencil and notebook, and proceeded to launch himself into the air and land unerringly with both hands firmly gripping my hair ( I still had some then) as he yanked my head down to floor level. Whilst down at floor level, I noticed a rather healthy audience to this spectacle both at the windows and crowding in at the door, all cheering wildly.

    Cyril eventually let go of my hair, gave me a forgotten number of sides, and I ran having had my first brush with the legend.

  64. It’s not the cough that carries you off, it’s the coffin they carry you off in!

  65. moshe shatzkes

    thanks arye, i wondered how long it would be until that story raised it’s hilarious head. i was a witness to that, i had a front row playground view. still remember it fondly! didnt you see chaimo mouthing “it was goldberg sir”

  66. Just spoken to my Mum – hot news to report:

    With all the extra airport security in recent times, my dad suffered the “imposition” of having his infamous penknife confiscated by the airport authorities – if only they had known of the memorable stories with which it was associated!

  67. Daniel, you mentioned J Pell. Can somebody invite himto this blog – he must have as many stories as many of us put together. I remember having a competition with him one class as to who can accrue the most amount of sides. I think he won but it was close and in the hundreds.
    That evening both mine and Pell’s parents recieved phonecalls, not from Cyril, but from Mrs. Bloomberg. At the time this was an achievement, 20 years on I am not so proud of that fact.
    Why does the word “dispicable” not appear on this webpage? It was a favourite…

  68. Kol Hakavod to Joe for his comments. A couple of lines from the great man himself on this blog would just be the ultimate !

    I remember our first French lesson with him – He was teaching us the 4 nasal sounds, un, bon, vin, blanc, and walked around the class where each boy had to recite these sounds after him.

    Not too difficult you would think, and everyone was doing ok, but then it came to Jonathan Silver. He kept saying, “An, ban, van, blan” using the same sound every time.

    Cyril was convinced (understandably) that the wretch Silver was taking the mickey, so he told him he would hit him once for each word he pronounced wrong.

    Imagine the tension as Cyril stood over him and said the word, “Un”, while 29 boys held their breath to see what Silver would say. He paused for about 5 seconds, sweat pouring from his brow, looked up at Cyril and said in a questioning manner, “An ?”.

    Cyril whacked him really hard, and continued to whack him after he pronounced each of the remaining 3 words in the same way. Fantastic !

  69. Schneider Saul (Not the little one in the picture)

    Does anyone remember what Cyril’s response would ebe if you had caught a cold? He would address the class and ignoring the sick boy say “he opened the window and in flu enza!!!”

    The more I think about my days in Hasmo, the more I realise that it was one of the most bizarre periods in my life that can only be desribed as “character building”.

  70. pauly herszaft

    mike …… i think you should try and get an upto date picture of “CYRIL” with his pencil,penknife and jacket and put it on the blog , this will really put the icing on the cake to this fantastic blog

  71. Joe, we never met unfortunately and I agree with Mike wholeheartedly that your dad was ‘indeed’ very much loved (read my initial comment above). Talking for the rest of the group you are now tasked to interview ‘The Great Man’ and post his repsonse accordingly – or you’ll be FOR IT ! Please send him my very best and you reminding me of Loshon Horrible has just made me piss my pants ! Good Shabbos.

  72. mitchell taylor

    good voch shavua tov…….

    a jewish school for jewish boys quote schonfield
    on chanuka followed by maootsoor ???? by mr meir!
    I now realise most of the school escaped to israel,would be interested to know how many of us are living here!

  73. Hi Danny Amini,
    I vaguely remember something about Yisroel the (Dusty) Chalk Jesus Christ Superstar story, please remind me.

  74. Reading these comments, I had almost forgotten how theatrical Cyril could be; especially when a pupil would misbehave. A classic instance was when Cyril spotted a young Pinni Gerber, (son of Jerry) totally preoccupied with weaving together strands of coloured plastic into one shape or another during class. Drawing the classes attention to a clueless Gerber, Cyril stopped by Gerber’s desk, cocked his head slightly to one side and “asked” the class with incredulity;
    “What’s Geeerber doing?!!!”
    To which we all replied together with Cyril – in a Cyril accent;
    “He’s doooing Scoooby Dooooo!!!
    Cyril then went to pull Gerber’s hair. Gerber however, had cunningly shaved his head like most Frummers did in the 80’s, so Cyril lost his grip. This technical glitch incensed him even more as he proceeded to slap Gerber very hard around the head, much to our entertainment.

  75. Rabbi Golan –

    His familiarity of the Queen’s English was somewhat limited; he had a kind of need to know vocabulary.
    When he taught of the Hebrew slave who refuses freedom but chooses to stay with his master, he explained that his master pierces his ear. I helpfully explained that the word is not “pierce” bit “piss” and we don’t say “piss the ear” but “piss in the ear”. Rabbi Golan was appreciative of the assistance and we carried on the gemara with the venerable rabbi using his newfound English skills.
    There came a time when he appeared to relapse and once more said, “Pierce the ear” and I again corrected him but this time he was less grateful of my aid and instead slapped me round the face.
    I could only assume that he had discussed Hebrew slavery with one of his colleagues in the staffroom, who had better English than I, and the latter had pointed out the error.

  76. Benjy Wreschner

    Unfortnately I never had the pleasure of Cyril teaching me French. However, he did teach my brother to great effect. In fact Raffy was awarded the magnificent mark of “U” in his French oral (although the jammy bugger managed a “C” overall, the scraper). I remember at the time a Grange Hill episode in which Zammo McGuire had his French oral, and by remaining absolutely silent throughout also managed to obtain a “U” grade. 5 years of French Raffy, and you would have been no worse off by just keeping shtum.

  77. mitchell taylor

    a few years ago i met cyril and his wife at a ston-setting at bushey cemetary.
    as the grave was some distance away a bus was used to transport the people,however due to the crowd cyril and i could not get on the bus and a smaller transport was despatched for cyril his wife and myself.
    as we sat in the small electric trolley,the driver turned around and asked “is it a return journey”?
    (remembering we were at the cemetary)cyril promptly replied “well i hope so!”.
    i dont think i ever laughed so much at a cemetary.

  78. Shmuli Orenstein

    Dear Mike,

    Great site, wonderful memories.

    This blog has instantly transported me back to Hasmonean and reminded me of a number of incidents.

    One famouns ‘Flop’ Maths lesson involved some insult being said to Alan Finlay who said he was leaving. Flop who was not one to be defeated easily hung on to Finlay for dear life only to be physically dragged out of the classroom by the departing Finlay.

    Incidently, my 15 year old son Motti was just been suspended for taking a photograph of Flop, now that is what I call real naches.

  79. Shmuli Orenstein

    Cyril attempted to teach us French in the First year. Danny Amini was in our class and for some reason Cyril always referred to him as Archichi. Now Danny, who is born in Teheran and whose first language is Persian, was not great at French. After being called Achichi once to often, Danny who was over six foot tall in the First Year ‘lost it’. He wrenched the lid of his desk off in a single deft move. Cyril fearing for his life at the hands of this young Persian warrior shouted ‘Archichi , sit down’. The lid of the desk came crashing down on the now lid-less desk splintering into may pieces. Needless to say Cyril gave ‘Archichi’ a wide berth after that!

  80. Shmuli Orenstein

    If I recall rightly it was Noam Gottesman who suggested to Cyril that the Tzedokoh fund went to Battersea Dogs Home. He insisted it was a worthy cause because they savwed his Aunt’s Dog. A memorable incident indeed!

  81. Shmuli Orenstein

    Who remembers the famous Mr Johnson incident! Our history classroom overlooked an ancient tree outside what was then the Walter Hubert Hall. The tree was perceived by the powers that be that ran that correctional institution misdescribed as Hasomean Grammar School as being dangerous. One day tree surgeons arrived to cut down that tree and half way through Mr Johnson’s History Lesson it fell. The whole class without exceptuion ran to the window to witness this historic moment. After a pregnant plause Johnson exploded……

  82. I had the privelege of being one of a small group of 6th formers that was allowed to attend AHB’s farewell reception, primarily for the teaching staff, held in the gym. It was around June 1988.

    He made a speech, and asked to be allowed to shed some light on his nickname. “Apparently,” he mused, “there was a TELEVISION character, at the time when I joined Hasmonean, whose name was Cyril, you see, and I’m told he looked JUST LIKE me…”

    At this point, Mr Ivan Marks, who is well-represented elsewhere on this blog, turned to me, and remarked: “What he’s NOT telling us, is that it was Cyril THE SQUIRREL”

  83. Minkie Oren-Steinbock

    I was a Hasmo Girl who daily took the 240 bus with Molly Marks, Nicky Kopallof, Ellis Feigenbaum, Simon Arkus etc. I remember frequently writing ‘sides’ for Cyril on the 240 and helping enlist other passengers to do the same.

  84. Andy Goldberg

    Great job on the site Mike…

    Sadly my addled brain has lost its grasp of most of the memorable Cyril episodes but there are one or two memories the illustrious Mr Bloomberg still lurking in the nether regions

    1. The origin of Cyril’s name have nothing to do with the legendary Spurs right back Cyril Knowles: His fame preceded the song Nice One Cyril which was just a lucky coincidence for us who dared not say his name. No, the true origin of the name came from his uncanny resemblance to a squirrel.

    Unfortunately I have forgotten many details of my own personal best Cyril story, still but you still might find it amusing

    I was probably in the 3rd form at the time, in the classroom next to the office. We had Cyril before lunch and from the start of the lesson I was getting into trouble. Yet I was not to be cowed by Cyril’s constant addition to the sides he was doling out to me. Every time he said something, I had something to quip back and somewhere along the line I remember thinking OK let’s see how far I can wind him up. The end result was that he gave something like 274 sides. It seemed like a record, which in itself would have been an historic accomplishment. But I had something more in mind. As soon as the bell rang I told the rest of the class my plan. For the rest of lunchbreak we stayed in the classroom, madly scribbling our illegible sides in a frenzy of activity that I bet has never been seen before or since in the hallows of Hasmo. As the bell for the end of lunchbreak rang we collated the sides and numbered them, then I held the pile of paper in my arm and ceremoniously walked down the corridor to the staffroom. I knocked on the door and it was answered by Mr Joghin, I believe. I asked him to call Mr Bloomberg, and placed myself perfectly in the doorway so that all the teachers could see, as well as all my co-conspirators. “Goldberg, what is this?” asked Cyril as he came to the door. “It’s my sides sir. I got them done a bit early,” I said. And then as I handed them to him I tripped and sent an avalanche of sides flying all over the staffroom. Cyril was speechless – either at the embarressment of having handed me such a ridiculous punishment or at the audacity of my caper. But I could see the other teachers trying to suppress their laughter, as aided by a few classmates we crawled through the staffroom picking up the offending sides. Cyril never really punished me after that, and I still believe that like the other teachers, he saw the funny side of it.

  85. Jeremy Cardash

    4AB – Nothing was ever the same in French lessons after the lesson we decided to read everything literally, making gateaux sound like ‘gaterx’ and bonjour ‘bonjower or bonjer’. It was doing Cyrils head in. Destroying the very beauty of his chosen vocation, a bit like seeing the Mona Lisa and describing her as a fit bird with a funny smile! I think the best word we tried to read literally was travailler, travayler in Hasmonese. Cyril would then proceed to correct our mispronunciation elongating all the syllables, to make a sound like traaaavyyyyyyyiiiiiieaaaa, sounded more like the morning after a stag party than the language of love and poetry.

  86. hi all
    love the blog ..cyril was my first year form teacher 1AD
    i probably never learnt more than a few words in french in all my time in hasmo
    and guess what..i married a french girl from paris.
    if only i knew this when i arrived at hasmo!
    anyway , all my boys speak fluent french and passed their french exams with flying colours
    they also swear and talk french slang …not from their mother.
    michael my best to you and your family

    doron korn

  87. Jeremy Shebson

    Two Cyril memories of many come to mind.

    First, a clear memory (as if it were yesterday) of sitting in Room 1 in a double French lesson. Jonny Gross is reading the “lecture” and is riddled with nerves at the prospect of making a mistake and being screamed at.

    A few of us are sitting nearby – including that “wretched creature” Jeremy Hill. Gross reaches a word and is struggling – the word is “quand”. “How do I promounce it?”, he whispers urgently. We reassuringly tell him that the word is pronounced “kwand”, with particular emphasis on the “kw”. He of course falls for this hook, line and sinker and confidently pronounces the word.

    There is a moment’s silence – Cyril looks stunned and asks Jonny G to repeat what he said, which he does – this time a tad less confidently.

    Cyril explodes. “Kwand!”. “Kwand!”. “You are an idiot, Gross”. Mirth all round, except for poor Jonny Gross.

    The second story was not in school at all. At the end of the 2nd or 3rd year, I think it was. I was holidaying with my family in Israel and we were on a tour of Masada. We are at the top in boiling heat and who should we bump into but Cyril and Agnes! I thought I was hallucinating and almost fell off Masada.

    To this day (30 years on), if I go up to either of them and say hello, they are almost guaranteed to ask “Are you the boy we met on Masada?”.

  88. My first ever encounter with Cyril sticks with me as if it happened today and was a definite sign of things to come.

    It was the beginning of our first ever lesson with him (1RG) and he was calling out the register;

    Abrahams…..yes sir
    Aziz…yes sir
    Banin….yes sir
    Bartock…yes sir
    Beuschler …yes sir
    Bruade… ah sir its Braude not Bruade

    He peers over his specs and says… ‘No it’s not, it’s Bruade, it says so here’

    ‘Sir, it is Braude’

    ‘So why does it say Bruade here’

    ‘I don’t know sir, but it is Braude’

    ‘Are you sure’

    Yes, sir…… and with a look of contempt, like it was my fault, out came the trusty penknife.

  89. Rather than read the free newspapers in Hendon Library I decided to read this blog…

    …It’s full of lokshen horrible!

    Who was it that left a condom (unused I believe) on Cyril’s desk every lesson in the fourth year only for him to nonchalantly use his Whitmarsh to knock it onto the floor?

    At least Whitmarsh was used for something useful!

    Remember the lecture that contained the word ‘brigand’? What the fuck was that?

    Was that you Gottlieb who spotted the runaway horse in the playground?

  90. Gilad Jacobson (Jacoby)

    This site is great. I spent only 3 years in Hasmo, then going back to my native Israel. But the trauma of my Cyril encounter is still vivid.
    I was an Israeli 11-year old with no knowledge of English when, on my first day in Hasmo, I had a French lesson.
    Cyril started writing something on the board and we were instructed to copy it into our notebooks. Alas, my Israeli upbringing caused me trouble within minutes. Not only did I open my notebook on the wrong side, but I dared write the numbering beyond the margin line!
    This got me in the line of fire, and an incoprehensible string of words in a strange language and a high-pitched voice shrilled at me. This was the end of my relationship with the French language, sadly: I got an exemption from French classes (not that I remember what I did in those lost hours).
    I still had my Cyril encounters. I remember most of all his response to someone’s implausible explanation for being late: “This is very odd, me’od me’od”.

  91. Ellis Feigenbaum

    Cyril was a charmless nerk.

  92. Josh I remember the pinni gerber story but as I remember when he couldn’t get a grip on the number 1 hairdo he went for his Peyos. By the way he is a Rebbe in said establishment now!!!
    Hey no one has mentioned the sadilla or whetever you call it, “I call it a submarine coz it lives under the seeeee”
    Or how about the Buffet teeee!
    Or Test extras

  93. ayatollah archichi

    Feigenbaum! You wretched creature that you are!

  94. Who was it that climbed up into the void behind the whiteboard in Room 1 before the lesson, and then fell down behind Cyril halfway through?

  95. Aviv, that was Yaacov March. A great story, he was making “Cyril noises” through the class and Cyril hadnt the faintest where they were coming from….

  96. Thus far not one person has mentioned Mr. Syling (circa 1979/1985) therefore I feel it only right and just that I be the first – albeit in name only and not about the peculiar man himself.

    During one of Steve Posen’s now historic biology classes (must have been Rosh Hodesh by virtue of a red shirt), a fish (one presumes dead) was being dissected in front of me, Elbaz et al. For some inexplicable reason Steve went off on one and started to talk about Phloem and Xylem. Each time he mentioned Xylem, the entire class shouted far too loudly the word ‘Sssssyling’ with a head roll to boot in honour of the hapless Mr. Syling. This went on for a good 5 minutes with the moment becoming ever funnier and more stupid with each mention of the word Xylem. However, unknown to Elbaz we had made a united decision to stop this mayhem and allow him to be the only one responding on the next mention. True to form Posen mentioned Xylem, when Elbaz (alone) screamed the word ‘Sssssyling’ at the top of his voice, with an over accentuated head roll. How we all laughed, especially when Steve slapped him as hard as he possibly could around his face with the dead fish !

  97. I have many hilarious memories of Cyril. My favourite, though, illustrates his pedantic nature perfectly.

    He arrived at a French class in my 1st year having somehow procured a sheet of lapel stickers produced by a Polio charity which bore a picture of the late great Ian Dury RIP. He had intended to distribute these amongst our form but there were only about 12 stickers and about 25-30 students. I’m sure he considered cutting each sticker in half but after much brainstorming he decided to give the stickers only to the highest achieving students. In order to determine this he spent an ENTIRE lesson working out the class members who had achieved the highest average homework score over the course of the year to date. Needless to say, the penknife Clive Braude refers to and the much celebrated ever-diminishing pencil were employed extensively during this process.

    After class I approached one of the lucky recipients, a very religious boy called Dov Berkovitz and asked if he had the faintest idea who Ian Dury was. His reply? “Yes of course. He’s a boxer”

  98. Great Blog

    In the 70’s Cyril prided himself on always maintaining a strict dress code in his classes .

    Any deviation -even having your tie half an inch adrift -was met with a yell of “do you think you are on the beeeech” and four sides.

    One day Anthony “tiddles” Davidson entered his class wearing a very long raincoat buttoned up to the collar

    “Davidson take that coat off “screamed Cyril

    Tiddles complied , revealing a bright yellow Hawaiian shirt and shorts

    Cyril was apoplectic !

  99. Ellis Feigenbaum

    I would like to make it clear that comment attributed to me above- was not made by me, and would like to distance myself from anyone that thinks cyril was a charmless nurk.
    the whole point of cyril was the he was a charming nurk.

  100. Ellis Feigenbaum

    on disrupting cyril in class
    “I didnt know there was going to be an intermission- I should have bought refreshments i would have made a fortune”
    said in that lyrical welsh accent that bore no resemblance to anything said by anyone french ever.


  101. I don’t know if this has already been mentioned but does anyone remember Cyril’s garish summer bowling jacket?

    It had a certain novelty about it, being reserved only for rare sunny days. What made it doubly conspicuous was the fact that it was the one and only time he would change ANY of his clothes.

  102. Jeremy Cardash

    All credit Otto Wichterle, who unwittingly not only invented the contact lens but one of the most disruptive tools in a Hasmo boys arsenal. Cyrils class was no exception. “Sir my contact lens has fallen out”. This was not just a cry for help but the signal for the whole class to dive to floor to search for the lens even if, in most cases, it never existed! Chairs and desks were shoved around as the organized bundle reached fever pitch with every boy doing his duty to extend the Hasmo bundle legacy. And then a call for calm by Cyril, miraculously the lens was found, the room returned to its pre-Beirut state and we’d carry on as if nothing had happened waiting for a repeat performance in the next lesson.

  103. Jeremy, none of us ever needed an excuse to jump on the bandwagon to disrupt any lesson and we were unified in our chutzpah. It was almost as if collectively contributing to the mayhem would protect us from individual punishment. Worked for me !

  104. David, I have just pissed myself uncontrollably at the Mintz story !

  105. Jeremy, it was Derrick Kelaty who pulled the contact lens con. He then got up, claiming he found it, with his head held high and the offending eye closed, claiming that he had to do this, stop it falling out again.

    We sat there in hysterics.

    The funniest part was Cyril’s legendary “Ok, everyone on the floor to find Kelaty’s contact lens” line. Priceless stuff.

  106. I’m still in touch with Jo Mintz. I’ll tell him to have a look at the blog.

  107. Then there was Davila, who had some kind of weak blood vessel in his nose, and could conjure up a nosebleed at will, simply by tapping it.

    Needless to say, he reserved the procedure for the duller moments in double French, resulting in”Mmmm – does the boy just have nosebleeds in myyy lesson??”

  108. and how could we fail to mention Cyril’s arch-nemesis, Barry Ackerman?

    Acky it was who kept his blazer on, after the whole class took theirs off (without permission), resulting in:

    “RIGHT! I’m punishing the whole class for taking their blazers off ….. and Ackerman too, for deliberately keeping his ON !!”

  109. Simon Lawrence

    Cyril’s double standards: I was (apparently) one of the good boys whereas Johnny Raphael (for no good reason) was a lout. Raphael came in late to a lesson but Cyril mistook him for me. “I” was asked very politely to try to avoid being late in future. “I” was then directed to sit down next to ……me.

    “Wait a minute, you’re not Loooorenss at all, you’re Rafffffaellllll. Why are you so late? You’re a disgrace”. Sides ensued.

    I met up with a few ex-Hasmos including Raphael a few years ago. We dissected pretty much all of the teachers that we could remember and concluded that very few of them would have ever been able to do anything other than teach at Hasmo.

    Sadly, very few left a lasting impression on me. Jack Ordman is an honourable exception – an outstanding teacher.

    Cyril is also an exception but for the reasons described in earlier posts. A very, very, very funny man.

    Great blog. I look forward to remembering other legends in the weeks to come.

  110. Ellis Feigenbaum was surely a Hasmonean legend of truly Guestian proportions. It was a source of pride for all of us to be in El’s class. How many songs were written about him, Sung by his devotees?

    There were so many stories to tell but if Cyril Bloomberg is to be the theme of this blog, then who can forget the time Ellis stole his register?

    I believe that we were in Mr. Chadwick’s (Haymishe Cucumber, “Can’t help you”, “Change the bottom sign and add” !?) class and Mr. Bloomberg ever so courteously entered our class and asked, “Could I have Ellis Feigenbaum please?”

    Ellis knew what was in store for him but did not flinch. The magnificent point about Feigenbaum was that he always had an explanation. It might have been preposterous, was invariably unbelievable and indeed unbelieved by anyone, but it was always there. This time Feigenbaum’s apparent vindication disappointed nobody. He uncomplainingly explained that he had in fact heard two anonymous lads conspiring to pinch the aforementioned register and, and I stress only as a precautionary measure, Feigebaum had taken the esteemed teacher’s property for safekeeping. El was glad the matter had come to light and now, his job done, he would cheerfully return the register to its rightful owner. Furthermore, our hero demanded neither thanks nor reward of any kind!

    Unbelievably, Mr. Bloomberg, rather than being appreciative of Feigebaum’s noble assistance, was quite inexplicably unconvinced by the elucidation and chose instead to administer swift Napoleonic justice. Today Feigenbaum has few (visible) hairs and I maintain that a number of of those that he does not have were lost on that day.
    By the way, what is a charmless nurk?

  111. First of all hi, to all my ex-classmates, who are obviously so busy that they all have time to blog, read and reply.

    Having read only a few of them, it really brings back great memories, as well as seeing names that I haven’t heard about for close on 30 years!

    Wow! How time has flown by.

    Who remembers when Chichios “yemach shmo”, attacked Berele H and he was nebech hit with the stick and was sent running around the gym, or when Paley through the wooden blackboard rubber at Daniel de L, virtually knocking him out? I could go on….

    Nice to see that no one has lost their sense of humour.

    Regards to all Simon F

  112. Ellis Feigenbaum

    After a great deal of soul-searching, I have come to the conclusion that Cyril Bloomberg was in fact a charmless nurk, as the person who has been impersonating me originally wrote.

    It is never hard to admit that you’re wrong, it takes a big man and I am he.

  113. What does it matter what type of nerk he was?

  114. Ellis Feigenbaum

    Nurk not Nerk!!

  115. am i allowed to mention an incident involving Daniel Marks and a pair of crutches which has nothing to do with AHB?

  116. Ellis Feigenbaum

    In true Cyril bating fashion, words are being put in my mouth so I will get my hair pulled.
    Possible culprits
    Daniel Marks
    Nick Koppaloff
    Michael Goldman
    Tony Lewis
    David Dwek
    Simon Leigh
    Arkus(though he is probably to grown up)
    Any Kovler
    Johnny Schwartz
    In all events, I bow to the perpetrator of this incidious incitement to violence, and commend you for having reminded us of the essence of Cyril baiting.
    Now pack it in you” stupid little boy” or I will find out your isp, track down your home address and come and pull your hair till your eyes water.

  117. mitchell taylor

    can anybody tell me what a nerk is?is it french?
    ……….nice one cyril!

  118. Ellis Feigenbaum

    Nerk – was a term of derision coined byDick Clement and or Ian La Frenais and used by Ronnie Barker as the charactar Norman Stanley Fletcher in the Tv series Porridge.
    Mr McKay was a charmles celtic nerk.
    Was 70`s style for calling someone an asshole before the 9 o`clock watershed.

  119. Ellis Feigenbaum

    To Aviv H ,
    And anyone else who is interested, did you ever wonder why for many years there was only one white board in the class rooms over the bridge, wheras the rest of the rooms had the regular chalk boards? For all I know this is still the case.
    Well at some time in 1974 Johnny Kovler and myself proceded to attack the previous chalkboard with a broom handle, therby creating a rather artistic design of circular gaping holes all over it.
    To be honest I have no idea why we did it, I would like to remeber some altrusitic reason behind it , but I think we were just being our usual delinquent selves.

  120. Robert Lederman

    I’ll never forget this ridiculous episode. It’s 2 weeks before the French oral exam. Cyril asks “Quelle temps faites il?” (How’s the weather?) Daniel Kitsberg reples in perfect French “Il faites du brouillard” (It’s foggy).
    Cyril drops his book onto the table, looks out the window and then continues IN ENGLISH “Well Kitsberg, I’m not sure of it is foggy or not. I know it’s a bit misty in the distance but I should imagine that despite that, it’s not too misty for some boys to wase their time kicking a ball around at break time. No, I cannot accept that answer. Anyone else?”

  121. Joe, I remember you telling me a Simchat Torah story that happened to you and how you dad went mad.

    At that point, I remembered who your dad was, and failed to keep a straight face imagine his response!

    Mike, you mentioned the cheating in the tests. I always remember the weekly tests, and had Dave Mencer behind me. We would swap papers and agree the marks we were to get.

    Cyril then always said after the montly tests “Berest, I dont understand how you do so well in the weekly tests and so BADLY in the monthly ones!

    We had Bollero in the music class and this was about the time that Torvill and Dean used it in the winter olympics. When the music played we were all doing the dance in the middle of the class, including all of us slumping on the desks at the end of the song. Cyril said some comment how he had never seen a class enjoy a song so much, not realising we were taking the piss.

    I used to do security at Raligh Close. and always talked to Cyril as he came into Shul. he is a true gent and is amazing for his age!


  122. Jonathan (Jonny) Kovler

    I don’t have a face book, I hate chain letters and I do not have a Yahoo, MSN or any other account outside my working virtual e-mail address.
    I have never felt the need to blog or get involved in any reunion type activities.

    However, last week I sat in Sacramento airport waiting for my connection with tears of uncontrollable mirth streaming down my cheeks as I read this fabulous nostalgic rose tinted trip back to the Never Never Land we called Hasmonean.
    A concerned United Airlines attendant approached me and asked if I was OK to which I could barely manage to answer between sobs, “They wrote about Cyril”.
    The attendant mistaking my frame of mind and taking my reply to mean something else completely, began to offer condolences for the loss of my loved one and asked what was my connection to the departed…..

    Whilst I could continue the thread about Cyril I would like to digress just a bit and talk about one of my fellow pupils that I remember so well.
    Not the relatively sane ones like Simon Lawrence who I remember for his unplayable fast ball – using the concrete supports of the Gym as stumps.
    Or Daniel Marks – who sold cut price confectionary to reward his loyal customers after making a killing selling from the steps behind the school hall.
    (The problem with Daniels act of generosity is that no one believed that he would be that crazy and therefore no one bought his goods until he raised his prices for Mars bars back to their normal 300% mark up!)

    No – I wish to salute one of the stranger folk that dwelt amongst us during those years.
    Notable mention should be given to Morgenstein who would attack anyone with his violin case if they dared to ring the 240 bus bell before him for the school stop.
    However, I want to talk about David Dunitz.
    Who can forget his crooning style when we arranged the charity concert in the long room with David as the star attraction.
    His strains of Mud’s hit “Let’s go for a little walk” would be thunderously chorused by the boys in attendance “Beda da dum”.

    For all the many episodes I can recall one stands out forever in my mind.
    It sums up the lunacy which was my Hasmonean.

    We were sitting in a class room over the bridge in a lesson being conducted by Joghin on a balmy summers afternoon.
    I could hear Dunitz and Pilsberry behind me exchanging the following urgent whispers.
    Dunitz, “I’m going to do it”
    Pilsberry, “”No, you musn’t”
    Dunitz, “I can’t help it”
    Pilsberry, “You’ll get into trouble”
    The conversation became more and more intense until in a brief lull in Joghin’s attempt to teach us I heard Dunitz’s chair slide back as he stood up.
    I glanced behind to see fear in Pilsberry’s eyes as I realized that whatever diabolical act Dunitz had devised in his warped mind was about to become a reality.
    Dunitz remained calm and with his unusual loping gait made his way to the front of the class.
    Joghin stood transfixed, at a loss for words as this tall awkward pupil faced him down from a few feet away from across his desk.

    To our amazement Dunitz proceeded to lie down on his back on Joghins table in a puppy play like position with all four limbs pointing skyward.
    He then pronounced those immortal words, “Tickle me Sir”.
    There was a moment of stunned silence as we watched this unique event unfold and then the class exploded into hysterics apart from Joghin who seemed dazed by this almost Pythonesque scene.
    I doubt any teacher training college had discussed this scenario and to his credit Joghin did the only sensible thing an educator could do.
    He turned and left the room in silence and I watched him cross over the bridge back to the relative sanctuary of the staff room probably to drown his sorrows in a cup of tea.

  123. Indeed, Dunitz and Pilberry were very bizarre characters, and the odds of two such loonies being in the same class is inestimable.

    I was tempted to mention them earlier, but having the threat of “Lokshen Horrible” hanging over my head, decided against it.

  124. Having just seen this blog at a relatively late stage, and having just nursed my poor groin from the excrutiating but worthwhile pain of the last ten minutes, I would like to throw in a story from 1BK of 1977 (sadly, I don’t seem to see many of my classmates’ comments here)

    This story invloves my cousin Alan Harounoff, now running a successful real estate agency, but 30 years ago, just known as ‘Arunov!’ by Cyril.

    We were all in a free period (remember? nobody really knew what to do…most probably one of Paley’s lessons, when he was bunking off down the park) that happened to be taken by our favourite French teacher. The boys in the class decided to start humming in unison, while Cyril was busy taking another notch off his shrinking pencil, and would only stop when Cyril looked up. This happened on several occasions, with the humming getting progressively louder, and Cyril getting progressively frustrated every time, as he had no way of cornering the perpetrators.

    Eventually, the class hummed so loud that Cyril screamed “RIGHT!” and attempted to follow where he had thought was the source of the humming. Fatefully, this trail led to none other than lout #1, “Arunov!”

    I’m laughing as I write this!

    The next part went as follows:

    C: “Who’s doing that humming? It’s coming from that area!”

    C: “Arunov! WAS IT YOU!!!!”

    A: “Sir, sssir, I did sss some of it, ssssir”

    C: “SOME OF IT! YOU DID ALL OF IT!!!!!!!”

    I needn’t tell you what followed, but we shed more tears of laughter we could have drowned 1RG

    Cyril should live and be well until 120 years and a bit longer, but if I had a chance to write on his tombstone, my inscription would read:

    “Here lies Cyril – you generated more laughter than Bob Hope”

  125. Jonathan (Jonny) Kovler

    I realize that this is meant to be a post dedicated to the incomparable Mr. Bloomberg so I will mention something that sticks in my mind about this unique individual since all other legendry tales (real or otherwise) have been recounted.
    I remember that I was in my early years at Hasmo and we were in a lesson being conducted by Cyril.
    For some reason (that I fail to remember) a conversation regarding football ensued and each pupil was declaring their preferred football club affiliation.
    Once we had done the rounds of the pubescent louts in the class the inevitable chorus started, “Ooh Sir, What team do you support?”
    With great dignity and obvious pride Cyril straightened his posture, puffed out his chest and announced “Swansea City”.

    We had all been waiting to pour scorn of his choice of team but instead we sat in stunned surprise as we watched a lopsided grin appear on Cyril’s face and a distant glazed look appear in his eyes.
    I like to imagine that he had been transported in his mind’s eye to some former encounter of his beloved team long ago where he had perhaps stood on the windswept terraces shouting himself hoarse as 22 grown men chased a pigs bladder up and down a distant Welsh football field.

    It made him vulnerable but no one wanted to disturb his reverie with some banal comment, we had just learnt an important lesson that even Hasmo teachers had a human side.

  126. Well Jonny, i am not sure which years you were in teh school, but I can tell you that when i had Cyril for French in the mid 1980’s we had a similar discussion. He also told us that he was a Swansea supporter and then pulled out a piece of newspaper cutting from his wallet. It was the division one table fromt he week the Swansea City FC had topped that table. i think it was about 5 – 10 years old at the time, he told us that they had only been there for a week or two. nevertheless he had tremendous pride in his team having finally reached such a high position.

    Again a great moment from the great man.

  127. How are you, Johnny Kovler. ANyone remember the episode with Adrian PPPPPlatt and Cyril when he just couldnt get the words out…its just too funny for words..literally. Perhaps someone can enlighten this blog with the details..or Ill try to put it into words…

  128. Hi All,

    This whole thing has been great, and sorry to get serious for a second . . . but please don’t forget that there are real people who could be extremely hurt by what is written here. Writing names of girls in relation to past sexual peccadillos, or of ex-pupils with emotional problems, is simply not acceptable, even to my relatively broad mind.

    Even when I am not on holiday (which I currently am), I cannot monitor every post as it comes in. Please use your common sense, and let’s carry on enjoying this in the right spririt. And if anyone does spot anything which they consider inappropriate, please let me know asap.



    (Please also see the “NOTE” at the bottom of my Hasmo Legends I post . . . full names and e-mail addresses when submitting comments!)

  129. I just have to say it…..


  130. mitchell taylor

    diverging from cyril,
    remember the day our class lifted old harrisons
    (woody) mini car and hid it on the otherside of the school……….ha ha
    anyone remember the story of mr heller?

  131. Lawrence Rosenstein

    Are there any “Laurence Saffer” stories to be shared? I believe he was quite a legend in Cyril’s class!

  132. Richard Simmonds

    Ok – I tried resisting posting a message but alas to no avail.

    First off – stroke of genius Mike – hats off to you for an incredibly effective idea that has clearly produced a huge amount of enjoyment to many saddos with nowt better to do in a recession. You have a superb writing style and have clearly hit your stride here.

    Secondly, I never thought I’d be so interested in seeing these old stories cropping up again after so many years – but like so many others, I have laughed so hard the last few weeks (to the point of crying with it on occasion) I had honestly forgotten that there were many damn good times had in Holders Hill Road.
    Great to see the old names here – Jeremy Shebson (sorry I stabbed your arse with a pencil in Rabbi Angel’s class although I did find it funny when he asked what the commotion was all about and you told him “He’s just stuck a pencil up my arse!”, Jeremy Hill, Lawrence Rosenstein, Clive Braude – long time no see, etc etc – hope you are all well.

    To my own Cyril story (which for all these years I had assumed was rather risqué – until I had read many of the other posts here).
    1977. Our first year, 1RG with that great dandruff-storm of a man Roger Gothold, opposite the kitchen and by the teachers’ stairs (has there ever been a more elitist way of getting upstairs?). Our favourite French teacher was climbing the stairs, upon which I called out to the class to come out to see Cyril. A load of boys came out and we always knew that there would be a spectacle with him, even if he was going in the opposite direction. Unfortunately, however, I failed to appreciate at the time that a) he knew of his nickname, and b) I was to be the spectacle as he turned around and from the top of the stairs launched down them two at a time with his beady eyes fixated on me. He literally screamed at the top of his voice as if I had murdered someone: “You stupid creature; every time I walk past these stairs I hear the same stupid idiot yelling that ridiculous name – well I’ll make sure you don’t yell it anymore” and with that he grabbed my sideburns – it was 1977 remember – and he literally pulled me up and down from the floor from that position asking me repeatedly if I was going to continue calling him that. I’m sure that the 50 or so boys crowded round yelling “Hit him sir, pull his hair” had nothing whatsoever to do with it”…

    By the way, how many times did we used to phone him up of an evening playing some ludicrously foolish telephone prank?

    And what about the very first day of the first year with Cyril – going through the names, he called out Bartek’s name to which a very eager to please 11 year old replied “Sir, Bartek, Sir!”. Cyril asked him why he was calling himself “Sir Barteck” and asked him if he was trying to confuse his new French teacher by giving himself a title. Quite possibly four sides ensued…

  133. Richard, glad someone from our year has piped up, amongst all these ‘oldies’. We need a strong voice from Class of ’77.

    That ‘Sir Bartek Sir’ is legendary.

    Incidentally, I must say that I once sneaked a tape recorder into Cyril’s class (one of those old piano-key jobs which probably cost £2000) and hid it in the desk. I managed to record a fair bit of the ‘lecture’ (for revision purposes, naturally). I probably still have that tape somewhere – would anyone care to hear it?

    Also, I once filmed a sketch of my cousin Alan Harounoff performing the aforementioned Cyril story (see my last post) which I definitely have to hand. This contains what I consider one of the finest impressions of the Welsh boyo I’ve ever heard. Anyone interested? YouTube maybe? (with Al’s permission of course)

  134. Oh, and I still remember when I got my first bout of sides (the first of many, I’m afraid). I asked my ‘friend’ Mark Banin how I would have to do the sides. He told me that each side is HALF a page, so of course, in my 11-year old naivite (ooh there’s a French word) I cut my paper neatly into halves and completed the paperwork. Needless to say, when I was called up to hand in my sides, I was all proud that I had done them on time. On presenting them, all smiling I was, Cyril didn’t seem to share my optimism. I can still recall that look of mock bewilderment as he screamed “KELATY, WWWWHAT DO YOU CALL THIS?????

    ….THEY’RE DOUBLED!!!!”

    He didn’t beleive me about Banin, sadly.

    I got to laugh, though, as Banin gained his own reputation, eventually engendering that notorious Cyrilism “Banin? You need banin from the school!”

  135. Mitchell Taylor, hi mate, asks whether anybody remembers Mr. Heller.

    He was an extraordinary music teacher, mainly because he never, BUT NEVER taught music. He just came into class at the time officially designated as music lesson and then told us to do homework or revision quietly – that was it. No music.

    I often wondered what how the advertisement that recruited him had read:
    Wanted Music Teacher
    To give free lessons.

    I believe that he was single but he must have returned home somewhere every evening and somebody must have asked, “How was your day?” – What would he answer?

    Once, for a laugh, I asked why we never studied any music and as usual the rest of the class joined in “Yes sir, we want to learn music!”. The days leading up to the next music lesson must have been an exciting period of creativity and exhilaration in Heller’s life as he came to the next lesson with all papers and books and stuff. The unbelievable was going to happen. The music teacher was going to teach music.

    My regular readers should have already been able to guess the ending to our tale. The papers were made into airplanes, 707s if I’m not mistaken, we made a lot of strange noises and no further attempts were made to teach us music.

    Mr. Heller was not a great teacher and I personally very much missed our first form music teacher Mr. Meyers who spent most of the lessons explain to us that we were Jewish pigs.
    At least with him, you knew where you were.

  136. Does anyone remember when Cyril came to school in 1977 driving a brand new,pale blue Ford Fiesta. If I’m c0rrect Ford had just that year started manufacturing them – their first new model since the Escort and I presume Cyril had budgeted very carefully for this expense. He parked it in the “front playground” in full view of the staffroom and we got a great deal of mileage (excuse the pun) gathering round the car pointing out non-existent dents and stains on immaculate windscreen. But what car did he drive before that?

  137. graham summers


    I think i mentioned in an earlier entry that we had charlie heller for music on friday afternoons in one of the rooms over the bridge BUT his ( hugely fat ) g/friend helen krollick was scheduled to be teaching in the room directly opposite.

    Class 1g stood for the full 40 minutes of our lesson with our hands on our heads (as directed by heller as soon as he came in )…..needless to say no music was learned and the two lovers could be seen canoodling in the corridoor..disgusting !!

    strange that no-one ever challenged him as to what he’d just taught us, when the bell went and we headed home….

  138. Ellis Feigenbaum

    He had just given us an important lesson in the art of abuse of power, he was kindly trying to show us what not to do, but we in our infantile manner were just not mature enough to unnderstand it.
    Charlie Heller is one of the few teachers we had that if i met him today be it in a dark alley or a crowded room I might be sriously tempted to deck.
    email adresss home adress and phone numbers provided.

  139. Alan Harounoff

    Great memories guys. Thanks Adrian for adding the stutters to my s s story for effect. What about when Eli Buchler was continuously a bit late for Cyril’s lesson as he lived in Ilford. One time he cam in about 40 minutes late. “Buchler what time do you call this? Sorry sir but the train caught fire! It was so preposterous that Cyril actually smiled. Needless to say he was given 6 sides on punctuality.

    Another time, kids ouside the classroom wwere persistently opening & closing the door. Suddenly someone pushed David Meyer flying through the door into Cyril’s lesson. He went mad, grabbing his hair he yelled “Meyer you fat lout, get out. ” Little did he know that the pupil would end up as Headmaster of the very same school!

  140. What about when Eli Buchler was continuously a bit late for Cyril’s lesson as he lived in Ilford. One time he cam in about 40 minutes late. “Buchler what time do you call this? Sorry sir but the train caught fire! It was so preposterous that Cyril actually smiled. Needless to say he was given 6 sides on punctuality.

    Another time, kids ouside the classroom were persistently opening & closing the door. Suddenly someone pushed David Meyer flying through the door into Cyril’s lesson. He went mad, grabbing his hair he yelled “Meyer you fat lout, get out. ” Little did he know that the pupil would end up as Headmaster of the very same school!

  141. Richard (Tricky Dicky?) Simmonds…..great to see you in print. I share your dismay at the gross under-representaion of our Class of (77-)84 antics on this blog. One quick Cyril story that will only be appreciated by us. The great man had just taught us the correct pronunciation of the word “moi”. This is quickly followed by the word being loudly repeated ad nauseam in a Cyril voice by an obviously “enthusiastic” pupil. Cyril yells….who’s that idiot at the back of the classroom going “moi, moi, moi”? Is it you Relevy? Now I’m going to post a non-Cyril story on the general page…Come on 3F of 79/80…show your colours!

  142. Lawrence Rosenstein

    I remember returning to French Class after lunch.
    I had been playing football and my long hair (at the time) was standing on end. Cyril took one look at me and said “Rosenstein, you look as if you’ve been pulled through a bush backwards!”.

  143. Lawrence Rosenstein

    Jeremy Hill,
    Could you imagine our kids behaving like we did in the USA!!

  144. Richard Simmonds

    Lawrence & Jeremy: Hello strangers! Did you move to the States? Lucky buggers if you did!

    Lawrence – let’s see how good your memory is: What were those brilliant songs that we sung about Rabbi Lewis in the second year?

  145. Lawrence Rosenstein

    Yes – I moved to NY sixteen years ago.

    The “songs”???? I cannot remember! Please jog my memory.

  146. I lived in Israel from 91-03 and have been inNY since then. Hoping to move back to Israel some time soon. My eldest son has already moved back and is joining the army later this year.

  147. Anyone remember the first 3 letters of the blue 1977 Ford Fiesta’s numberplate? And the mmmmmnemonic that Cyril used to remember it?

  148. Tea Elsie? (TLC)

  149. Cyril was always very meticulous about locking the door of Room 1 when there was no one in it.

    One day we had a lesson straight after break. Cyril unlocked the door and discovered a boot nailed to the inside of the door, which was higher than him and which he could not pull off!

    Does anyone know who put it there?

  150. Mmmm…..Trust Haaaaaandler to remember “Tea, Elsie?” within 21 MINUTES….the wretch.

  151. I still think one of us should still tell Cyril himself about this blog. For goodness sake – this blog is huge, but one fact needs to be mentioned – ir’s barely 2 WEEKS OLD. The nachas Cyril would receive from knowing that is almost inconceivable. And to have a transcripted response from him – well, I’m sure he deserves the right of reply. He can write until his pencil runs out. Or perhaps longer.

    I can dream, can’t I?

  152. BTW, Mrs Bloomberg is, I believe, called Anita.

    The moniker “Agnes” derives, I think, from the fact that Whitmarsh was illustrated by one Ms Agnes Holmar – for a nostalgic throwback, see:


    (Mike, perhaps you could upload the unforgettable green front cover for everyone?)

  153. I still remember the Whitmarsh’s cold clammy feel – still makes me shiver

    …what a hateful tome it was

    …and I seem to remember once shoving it down my pants in anticipation of a slipper from Flop

    …and ja know what? It earned it’s weight in gold.

    Best place for it.

  154. Aviv,

    Immanuel Burton had nailed the boot to the door for a laugh. I remember him telling me he’d done it.

    I know about Cyril and his mnemonics.

    We went on a Lag Ba’omer to G-d knows where and I was sitting next to him on the coach. I had dreaded this but what I discovered was a revelation of the man.

    Outside of the classroom, Cyril was a lot of fun to be with. He’s a very witty man and we both occupied our time playing his game of creating words out of the letters on a number plate – a game incidentally that I still play with my daughters – all thanks to my travelling companion.

    From that day on, I saw the man in a totally different light.

  155. Adrian, this blog is not “barely two weeks old”. It has been going since November. And it is not a blog about Hasmonean (see About this Blog).

    Now that has all been cleared up, I will board my flight for Barbados!



  156. Richard Simmonds

    Lawrence R – the songs I am trying for the life of me to remember were superb parodies of oldies (Teenager In Love, etc) – maybe your brother’s year came up with them? We used to sing them to Rabbi Lewis?

    Hope all is well

  157. Adrian K, yes, please do dig up your recording of Cyril’s class (though I doubt it will still be audible if on an old cassette), and ‘Orse Harounoff’s impersonation too. As for “tell[ing] Cyril himself about this blog”, I think we should leave that to his son, Joe (who has commented above).

    ‘Orse, how you doing?! Sorry, but we all just loved that name! Journalistic “integrity” prevented me from including it in the list at the start of Hasmo Legends II (as you were in the year above), but I so wanted to. Unless it will make us all envious(!), could you please enlighten us as to its origins?

    Eli Buchler’s far-fetched excuse to Cyril reminds me of a boy in our year called Sam Michaels. I don’t think he was at Hasmo for all that long, but he will always be remembered by us for the most preposterous excuses that he used to feed Cyril for all number of misdemeanours. They included the most dramatic of accidents, and the deaths of numerous family members. Anyone know what happened to the wretch?! No one I know heard a thing about him after he left the school.

    And a huge she’koach to Dan Gins for coming up with the idea of inserting a certain image into my post (on Cyril) above. Take a look!


  158. Mike, I didn’t mean the blog was 2 weeks old, I meant the Cyril blog. Your first entry is dated 3 Feb 2009.

    I wonder if/when the Cyril stories will run dry? Long may they continue!

    Asseyez vous


  159. No offence taken, Adrian! Just FYI . . . melchett mike is the “blog”, what I wrote about Cyril is a “post”, and these are “comments”.

  160. I haven’t laughed so much for years. What a brilliant blog! Thanks!

    In our class (somewhere between 1980-86) we would have a competition who could ask Cyril the most irrelevant question and get away with it. Of course there were countless hair-pulls and sides on the way but I think that Kaddish Meir Goldberg (now living in GG) was the accepted winner. After reading in the Lectuure something about some fruit, Goldberg puts up his hand and asks “Sir, did you see any banana plantations when you were fighting in the British Army in Burma?” We all held our breaths awaiting the blow-up but surprisingly he answered that actually he saw one such plantation on the way to Burma….

    Another regular tease we used to do was to to arrange the whole class to murmer quietly together the names of vegetables. We would start with “potato, tomato”etc etc. It usually took him about ten minutes to catch on but as it was a class action he was unable to trace it. The reactions were so predictable and funny…

    Lots have mentioned the marking of homeworks and tests by exchanging with the person behind. Well we decided that instead of telling the guy behind what mark to arrange, we just marked our own books. To ensure continued fun in the class, we would periodically ask Cyril about strange answers in the book we were marking and how to mark them. Sometimes he would march over and grab the book to see for himself and then predictably scream scornfully “Which idiot wrote this?”. He would flick the book over to see the name on the cover and explode. “You are marking your own book!!!” followed by the hairpull and sides etc. About 15 minutes later he would suddenly march down the aisle to the pupil sitting behind and grab his hair “If A was marking his own book so must yououou!!!!”

    Every boy in the class always got a mark that included a half and when Cyril would call out the names to hear the results, we always answered the number followed by “in the bath” instead of “and a half”. Rarely did he suspect anything.

    The angriest time I remember Cyril was once, towards the end of the year, when he was walking around the class to check that everyone had prepared their lectuure and he came cross one boy whose page was filled but the heading was badly scribbled and crossed out. He picked it up and said “Whaat is this?” and he began reading. Well it seems that this boy had done the first lectuure about 10 months ago and now just changed the heading each week. You can all imagine what followed….

    He once put a boy on probation that if he behaves then he won’t get a deserved punishment. The lesson was something about writing and inscribing and this boy called out “something like sofer in hebrew”. Cyril looks up and says “Weell, I would say to you, so-far so good” to hoots of laughter from the class and the obvious wretch who called out “Nice one, Cyril”

    The times we called out “Oohh”, the fun we had, the laughs you caused. Mr “Cyril” Bloomberg we all loved you and wish the very best with your “suite” Agnes for many more years.

  161. Since the comments on this post seem to have become a meeting place for ex-Hasmoneans with all sorts of memories, not just those related to the our beloved Welsh French teacher; I would like to take the opportunity to clarify a possibly apocryphal Hasmonean story I can only half remember from one of ‘greats’ that have contributed.
    Word quickly spread through the school that an Ambulance had arrived in the Front Playground to attend to a pupil who had been badly injured. Crowds quickly gathered outside the exit from the Long Room (no matter that it was lesson time) so that the gruesome spectacle could be viewed. Rumours of a compass related stabbing or possibly ingested rat poison from the zoology lab were whispered until the ambulance men finally appeared with Ellis Feigenblum on a stretcher, strapped to a back board. With a quick wink to the crowds, the ‘badly injured’ Ellis was carefully laid out in the ambulance and taken to hospital.
    Rumour had it that Ellis, about to be severely punished for one of his frequent misdemeanours had purposely swung off his chair backwards and faked paralysis just as justice was about to be delivered. The re-appearance of Feigenblum in school the next day, no worse for wear and with a cheeky grin, cemented his reputation for being one of the most delinquent characters to emerge from the Hasmonean loony bin.
    So what was the story Ellis? And did you maintain your delinquency, or are you now a celebrated brain surgeon?
    In considering what Ellis, or any other Hasmonean has become; I would like to open out a discussion I frequently have with ex-Hasmoneans I chance upon. All schools, even the most comprehensive of secondary moderns will usually boast of a famous alumni who they can bring back to talk to their current crop of school pupils about how they emerged from depravity to achieve fame and fortune. Now Hasmonean was a school filled with relatively affluent middle class Jews for whom education was always a priority, and in which there were invariably a number of supremely bright and talented individuals. How come in the 70 plus years of its history, Hasmonean can boast no absolute ‘A’ grade celebrity who shook the world? No politicians, no sports stars, no film stars, no comedians, no artists, no gedolae ha’dor, not even a ‘A’ list convict. Why does a school blessed with such raw talent not turn out any world leaders? Have I missed someone, or do the stories told on this very excellent blog give us a clue to the answer?
    Sorry to have strayed from Cyril. Truly magnificent blog Mike, perhaps your route to greatness.

  162. Had the mysterious Jacob not written, “Cyril Bloomberg we all loved you….” I would have held my peace. I was already somewhat nauseated by individuals professing their adoration of him, but each to their own and who am I to tell others who to love, anyway in the words of our national poet, “What is love?”

    Had the mysterious Jacob not written, “Cyril” Bloomberg we all loved you….” I would have held my peace but now I feel that he is speaking on my behalf and so if Mr. Bloomberg is reading let me assure you that I bear you no malice and wish you health happiness and a long life, but I most decidedly do not nor have I ever loved you. Incidentally, I would be surprised to hear that these sentiments are not mutual.

    I remember in the first form a pupil in who had been physically, and incidentally illegally, abused by your excellent self whose mother called you to ask you to stop hurting her son. Much has been made of your personal charm and wit on this blog and my understanding is that when talking to the aforementioned wretch’s mother you were indeed quite charming.

    The next day you began the lesson by making him stand up and then after pulling his sideburns in a way that only you knew how you made him stand at the back of the class. It had not escaped your notice that the lad was a little overweight so you mocked and humiliated him and labeled him a jelly baby. I can only assume that somewhere in French literature a jelly baby was used as a metaphor for someone whose parents do not want him to be hurt. You continued to ridicule him and said, that his “mammy” had called you to complain that her little jelly baby was crying etc.

    This story is one of many which I defy anyone to argue are not representative of the bullying atmosphere that existed in French lessons given by Mr. Bloomberg.

    Again, I bear Mr. Bloomberg no malice and wish him well. But in the unforgettable words of Gloria Gaynor, “..I’m saving all my loving for someone who’s lov’in me.”

  163. Richard K, I do see what you mean about the lack of superstars within the Hasmo alumni (bar of course Chich’s SOOPESTAS).

    However, one famous exception must be mentioned, Hasmo’s most famous expelee Marc Bolan, from celebrated cult 70’s band T-Rex, ejected from school in the 1st year. I wonder if Cyril had anything to do with it. Did Marc kick up a fuss in music appreciation, perhaps?

  164. Are you sure? I always thought he had been expelled from JFS.

  165. Jonathon Martin

    This blog is priceless – I haven’t laughed so much in years, although the memories aren’t particularly pleasant.

    Jonny Deal – aint seen you in 33 years! Kovler – not since 5o battalion! Some time I must relate the story of the little “scenario” that Jonny Deal and Fordham played out for Cyril – with the help of an ice axe.

  166. Jonathon Martin


    First kudos on your literary skills and humor. Your blog, with its talkbacks, already rivals “The Compleat Molesworth” and makes “Jennings” fit for Sunday bible readings.

    Having been paroled from the Holders Hill Road penal institution in 1976, I was under the impression that all schools had deteriorated since then. However, reading the blog today, my 15 year old son expressed shock by the extent of the misdemeanors perpetrated by both staff and pupils at Hasmonean.

    Your blog has again reminded me how sometimes, even often, the truth can be stranger than fiction.

    Jonathon Martin

  167. The Yawn

    During one of Cyril’s French classes I yawned, quite loudly actually.
    A deathly silence followed as Cyril turned towards me
    eeeeeh, Lauer, take 4 sides and get out of this class
    So out I went.
    But yawns are infectious ………….. and I was later told that all but 5 persons in the class caught the yawn and were each given 4 sides.

  168. Richard K/Rick?
    How about Noam Gottesman – most people don’t believe he went to Hasmo – which probably proves your point – but still a Gadol Hador? 🙂

  169. Marc Bolan? That old chestnut. Another unsubstantiated Hasmonean myth. I remember hearing this myself and of course believed it, because we wanted to believe it. However, you will not find any of Marc Bolan’s biographies describing his Hasmonean years, or year for that matter. ‘Anti-semitic biographies’ will be the Hasmonean cry, but with a Jewish father and a Christian mother (Wikipedia), it seems highly unlikely that even he would have made it into the non-yeshiva stream. The official Marc Bolan site lists his academic progress as Northwold Road Primary School in Stoke Newington and later The William Wordsworth Secondary Modern School in Wordsworth Road, London. Not wishing to be a spoilsport though, I will willingly rescind my superstar assertion if someone can prove that Marc Bolan was indeed a Hasmonean boy. I remember the day of his death well. He was on the car radio, and on the steering wheel, and the windscreen…….

    Dear Noam Gottesman. Yes indeed a true Hasmonean. I remember his Afro well, bobbing about in class just a few desks ahead of me and gracefully so in the gym, the only Hasmonean to ever reach BAGA 4, or was it 5? Chisoss would sacrifice at the altar of Gottesman (and now even more so, maybe he could fund a new minibus). Possibly the most successful Hasmonean, but a world superstar? By all accounts Noam shuns all publicity and is a quiet humble man, which is highly creditable; but I am sure that he would not class himself in the bracket I am describing. (And Noam, if you are reading this, do please give Graham Summers a job. He does need one).

  170. Marc Bolan was originally Mark Feld, and did in fact attend JFS, not Hasmo. Ricky, good crack about the windscreen.

    And Noam, if you’re reading this, do you remember I lent you my pencil sharpener in the second year, and you said if there’s ever any way you can repay me, please ask ? Well …

  171. graham summers

    about time you made an appearance, Ricky…

  172. Ellis Feigenbaum

    Hey Ricky, long long time.
    The ambulance wasnt because I had failed to do my homework, it was just out of fear at what a certain Rabbi (I use the term cautiously) Greenburg was about to do to me , just because he could.
    Hasmonean did not want to create gdolim it wanted to creat balabatim, and in this end it succeded, to a large extent, however it is as yet unproven if this goal could not have been acheived in Moat Mount.

  173. Daniel Marks’s sensitive depiction 11 entries above of yet another example of Cyril’s heartless derision brought a veritable tear to my eye as I remember the incident vividly.
    The boy in question (name withheld) was a good lad. Unlike many of the regular blog contributors whose punishment was usually deserved in principle at least, if not in degree, this boy was not a trouble maker and was clearly scared of his own shadow. I know he lost his father just before, or soon after Cyril publicly dehumanized him into a piece of chubby confectionary and dragged his “mammy” into the equation for good measure. How dare he?
    For a man who could boast so many miserable lows this for me was the lowest he had stooped – the gutter being too high for this teacher. My heart went out to the boy, it also cried for the children of the beast.
    Credit to you Daniel for still wishing him well. I care little about the man.

  174. Mike, thanks for posting the Whitmarsh cover and for your hat-tip in my direction – although I don’t remember that orange one, I was trying to give you a link to the 1st-year GREEN cover, with the black & white picture of some ghastly old 1960s French perv, banging his drum at a bunch of kids – try putting “ISBN: 9780582360808” into google and that should take you to it. That cover will be much more evocative to your hundreds of happy readers.

    While talking Whitmarsh, a member of my family, (who couldn’t possibly post a comment himself), tells me that he developed a technique for getting away with preparing only the first few lines of le lecture, every week. It worked, because it enabled Cyril to crack the same one-liner endlessly:

    Cyril: “Hmm, who is going to start the lecture?”

    (Gins senior raises hand)

    Cyril: “Mmmmm…….BEGINsbury !!!”

  175. Hi Dan,

    Re the Whitmarsh . . . done! Though it looks yellow to me (see above).

    Send my respectful regards to your “family member”. My poor mother repeatedly reminded me that he might see melchett mike . . . until, this week, she informed me that he definitely has (no idea how she knows!) If he subscribes, I promise not to let the cat out of the bag!

    Anyway, please apologise – on behalf of my mother – for her wayward son . . . though I am sure “family member” hears more shocking things from his flock than my sometimes less than choice language!


    Former flock member

  176. Lawrence Rosenstein

    To Richard Simmons.
    Thanks for reminding me about those songs we sang about Rabbi Lewis. I’m now going to teach them to my kids!
    Do you remember the “Grease” year?

  177. Nick,

    I have said what I have said. You have said what you have said.

    I think that we are in fundamental agreement about his personality and value as a person and the only remaining question is whether people like that we should wish well, or not.

    The point hardly seems important enough to argue so if you want me not to wish him well, that’s fine too.

    Incidentally, many years ago I read a Woody Allen piece about the Holocaust. He said how as a child he had read Eli Wiesel who had claimed no hatred against the German people and Allen said that he had been a Jewish boy living in Brooklyn the whole war, under no threat of danger and all he wanted to do was to take a baseball bat and hit some Gemans.

    I later read that the “survivor complex” often means that those who suffered less are more angry. Maybe they feel guilty it wasn’t them – whatever.

    I find it interesting that you, who behaved much better than I did and was punished far less seem now to be more angry. It’s something we need to discuss further over some of Goldman’s Scotch.

    Your son is very lucky to have such a sensitive person as a father.


  178. Mike – fantastic blog keep them coming ! Almost as amusing as the England cricket team or our beloved LUFC.
    I remember my first day at School vividly. I was a little nervous in my spanking new blazer and school cap wondering around the front playground pondering why my parents had subjected me to this.
    Suddenly in drives a light blue Ford Fiesta surrounded by a great deal of commotion among the lads. The next thing I know the car parks and is subsequently surrounded by over a hundred boys. I see some timid looking chap with a ridiculously small moustache exit the car at which point the crowd burst into a spontaneous rendition of “ nice one Cyril “.
    The aforementioned Cyril pushed his way through the crowd while being appropriately jostled. He was staring straight ahead and looked none too happy.
    I remember asking somebody what was going on and I think the reply I got was – “oh its’ Cyril “. That said it all. I then inquired as to the nature of his name to which I was told:
    “His name is Alan Bloomberg – AB so we had to think of ABC so we called him Cyril “
    Another fantastic example of Hasmonean logic

  179. Yitzchak Landau

    Re. Whitmarsh – as I was down to just 2 A levels in the upper 6th, I invariably went home between morning break and afternoon registration, there being absolutely no point in hanging around the school by myself for all this time.

    It was at about this time (1986-87) that “Neighbours” first made an appearance on UK television at lunchtimes and I was hooked for a while – oh the things we are prepared to admit to just to post a comment on here!

    Anyway, I clearly recall a couple of occasions when the various schoolchildren in the programme were doing their homework in a large group and what book should make an appearance but the green Whitmarsh! I am not sure what shocked me more – the fact that it had travelled all the way to Australia or that any institution (even if it was only a soap) other than Hasmonean used this antiquated tome!

  180. Yitz Landau, that’s great – I’m hearing Charlene and Scott in my head, chanting

    “Le scumbiiig pirrowkye bloody s’appille CoweCowe”

    as they surf off into the horizon….

  181. Richard Simmonds

    Lawrence Rosenstein – I’m glad you can remember the songs but possibly early senility has set in for me – I can’t remember any of the lyrics for the life of me. Can you post them here or drop me an email: richard@rsaprop.co.uk.

    Now, the Grease year – what am I trying to remember specifically?

    All the best

  182. Daniel,
    Your reproach is a remarkable combination of sledgehammer discretion and feather light force. It leaves me as confused as your touchy comparison of survivor syndrome, to my guilt of not having been battered as much as you at Hasmo. In your professional opinion does my syndrome manifest itself just in unreserved localized anger towards many of our teachers, or also as a general traumatic stress disorder? Acknowledging the problem is half the cure, so thank you for putting me on the path to recovery.
    But permit me to offer a counter argument. Your insightful psychoanalytical speculation can perhaps be balanced by the Stockholm Syndrome, a psychological condition named after a hostage-taking bank robbery in Stockholm in which the hostages showed signs of loyalty and empathy towards their abductors. Many well-documented examples can be found on Google and Wiki. As a boy whose next school whacking was conservatively speaking, never more than a day away, where do your sympathies lie now? Mr. Greenberg was a portly man. You have become a little rotund yourself. You are submitting voluminous contributions to this blog not too dissimilar in scale to your many in-depth researches into the origins of sensible and decent behaviour and obedience. You wish Greenberg and Cyril well – need I say more?
    Had I been a teacher in those days and under those conditions, would I have also raised my hand? I’m sure that like the decent gruesome-twosome Gothold and Posen, and confronted with the likes of Ellis, I certainly would have. But would I have reveled in sadistic pain infliction climaxed by a Greenbergian eye-glint of satisfaction just as the battered boy’s resolve had finally been broken? Would Cyril’s charming style of public humiliation and degradation, emotional mutilation seasoned with a generous amount of hair pulling and slapping, be my chosen method of education and punition to tame innocent or not so innocent minors? I think not and rather than dig for profound explanations for the 35 years of ill-feeling felt towards these teachers, I prefer not to look beyond the rim of Greenberg’s glasses or beyond Cyril’s moustache.
    I am delighted for you and your good lady wife on your upcoming simcha and look forward to our next drunken banter.

  183. P.I.G : Phillip Ian Greenberg. A lazy, nasty, humourless man. Always wrapped up in a scarf, prentending to have a cold. Where other’s like Cyril and Paley had a certain lunatic charm, Greenberg as far as I can recall had not one single redeeming feature.

  184. In the event that my remarks made about the love of a certain “mysterious Jacob” towards Cyril Bloomberg were construed by anyone to be a reference to Jacob Jackson, I wish to make it clear that this was not the case.

    I wish to apologize for any embarrassment that may have been caused to him or his friends.

  185. Re; Marc Bolan. Definitely JFS. But worse than that Adrian Kelaty’s gross error in calling T-Rex / Bolan a cult favourite. Way too popular and mainstream for that.

  186. Nick
    The idea that I am gradually transforming myself into Rabbi Greenberg is as simple as it is brilliant. Having suffered so much at his hands I have learnt to empathize. I have put on a little weight, I am becoming Philip Greenberg!

    The one minuscule flaw in your, otherwise irrefutable, thesis is that Greenberg at no time taught me and never once hit me. I’m not sure, either he never instructed the yeshiva stream at all or it just turned out that our paths never crossed. Incidentally, you chastise me for wishing him well. I have never referenced him in this blog, chiefly because I have no tales to tell about him. I never knew him and he never knew me. However, why let facts confuse you? – It’s a damned good theory all the same.

    Shabbat shalom to you and yours

  187. Don’t talk shite, man . . . of course T.Rex was a “cult” band!

  188. Though it is clearl outside the scope of this blog, I like T.Rex very much and remember being very moved by the chorus, “You won’t fool the children of the revolution”.

    I think that many of that era did see themselves as just such children.

  189. Glad to have engendered a little diversion with the T-Rex mini blog.

    I wonder what Cyril would have thought of us, knowing that we were into rock, and never really interested in his barrage of classical music?

  190. Michael Goldman

    Nick me old mate
    Where on earth did you learn to use such long words.
    If only a certain part of your anatomy had the length of your sentences or the breadth of your vocabulary, the world would be your oyster.

    I feel it only right a this juncture that I try to find the common ground in this disagreement between two of my oldest friends.

    Let me propose another theory.
    The Iris syndrome
    As you know Iris is my beloved wife (May she live till 120 and bear me many more offspring).

    Earlier on today I was driving us both in the car when we came across a vehicle reversing towards us on a roundabout.
    Iris got very upset and immediately updated her friend with whom she was speaking on the phone at the time, about the hazardous driving.
    I simply drove around.

    You Nick are upset by things done to your friend Dan , whereas he ,perhaps because of his thick skin or once lanky frame is more able to take them in his stride .
    It is a little remeniscent of the great Ariz’l who it was said could feel the pain of every Jew.

    Whereas this is still possibly beyond your ability Nick,you have obviously suffered terribly for every whack of the cane your friend Daniel recieved.

    Such empathy is truly admirble.

    Shabat Shalom

  191. Adrian Kelaty said: “I wonder what Cyril would have thought of us, knowing that we were into rock, and never really interested in his barrage of classical music?”

    If I recall, you were less into rock music, and more into the Human League and other assorted electronica. And what happened to your band, Adastra wasn’t it?

  192. ayatollah archichi

    who was the wretched creature that was “crinkling the sweet’s wrapping paper” that go us banned from ever going to the opera with Cyril again? 🙂 whoever you are – you’re a hero!

  193. Engel, me ol’ fellow! Nice to hear from you on this truly entertaining time wasting forum dedicated to the French master with a tweak of Welsh.

    Sadly, Adastra split up about 23 years ago, following a severe dispute about where rehearsals were going to take place. I’m afraid I lost out because I opted for the basement.

    Cyril often commented on my keen music appreciation, although I didn’t mention the Human League, or else I would have had it

  194. Goldman.

    G0ldman, you say of Nick:

    “…Nick,you have obviously suffered terribly for every whack of the cane your friend Daniel recieved.”

    All I can say is, “I before e, except after c”

  195. Michael Goldman

    I thank you for your correction but never forget:

    There are exceptions to the rule !

  196. jeremy issacharoff

    This section of the blog is particularly rich. In the late sixties and early seventies Cyril had yet to develop the concept of “sides” as far as my memory serves me. At that time he would content himself with handing out “impositions “.

    He was very sensitive to organization and greater efficiency. In order to save time when reading out the register, he decided to refer to Mark Hochhauser as “H” and me as “I”. Indeed this would have saved many a long hour, but every time Cyril did this he felt bound to explain to everyone at length the reason why Mark was “H” and I was “I”. The abbreviations were a positive sign and as soon as one of us did anything wrong it was back to the full surname.

    There was also the incident in which Wally Reid was combing his hair in french in order to annoy Cyril. True to his name Wally got the comb caught up in his hair. Cyril spent about half an hour struggling to get the comb out shouting expletives at Wally as he went along. The entire class was on the floor by the time the comb was finally extracted along with a good part of Wally’s scalp. Oh I guess there was the issue of learning french but that really was secondary.

    I think I also recall an incident in which Cyril caught someone jerking off in the back of the class during french. I might be wrong but Cyril went ballistic and sent the offender to the “Head”, appropriately named Willy. Thus the expression “getting head” was first born and incorporated in the hasmo experience.

    Doesn’t anyone remember the female french assistant or was this a figment of my imagination. I was never privileged to get a french lesson from her but hope sprang eternal and the entertainment value of Cyril was a reasonable substitute for other more nefarious vices at that age.

  197. Michael Rose

    Re: T-Rex thread revisited
    Mike, your well-reasoned ‘shite’ rebuttal of my T-Rex contention begs refutation. Any band that popular (at least 1970-1973), with that many top tens , with a day time tv show is not a ‘cult’. Marc Bolan left a trust estimated at between 20-30 million pounds

  198. Michael Rose

    Sorry left somthing off the last posting: We clearly have diffent understandings of ‘cult’. In this instance I think your confusing the term with glam rock icon.

  199. Michael, from the Free Dictionary:

    a. Obsessive, especially faddish, devotion to or veneration for a person, principle, or thing.
    b. The object of such devotion.”

    But you know best . . .

  200. Michael Rose

    Michael, a bit of philology for you.
    Language is strange and develops over time in its common usage, somtimes in a conflicting and contadictory manner. Hence, a word like semite with the late 19th Century added prefix of anti- doesn’t refer to Arabs( generally only anti- Zionists don’t realize this) and peculiarly the word cleave has two meanings each meaning the opposite of the other( admittedly different in etymology).
    Now the term ‘cult band’ in common usage connotes a certain type of band ( do you really need this part explained) and hence though reflecting the arcane definition you gave it would never be used to describe The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, or The Bay City Rollers. Nor T-Rex/ Marc Bolan regardless of the adulation heaped upon them.
    If you’re still awake, tutorials over and your dismissed.

  201. Now you’ve got that big black hat on, Michael, bet you’re fun on religion! 😉

  202. Michael Rose

    Mike, last remark of yours a bit of a non-sequitur. Unlike for myself, my black hat (which you’ve seen me wear once – what would you be saying today if you’d seen my Ozzy Osbourne last Purim?) seems to be an object , of dare I say , almost cultic devotion in at least these pages.

  203. Michael Rose

    Sorry, Mike but I just looked up cult in the Free Dictionary. I assume there was no intellectual dishonesty on your part but the entry there clarifies the issue for you. The word ‘cult’ in cult band is not a noun as you quoted but an adjective and it’s Free Dictionary definition (check it out and make sure you scroll down) is completely consistent with my usage though I didn’t point out your grammatical error. It reads as follows: very popular among a limited group of people e.g. cult t.v. series.
    In conclusion I may not know best but, incontrovertibly, I know better than you.
    Thus endeth the lesson.

  204. Jeremy , your memory of the alluring french assistant Mademoiselle Pick is quite correct. I think we were in the 4th or 5th form when she came to the Holders Hill Nut House; she was only in the school for about a term and she never taught me, but boy, it was a consummation devoutly to be wished but adly, never fulfilled.Had she taught me Extra French , especially the oral exam, Penthouse,Knave ,Hustler and other similar august publications would have lost at least this ardent subscriber.

  205. jeremy issacharoff

    Dear Joe, thank heavens for your memory – I thought I was becoming delusional in my old age. You also more than adequately expressed the appropriate sentiments with regard to the said french assistant. Your eloquence brought to mind the letter that Sir Archibald Kerr sent to Lord Pembroke in 1943, while serving his country as a diplomat in Moscow:

    Lord Pembroke
    The Foreign Office
    6th April 1943

    My Dear Reggie,

    In these dark days man tends to look for little shafts of light that spill from Heaven. My days are probably darker than yours, and I need, my God I do, all the light I can get. But I am a decent fellow, and I do not want to be mean and selfish about what little brightness is shed upon me from time to time. So I propose to share with you a tiny flash that has illuminated my sombre life and tell you that God has given me a new Turkish colleague whose card tells me that he is called Mustapha Kunt.

    We all feel like that, Reggie, now and then, especially when Spring is upon us, but few of us would care to put it on our cards. It takes a Turk to do that.

    Sir Archibald Clerk Kerr,
    H.M. Ambassador


  206. Michael, Michael, Michael . . .

    “Cult band” is a collective noun. Did you learn nothing at Hasmonean?! Take that silly hat off and get out of Bet Shemesh . . . before it is too late!


    PS Even if you could argue that it was an adjective – as I am certain you will not (not being the argumentative type) – do you consider that the followers of T.Rex qualified as an “unlimited group of people”?!

  207. Michael Rose

    Mike, OK , you win. The hat goes But where does that leave us. You still don’t know what a cult band is do you? Get your quetionable point about collective noun but using your dictionary of choice ,cult t.v. series appears under adjectives. And T-Rex fan base wasn’t limited in the as defined in your dictionary.
    Now , back to the orignal posting. Do you think Cyril was a T-Rex fan?

  208. Adrian Kelaty

    As the originator of the T-Rex blog, I feel I have to add my own comment here. Judging by the fact that I still have clear picture of Cyril’s sour face when he uttered the words ‘Led Zeppelin’, I feel this is some indication as to his (non) membership of the T-Rex fanclub.

  209. Michael Rose

    Adrian, I remember one pop/rock music reference from Cyril being hisbemusement at the lack of The Beatles lyrical sophistication when it came to ‘She Loves You’. He was quite incredulous as to the ‘yeah, yeah ,yeah’ refrain. I remember him saying it as a slow mocking incantation.
    Don’t recall how it came up in a French lesson. I can’t imagine how he’d have interpreted the lyrics to Get It On (Bang A Gong) or Metal Guru.

  210. Michael, I am delighted that I have finally persuaded you to ditch that silly hat. And, if there is anything in the words of that famous Paul Young ‘number’, you’d do well to lay it in a nice area of Ra’anana (incidentally, the 80s cult singer, who performed in Israel in January, is now flipping burgers in Whestone).

    I remember Cyril wittering on about Led Zepp, but don’t for the life of me recall why. He also used to mention Ian Dury and the Blockheads. Again, no idea why.

    Did any of us even come close to understanding the Swansean Legend? I fear not.

  211. Thanks for your blog, had me doubled up and crying with laughter. I joined Hasmo 9 years before you, but I’m glad to see that if anything, Cyril became more eccentric with the passing years.

    I have fond memories of filling ‘sides’ with absolute drivel, including totally off-topic passages about my favourite rock bands. I’d like to think that Cyril actually read them, but couldn’t be ars*d to make a comment.

    Two friends and I were once sentenced to receive the cane (those were the days!) and Cyril had to be there as a ‘witness’. I remember looking over to him whilst the whole barbaric nonsense was being dished out and he actually winced every time cane met backside. The man had real humanity: I do believe it hurt him more than it hurt us.

  212. Yitzchak Landau

    Eli – maybe that’s why he pulled our hair instead!!!

  213. Eli Buechler

    Great Blog- Wow the memories have been flooding back of those days in Cyril’s classes and times in Hasmo.

    Alan H and Mike, I feel you may not believe that a train can catch fire and make me late for school.
    Well I can confirm the story of the burning train is true, well at least the story I used that a burning train had made me late. I wouldnt like to comment on whether I had actually made up that excuse!! If any of you are desperate and have run out of excuses for being late, feel free to use this one. As you can see, it did work, but use it sparingly and only the one time. Dont try to push your luck.

    I do remember another occasion when we had a test, and I had spent the 2 hour journey into school revising for it. Unfortunately I had not got to all the chapters that we were to be tested on during the journey.

    As usual, I arrived late for class and at least 3/4 through the test. Cyril told me to sit down and continue with everyone else and complete the test. At the end of the test Cyril would multiply my score by 3 to make it fair.

    Of course the rest of the test were the bits that I had not had the time to get to when revising. As was the norm, papers were swapped with the person behind to mark. Cyril was not impressed with my half a point that I managed to score. My mark was multiplied by 3 as promised, a pathetic 1.5

    I cant remember how many times I had to copy the chapters as a punishment on this occasion.

    It is great to see so many familiar names after so many years and love the stories. Keep up with the blogging.

  214. Adrian Kelaty

    What a Purim miracle to see my old pal Eli Beuchler on this delinquent blog after coming home from hearing the Megilla. Eli, lovely to hear from you. It seems like only yesterday that Cyril was exercising his political correctness by calling you a ‘fat lout’. It’s a shame nobody ever called him ‘Orwell’ – he was a dead ringer for the depressive Animal Farm author.

  215. Daniel Lange

    I may not have read every word of the 214 posts on this part of the blog, but I do believe that nobody has yet recalled the thing that Cyril hated even more than scrapers and boys asking to remove their jackets after a schvitzy game of football at break. I refer of course to what Cyril viewed as the most shameful barstardization of French grammer…..”Dubonet-vouz?”

  216. Lange, you wretch, it’s “vous” not “vouz” . . . and you weren’t even on the Israel trip.

  217. Yonatan Silver

    I don’t remember Cyril repeatedly hitting me on the head for failing to correctly pronounce un, bon, vin, blanc.

    However, this might be because he repeatedly hit me on the head for failing to correctly pronounce un, bon, vin, blanc.

  218. He would give 4 sides to everybody, and never once did he read them………or so i thought.

    So when he heard me refer to him as Cyril, i got 6 sides this time

    At some point in those 6 sides handed in the next day, i wrote “Cyril is a lunatic”

    No big deal……he never reads them……except for that one time.

    Trip to Roberg’s office…….you “wretched boy”, another 10 sides etc etc.

    Lucky i only called him a lunatic. Others called him far worse and got away with it.

  219. maurice ernst

    Cyril never read his punishment essays and I used to write in them the most abysmal rubbish and nonsense,often poking fun at him.

    I think everyone always had the last laugh at Cyril, so for all his antics he was loved. the same could be said for most of the other teachers, excepting Sid and espescially DJ who were really nasty numbers.

    DJ would wait in the Chem lab at the side entrance to the school to catch latecomer boys and those sneaking out at lunchtime not wearing their school cap, and would only apprehend the ones with long hair, making them stand aginst his classroom wall in ridiculous poses and not in any way doing anything to the “frumer” boys – and he made no bones about it.

    Steve Posen started playing with phosphorus one lesson and it exploded and got stuck in bits all over the chem lab ceiling. then a few months later in a lesson of DJ a large part of it burst into flames exploded fell to the floor and it landed near Malcolm Granat. Malcolm was a brilliant student who with absolutely no work got straight A’s. but he was also very unconventional. He was bored out of his mind by the lessons and he then decided to manufacture explosives in DJ chem lessons.
    He sat himself on the back bench and whilst DJ was droning on in the lessons he made TNT, and nitroglcerine. After a few weeks of piddling about he took the stuff he made and went to the park at the side of the school – of course in school time and missing nearly all his lessons – dug holes in the park grass put his explosives made in the chem lab and set off the explosives. This went on for almost six weeks with Granat hardly ever being at his lessons, other than chem lessons till one day DJ found out. Granat told DJ what he thought of him and DJ made Granat’s life hell after that every possible way he could and made sure that Granat despite brilliant A level results was not accepted to medicine his choice or to any other university for any subject – till finally he got in on clearance somewhere obscure for a subject he never wanted to study.

    I remember Jeremy Rose one day walking into the chem lab lesson and out of the blue going up to DJ and saying hello DJ BSc failed, Bsc failed BSc failed, BSc, – everyone roared with laughter – and when Sid was the form teacher of the upper six Aaron Cohen together with others sent to DJ and sid at his neighbours and freinds home addresses subscriptions to playboy and pornographic magazines in his and DJ’s name.
    DJ together with Jerry (Gerber) also had a clear declared agenda of making the school frumer and more charedi, part of which include bringing in Rabbi Roberg as headmaster ( a charming man, they made a mistake there) – – they instituted hashkofo lessons for the sixth form – which I stopped attending after they tried to inculcate the boys with anti zionist propaganda including the one that the zionists sold Jews to the Nazis for money, to be sent to be burnt in the camps. They then brought in Osher Badille who tried the same lines in a regular JS lesson, with the addition of a story I will never forget of his father had a heart attack on shabbos but they did not call the ambulance as they were unsure as whether he was going to die or not, and did not want to be mechalel shabbos for an uncertain reason. the boys went dead silent and were absoltuely shocked – and when he added the bit about the Zionists selling jews for money – iszkiwits and a few others, including myself, got up and left the lesson.

    Iskovits then had the bright idea of going to his parents who lodged a complaint with Willie against Osher Badille who was dismissed from the school – only to come back again the next year on the promise he would no longer teach this rubbish – which of course he did but in less direct ways.

    Once Noddy caught me and a few other boys in the first form playing football instead of going into lessons after lunch. He had us up in Willies study and he stood us all in a row and after a brief interrogation said he was going to teach us all a lesson. He then went to a cupboard in Willies room and took out a long six foot bamboo stick, and asked Johnny Landau to step forward, telling us we are all next in turn. He took a chair and after noisily wishing this enormous bamboo back and forth wacked the chair with great ghusto and a loud bang. Johnny burst out crying – I knew Noddy did things for effect and he would never touch us – he then told us all to clear out.

    The school was amazing – the boys were amazing – what a great laugh reading this.

  220. Wonderful comment, Maurice.

    Okay, I am the world’s biggest Zionist, but . . . when I think of the ultimate sacrifice made by so many courageous and selfless souls in the name of the Jewish People (and, for many, of Hashem too) – in building, and defending, a State in which Jews no longer have to suffer pogroms and be marched off to gas chambers – and then you think of Osher Baddiel . . . well, it is just shameful that an abomination like that was allowed anywhere near Jewish kids.

    Willy Stanton and Rabbi Roberg, however fundamentally decent themselves, have a lot to answer for.

  221. A typical French lesson with Cyril with the ’68-’75 French ‘A’ group:-

    Start of lesson: the whole class except absentees and Philip Kornbluth would take their places
    Cyril: “Where’s Kornbluth?”
    Class would now spend 10 minutes loudly conjecturing PK’s whereabouts with frequent interruptions from boys from other classes looking for spare chairs
    Start of lesson + 10 minutes (exactly! – PK is of mixed German and Chassidic origin) In walked PK with an absolutely deadpan expression on his face
    Cyril: “Eeehhhhh! – look what the cat’s brought in – it’s Kornbluth!”
    This was followed by 10 minutes of side splitting laughter from the rest of the class and 10 minutes of doling out sides by Cyril on “The Importance of Punctuality” (or Obedience, Good Behaviour, etc.) to those involved, with PK maintaining his deadpan expression all along.
    The remaining 10 minutes before the bell was devoted to the wisdom of Whitmarsh and his lectures or regaling us about his exploits in Burma during WWII – I believe he was a Japanese POW, so perhaps that explains his eccentricity.

    Cyril also used to wear a deerstalker (Sherlock Homes) hat. Once, while regaling the class on his Burmese exploits (“when I was in Burma…”), Aaron Cohen put his hand up and asked “Sir, is that where your funny hat came from?” An enraged Cyril tried to grab hold of the said “lout” who managed to run out of the classroom with Cyril chasing after him around the school. Eventually Cyril grabbed hold of him and had him caned (it wasn’t illegal back then, around 1970). Aaron Cohen was actually in the year above me – the same year as David Prager and Maurice Hinden mentioned elsewhere in this blog. However his brother Gideon was in my class and frequently regaled us with this story as well as his brother’s other exploits.

  222. Maurice Hinden

    David Weitz, Thanks for the mention. I admire the fact that your memory includes boys from the year above yours. I can barely remember two Hasmos from your year – Steve Segal and Anthony Kurrant – these being mates of mine from Stamford Hill.

    I wonder if your first day with Cyril resembled ours. I can never forget the “game” Cyril played with the boys on our induction into 1B (B for Bloomberg). Cyril asked each of us for our names. I, sitting near the front of the class (which, if I’m not mistaken was the first room on the right of the main entrance opposite the teachers loos) was asked for mine. The conversation went something like this:
    Cyril: What’s your name boy?
    M: Maurice
    Cyril: Maurice what?
    M: Maurice Hinden
    Cyril: Take 500 lines (he was being generous here and didn’t start dishing out sides ) Last name only boy.
    Cyril: Hinden whaaaaat?
    M: Hinden Maurice
    Cyril:Take another 500 lines – you must say SIR! Now What’s your name baaaaay?
    M: Maurice SIR (I was almost petrified and forgot to give my surname)
    Cyril: Take another 500 lines

    Total lines received on day one circa 2000 most were “I must always refer to my teachers as Sir”

    Now I may have been a little slow on the uptake but I recall a number of boys falling into the Sir trap well after I had.

    Needless to say we were upgraded to becoming sides recipients on day two.

    A general question to readers of this blog – Was Curly Kohn still teaching in the 80’s and if so do you have any stories about him?

  223. Hi Maurice (Hinden this time!)

    Sure I remember you – you have a twin brother Michael and you had a cousin in my year – also Michael. You’ll probably remember me as Paul Ogus’s cousin – he was in the year below me.

    BTW, what are Steve Segal and Anthony Kurrant up to these days? – especially Anthony Kurrant – he was THE character of my year – if I remember rightly he was expelled from the Holders Hill loony bin.

    As for Curly Cohn, I think he retired before ’73 as Willy Stanton took the ‘Oy’ level class for history in my year. I can remember absolutely nothing about Curly’s lessons – they were a badly required soporific after double PE !

  224. Maurice Hinden

    Hi there David Weitz,
    You’re almost on the ball re my family members who joined in the Holders Hill Hasmo Hilarity. My brother is Howard – lives in the Golan heights in Israel an hour’s drive from my abode in the Lower Galillean Hills. Michael, from your year, is my first cousin.

    Steve Segal lives in The U.S.A and Anthony Kurrant (ex proud owner of identical scarf to Gerry Gerber) is Kurrently in the U.K. – The former a photographer and dappler in the stock market, the latter a physiotherapist.

    Regarding Curly – methinks he was the most mucked up (that’s mucked with an M) teacher in Hasmo. He not only had to deal with the aeronautical expertise of the lads in our class – paper planes that flew precisely as Curly turned to the board and landed as he turned around – but also to frequent renditions of the Curly song – this too when his back was turned –
    The Lyrics: “Me and my curly bear, bald on top got no hair” x2 or more depending on how much needed to be scribbled on the board.
    His pedagogical skills were somewhat limited and can be summed up in one quotation: “Open your books at chapter “n”, read and PRECIS”.
    He took a lot of stick and on one occasion returned fire and gave me a wholesome thwack across the face. As you can imagine, I , unlike you, managed to stay awake in his lessons by devising novel ways to annoy him.

    I’m occasionally in touch with Paul Ogus a good mate of mine. Give him a hug from me when you see him.

  225. Daniel Marks

    I have found the legendary picture taken of Cyril in about 1974-5.

  226. Danny Landau

    Do you mean with his finger in front of his face, desperately trying to prevent the photo being taken ?

  227. Daniel Marks

    Yes, do you have it too?

  228. Danny Landau

    No, but I remember the episode. I think it was Eli Gross who took the photo. Are you able to put in on this site ?

  229. I have asked Daniel for it, but he is – to quote Cyril – “defying me”!

  230. You wretch, Marks. Take 4 sides. No, make that 8.

  231. Daniel Amini

    Let’s ask Martin Reich to ask his cousin Eli for the original.

  232. Daniel Marks

    Okay, I sent it. From now on blame Mike.

  233. Daniel Marks

    Check out the end of Mike’s main post (above), where he has added the aforementioned, much-discussed photo.

    The photo incident is one of those stories that though I was accredited with it, I had nothing to do with. Everything I tell you is thus second hand and I believe it was related to me at the time by a certain Ariel Roper, two years my senior, who I believe lives today in London or at least England.

    I heard that someone, wearing a facial mask of some sorts, knocked on Cyril’s door when he opened it was standing there with a camera, Cyril ordered the boy not to photograph him but to no avail. After shooting the French master our hero did a legger and when Cyril pursued him he mingled in with several other boys, also wearing masks.

    That day threats of mass expulsion were made, if the film were not handed over. Eventually it was, and Cyril triumphantly stood in front of his class and exposed the film. Unbeknown to him the real film had been switched for another one purchased from the Pakistani shop down the road.

    Within a few days the photo was being sold alongside the usual Marses and Crunchies (of dubious kashrut).

    The photographer was of Roper’s year, two above me, but with the passing of time I have forgotten who it was. Danny Landau says it was some chap called Eli Gross and I have no reason to question this.

    I was given my photo for free, if I recall, by a young man of that year wishing to curry favor with my elder sister.

  234. Adrian Kelaty

    Great to see that picture, after all the hype. It’s a pity Cyril had his finger obscuring his face. Perhaps we can get him to re-pose agaian, just for old times sake?

    Incidentally, I wonder who wrote the word poo on the classroom door?

  235. Adrian Kelaty

    …and I must also show my admiration for the man, as, during his mad rush to collar the delinquent photographer, he didn’t remove his finger from the relevant ‘lecture’ in the Whitmarsh

  236. Most interestingly, Daniel, did the “young man” get anywhere with your sister?!

  237. Yitzchak Landau

    Great to see the legend in action! I too have a photograph of Cyril which I have been hunting for high and low ever since this post was published and just found yesterday – isn’t Pesach cleaning great!

    It was taken in 1984 or 85 in the legendary Room 1 and as there was so much natural light, I could get away with no no flash, although I had to persuade my neighbour in class (Danny Nussbaum I think) to cough loudly when I took the picture to cover the sound of the shutter!!

    I remember being utterly petrified of being caught – I had hear rumours of someone trying something similar before and being nabbed for it and I now suspect that this is the picture just posted on the blog.

    The only disadvantage of my version is that the great man was not exactly posing for it, although considering I had to literally point the camera and shoot with no time to look through the viewfinder, the result was quite pleasing!

    Mike, if you can tell me how to get the picture to you we may soon be able to start a gallery!

  238. Danny Landau

    Wow, the photo’s exactly as I remember it ! I’d forgotten about that grey school jumper Cyril used to wear.

    Incidentally, can I request that the Reunion is held during August. I’d love to attend.

  239. Daniel Amini

    i’ve never seen that legendary photo – one thing i do remember is that eli gross ordered a full blown poster version which was plastered on the main notice board at the foot of the staircase leading down from Willy’s office the following day – i missed the event as I bunked off that day (courtesy of Cyril believing the forged appointment card from the ENT hospital was authentic) – however i did hear that there were more boys clammering to get to see the photo than they had ever had at one time at a school assembly!

  240. Seeing the picture of Cyril reminds me of another photo op involving everyone’s favourite French teacher.

    Someone persuaded one of the Bloomberg boys (I think it was Joe) to bring a photo of Cyril to school. I didn’t see the photo, but apparently it featured Mr B in swimming trunks on holiday. When he found out what had happened, he was not ammused.

    Anyone else remember this? Or indeed, has anyone else on this blog ever seen this photo?

  241. Adrian Kelaty

    Eli, I’d pay good money to see that. I simply cannot perceive what he would possibly look like on the beach. Where would he leave his pencil?

  242. Adrian, indeed I think a lot of people would like that question answered.

    As I recall, this happened circa ’73, so is there anyone who was in Joe’s class at the time who can recall this photo?

  243. New photo of the Welsh “Legend” posted! (In the middle of my original post above.)

    All thanks to (the chutzpah of) Yitzchak Landau (see six comments above).

    If anyone else is in possession of vintage Hasmo photos – perhaps tucked away in a draw, together with fading, sticky copies of Men Only – speak now, or forever hold your peace . . .


    PS For anyone sad enough to be interested, Yitzchak informs me that Mikey Wulwick is the “lout” nearest to the camera, whilst Avi Greenman is the other one.

  244. I heard about your blog and have now found it.
    I had Cyril for both English and French in Form 1. I well remember having triple Cyril lessons. It was either 2 English lessons followed by one French or the other way round. This had to be the highlight of the week. I also recall Cyril’s talks about Burma and his rather strange hat which we used to call his Burmese hat. One boy (I forget who it was) asked him if he got his hat there.

  245. Eli (Richard) Gross

    Hi, and WOW, what a great blog.
    Nostalgia’s not what it used to be, this is technicolor!

    1970 – 75 (O’levels)
    Had Cyril for french year 1.

    “I know why everyone calls me Cyril, it’s because nobody really knows my first-name.”
    To which we all chorused: “Alan Harold.”
    Yes Cyril was his name well before “Nice one Cyril” but once the song came out (Cyril Knowles of Spurs, in the build up to the league cup semi-final against Chelsea 1972), it was regularly hummed when pencil-mustache was around.

    I am partially sighted and wore thick goggles on my glasses for blackboard and close reading. Cyril took us and another 1st year for French. Friends from the other class told me that he had sneeringly imitated how I have to stick my nose in a book to read.

    Well, having graduated Hasmonean prep. The dreaded Mrs. Unger (Champion Cheek pincher and humiliator), I was ready for war. Cyril baiting was the game and I was more than willing to pay the price in sides and pulled sideburns. Btw, I never realised he didn’t read them and so I made a reasonable effort for them to make some sense. The most I ever got was 64 and then, most of the class helped me write them.

    Jack Ordman, His wife rests in peace next to my Father – we had a very nice chat at my Father’s Shiva – was far more feared for his 1,000 words or sometimes 2,000. Jack did have a sense of humour; Alan Nevies and I used to cycle to school (to the perpetual worry of my parents due to my poor sight) and the week before Pesach we were 45 seconds late. Jack gave me 1,000 words as I walked in and then asked Alan why he was late as he followed me through the door. He promptly dead-panned: “We’ve finished all the Frosties and I had to put the sugar on my corn-flakes.” Jack liked the excuse so much that he let him off! (but not me, bugger).

    I was in the classroom when Johnny Deal and Paul Fordham had the axe saga with Cyril. I don’t recall it being very drawn out, but we all were anticipating Deal ranting with the axe and Fordham was ‘needling’ him the whole class until the weapon appeared and Deal screams: “That’s it I’ve had enough!” in anguished tones.
    Cyril passifies him, trying to keep calm and clearly petrified that Fordham was going down literally, Deal figuratively and Cyril with him. He demands the axe and Deal instead promises to put it away. They each got 16 sides if I remember.

    In our day…. la,la,la,la…de..la Cyril hated football (perhaps Swansea were stuck in the 4th division most of that time), and he once declared that: “Football was the cause of all the trouble in the world.”
    Deal raised his hand and said: “Sir, how was Football responsible for the Vietnam war?” for which he got sides. (he was too big for Cyril to risk physical confrontation).

    Year 5, the week before study leave for O-levels, I no longer had Cyril but I had to have one last go at him.
    He regularly boasted that no-one had ever taken a photograph of him.
    Accepting the challenge, I brought my father’s camera to school with the film of Zeasea, my Sister’s Bat-Mizva Photos still in it, there were 2 photos left on the roll. Standing outside the class with a camera, someone knocked for me on the door.
    As he later told Roberg before the Angel (Rabbi) was called in to cane me:
    “I said: Don’t take it. An’ ‘e took it!”
    He grabbed me by the hair and started pulling me into the class, I put my head down and followed through (at first so as to prevent the pain, but then I realised he was backing up and here I could legitimately head-barge him in the chest when he had to stop running backwards, he let go as it winded him.) While my head was still down I passed the camera (scrum style) to Nicky (surname escapes me but we once played poker and at 2.60 in my favour, Nicky insisted on double or quits, whilst I wanted to refuse because 2.60 was about 2 months pocket money then, I felt compelled by tradition to concede. He paid off the 5.20 at 20p a week until it was cleared).

    Cyril, winded demands the camera. I say “I haven’t got it, you made me drop it when you pulled my hair.” The milling boys don’t offer the camera when he asks for it so he marches me off to Willy’s office. Willy was ill so Roberg dealt with it. Cyril described my offense. I was instructed to produce the camera or else I might be expelled a month before O-levels.
    I went to find out, and Mark Vitkovsky said let me get a replacement film and we’ll give the camera with that in. (Silly that I didn’t plan that, the beauty of hindsight!), so I wasted nearly an hour ‘trying to find the camera’ before I handed it in with the switched film.

    Cyril then demanded I got my punishment, which Roberg said would be 6 with the cane. I argued (budding lawyer? 🙂 ) that my hair being pulled was physical punishment and therefore I should not be caned, Roberg smiled to himself (but I caught it) and so I got 6 with Angel’s plimsole – to appease Cyril.

    3 Weeks later I came out of Jewish Studies O-Level and Cyril is waiting for me with the camera. I think, “Shit, he developed the film.” But he says: “I want to give you back the Camera, but I am going to develop the film to check that you didn’t replace it.”
    I reply: “Sir, I would really like to have the other photos as they are of some importance to the family.” (I didn’t dare tell my parents that I had switched the film, so they thought Zeasea’s photos were with Cyril and I think they pressed the school secretary, to get the camera back.)
    Cyril said: “I am not doing it for your benefit.” Then he takes the camera, opens the back, starts to unroll the film and looks at the undeveloped film. I wait till it is all unrolled and then say in feinted shock: “You’ve exposed it, you’ve ruined the film.”
    He tries to hide the surprise on his face and says slowly: “Yes, that’s what I meant to do.” hands me the camera with a vicious smile and walks off.

    The next time I saw Cyril was when my room-mate on Hachshara (Sdei-Eliyahu 1978) told me his parents were coming to visit. Steve and I were good friends (even if he didn’t change his clothes enough).
    So that Friday night I went up to Cyril and said what had been in school was in the past and that as the father of my friend I wanted to wish him Shabbat Shalom. We shook hands.

    At the time, I was a child, therefore my rights of self-expression were restricted. My parents entrusted me to Hasmonean to educate me, legally. Corporal punishment, even then when it was still legal, was not an ad-hoc right of individual teachers. Some were crueler than others. All used it as a means of maintaining control (though an oversized female English teacher sitting on my desk in a mini-skirt, had no need to resort to violence, I was otherise incapacitated. What I couldn’t see I could imagine, what I could see, I was lucky I couldn’t see too well).

    As kids, we wanted to play football, play hooky, play nookie, eat tuck and do no homework. The teachers were our legitimate enemy.

    Some teachers were fair, (perhaps my failing memory); Mcloughlin (English, 1st year, Austrailian – “Up-stand, Hats off, couples on” was his friendly entry,
    Noddy, Nachum (Ordman) and Jack, Roberg, Denham, Chadwick, Mitch,

    Some took delight in the abuse of power. As an 11 year old, with black and white views on right and wrong, I chose the subjects that I liked according the teachers who were fair.
    I still love physics (Thank you Nachum).
    When I met my wife, she is from Paris, she asked me what I liked about the French? I thought for a minute and replied:
    “To hate them, 🙂 ?”

    As Cyril would say about the length of this post:
    “Why do Frenchmen only have one egg for breakfast? Because un ouef is enough.”

    So bye ’til I feel the urge to write again. Thank you Martin (Reich) for drawing my attention to this bril’ blog.
    I will send a link to this page to Steve Blumberg, who I saw at last year’s 30th anniversary of our Hachshara.

    As Peter Cook, or was it Dudley Moore? would say:
    “Take Care, Colin.” followed by a quiet: “C***”

  246. I just took another look at the two new Cyril photos in my post above. They are just so brill’, and really take you back there . . . more than even seeing the Legend in shul every shabbes!

    I can still see and feel it all like it was yesterday . . .

    New photo I: The horrible browny-beige vinyl paint on the door . . . the ridiculously cumbersome light fittings . . . the ugly plastic wall piping for wires . . . Cyril’s look of contempt (for whatever he is perusing) . . . the wretch (Greenman) with his pencil in his mouth, leaning on the desk behind . . . the other wretch (Wulwick), half turned around.

    New photo II: Cyril’s long bony fingers . . . the wretch on the right, even half of whose face clearly conveys the mixture of mischief and fear (who is he?) . . . and how come no one has commented on the ingenious sabotaging of the name of the classroom, from “Room 1” to “Poo 1”?!

    If you were playing that imagination game, you could come up with so many hilarious scenarios for both photos. Suggestions anyone?!

    Golden days indeed . . .

  247. moshe shatzkes

    hi mike, well spotted that it is greenman, but how on earth you knew it is mikey wulwick with his back to the camera i’ll never know. what strikes me about the interior decor (if you can call it that) and it is still true to this day there, that this lovely old house has been so tastefully appendaged (eat your heart out messom, mad dog et al) by such lovely fittings and fixtures.

  248. Moishe – Mike knows because Yitz “David Bailey” Landau told him when he sent in the photo!

  249. Danny Chesterman

    I have just spent a well-stolen hour at the office (in Israel) trying to stay on my chair while I read a lot of this blog. Somebody described himself as having “escaped from the Hasmo asylum”, and obviously the breadth and depth of the comments coming in from Israel, the UK, America and elsewhere would seem to confirm the strength of our mutual bizarre experiences to all of us Hasmo graduates. I personally escaped from the asylum in 1977, and can bear witness to the circumstances of the photograph, indeed taken by Eli Gross. Someone in the French class (5th form) had decided to finally get their revenge on Cyril by bringing a tractor battery to school, and hooking up the terminals to the inside of the door handle just before he came into the classroom at the beginning of the lesson. Eli was waiting outside with his camera, and unfortunately missed the moment when Cyril was getting fried with his hand on the door handle. When Cyril saw the flash operating, he turned round and made the gesture you can see towards the camera. Eli quickly made his escape, and went down Holders Hill to develop the shot and get 50 copies. The first was indeed an enlargement which was proudly displayed on the large notice board opposite the main staircase, and it was promptly removed by the first teacher who saw it. After about one hour, Eli replaced it with a copy, and this routine went on for a few days, till the staff finally realized they were not going to win. After that, the photo of Cyril stayed on the noticeboard for a couple of weeks.

  250. David Levenson

    Danny – I have just done the same and am still wiping the tears from my eyes.

    As a “Blog Virgin” whose attention has just been drawn to this wonderful kaleidescope of memories by Jo Bloomberg himself (at a stone-setting yesterday – at least Bushey retains a social purpose), I had to add my halfpenny’s worth. BTW Cyril taught English as well as French and by now would be screaming “Wretch” at my grammar.

    Yes Eli P. – I do remember the swimming trunks photo (how’s the cricket going old son?) However my abiding memory involves Jo himself – we were in Cyril’s French class together – the “Ehhh” set, of course.

    As Jo rightly recalls, his father went out of his way not to show favouritism. On one occasion, I recall Cyril returning Jo’s homework with a trademark slap of the book on his desk.

    “Ehhh Bloomberg, this is rubbish – who told you to do it like this?” he thundered.

    “Er, you did sir” was Jo’s meek reply.

    Another aside – Minkie Oren-Steinbock’s recollection of filling in “sides” on behalf of friends shows a side of her that I never knew existed.

    In conclusion, does anyone else recall Steve Posen’s “Kindly do not extract the urine out of me, boy”?

    Well done Michael, from a Very Old Boy indeed.

  251. Nussi Feiner

    Have just returned from a fortnight or so away & after a tough and exhausting day back couldn’t resist ending off by dipping once more into Mike’s blog.

    Brilliant – as ever!

    My secretary thinks I am totally nuts as I avidly read the fresh posts and again laugh & cry & chuckle & ….

    Good to hear from ya David – loooooong time no see, hear… & Danny Chesterman, pass on my best to Barry

  252. David Levenson

    You too Nussi – are you by any chance 1 centremetre taller than I remember??

  253. Leo Grunwald

    Dear Joe Wyse and Jeremy Issacharoff,
    I have only relatively recently stumbled across this wonderful, nostalgia inducing blog. Many names that I thought I would never see again appear throughout.
    I am writing to advise that I was one of a very fortunate few who had the privilege of being mentored for a complete term by the sensational (I suspect the memory plays tricks after nearly forty years) Mademoiselle Pick. You can both eat your hearts out!

  254. Robert Rader

    Did the world come to an end on the 10th of june since the last comment on this absolutely facinating blog? I admit that I’ve been sitting here for the last hour wetting myself, and I don’t remember the last time that I have had so much enjoyment over the internet… and I’m only up to the 5th of february with so many more comments to look forward to reading… I intend to lose sleep over this masterpiece!!! There must still be hundreds of ex Hasmos out there who haven’t yet been introduced to this little beauty, as was I until today. It was a privilege to have been one of Cyril’s pupils and I can’t deny that I really did learn French. No anecdotes from me, well not this time because I want to hurry back to the 5th of february where I left off… splitting my sides reading some of those comments and stories concerning one of the most admired and colourful teachers ever – Cyril.
    To you Mr. Bloomberg, if I may be formal I raise my glass to you with “un bon vin blanc” and wish you only the best from the bottom of my heart.

  255. Well I for one remember that photograph incident well as if it was yesterday! I was in the class when it happened, and Eli Gross was indeed the culprit. It was taken in the classroom added on to the school dining hall and I remember Cyril screaming at him, “Don’t you dare take that picture, you wretch”, or something similar. And I remember him feeling triumphant as he exposed the film and smirking happily. Then a couple of days later Eli Gross, who was a real lark showed up with the picture and we all had a good laugh. Only classmates I can see on this blog are Jeremy Trent, Big guy Jonny Deal (he was a massive giant, and the teachers were terrified of him, or at least we were) and Robert Rader, Jonny Chesterman and Jonny Martin (who would parade naked in the swimming baths at Swiss Cottage to the horror of all us frumies!) Nice to hear from you guys. Haven’t seen you for about 35 years!

  256. Charles Marks

    Amazing stuff. Got told about this today – I am sitting here laughing out loud and the kids and wife all think I am mad.

    I only made it to O’levels and then moved on to a real school – but boy was this place bonkers or what!

    Cyril is without a doubt THE legend of the school – no doubts. There are loads of other also rans and perhaps one off events that beat these, but for pure consistency – Cyril is the Man.


  257. Robert, I studied French for 5 years and passed the O level somehow, and was always in the A group. Soon as I left school forgot it all except the first lesson of “le chat dans la salle a manger” or something like that. 5 years of lessons down the drain if you ask me. Still it was all worth it just to laugh at the E-fell off the Eiffel Tower every so often. Once Cyril gave Eli Gross twenty sides. He duly produced them on the spot. So Cyril shouted, Forty sides, and Eli Groos whisked them out. Sixty sides!!! And Eli Gross duly produced them. Can’t remember what happened next. Crazy…

  258. mitchell taylor

    After 5 years with cyril i went to france to try out my french….. wasnt too good after realising my mistake in the bread shop in paris and being chased out by the owner….. after asking him if he “was a baton” (type of bread).
    Long live cyril.

  259. Robert Rader

    After 35 years I still remember sitting one of Cyrils A stream french classes and plodding through one of those “tremendously interesting whitmarsh lectures”.
    There was a reference to an owl hooting in the trees and the onomatopoeic french for the hooting sound was something like “hou-hou”.
    After a perfectly serious and thorough explanation of the translation of “hou-hou”, Cyril was asked by a very “serious” pupil if the “french owls always hoot in french or if they also “wit tu whoo” like the english owls….. I leave it to your imagination to what happened next.

  260. Anthony "tiddles" Davidson

    Wow! Seeing so many names from the past here. Nussy, hope you are doing well, just spoke to your sister-in-law a couple of months ago when she was sitting shiva. So, most apropos to read about me in Jeremy Trent’s post having just watched a Naftali Hershtik Selichos on YouTube…but you weren’t in the choir! Cyril was indeed far more fearsome than anyone here has recounted but I can categorically state that 3AB (arguably the greatest class in the history of Hasmo – as in “3AB v the rest” ) was Cyril’s Amalek and after a year of relentless, unmitigated psychological torture, he was never quite the same. So, you guys received the diluted version. If I ever have the time I will post some of the more notable stories. That day, Jeremy, I was wearing a hat also and dressed like Sexton Blake (a TV detective) and carried a card from the C.I.D. (Cyril Investigation Detective). When he asked what I was doing I showed him the card and then the rest played out as Jeremy wrote. He then sent me home to change (I didn’t return).

    I never had Cyril for French having been privileged to have had Sid in my first year and then as the teacher of the A group. I do remember that when Cyril once asked Joe (his son) how one says “a young girl” in French Joe replied (we thought mistakenly but, after reading some of his posts, I’m not so sure now) “Un Oiseau” (a bird!)

    And for my own personal Jerry Gerber story: After debating some nonsensical religious ideological issue he shouted at me “Look, Avrohom, do you want to have an argument about this?” to which I replied (in true Monty Python form) “Is this going to be a 5 minute argument or the full half hour!” Needless to say he had no idea what I was talking about and was even further confused by the whole class cracking up. He left the classroom and then we did too!

    I still have (somewhere) an ORIGINAL 4-sided essay that somehow Cyril forgot to collect. More than happy to share.

    Also, I just converted my Bar Mitzvah tape to mp3 and have Rabbi Cooper’s speech (he was the Rav of my Shul). How is he doing? Last I heard he was not so well.

    How could I not close (as my predecessors have done) with:


    BIS 120!!

  261. Hiya T. – good to hear from you… Amazingly, I remember your ‘Monty Python’ moment with Gerber.. I’m still chuckling now thinking about it. Poor bloke had absolutely no idea why your innocuous comment left us crying with laughter…

  262. stuart rosenberg

    Hasmo from 1971 t0 1978 and these stories feel like yesterday.

    As to his name it was “Cyril the welsh Sqirrel” is how he got his name. What we forget is acttually by Hasmo standards he was good teacher.

    As to Larence Saffer stories having spent three years in the bottom group feel well qualified to recount them. Saf was a legend with Cyril he could talk his way out of anything.

    On one occasion a boy called Jeffrey Reuben (who for some unknown reason was known as spock) had passed Saf and I some chewing gum and Saf got caught “you are chomping” barked Cyril and saf replied Reben gave it ot me sir and insisted I ate it.

    Guess who got four sides it was not Saf.

  263. Had a Cyril moment this morning, suddenly recalling his contempt for the word “scared”.

    Whenever someone used it in his class, he would become apoplectic with rage, arguing that it was an American bastardization of English.

    Checking this claim this morning, I found that it is from the Middle English skerren, from Old Norse skerra, from skjarr = shy, timid.

    But even had I known that then, I wouldn’t have wanted to bring an end to the fun.

    His like will never be seen again!

  264. melchettmike

    And yet another Cyril recollection at seder, yesterday evening . . .

    As everyone was discussing the “bread of affliction”, I recalled Cyril’s fondness – when he was in a good mood – for highlighting a boy’s folly (and getting a laugh from the class) with:

    “Don’t mock the afflicted.”

    It’s been 25 years since I left . . . when will these flashbacks stop?! 😉

  265. Cant remember who it was but around 1986 in the middle of a music lesson someone chucked a dart at an empty wall Cyril went incandescent and he gave the unfortunate a detention “for attempted murder”

  266. Yes, definitely not decent, far less sensible, behaviour!

    A similar “attempted murder” story – though with a compass – has been widely attributed on melchett mike to Mr. “You Boy” Fierstone (search his name under Hasmo Legends II) . . . wayderrrrrrminit, Anon, it’s the same story! Since you have been wasting our time, now I am going to waste yours!!

    PS Unrelated in every way, but “Anon” reminds me of a great Ricky Tomlinson line from The Royle Family: “If the invisible man comes to the door, tell him I can’t see him.”

  267. Had a great giggle reading about ‘Cyril’. Having been one of the ‘yoks’, probably the most yokky of them all, I simply didnt get the sadistic lunatics who posed as teachers. Was this school for real or was it a nightmare? The only useful thing to come out of Cyril’s French lessons were when meeting two non-English speaking French girls in my youth, on separate occassions I must add. I managed to speak something that resembled French in order to persaude them to have carnal relations with an over sexed teenage boy from Golders Green. Boy did I thank Cyril, Im sure he would be glad to know that my success was purely & simply down to him. Indeed, the girls in question found it extremely odd that at the height of sexual pleasure I screamed out ‘Thank you Cyrrrrrrilll’. So those sore ‘sides’ & caustic comments were worth receiving after all.

  268. I remember one summers day Alex Weinreb did something to rile Cyril (I can’t remember what).

    Cyril: “2 sides”

    Weinreb: “thankyou Sir”.

    Cyril: “4 sides”

    Weinreb: “thankyou Sir”.

    Cyril: “6 sides”

    Weinreb: “thankyou Sir”.

    Cyril: “8 sides”

    Weinreb: “thankyou Sir”.

    Cyril: grabbing his hair and banging Alex’s head on the desk he finally says – “right, that’s 10 sides and will you stop saying thankyou sir”

  269. Daniel Marks

    Reread Danny Landau, February 4, 2009 at 1:19 pm.

  270. Why were you known as “Molly”? Not short, I trust, for “mollycoddle”: n. an effeminate man or boy; a milksop (Concise Oxford Dictionary)?

    People in glass houses, however (and this opens me up to endless ridicule) . . . I have just come across the following delight:

    Perhaps “Molly” might care to enlighten us as to practices 1 (not known even in Tel Aviv!) and 5 . . .

  271. Daniel Marks

    Back in the very early 70s I acquired the nickname “Molly Boston”, care of a certain Danny Knobel at the Rosh Pina Primary School.

    I was not enthused and recall on at least one occasion being sent to the headmaster after hitting a classmate who had so called me.

    Sadly, the name moved with me to HGS and while my lose friends (with the occasional exception of D Roper) never made use of it, several Yeshiva Stream lads including Graham Summers adopted it with greater and lesser degrees of enthusiasm. By then I was a staunch pacifist and believer in free speech so an American might say I just “let it fly”.

    Please feel free to call me either Molly, Boston or both and be assured that if I do hit you, it will be for other reasons – I have plenty.

    Regarding your name as meaning:

    “A person, male or female, that resembles a slug. Usually a little bit large, with glasses that looks like a slug.” I will let the readers of this excellent blog to judge for themselves. I can testify to the fact that you are quite definitely a “person, male or female”.

  272. No comment on the sexual proclivities of uterus-eating necrophiliacs? Or on the sucking of semen from vaginas? (See here if you think I am making it up.)

    Will the real “Molly” Marks please stand up!

    As for your thinly-veiled threats, I’d take both you and “HeteroBro” with my arms tied behind my back.

    If I fought OAPs, that is . . . 😉


  273. Daniel Marks

    Might I suggest that our last few comments be moved to Twatter as they really have very little to do with AB? To fill the space they leave behind I offer the following:

    I’m really all out of Cyril stories and several of those that others have told about me were gross exaggerations.

    He did have several jokes, word plays and popular sayings that he liked to repeat. To name but a few:

    1. “I’m a little horse today.”

    2. “It wasn’t the cough that carried him off. It was the coffin they carried him off’in.”

    3. When hearing “s’il vous plaît” mispronounced, “I once heard a boy saying, ‘Silver plate’ and even that was better.

    4. “I’m fairly strict, but strictly fair.”

    5. When a pupil just avoided punishments by barely passing a test “Scraper!”

    6. In the event of a pupil arriving late without an apology, “He just walks in!”

    7. “Bournemouth Boy” a term used to describe pupils who missed Friday French class because of a family weekend spent at the aforementioned location. In his register he wrote “BB”.

    8. “Un bon vin blanc” a clever way to remember the four nasal sounds. Clever but hardly original.

    9. Last, but not least. So often used and always said without breathing between words, like the infamous sons of Haman:

    “You wretched creature that you are, see me after the lesson, no better still see me now, take a four side essay on the importance of sensible a decent behavior!”

  274. Yitzchak Landau

    Thank you Daniel for your excellent summary. You might wish to add another of his pronunciation aide-memoirs – how to pronounce Eiffel as in the Tower. It was something like someone leaning out of a window “and ‘e fell”!!!

  275. Maybe it happened with Mr Fierstone as well but it was definitely Cyril in action as I was in the class (2JU for the record), though could have been a compass rather than a dart. There is a unconfirmed legend about Mr Johnston in History, coming back from a couple down at the local during lunch, his class got those fluorescents on chains swinging and the class swung in time just before he walked in. Clutching his head, he staggered out not returning for the rest of the period!

  276. Daniel Marks

    That “legend” is BS. I did many things to teachers but what you described is physically impossible. If you don’t believe me get twenty kids to sway in time with fluorescents – obviously without looking up and giving themselves away. The fluorescents have to all sway in time too, not to mention the furniture.

    Film it, put it up on YouTube and the author of this excellent blog will dance naked on the roof of HGS with nothing but his cap and a smile.

    CJ was an tremendous teacher, highly intelligent and gifted and a true role model. In four years I never saw him even slightly drunk. Incidentally, I was no teacher’s pet and felt the back of his hand not once.

    There were some little Golders Green fish faces who had never seen a grown man drink anything but kiddush wine, and so assumed that anyone who had had a couple of beers at lunch must have been drunk.

    The amazing thing is that decades later they seem to still believe that crap.

  277. David Prager

    The legend is not accurate. Something similar was done to Woody Harrison by our class in Summer of 1974. We tied all the lights in one of the classes over the bridge so they were all slanting in the same direction. When Woody returned after a liquid lunch, rather pink in the face, he stood in the classroom, looked up, clutched his forehead and staggered out. We then had a free period for a double economics session. Another fond memory….

  278. Putting the finishing touches to my next post, another “Cyrilism” suddenly popped into my head (which, amazingly, didn’t receive a single mention above) . . .

    In scornful reference to the boy in the middle of a long-winded, and utterly wrong, answer:

    “What is he dribbling about?!”

    How did we forget that one?!

  279. Anthony Mammon

    Just saw the picture of Cyril… EXCELLENT… It’s almost like I’m there… Why is it that every grade managed to sneak a picture of Cyril? Why him? How many other teachers where this ‘photogenic’?

  280. Martin Baum

    My thanks to to La Mammon for circulating the picture of this Hasmo legend that was/is ‘Cyril’.

    Please feel free to add to my “I quite liked Cyril because….” list so everyone can remember his, er, qualities. Here we go then.

    I quite liked Cyril because….
    He never interfered with me.

  281. Anthony Mammon

    Martin, “I quite liked Cyril because….. He was probably the only teacher that NEVER hit me. In fact, I am guessing that he never raised his hand to any one in all his years at Hasmo. Although as shown in the picture above, he often raised a finger”… Nice One Cyril

  282. Geoff Melnick

    Once we were doing an ad hoc sketch at school assembly, and I noticed that my opening line was “Nice One Cyril”.
    The aforesaid Mr Bloomberg was of course in the audience, and the other aforesaid Grant Morgan was the one who had written the lines.
    Didn’t take me long to figure out that missing my cue was the best policy in the circumstances.

  283. Surely an oversight by so innocent a soul as Grant Morgan.

    Anyway, Geoff, as one of Cyril’s “star pupils” in our French group – together with Coren and Bassous – you surely would have got away with eight sides rather than sixteen!

  284. David Prager

    Just a short posting to say I met Cyril’s son Stephen at a wedding earlier this week. Baruch Hashem he seems to be in good health and is certainly in good humour, following the terrible injuries he sustained in a tragic terror attack. When I asked him if his father looks at this blog, he said that when they are together he shows him some (not all!) of the posts, and he is usually “faintly amused”. That sounds about right – I don’t think Cyril was ever FULLY amused!

  285. I didn’t know that the great man has actually seen the blog. Nice to hear.

    I did try to obtain a contribution from him, via his son Joe (with whom I am friendly from my Chendon days), but I think he was a little too frail at the time.

    Perhaps I’ll have another go . . .

  286. Geoff Melnick

    Some years ago I met Mr Bloomberg at the wedding of a cousin of mine and his great nephew, to the grand-daughter of the Baba Sali.

    He was as unfamiliar as I was with Morrocan customs, and with who’s who in Morrocan society, so when the Baba Baruch, the uncle of the bride, arrived, resplendent in his white robes and headgear, accompanied by what for us was Red Indian style yodeling, this caused some alarm on the face of our erstwhile French teacher’s face.

    But he soon regained his composure. “Ah, that will be the other side of the family”.

  287. Hi Mike and the rest of my fellow hasmo boys.

    Mike, would it be possible to send me a good resolution copy of the class picture you put at the top of the blog? My late brother is in that picture, so it would be very much appreciated if you could.

    I thank you for remembering him.

  288. Hi Nicky,

    Coincidence that you should write now, as your name came up in a telephone conversation that I had with Jeremy Platt yesterday (don’t worry, you’re not on his “list”!)

    I have sent you the 2AB photo.

    I remember Ephraim well, and his shiva like it was yesterday. He was truly a gentle giant.



  289. Thank you very much for that Mike, i really appreciate it.

    I just sent the link to your blog to Martin Hakimian who now lives in New York.

    It was actually Jeremy Platt who told me about your blog and the picture.

    All the best


  290. Pleasure, Nicky.

    I remember meeting you some years ago at that dodgy club – the tastefully named G-Spot – under the bridge in Golders Green Road. I think you were there with Page 3 girl, Jo Guest.

    Anyway, visiting from Israel, I had no idea who she was. I played pool with her. She was lovely. So friendly. And just the thought – y’know . . . 😉 – kept me going for some time afterwards!

    So, Nicky, you are a bit of a Hasmo Legend yourself!

    Any chance of a “Guest” post to melchett mike?!

  291. Oh those were the days!!! hehe

    I am glad and honoured to be included in the exclusive Hasmo legends club 🙂

    Unfortunately i am not in touch with miss Jo Guest anymore, and the last time i spoke to her she wasn’t really in touch with herself either haha
    But here is a link i found on youtube with a compilation of her best pics 😉

  292. Thanks for that, Nicky! I am sure that Osher (click here if you haven’t yet seen his contribution to melchett mike) will enjoy the compilation over his lemon tea!

    I promise I will stop asking questions about her – we mere mortals can only bask in reflected glory! – but how did you meet Jo? And how long were you seeing each other (if that is the appropriate expression!)?

  293. I actually met Jo at the G Spot. I didn’t know who she was as they dont have page 3 in the JC lol
    She was a regular there as she lived around the corner in Temple Fortune. My friend who was the manager there introduced us, and we just hit it off. We were seeing each other on and off for about a year and a half. This was pretty much at the peak of her career, so it was a bit of a crazy time.

    As for Osher, i’m sure he will love the compilation lol
    I don’t remember which teacher it was but i was once caught reading a copy of the sun newspaper on one of my free periods in the lunch hall when i was in the 5th form. I didn’t even buy that newspaper. It was just sitting there in the hall and i was very bored, so i started reading it. The teacher walked in and saw me reading it and grabbed it off me. I wasn’t even on page 3 lol
    He lead me to Rabbi Robergs office and made me stand outside for about 2 hours. In the end DJ came and had a go at me for my disgusting choice of newspaper lol Crazy stuff!!!

  294. L-e-g-e-n-d!

    Last question (the rest will be in person over a beer in Tel Aviv!) . . . did you ever take her home to your folks for Friday night dinner?

  295. haha Not for Friday night dinner, but i did take her home and introduce her to my parents once lol

  296. Bringing a Page 3 girl home to meet your folks?! And Persian folks at that?! I can’t imagine the conversation!

    Nicky, you are teasing us shamelessly! I say you “Guest” write Hasmo Legends XX: Me, Osher and Page 3 Girl Jo!

  297. Sure why not…. It should be a laugh lol

    Anyway i have a Cyril/Platt story for you….

    I remember when Jeremy Platt and I had Cyril as our form teacher, and Mincha with Cyril was always the most entertaining part of the day.

    On one occasion during the quiet part of Mincha, i can’t remember what its called, but its when everyone is standing up and reading the prayer in silence. During this bit Cyril never looked away from the siddur. Anyway Jeremy let out an almighty fart during this part, and for the first time it made Cyril look up from the siddur.

    After the service Cyril said in his unique and unforgettable accent….Who was responsible for that disgusting noise during mincha? I never thought it would occur during mincha.

    First he turned to Wayne Miesel and said…Miesel was it you? He said no sir. Then he turned to me and said…. Amini was it you?? I said no sir. Then he turned to Jeremy and said……PLATT, GET OUT!!!!
    The entire class burst out laughing at this point while Cyril was fuming. haha

    I will never forget the look of disgust on his face that day!!!

  298. mitchell taylor מיכאל

    so near to the chagim i wish all us ex hamos shana tova
    but i must just add my own roll of honour to
    mr myers for his masterful conducting of the school choir
    with his tune fork and twitch of the moustache
    clive fierstone….err you boy!!
    woody harrison,who never knew how his car moved to the other side of the playground.
    rabbi angel,who taught me about sex according of course to the torah and built a classroom out of cupboard doors!
    if anyone remembers?
    steve posen and his black a40,i thought it was a tardis,how many boys can you fit in !!
    if i think of any more infamous hasmos ill let you know
    have a good one guys
    nice one cyril! cos i know you read this blog

  299. And it’s happened again! Another Cyrilism (previously unmentioned here) just hit me, walking down Melchett this morning . . .

    This time I was thinking about the debate going on following my latest post, and that charedim in the IDF would anyway just be a . . . just be a . . . “general nuisance”!!

    What I loved about Cyril is that he was a complete original: Who ever used, or uses, the word “general” to qualify a noun in that way?!

  300. General Accident?

  301. General nuisance, Melnick! (Though, as one of the “star pupils” in our class, I am certain that the great man never directed that at you!)

  302. And yet another Cyrilism (again, as yet unmentioned) just hit me as I opened an e-mail from a colleague (stating merely “He would”) . . .

    How could we forget Cyril’s scornful “Youuu would!!” following his discovery of some latest pupil idiocy?!

  303. Daniel Marcus

    I must say I had a good laugh reading all this. I was present for so many of AHB’s tirades and I even saw the picture episode happening. (It is pretty freaky the picture has survived!) I was so amazed that the guy who took it, planned the whole thing so carefully, swapping rolls of film so that Cyril took the wrong one out of the camera. This only became apparent when, to our surprise, the photograph turned up on the school notice board a week later. Cyril of course went nuts. I was also in the class when Cyril dolled out his 60 odd page punishment to the boy. That was uber cool. The boy took those sheets out like they were thousand dollar bills, and counted them off for Cyril. But I don’t know if he gave them out to people on the bus to write. As I remember, I saw him preparing them on the bus home, writing away and planning all this. One personal story I remember was, as a friend of Stephen’s, being invited to Cyril’s house. Wow that was really quite an experience. Oh and by the way, my mother went to Swansea Uni with him and said he was always a pain, even in those days.

  304. That wretched Mrs. Marcus . . . rrrrrrright, she’s for it!!

  305. Mark Banin

    Hello everyone

    Some great stories……..here’s my contribution!

    I have a ton of stories….am not sure where to start!

    OK, I got it…..

    Me and a friend of mine Gary Phillips were quite literally obsessed with Cyril. We would often sneak out of “regular” lessons just to search out where Cyril was teaching at that time. We slowly built up a timetable so we would know exactly which room he’d be in at any particular moment during the week. It was great! – It meant we didn’t have to wait til our French lesson for our dose of Cyril….we could get it anytime…..but more about that later. Here’s the story:

    A general assembly was called and My friend Gary and I thought we’d get the best seats in the house; right behind Cyril. It was a pretty boring affair and Cyril thought so too as he kept nodding off!
    After the assembly, Gary and I had the following conversation:
    Me: Ask him if he had a nice sleep
    Gary: I’m not asking him that. You ask him.
    Me: That’s not fair….I’ll tell you what why don’t we do it together?
    Gary: That’s no good, it will sound stupid.
    Me: Ok, Well you ask half the question and I’ll ask the other half. You say “Did you” and I’ll say “have a nice sleep?”

    Now Gary thought this would be a great way to get me in trouble, especially I was asking the more “dangerous” part of the question.

    Gary: Ok

    We eventually pinned him down just outside the staff room….

    Gary: Sir, DID YOU?
    Me: Silence
    Gary nudges me: “Sir, DID YOU?”
    Cyril screams: DID I WHAT?
    Gary panics: Sir, sir do you have the time?
    Cyril notices Gary’s wearing watch
    Cyril: You’re always following me, I’m sick of it
    Cyril launches into a flying hair tug which Gary manages to block and then quickly scarpers down the corridor.
    Cyril: come back, come back!

    Unfortunately the words don’t do the story justice. I used to be regarded as one of the better Cyril impersonators. Maybe one day, I’ll do an audio version of the story and post it here.

  306. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Banin

    From cha’penny up the wall in Holders Road to semi-pro poker (if not great storytelling!) . . . but why “Prince Charles”?!

  307. “There is no excuse for violence. There is no excuse for looters. There is no excuse for thuggery.”

    British Home Secretary, Theresa May

    Morgan, you wretch . . . you forgot “That’s no excuse!” (yet another Cyrilism I was just reminded of, if anyone cares to explain . . .)

    I can’t take my eyes off Sky News. The “tzedek chevrati” movement is, more than anything else, sorely lacking Afro-Caribbean males.

    And the London riots now look like spreading to Tel Aviv: Israeli TV is reporting that someone on Rothschild just threw a falafel ball . . .

  308. I have just received the sad news that Mr. Bloomberg passed away this morning.

    I understand that the funeral will be at Bushey.

    If anyone knows/hears anything more, please feel free to post below. I am certain that there are many ex-Hasmos who would like to attend the funeral and/or shiva.

    Baruch Dayan Emes.

  309. Grant Morgan

    The passing of a true legend. My life was certainly richer for him being in it. As I mentioned before, I was one of very few boys who was taught by Cyril for 5 consecutive years – and laughed throughout. If you go back to one of my early posts you will see my tribute to the greatest Welshmen that coudn’t speak or teach French. I wish his family a long and healthy life, Hashem (who is surely French speaking) is possibly being given four sides as I write – two on punctuality and two on SENSIBLE AND DECENT BEHAVIOUR ! I loved that man.

  310. moshe shatzkes

    hi grant, i only had the great man for 3 years. superb laughs. my french is rusty (not one word) but my memory of those great times fluent. i wish the whole family arichas yomim, he will be truly missed

  311. David Weitz

    Baruch Dayan Emet – I can only echo many of Grant’s sentiments – I had him for 5 years too – 3 years French and 2 years English, However I did learn some French in Hasmo – enough for me to ask the locals in Paris “Parlez vous Anglais” on visits there whenever I needed to ask directions! Needless to say I more learnt French in 5 days in Paris spent with the family of an ex girlfriend than in 5 years in that institution in Holders Hill Road. Nowadays my French is being maintained by many French neighbours in Baka, Jerusalem. Amongst my neighbours is Cyril’s granddaughter, Tzippi, who was severely injured in a shooting attack during the Intifada and is now studying education at David Yellin Teachers Training College here in Jerusalem.

  312. Richard Gross

    Nice one Cyril.
    Thanks for the memories.
    Cyril’s son Steve and I shared a room on Hachshara (Golan 1978-9), meeting the dad of a friend after years of Cyril-baiting required quite a switch. We all managed it admirably.
    Fairly strict but strictly fair? I guess his life wasn’t easy as a teacher or as a Father/Grandfather: Cyril must have been quite a dad too. Steve family was badly shot up in the intifada, he (Steve – Shimon) is the model of good humour and it is always a pleasure to share his company. I honestly have no idea how he does it but it must be a reflection on his upbringing too. So there, I admit it, I guess Cyril did something right 🙂
    He’ll be sorely missed, but at least I took a picture 🙂

  313. Danny Landau

    Baruch Dayan Emet – sad news, a legend indeed ! Interestingly when I’m in Paris, and out with our French bankers, I take great pleasure in asking for “un bon vin blanc” (kosher of course).
    Richard, as you took the famous picture I am guessing you were Eli Gross in a previous incarnation – I have fond memories of that photo incident.

  314. David Prager

    That is really sad news – he really was a great character. I actually DID learn some French from him, so much so, that when he was superseded by Sid Bailin in the 4th and 5th forms, I went to him for private lessons in order to learn verbs other than “manger”. He was a different person one on one, and I remember looking forwrd to those private lessons. At least he lived long enough to see his beloved Swansea FC in their best season ever. Yehi Zichro Baruch.

  315. A Raleigh Close members’ e-mail . . .

    From: Leonard Cohen [mailto:admin@hendonus.org.uk]
    Sent: 17 May 2012 12:30
    To: Leonard Cohen
    Subject: Shiva Notification

    Dear member,

    I regret to have to advise you of the passing away of Mr Alan Bloomberg, husband of Anita and father of Joseph.

    The family are striving to have the Funeral this afternoon at Bushey Cemetery.

    The actual time is not known but it is hoped that it will be late afternoon 4 or 4.30pm.

    May we only hear good news


    (Leonard Cohen? His morbidness and parlous financial state are common knowledge . . . but levaya/shiva announcer at Raleigh Close?!)

  316. Baruch Dayan Emet,
    I think that this post and an assortment of the comments afterwards would make a fitting Hesped for this great character and legend.

  317. “At least he lived long enough to see his beloved Swansea FC in their best season ever.”

    Not granting you any poetic license with that one, David . . . AHB detested the game, always describing it, with trademark dismissive contempt, as “22 grown men chasing a pig’s bladder”!

  318. David Prager

    No argument that he would often make that comment, but see one of the old posts above where he pulled out a cutting showing Swansea high up in the league table…..seems like he was a secret fan.

  319. The funeral is at 4:30pm today (Bushey). And here are the shiva details, too . . .

    From: admin@hendonus.org.uk
    To: admin@hendonus.org.uk
    Subject: Shiva notification update.
    Date: Thu, 17 May 2012 13:59:57 +0100

    Dear Member,

    Further to my earlier email I can now advise that the funeral for the late Alan Bloomberg
    will be at 4.30pm at Bushey Cemetery this afternoon (Thursday 17th May).

    Shiva will be observed at the home of Joe Bloomberg, 22 Sydney Grove, Hendon NW4 2EH.

    Times of services are as follows:

    Shacharit at 7.00am on Friday 18th, Monday 21st, Tuesday 22nd and Wednesday 23rd May
    Shacharit on Sunday 20th May at 8.30am
    Mincha/Maariv 8.00pm on Thursday 17th, Sunday 20th, Monday 21st and Tuesday 22nd May.
    Shabbat Mincha at 6.00 and Maariv at 9.51pm


  320. Grant Morgan

    That’s so true Mike. I’m now off to pay my respects – I can still hear him in my ear ‘Morgan, YOU’RE LATE’ !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  321. Grant, tell Sam Michaels to be on time.

  322. John Fisher

    Sad news, indeed. I think the following epitaph is appropriate for this blog:


    I don’t think it is French (4 years with Cyril) but I am told that, roughly translated, it means:


    Thank you, Mr AHB, for all the precious memories.

  323. Nader Bolour

    Barouch Dayan Vemet
    I made my peace with him in Shul
    I was not allowed on the French trip due to lack of manners but never took it to heart
    I miss him

  324. Jonathan Leci

    He will be missed by all – and always remembered when there are two hasmo boys getting toether

  325. Like Spike Milligan’s epitaph (“I told you I was ill”), I believe AHB would have given his trademark wry smile and shrug of the shoulders to this, today of all days . . .

    “It’s not the cough that carries you off, it’s the coffin they carry you off in.”

    The comments above say everything. And there have been over 150 “hits” on this page since midday (and nearly 9,500 since I published the above post, making it the fourth most popular on melchett mike).

    I don’t believe there is one other teacher who walked the corridors of Holders Hill Road whose passing has inspired, or would, anything similar.

  326. Graham Summers

    Just came back from the funeral. Rabbi Ginsbury spoke very well – he even managed to throw into his hesped the  word ‘ imposition ‘ – intentionally, so he admitted ! 
    Was well attended seeing it was a weekday afternoon at short notice. There were quite a few Hasmo boys who had come along especially to pay their respects.
    Oif simchas !

  327. Grant Morgan

    Thank you Graham. I, with my dear friend Pauly Herszaft, enjoyed every single word, and on occasions even laughed out loud at the mention of homework marking procedures and tiny sharpened pencils. (right, you’re FOR IT !) delivered in a way that only an ex-pupil of the man could have done justice to. I respect that he died giving little notice (he would !) but I was saddened with the lack of loons in attendance, sorry – I mean ex teachers. I was so looking forward to screaming – ERRRR DON’T SIR ME as Flop delivered earth onto wood. Rest in peace AHB, you were an inspiration, source of amusement and fashion guru to so many of us – especially Elbaz, the ‘French Speaking’ wretched creature that he is !

  328. David Lederman

    I also attended the levaya yesterday.

    Rabbi Ginsbury’s display of utter genius and contained emotion sets a very high bar indeed. Referring back to his time as one of the niftar’s pupils, the Rov recalled, with breathtaking fluency, several relevant details of the niftar’s character and his teaching methodology. His every word chosen carefully and thoughtfully, he managed to mention AHB’s “legendary” status several times without losing a shred of dignity.

    I must also mention that the niftar’s younger son Steven (Shimon) also delivered a hesped, mentioning, particularly, his father’s dedication to Yiddishkeit, his love of music, especially opera and also to his keen sense of humour. I left Bushey with a sense that perhaps for all those years, it was “Cyril” who had been pulling all the strings and we were merely his audience, unwitting but nonetheless grateful.

    Above all, both speakers mentioned the niftar’s exceptional humility. It is a quality that is a lesson to us all in this “show off” society and an important part of his legacy.

    Thank you Alan Bloomberg, for the French you taught us and for the many happy memories you have left us. Your seat in the back corner at Raleigh Close, where you sat modestly and quietly for so many years, is empty and you will be missed.

  329. Grant Morgan

    My final word on the subject. A number of years ago, Paul and myself visited a Hasmonean re-union and spent some considerable time talking to Cyril & Mrs Cyril. On being questioned as to whether her husband had ever administered sides upon her, the response was ‘oh, no’ and with that he turned to her, lips pursed, with a wry smile and simply said ‘IT’S NOT TOO LATE’. Sheer genius. Good shabbos one and all.

  330. According to Hertfordshire Police, Grant, there was a rather large-nosed Moroccan – French-speaking, apparently – repeatedly slamming his football against the Bushey Cemetery gates, yesterday afternoon.

    Any ideas?

  331. Grant Morgan

    He would !

  332. jeremy issacharoff

    I had not read this blog for quite a while and felt like checking in tonight only to find that sadly ‘Cyril’ – Mr Bloomberg died two days ago. The amazing stories he inspired – as well as the years of teaching successive generations of Hasmo ‘gentlemen’ – will remain a legacy and special memory that will always remain a part of us. Zichrono lebracha.

  333. “Rabbi Ginsbury’s display of utter genius and contained emotion sets a very high bar indeed . . . the Rov recalled, with breathtaking fluency . . . His every word chosen carefully and thoughtfully . . . without losing a shred of dignity.”

    Beautiful words, David . . . though Rabbi Ginsbury says if you would like a better seat, you only needed to ask! 😉

    PS On the subject of the Rabbi, could any readers who have access to him – I believe there is one in particular – please enquire whether he would consider allowing me to publish his hesped on these humble pages.

  334. Paul Keene

    Saddened to hear that Cyril passed away. End of an era! Will never forget that little moustach and little pencil. An absolute legend.

  335. Anthony Mammon

    Sad news indeed. Cyril was definately the greatest of the Hasmo Legends. It seems as if he must have ‘always’ been at Hasmo. However old you are, if you went to Hasmo you had Cyril as a teacher. Perhaps someone can verify this, but was he the longest running teacher at Hasmo? I think that without doubt, wherever you are in the world, if 2 Hasmo boys bump into each other, a Cyril one liner will inevitably come up in the conversation. An end of an era.

    Barouch Dayan Emet

  336. John Fisher

    Sadly not, I fear, Anthony

    My fast failing memory tells me that Cyril joined the teaching staff of Hasmonean in 1964 at the age of 40. On the assumption that he retired at 65 after 25 years service he would not even qualify as an also-ran in the longevity stakes.

    Indeed, to the best of my knowledge all those well presented fellows in the recent Hasmo Legend XXV picture of the Lower Sixth 1962/63 would have missed him by 6 weeks – the one exception being the fellow who went on to a distinguished career as a science teacher at Hasmonean. Distinguished in that he was to teaching what Greece is to the Eurozone.

  337. Anthony Mammon

    John, who was the science teacher?

  338. Anthony Mammon

    got it, Steve Posen…. How can ANY pupil of Hasmo become a teacher at Hasmo? … It’s like the lunatic taking over the asylum… I guess I just answered my own qustion..

  339. “Shit! Steve!” I believe is the eminent science teacher referred to. He was my form-master and I can’t remember his name now. Ha ha.
    Every time he would appear in the classroom somebody would exclaim in a hushed whisper: “Shit! Steve!”
    Whatever were we so afraid of?

  340. I re-read this this blog page after hearing of Cyril’s demise. I had him teach me A-level French – with only one other, disinterested chappy – was his teacher’s pet for o-level and had the dubious “honour” of being his assistant scorer at Copthall sportsday for a few years.

    Eccentric, regimental,apoplectic, Cyril had the whole gamut of Hasmoneanitis.

    He walked past my house one Shabbas morning with Agnes, and we blasted Ian Dury ‘s opening lyrics (i forget which track) at him as he passed our open window.

    “arseholes, bastards, fking c-nts and pricks” assaulted their eardrums at 150 decibels.

    Agnes winced, Cyril picked up the pace and they sped off, heads down. The only thing, in my juvenile repertoire of revenge, that ever appeased me for years of wrenched earlobes, screamed abuse and mountains of sides.

    Don’t forget “I opened the door and “influenza”.

    I, for one, will miss him.

  341. Jonathan Landau

    According to the 1970 Hasmonean school magazine, Cyril Bloomberg joined the Hasmonean teaching staff in May 1965 after teaching at Sloane School Chelsea.

    Mr David Jacobson joined the teaching staff in September 1960 after being a pupil at the Hasmonean.

  342. John Fisher

    Mr Baran

    You have quite an eccentric system of obscenity censorship that I have been trying hard to decipher.

    At first I thought that perhaps you have some ingrained objection to women and children stumbling accidentally on the letter “U” but that would imply that you do not know how to spell as there was also a consonant missing somewhere (and you evidently do know how to spell).

    Please reveal your secret.

  343. Not in fact AGNES, Eli B, but ANITA…..I think this common misnomer came from the illustrator of “Whitmarsh” being one Agnes Holmar; see my comment on February 19, 2009 , above.

  344. Just received the following message (the source of which shall remain anonymous) . . .

    “Hi Mike, I meant to tell you earlier this week, Rabbi Ginsbury quoted your blog (without mentioning your name) on Shabbat when speaking about Hasmo legend, Cyril. You’ve arrived!!!!”

    (i) he’s arrived, and (ii) where are my royalties?! 😉

  345. I was witness to the above mentioned reference to this blog by Rabbi G on shabbat. Strange but he normally quotes Rashi or other gedolim as his sources for his sermon. Mike, are you now a gadol hador?

  346. “I was witness to the above mentioned reference . . .”

    Though you are not, of course, the source. 😉

    “Mike, are you now a gadol hador?”

    Do you mean just this generation?

  347. Mr Fisher
    Many thanks for your observations. The omission of the “u” stems from a couple of sources.
    1) I was listening to Ken Loach yesterday, bemoaning the fact that his latest film has been heavily censored in order to retain a 15 certificate.
    The C word was used 7 times..apparently 5 is the maximum a teenager can hear it before they go off the rails and destabilise humanity.
    I guess my innate sensibilities made me think that the full spelling of that word on this forum might lead to similar apocalyptic entropy amongst 50-something ex-hasmos.(no reason for the missing consonant comes to mind).
    Shloime Abrahams took away our copy of the sun as we ogled the page 3 girl, berating our lack of moral compass, prior to disappearing into the toilet with it.He probably still has it. We have all been deeply scarred by the Bowdleristic governance of our times in NW4.
    2) the use of such words , with “u’s” included, led me (and others) to have their oropharyngeal regions lavaged with fairy liquid and water by one Osher Baddiel at some stage in history.May be it’s a kind of “shaymos”- drop the “o” in God (not these days) and drop the “u” in cunt. There you go.
    Now where is that mouthwash?

    The Agnes thing was me using the another’s referral to it. I never knew her name.

    gawd bless Cyril

  348. David Prager

    My mechutan Tony Brown was often the form master of the class parallel to the one of which Cyril was form master. I met him a couple of days ago and told him of Cyril’s demise, and he told me a wonderful story from the teachers’ room, how Cyril would every day eat his sandwiches in the same pedantic way, first spreading out some sort of table cloth, then cutting up his vegetables very methodically, etc, etc. Maybe I can get him to send in a “comment” on this post.
    He seemed to think that Cyril had been a Japanese POW in the Burma campaign, which accounted for his eccentricities and pedantry, possibly helping in keeping him alive and relatively sane. Can anyone corroborate this?

  349. Jonathan Landau

    Hi David

    According to the 1970 Hasmonean School magazine, Cyril joined the teaching staff at Hasmonean in May 1965 from Sloane School, Chelsea.

    DJ joined the Hasmonean teaching staff in September 1960 making DJ perhaps the longest serving teacher in Hasmonean.

  350. He was certainly the longest serving something at Hasmonean.

  351. Joe Bloomberg

    Firstly, thanks to everyone for their kind comments about my late (imposition?!) Dad o”h/z”l. I have only just got around to reading them, shiva having ended yesterday and wanting to prepare some comments of my own for the last night of the shiva, without being “prejudiced” by anything that I might have read here. Mike, a big thank you for facilitating on your site all this stuff on my Dad over the years, almost all of which has been in warm and affectionate terms. Even that which hasn’t been is forgivable – not everyone has to be favourably disposed to everyone else! Anyway, here is that which I said on Tuesday evening:

    Hesped for Alan Bloomberg delivered by Joe Bloomberg on last night of shiva 2 Sivan 5772

    “Since the early hours of Thursday, when just 3 hours or so after my return from Israel, the fateful telephone call was received informing of my dear father’s demise, I have been thinking about and reflecting upon his essence, his life OUTSIDE of the classroom and how and to what extent this has impacted upon my own life.

    Dad was born on 12 November 1923 in Swansea and was the youngest and, until Thursday, the last surviving of five, two brothers and two sisters.

    His youth was interrupted by the Second World War and indeed, he served in the army and was stationed in Burma.

    Thereafter, he resumed his studies, graduating in French and spending time in France as an English assistant before commencing his teaching career in England.

    Meanwhile a friendship was beginning with a nurse by the name of Anita Greenberg and on 11 August 1957, their marriage, which was to last three months short of 55 years, was solemnised at Egerton Road shul and just over a year later, they were blessed (!) with me and with Steve too, after a further 18 months.

    Whilst Dad had a teaching position at Sloane School in Chelsea, we lived in Chiswick and every Shabbas, we walked across Chiswick Green to the Chiswick District Synagogue, under the spiritual leadership of Rev David Wolfson, who together with his wife were family friends for many years, well beyond the time both families moved elsewhere.

    Dad always provided us with the requisite sweets – Keilers in a gold wrapper, which we were able to manipulate into looking like a ring. Many of you know that, notwithstanding the view of dentists on the matter, I am a firm believer in sweets for kids in shul – you never know when, in later years, an adult’s earliest positive memories of shul may just come to the rescue!

    As Steve said at the levaya, a key point in all our lives was the move to Hendon in April 1965, upon Dad taking up his teaching post at Hasmonean. I do believe that he had a yearning to become more religious than had hitherto been possible for him and living in Hendon and teaching at Hasmonean was likely to and indeed did achieve that aim.

    Certainly living in Hendon ever since has benefited me immensely with a large circle of friends over the years and a rich Jewish life and infrastructure that promotes religious growth especially under the dynamic Rabbinic leadership of all the shuls with which I am associated.

    Dad had an instant treat awaiting him. His love of music is well known and the first opportunity for him to attend Raleigh Close was on the first day of Pesach. He was in seventh heaven listening to the classical strains of Yossele Rosenblatt’s Tefilas Tal sung in his peerless lyrical tenor voice by Chazan Moshe Korn and the choir.

    Steve and I joined the shul choir as young boys and for more than ten years now, I have been involved in singing that particular piece whether at Raleigh Close or the shul at the Ella & Ridley Jacobs Home.

    My Dad was certainly a very humble, modest, quiet, unassuming man, in fact quite a gentleman and gentle man. At Raleigh Close, his seat was at the back of the shul and certainly shul politics were not for him.

    Whilst he was not a midweek shul goer, he was very attentive to davening and far more than that which appears in the siddur. An important aspect of his spirituality was that of private prayer and often he was to be seen or heard davening for something or other, for example, when embarking on a journey in my car!! Hopefully, in Gan Eden, he will be well placed to intercede on behalf of us all.

    As a child and teenager living at home, it would be fair to say that Dad and I did not always see eye to eye, usually the result of generation gap issues. Nevertheless, now and even at the time, I did recognise that he and Mum were bringing me up in the correct manner, instilling within me all the important values in life, which to this day continue to stand me in good stead and ensuring that at each stage, I passed the necessary exams that would allow me to pursue the career that I had chosen at a young age. I am eternally grateful for all of that.

    Dad was so refined and cultured and his love and knowledge of classical music was legendary and he accumulated a huge collection of records. He was also very keen to promote a love of classical music to others through music appreciation classes at Hasmonean and he regularly arranged evening opera trips for the boys, which were extremely popular and involved a good deal of organisation as well as responsibility.

    I more latterly have begun to increasingly enjoy certain classical pieces and in the last three months or so, I have willingly played classical cds in my car, both whilst on my own and especially when driving Dad. To the very end, he had instant recognition of almost everything played and, in earlier years, this proved to be very helpful in winning prizes for his teams in quizzes.

    Full advantage was taken by Dad of the lengthier holidays granted in his particular profession and there were no complaints about the regular and frequent trips abroad, which in those days were not so commonplace as today. This was certainly something well appreciated by me and there is no doubt that I have inherited a love of travel. Once Steve and I had left home and through Dad’s almost 25 year retirement, Mum & Dad were able to enjoy even more ambitious holidays, including 11 cruises. I am sure that these and other good memories of your long marriage to Dad will ultimately be of much comfort to you, Mum.

    Speaking of you Mum, on behalf of Steve and myself, I thank you more than words can express for all your care and nursing of Dad, especially in recent times when this was far from easy. I really do think that it can be said that your care extended his life beyond that which might otherwise have been achieved.

    13 years ago in 1999, Dad had a coronary bypass operation and he was extraordinarily brave and stoical throughout. There were in more recent years a number of minor fainting episodes, which generally resulted in a short hospital stay for tests and there was his broken hip, which occurred after his walking had severely deteriorated. It was during these times that I probably spoke to Dad more than before and my love and respect for him duly increased. I saw how unfailingly polite and courteous he always was to the doctors, nurses and ancillary staff and how even in adversity, no opportunity was lost for a humorous aside.

    Similarly in the Spanish & Portugese Home in Wembley, where he spent the last couple of months or so of his life, where he was well liked by the staff and fellow residents alike. He was very contented there and towards the end, he was sleeping for much of the day, including the last time that I saw him alive on Tuesday 8 May. A measure of the quality of the caring there was experienced by me only this morning, when in today’s post I received unsolicited from them, an item that I had hoped was still there and was going to enquire about at the conclusion of shiva. It is what proved to be my last communication with Dad.

    In Dad’s passing, the Yad Hashem was clearly present. Dad died peacefully in his sleep, aged 88, late enough for me to have just returned home from Israel beforehand and thus prevent the trauma of Mum taking the call with me absent and yet early enough for Steve and Judi to board a flight from Israel that would allow the kevuro to occur on the same day, in accordance with halocho.

    The funeral service commences with the possuk from Ha’azinu (Deut 32:4) Hatzur Tomim Po’olo……….. The Rock! perfect is His work……..this means that the totality of Hashem’s work – the combination of success and failure, happiness and sadness, joy and tragedy – is in fact one harmonious whole, even though down here on earth we can’t fathom how the pieces of Hashem’s puzzle fit together. It’s clear though that, sadly, we did gain some insight into this, last week.

    I couldn’t possibly conclude my words without a classic example of my Dad’s sense of humour, not from the classroom but, from of all places, Bushey cemetery itself. I only heard this whilst in Israel for a simcha last week.

    Apparently Mum & Dad were attending a stone-setting (matzeivoh) and utilised the “golf buggy” to transport them to the graveside. Upon arrival there, the driver asked “is it both ways?” to which Dad responded “I most certainly hope so!” Alas, last week, it was only one way.

    May my Dad’s dear soul be bound in the Bond of Eternal Life.”

  352. John Fisher

    May I state in my defence for getting the date of Cyril’s joining the school wrong by 8 months, that my source was the 1970 Hasmonean School magazine that I had read in 1970 and never seen since.
    Can someone confirm that it contains an article by a sixth former entitled “A walk in the Somme (1919)”.
    Even at the tender age of 12 I thought this was pretentious nonsense. However, when I was in the sixth form and they asked me to write an article for the school magazine my title was “Return to the Somme (1923)” and it was pretentious crap too. 18 year olds really are full of it.

  353. John Fisher


    I wish you long life. It seems like yesterday that we went up together from St Mary’s to Hasmo and I was totally intrigued to meet your father for the first time – he absolutely terrified me. But as you know, that changed.

    (Apologies for crashing with the last comment – I must have been writing it when you posted)


  354. David Lederman

    The memories are returning… Third Form French lesson, Spring Term, 1976.

    “Asseyez vous”

    Five minutes into the lesson there’s a knock at the classroom door.
    “Come in” says Cyril. The door stays shut but there’s another knock.
    “Come in” says Cyril, a bit louder. Still, the door does not open but there’s more knocking. “Come in” says Cyril as loudly and firmly as he can without shouting. There’s another knock, so, rolling his eyes to us and groaning at the interruption, he moves swiftly to the door and yanks it open. Shloimie A is standing there, trying to look angelic, looks at Cyril and sweetly says “Did you say ‘Come in’ sir?”. Returning the courtesy Cyril politely replies “I did.” then screams “Now get out!”, slams the door shut, turns to us and utters that immortal word
    “…… lout”.

  355. Joe Bloomberg

    Good to hear from you, especially given that we do indeed go all the way back to St Mary’s! Ronald Dombey telephoned with condolences – I would like to have spoken to him more but the call came just as Dayan Abraham paid me a shiva visit! Through Ronald informing David Marx, David came to the shiva too and he was probably the visitor whom I was most surprised to see.

  356. Robert Gordon

    Whilst at Hasmonean, I cant say Mr Bloomberg was my favourite teacher. However, after leaving school I had the good fortune to meet and ultimately have a ‘relationship’ with two French girls, on separate occasions I must add. Neither spoke English & I was amazed how much French I managed to utter, thanks to Mr Bloomberg. My mother-in-law lives in Paris and I am of fond of telling all who will listen about Mr Bloomberg, my eccentric French teacher. I was extremely sorry to learn of his recent passing & wish his family long life.

  357. somewhat astonishingly, , i have just seen a patient called Enza…..i opened the door, and influenza…..Cyril, you prophet!

  358. David Goodman

    Gentleman – I was fortunate to have Cyril as my French teacher between 1966 and 1971 . The only word I learnt in French was ‘sarbacane’ – peashooter, as Cyril was not impressed to have been shot with a wet pellet from the back of the class using a pen casing as a weapon. (Maybe that was the start of a 12 year career in the Israeli army as an officer in the paratroopers).

    Sadly Cyril was also the cause for me to get the cane from Noddy in front of Stanton! For those of you who knew Willy Stanton – his arthritic hands did not allow him to give the cane himself, but he oversaw the judgement.

    My finest hour was taking a photograph of Cyril as he was leaving the class. i was making aliyah the following week so nothing really mattered! He made a lunge at me and for those of you who didn’t know it, Cyril could move very fast when he wanted to. There was I running across the forecourt of the school – there used to be a gate on Holders Hill Road, cheered on by the class, with Cyril in hot pursuit!! As I ran down the road I could feel Cyril gaining on me, boy was I grateful that there was a bus at the bus stop slowly starting to pull away. With a final burst of energy I managed to catch hold of the back pole of the bus (in those days buses were open at the back) and hurl myself on the bus to the sound of ‘Goodman you wretch’. The photograph ultimately made its way back to school the year later as the backing for a good luck card for O’ levels. I understand that Cyril’s comment was ‘ not a bad photo eh!’

    Before I sign off, I read earlier that no one knew where the name Cyril comes from. Well hear goes. You will all know of Cyril’s famous one- line moustache. Close to the beginning of Cyril’s career ar Hasmo there was a TV programme called Secret Squirrel, moustache, hat and all. Cyril had a very distinct hat and it was the ‘Cyril the secret Squirrel’ which came to form the nickname of one of our Favourite teachers. BDE. May he rest in peace. Wishing his family long life.

  359. Thank you, David, for adding some meat to the Squirrel Theory (previously espoused by Dan Gins and Andy Goldberg). This must be the little fella . . .

    I don’t suppose you still have that photo, do you?

  360. David Goodman

    Spot on! that’s the secret squirrel! As a Cyril biographer are you aware that Cyril’s son Joe brought into school pictures of his Dad in a pair of trunks. (Must have been 1970) They ended up with my class and ultimately It went up on the blackboard. Needless to say Cyril didn’t look like Charles Atlas or Arnold S. More like Olive from Popeye!! Fond memories. Have a shabbat shalom or gut shabbos. Actually being a Hasmo boy it may simply be a great weekend. Take your pick! Regards.

  361. Mr Bloomberg OBM has been much in my thoughts over the last 24 hours.

    Today’s “daf” deals with the question of whether the dead are aware of what is going on this world. The Gemara comes to no conclusion on the matter.

    I do hope that the ayes have it and Mr AHB is aware of his beloved Swansea’s demolition of QPR yesterday to go joint top of the Premier League for the first and, probably last, time in history.

    With a wink to Rosh Chodesh Elul, could this even be a case of a Meilitz Yosher whispering in the right ear (or threatening the angels with four sides)?

  362. I, too, thought of AHB z”l when learning today’s daf.

    Being more steeped in gashmius, however, than my otherwise learned friend from Ra’anana, I knew that the Swans were also “top, top, top, top, toppa the League” in Season 1981/82 . . .


  363. The Premier League didn’t exist in 1981/2

  364. So Cyril wouldn’t have been delighted about Swansea being perched atop the old Division One, would he, rather musing “Hmmm . . . I know there’s going to be a Premier League within ten years and that’s when it’ll really count”?!

    To quote the great man, “Waddanidiot!!”

  365. Waydaminnit!

    However beloved Swansea FC was to Cyril, he was not – according to any possible definition of the word – a romantic. He was, however, a pedant. And sorry mon cher, you just lost 5 marks and slipped from a Tres Bien to whatever he gave below a Bien (I wouldn’t know, of course).

  366. Mark comments were actually in English, and moved down from “Very good indeed” to “Good” to “Scraper” to a hugely entertaining range of facial expressions and grimaces.

  367. How sad is it that Cyril isn’t here to see his beloved Swansea make it to Wembley for the League Cup Final? Maybe the powers-that-be can be persuaded to dedicate a page in the match-day programme to their No 1 London fan?

  368. Bradford v Swansea – is this the first time in history that there won’t be ANY English fans at a Cup Final at Wembley? Mike – please enlighten us.

  369. Mike "Ivor" Braff

    A couple of weeks back I was at a friend’s son’s Barmitzvah. All I can think of is Cyril… I start racking my head and I’m transported back over 37 yrs ago to one of the classes that adjoins the assembly/dining room… A little peculiar man is pulling my ear and saying in those mild Welsh tones of his, “Braff you wretch, you’re all Bar and no Mitzvah!”

    It was a gem… I shared it with the proud father over a double whiskey…

  370. That’s genius Mike.

    As one who truly relished every single second of the five consecutive years in Cyril’s lessons – I can safely say that he would have had little if any interest in Swansea City making it to Wembley this weekend. In his ‘not so humble’ opinion, football was simply an excuse for twenty two ‘louts’ to chase a pig’s bladder. I’m actually pissing myself as I write as I can see him now, lips pursed, looking for class approval of his utter disdain of the sport while a copy of Whitmarsh lies still – open in his palms. What a wretched creature that I am and like a great wine his memory just gets better with age!

  371. Great story, Mike! Thanks for sharing. Cyrilisms come to me, too, at the most unexpected of times. As well as their originality, timing and delivery was always as immaculate as that pencil-thin mustache! When I get a free evening, I might even, referencing all of the above, compile a list of them.

    As for Swansea City, I would have to concur with the wretch Morgan: Football – and especially an even bigger, French-speaking, wretch named Elbaz, who (before he was transferred to the JFS, i.e., before the school became discerning) would dedicate entire afternoons to whacking pigs’ bladders against Cyril’s perspex Room 2 window – was oft the bane of his teaching life.

  372. Reading these Cyril comments still makes me laugh out loud. “I opened the window, and in-flu-enza”!

  373. Davidi Prager

    I have just returned to Israel from a week in the UK, including a 5 day stay in the holy city of Swansea, and to my undying regret I have to inform readers that no-one there had ever heard of Cyril, nor was there a blue plaque anywhere marking the great man’s origins there. I searched for clues in the depths of coal mines, in the heights of the Brecon Beacons and in the streets and docks of Swansea itself. Could it be that his roots in Swansea are just another urban legend?

  374. That’s because “Cyril” is not my name, Prager you wretch!!

    Anyway, why would there be a plaque? I was not a novelist, a classical composer, or an explorer (though I did serve in Burma), merely a humble French teacher (in an even humbler institution).

    As for the Brecon Beacons, you idiot, they are at least 50 miles from Swansea!!

    Now let me get back to my Beethoven. If you waste any more of my time, I’m going to be wasting yours . . .

    PS Did you have a brother at the school?

  375. Last night Paul Herszaft told me that his friend has come across a video of an entire 45 minute French lesson with Cyril, in which he uses some of his well-known Cyrilisms. Would be great if it could be downloaded onto your site

  376. Anthony 'what's your name' Mammon

    Danny Landau. How come this hasn’t seen the light of day already. Sounds like he has the holy grail

  377. “Hmmm . . . Herszaft . . . French speaking . . . haven’t you got a brother at the school?”

    If that wretch has got something like that, he’d better come forward toute suite.

  378. OK, so here’s some context. Had you read my original post you will be aware that I was one of the few boy’s in Hasmo’s history fortunate enough to be ‘taught’ by Cyril for five consecutive years and, albeit mildly autistic in his ways, I loved the man with all my heart and a day does not go past that I don’t quote him. Eric ‘he’s so quick to call someone an idiot when he’s made the same mistake himself’ Elbaz recently discovered this jewel and played me the first 15 minutes. I’m not quite sure how I survived – it’s simply beyond genius. Every mannerism and quote captured on TDK, placing the listener back in room 1, WE shall have it digitised and uploaded soonest – now mark out of 10, sign your name and pass back ‘in the usual manner’ !

  379. moshe shatzkes

    hi grant, sadly I only had the great man for 3 years (they made me drop it at the end of the 3rd year because I got 13% in the end of year exam. still not sure how I got such a high mark) I am assuming it is not a video but audio as I can’t imagine sneaking in a massive vhs video camera in 1983 and filming the mayhem would have been easy. I await this gem with huge anticipation. I was talking just the other day to danny davilla (and he’s French speaking) about how anyone with any connection to a French speaking home, would be grassed on by the boys to Cyril as some sort of reason to be good at the ancient classical French the great man and his trusty whitmarsh were trying to teach us.

  380. “Hmmm . . . Elll-baz . . . he would! As for Schatzkes, VHS . . . what is he waffling about?! The lout means Video Home System . . . wayderminnnit, isn’t his father American?”

    Any techies help with the best way of accessing from here? Link to YouTube? Daniel Greenspan?

  381. Daniel Greenspan


    I’ve got the equipment to do VHS to web… may need to dig it out. I hope that the wretch did not video it with the SECAM system.
    Shame that no-one recorded my own broadcasts from his lessons. Ah… the limitations of being a pirate radio station…

  382. The wretch Herszaft has admitted that it was an “audio” tape all along !!

    On a serious note, it may also be of interest to the family.

  383. Daniel Greenspan

    Audio tape? I expect they’ll need my pencil to tighten the spools, the wretches!

  384. Another one we’ve all missed . . .

    Just seeing the name Israeli surname Shubeli, I am reminded of one of Cyril’s favourites gags: The award for dieting? The Nobelly Prize! [Cue minutes of exaggerated laughter.]

    Now, Herszaft, Morgan and Elll-baz . . . where’s that tape?!

  385. Yes, where is the tape ?? It’s been over 3 months now

  386. Thank you for this blog MIke. Cyril looks like “mousy” – late 60’s. Is he the same ?

  387. My thoughts are with Erik Elbaz, this morning, after learning of the tragic and shocking death of his husband . . .


    You never could keep the boy out of the headlines, though the revelation of his “lifestyle” might explain much of his more outlandish behaviour on Holders Hill Road . . . clearly just a cry for help.

    Thank you to Grant Morgan for letting me know.

  388. So the guy in the clip is ‘the’ Eric Elbaz? What a horrific tragedy.

  389. I wouldn’t call it “a horrific tragedy,” Jonathan, merely surprising . . . he always seemed to like girls.

  390. Graham Summers

    It’s not the same guy !!

    Kind regards


  391. Sweet of you to defend him, Graham, Elll-baz or not. I was shocked too.

    I am not sure that you’d be so protective of him, however, if you knew that he was withholding a ‘live’ recording of one of Cyril’s lessons . . .

  392. Anthony Mammon

    A live recording of Cyril’s lessons? That’s gold. I hope he didn’t lose it at sea also.


    This boy is so quick to push his fat Arabic husband overboard when he should be marking out of ten, signing his name and passing back in the usual manner. He may well be ‘French Speaking’ but having wasted the time of the Captain, the Petty Officer and on-board Health & Safety Manager, I’m now going to waste his. He will do [me] four sides and the last time I reviewed his work there was MORE RED INK THAN BLUE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He is a wretched creature (that he is) and if thinks that killing his civil partner in some love tryst over a soya roll, a bun and an orange squash is appropriate behaviour then he’s for it !

  394. I’m sure Mr. B is looking down with great pride on his amazing granddaughter Tzippi and son Stephen, both paralysed from the waist down in a 2001 terrorist attack which claimed the life of their mother and wife Techiya z”l (click on the video at the top of the following page) . . .


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