Hasmo Legends VII: “Woody” Woodthorpe Harrison

Many Orthodox Jews entertain a genuinely held belief that all non-Jews – or “goyim”, as they usually refer to them – are anti-Semites, drunks, or both. It is not difficult to understand, therefore, how so many impressionable young Hasmo boys came to view their Gentile pedagogues as perpetually inebriated Oswald Mosleys. None of this nonsense, however, should cloud our judgment of Hasmonean’s former Economics and British Constitution teacher, Mr. Woodthorpe Harrison.

Mr. Harrison – or “Woody”, as he was affectionately known – most definitely did like a drink, but we never saw him drunk. And, while he may have made the odd comment about Jews, they were never nearly as offensive as those made by some of his Jewish colleagues. Commenters to melchett mike have already made reference to Albert Meyer, who would commence his first form classes with “You are all Jewish pigs!” Then there was “Noddy” Lever, who would rattle the coins in his pocket to demonstrate “Jewish music”. “What do you call a Jewish piano?” he would ask. “A cash register.”

With colleagues like Osher Baddiel, who would warn Hasmo boys to “Never trust a goy”, Mr. Harrison could have been forgiven for harbouring anti-Semitic views. He was too far too intelligent and educated a man, however, to let isolated bigotry cloud his judgement.

Woody did occasionally express his disappointment in us – “If I were to tell my friends in the City that you are the future Rothschilds, the Stock Exchange would collapse” – and, when especially disgusted, he would wonder out loud how boys encouraged by their religion to wash their hands before every meal could behave in such a fashion. These, however, were not intended as insults, but quite the opposite – Woody expected more of Jews than of his fellow Gentiles.

Woody's Oxford chums, Ted Heath & Harold Wilson

Woody's Oxford chums, Ted Heath & Harold Wilson

Mr. Harrison’s experiences at Oxford University and during the Second World War were the ones that shaped him. From the mid-sixties to mid-seventies, British politics was dominated by Prime Ministers Harold Wilson (Labour) and Edward Heath (Conservative). And Mr. Harrison saw them as his peers, having studied PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics) with them at Oxford, in the 1930s. Following his graduation, Mr. Harrison served in North Africa during the Second World War. He wore his officer tag proudly, and respected ex-Hasmo boys who subsequently enlisted in the IDF.

Mr. Harrison was married before the end of the War, and he related how he had been notified – whilst playing cards with fellow officers – of the birth of his first child. His new paternal responsibilities, he said, altered his perspective on life.

He was stationed in Greece by then, and involved in rebuilding its economy to prevent it falling to Communism. He related how a beautiful Greek woman had used her charms to try and obtain paper – which was in short supply at the time – from the money-printing press he was in charge of. And he was about to comply, until he recalled the words of Lord Acton: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

By 1953, Mr. Harrison was living back in London with his family. Never much of a monarchist, until that point, he confessed to having had “a tear in [his] eye” after hiring a room over a pub to watch the Queen’s coronation procession.

Woody joined Hasmonean’s teaching staff around 1960. And, every Monday to Friday morning, he would drive his Mini Minor through the gates of the school without a care in the world, blissfully unaware of the antics of the day ahead. On one such, a potato was shoved up his car exhaust. Just another day at Hasmonean Grammar School for Boys.

Sporting his trademark Harris Tweed jacket and brightly-coloured bow tie, Woody would stride proudly towards his class, the day’s Times under his arm (and memories of North Africa perhaps to the fore). His ruddy head was a daily reminder of the miracle of the splitting of the Red Sea, a bald central ridge between two leaping waves of Ben Gurion-style white hair.

Eagerly awaiting Woody’s arrival, we would prance and skip around outside the classroom, in an effeminate display probably inspired by Monty Python‘s Upper Class Twit of the Year sketch. And, as he emerged from the shadows of Hasmonean’s poorly lit corridors, we would also feign mild anxiety attacks. “Oh dear! Quick! Teacher is coming! Quick! Quick! Oh dear!”

All of this would really piss Woody off (which was, of course, why we did it). “Oh, do stop that prancing around!” he would bellow. Another likely legacy of Woody’s army service was his firm view that men should act like men, and display leadership qualities (“Now, when you go into your bank, demand to see their balance sheet. And, if they refuse, demand to see the manager.”)

"Woody" and entourage, in the playground

"Woody" and entourage, in the playground

Woody was clearly more interested in being a raconteur than a teacher. It was obvious that he invested little or no time, thought, or preparation in or for any lesson, and he would certainly never allow a syllabus to get in the way of a good story. In fact, for Woody, a curriculum was an unnecessary encroachment into 45 minutes of fond reminiscence – especially on college and the War – and enjoyable “shooting the breeze”. On asking Woody, for revision purposes, to list the subjects that he had taught that year, David Miller received a slap for his impertinence.

Unshackled by a syllabus, every Woody lesson, Economics or British Constitution, without exception, would go back to banks’ balance sheets, the Gold Standard, the inflationary Greek Drachma, the Queen’s coronation, or his cat (“Finnegan” or “Flannigan”).

“Have I ever told you about the Gold Standard?” was how Woody would commence a typical lesson. This was, apparently, the main economic issue during his time at Oxford. By the seventies, of course, it was a dead one . . . though no one had thought to inform him.

Alternatively, he would start “If you had a bag full of Greek Drachma notes, the bag would be stolen and the money left behind . . .”

Mr. Harrison was a clever man, who effortlessly completed The Times crossword every day. It was only a shame – or stroke of luck (depending on your perspective) – that his passion for Economics didn’t stretch past the Bretton Woods Gold Standard or post-War Greek fiscal policy.

Woody’s tangential meanderings were, anyway, always interrupted. It was “Miller time”:

“Please, sir, Marks is being a cad.”

“Oh, do shut up, boy!”

“Okay, sir.”

“No, I have the last word. Now don’t say anything.”

“Okay, sir.”

“I just said ‘Don’t say anything.'”

“I didn’t, sir.”

“You just did. Again. Now shut up, or you will get it.”

“Oh gosh, sir!”


And, when Woody tried to regale us with tales of his intimacy with another Greek ‘goddess’, we went into Pythonesque mode:

“Can we open the window, sir?”

“Yes, sir, it is very stuffy in here.”

Mr. Harrison was a decent man. And, unlike so many of his Hasmonean colleagues, he was rarely vindictive or cruel. He was, however, prone to eruptions, having been pushed too far by chutzpadik boys hell-bent on seeing him “lose it”. Any prank, however complex, always seemed worth the planning. Soon after opining that, if we purchased The Times every day, we would be halfway towards passing our exam, Woody entered the classroom to find all of us hidden behind our broadsheets:

“Put those damned newspapers down!”

We brayed. (Woody particularly disdained our poor impersonations of a donkey.)

“Oh, do stop braying!”

Reinvigorated, we brayed again.

“Stop braying! And put those damned newspapers down!”

Lowering them revealed all of us to be wearing Halloween masks. Woody went berserk, hitting Miller.

As with most Hasmo Legends, we were enjoying Woody’s lessons for all the wrong reasons, and the daily challenge of wreaking new havoc jeopardised our examination prospects. As a result, Woody’s two-year Economics A-Level course was abandoned at its halfway point, as new teacher Mrs. Stern was forced to cram the syllabus into just one year.

But Mr. Harrison’s lasting impression on so many ex-Hasmo boys (as seen by comments to melchett mike) had nothing to do with his teaching, but everything to do with his being colourful and different. And, in an institution where a teacher’s individuality usually seemed to hinge on his chosen means of corporal punishment, Woody’s wonderful eccentricity was a breath of fresh air.

According to melchett mike, Woody was still at Hasmo in 1979 (at least). Seeing as his former Oxford peers, Wilson and Heath, were born in 1916, it is reasonable to assume that, if he were alive today, Woodthorpe Harrison would be in his early to mid nineties.

If he is still with us, let us hope that he is enjoying his ripe old age. If not, there are surely angels in Heaven, in maroon blazers, braying sweetly specially for him.

Original draft: Nick Kopaloff & Daniel Marks.

Revised & edited: melchett mike.

[If any ex-Hasmo boys are in possession of a photograph of “Woody” Harrison – or any other good Hasmo photos for that matter – my offer of a soya roll, or one half of a chocolate rice crispies, in exchange remains ‘on the table’.]

Next on Hasmo Legends, Part VIII: A Pearcing Insight (Part I)


89 responses to “Hasmo Legends VII: “Woody” Woodthorpe Harrison

  1. andy goldberg

    Not a bad post, Nick and Daniel, for a couple of illiterate wankers that is… but how could you forget the iconic Woody habit… fiddling with his fly while informing us bombastically “Us gentiles have peculiar habits”?

  2. Nussi Feiner

    Good post… brings back fine memories of two wasted 6th Form years ‘studying’ Economics A-level (& amazingly getting an A!)

    I don’t remember any mention of Ted Heath but I do remember him saying that he was a good mate & certainly a drinking partner of Dennis Healey, ex-Chancellor (of bushy eyebrow fame).

    Oh… & sorry to disagree but I can certainly recall the many times that he turned up for a double-period Economics totally pissed & reeking of the amber nectar!

  3. Nussi, how could your parents have been so cruel to your brother David – my close childhood friend from Menorah Primary – depriving him of the Hasmo madness, by sending him to Menorah Grammar?! David would have loved Hasmo . . . though if he and Shuli Meyers (who joined for the 6th Form) had accompanied me there, Uni and law school would probably never have happened! 😉

  4. Mike – I guess by your time Woody had moderated his drinking. I can remember him being “as pissed as a newt” for most of our Economics A Level lessons. He would come in after his liquid lunches and regale us with his sexual exploits during WWII and of the will he drafted detailing how much he was leaving to his two cats (I guess the ninth life of one of them had expired by your time, Mike). As well as his ruddy appearance, his nose was pitted like a raspberry – a sure sign of alcohol abuse.

    Rumour had it that he never needed to buy petrol for his Mini. He had a tube sticking out of the dashboard into which he breathed. All he had to do was switch on the ignition and off he tootled back to his flat in Bayswater and his cats!

  5. David, I can just about picture Woody, carrying a leather briefcase. That is all. Issues of factual accuracy must be taken up with Nick and Daniel. I just revised and edited. Having said that, one man’s “pissed” is often another man’s “sober” . . . so I do look forward to meeting up with them, in the pub, in a few weeks’ time!

  6. Daniel Marks

    I never saw him drunk. I never used to sniff him but, if Nussi Feiner did, I shall not dispute his olfaction. I would however question how the smell of a man who has had a couple of pints for lunch differs from another who is intoxicated. The normal signs of inebriation are being unable to walk straight, constantly running to the toilet, etc. These I never saw.

    And I would suggest that David’s claims that Harrison was “as pissed as a newt for most of our Economics A Level lessons” should be regarded no less reliable than the rumor he relates about Woody fueling his car with his breath.

  7. graham summers

    I posted this comment on a previous post but not specific (or pacific as the ‘youngsters’ now say) to Woody. It was oft said of the old boy that the only thing he had in common with economics was that his face matched the colour of the FT.
    And all we ever learned was the story, at the time of the devaluation of the Reichsmark, of how he was in a store buying food when someone came in and put down a basket filled with notes of money. someone else actually stole the basket and left the money behind.
    not a bad story but we were to hear it every day for 5 years.

  8. Ellis Feigenbaum

    Woody carried a basket with a copy of the times on top, it was rumoured that there was a half bottle of scotch kept under the times, but I never actually saw it.
    He once lectured me for wearing an army surplus sweater, telling me how soldiers had died for those stripes etc etc. My opinion hasnt changed even after serving in the IDF, young men died for their country and their comrades but never for the stripes on their uniforms.
    He didnt like my opinion then and he probably wouldnt agree with it now.
    He did impart the knowledge of how to manufacture Gin in a bath tub, although I have never used this information, the knowledge of general fermentation and the use of yeast to extract sugars I found quite useful in later life.

  9. Daniel Marks

    Well done Graham! I had forgotten that story.

    We are honored to have “the legend” setting foot in our humble page and we also remember the explanation about gin.

    He once read a story in The Times about an explosion in a cheap hotel in Tel Aviv. Harrison explained that this was obviously a reference to a brothel and was angry with us, “Don’t be so bloody naive!”

  10. Reading all these Woody stories reminds me of his old drinking buddy Mr Parnell, who taught Maths. I think Parnell retired sometime around ’71 or ’72 so the younger former Hasmo inmates on the blog might not know who he was.

    Parnell was also a ‘legend’ and especially in his lunchtime, when he liked to have a swift’n’ with Woody.

    When I joined Hasmo I was told that Parnell 1st period after lunch could be, er, interesting; and lo and behold, in the 2nd year I had Mr Parnell 1st period after lunch.

    He was quite short and he walked with a slight limp, so he wasn’t steady on his feet at the best of times.

    He would enter the class carrying a whole pile of our excercise books, homework all freshly marked. On top of this were two Maths text books and on top of those were an old tobacco tin full of chalk and a large blackboard rubber.

    Complete with this tower of stuff parnell would carefully make his way into the class and totter unsteadily down between the rows of desks. Meanwhile we all held our breath wondering if he was going to make it to the front of the class without dropping something.

    Well one day curiosity got the better of one of my fellow classmates – who just happened to sit in front of me – and he angled his desk, very slightly, into the path of our esteemed teacher.

    To be honest, I don’t think he expected what followed. Parnell didn’t realise there was an obstacle blocking his path. This caused him to collide with the desk and sway into the adjacent desk. His forward momentum kept him going and the unsteady pile of things he was carrying made him top-heavy. Something had to give.

    He stumbled forward, at which point reflexes took over. He thrust his hands forward to stop himself from falling and the book, tobacco tin and rubber went flying. The tin hit the blackboard causing the lid to open, which sent the chalk flying.

    Fortunately Parnell had managed to stop himself from falling and wasn’t hurt. So after a bit of help from us, all his books etc were put on his desk in a neat pile.

    But the best thing was that he had absolutely no idea what had happened and after apologising for his unorthodox entrance, proceeded to take the lesson.

    He was quite a character and his attempts at drawing geometrical shapes on the blackboard always looked like some form of modern art. A true legend.

  11. Zvi Goldberg

    zvi goldberg here ’74 to ’80.

    roughly 3rd year d group french, having gone through a few french teachers thus far during the year there were no more. we had been assigned woody just to keep us from running wild.

    1st period after lunchbreak 6th form block he would always arrive wicker basket in hand rosy cheeked and a bit wobbly after his liquid lunch. we were ready for him. the flourescents hanging on chains from the ceiling had cotton tied to them. at a signal the entire class swayed left as the lights were pulled right. we had to hold the laughter in as he rubbed his eyes. after about 4 or 5 repeats he finally got shakily to his feet and left the room mumbling about not feeling too well. needless to say as the door closed behind him we all roared.

    other vague memories of him include him talking about his three thousand year old greek cat and of him telling boys with their mouths open to stop catching flies.

  12. Dovi "The Dove" Weinbaum

    Hilarious. Wish I’d known him, sadly before my time.

  13. benjy broder

    Well we had Woody for a number of years, and became quite experts in getting him into one of his tizwozs.
    I think that the phrase which got him really p***** off was “yer but” as an answer to any question. Woody would start screaming “You can’y start a sentence with yer but.” Of course once we learned this catalyst set him off roaring, it was a race to see how many “yer buts” could be said in one lesson, there was even some betting on who could get the most in, and the number was in the high double digits. This went on for years and years.
    I think that our most successful year was when we had Woody for Economics and Griz was in the class. Griz continuously got thrown out of class and continued to bang on the partition doors screaming out “Woody”. Woody of course came running out of the classroom and, finding no one, preceded to run round the classroom looking for the culprit. Sometimes Griz in the meantime had slipped back into the class, or other times simply scarperred.
    We were so damn naughty that at the end of the 4th year we decided to club together and buy Woody a present, a 5 litre bottle of J&B whisky (which was enormous) Woody was not amused!!!
    Of course, Eli Nussbaum, aka “Stuart”, was always registered as “Stuart” throughout his lessons with Woody and everyone was continuously screaming out “Stuart” whenever someone was in trouble. This meant that “Stuart” was always being sent out, in detention or such like.

  14. jeremy issacharoff

    Great recollection of a unique personality. I had Harrison in the early seventies and do not remember calling him “Woody”. I took three A levels and he taught me two of them Economics and British Constitution. How I got into to LSE is completely beyond me. I definitely do not recall anything approaching a serious syllabus but I do recall Harrison’s stories of his glorious past. He talked of the Army, the War and his Oxford days in Balliol and how Harold Wilson was probably one of the brightest students of his time. He did the Times crossword religiously and that I think was his lifeline to the English style of living he revered and tried to exemplify. I think he represented that pure English persona that we never really knew or had been exposed to in our northwest London cocoon. I think he also represented for some of us that character of Great Britain that we knew we could never be part of.

    He did like a swift half in the lunch break. One day a few of us actually fancied a drink and we went to one of the nearby pubs. Just as we had entered the pub we all came face to face with Harrison who was having lunch with Parnell. Our initial reaction was that we were now caught red handed and that we would all be taken to Willy and sentenced to a good thrashing. We were already pissing ourselves and hadn’t even had a drop.

    Harrison got up and walked over to us and to our great surprise welcomed us with an uncharacteristic flourish of hospitality. Not only that but he then took us over to the bar and asked us what we would like to drink. Embarrassingly each one of us told the barman his desired beverage. Of course it should be pointed out that having overcome our initial shock we were sure that Harrison was actually going to buy us all a round of drinks and some us took this into account in our orders. Of course as soon as the bartender finished handing over the drinks and said how much they cost, Harrison was nowhere to be seen. But we all got out of it without being whacked and received an expert insight into pub etiquette. To repeat one of Harrison immortal quips “it was better than a smack on the belly with a wet fish”.

    This story shed an interesting light on Harrison. To me it seemed like this proud Englishman had at last seen that some of his young Jewish pupils had finally embraced the true essence of British civilization i.e., the pub. It was as if we had at last walked into the England he knew and loved, left our cocoon and finally seen the light. I think he was prouder of us that day than when we somehow passed our A levels.

  15. It seems that apart from Eli Perl, the other respondents on this blog went through Hasmo some years I left. I guess Woody (we never actually called him that) may well have moderated his drinking after I left – there were several complaints by pupil’s parents (including my own) in my year about his drinking and perhaps these had some effect.

    Nevertheless, I stand by what I wrote above and I am sure it will be corroborated by others who had him in the mid ’70s when I was studying for my ‘A’ Levels.

  16. Just to correct an inaccuracy, I didn’t notice Nussi Feiner’s and Jeremy Issacharoff’s posts – I do remember Nussi (who bears out my comments about Woody’s drinking), but not Jeremy who I guess was 2 or 3 years above me.

  17. Harrison taught us about Glyndebourne (I had a pee next to Prince Philip last night); about an Irishman who was so pissed he thought that if a tree fell in a forest and nobody was there to hear, it didn’t make a sound; about the ancient world (my second reincarnation in Thebes); about some Frenchman who thought he was because he thought; and about any number of subjects ranging from Fish to Greek women to Humour. What he did not teach us was Economics, which fortunately was the sort of crap you could learn out of a book (and, thankfully , we had learned to read before we arrived at Hasmonean).

    At the time, as schoolkids in a dogma-driven environment, we thought we had all the answers and he was just wacky but, in later life I was reminded of a gem of the Kotzker Rebbe on the verse “and these things which I command you today should be ON your hearts”. Why does it say ON rather than IN? The answer is that, when you are young you learn things without understanding why and then, one day, as you mature, your heart opens and the words fall in.

    Thank you, Mr Woodthorpe Jude Harrison, wherever (and, however) you are currently incarnated.

  18. Hi John

    You’re not suggesting that we got an education depite the teachers, rather than because of their best efforts?!?

    Personally, I managed to somehow accumulate 6 O Levels. Although I’m still not sure quite how I managed it.


    P.S. Please send my regards to the Raanana branch of my family.

  19. Julian Schamroth

    Was it “Woody” who would habitually cut himself shaving and come into first period with bits of manky tissue on various parts of his face ? Mention an electric razor and he would go bright pink and foam at the mouth.

    I would have thought that Izzy has got better things to do than spend his time reading blogs

  20. David Prager

    Good to see Julian Schamroth’s name appear! I well remember a maths lesson with Ellman when I was in L6 and Julian in U6. This would have been in 73/4. We were all sitting in the 6th form block with Ellman standing in the corner of the classroom between the door and the window looking out on to the playground. Suddenly, a football crashed into the classroom breaking a window on the way. Ellman turned a dark shade of mauve and stood absolutely still while we all froze in delicious anticipation of a punch-up. 20 seconds later Julian’s face appears in the window on the door peering in to see what’s going on. He can’t see Ellman who’s alongside the door in the corner of the classroom. Making his decision, Julian flings open the door, trapping Ellman in the angle behind it. We’re all, as I said, totally frozen, waiting for the explosion. Seeing us all in this state, and not being able to see Ellman at all, Julian shouts out, in what were nearly his last words ever ,” Well, why are you all so f**king quiet then?”
    I don’t quite remember what happened next, its all a bit of a blur, and it must have been the trauma of it all, but in my mind’s eye it’s like a Tom & Jerry cartoon with lots of noise and feathers flying and so on!
    What I want to know, Julian, is – does it still hurt?

  21. Mikey Mendelsohn

    I just read all your Hasmo Legends blog posts and found them absolutely hilarious. Having left the school in 2007 and joining the school prior to the ‘Martin Clarke revolution’ I can somewhat relate to the Hasmo of old, the characters described (some of whom were still around when I first joined) and the chutzpa of the pupils.
    I wanted to share with you a story from my last day at Hasmo.
    As I’m sure you are all aware it is customary for the outgoing sixth form class to perform some kind of distrupting stunt on their last day in school. Leading up to our final day many ideas were suggested but we finally all agreed on one.
    The plan was for one person to set of the fire alarm and to cause the entire school to congregate at the assembly point in the school playground. Meanwhile approximately 50 boys armed with somewhere in the region of 300 eggs would be waiting on Ridge Close (the road behind the playground). The fire bell went of as planned and pandemonium ensued. As I’m sure you can imagine the headmaster didn’t find this very amusing and our final assembly in the school turned into a telling off lecture that was recieved by a bunch of sniggering teenagers.
    You can view a short vido of the incident:

  22. martin malin

    I suspect my peers might remember more of the incidents I was involved in during the ” golden generation” of hapless,feckless,hopeless,useless ,spineless students that suffered remorsely at the sadistic hands of our lunatci,depraved teachers in the period 1966-1973 than myself.
    This may be partly due to the excessive drinking and smoking that consumed my later years at the school( s0metimes in the good company of Woody,Johnny Denham and Mitch Taylor).
    Or perhaps being sat on by David Wagner and Bernie DeVries after initiating yet another ” bundle” in the corridor that led to the library has left me more damaged than I`m prepared to admit.And to all those to whom I sold latkes and chips from Blooms at grossly inflated prices in the playground if I could get the 240 bus back from Golders Green in time before afternoon lessons,I make no apology. If I had the chance,I`d do it all over again.

  23. John Fisher


    After sweating through your frighteningly hilarious comment, I finally realized why I never fell in love with the Harry Potter stories. Severus Snape simply doesn’t come close to Morry Elman.

    For all his dark menace, Snape taught his subject well, communicated with his pupils by name and showed some interest in them (albeit sometimes with malevolence) and, most strikingly, spent his youth hopelessly in love with Lily Potter while Elman spent his youth in a ring at the Bethnal Green Town Hall practicing knocking the kishkes out of anybody who would take him on.

    I have never met Julian Schamroth but I sincerely hope he had a refuah shleima.

  24. John Fisher

    Another small point before Shabbat. It occurs to me that had today’s health and safety regulations applied in the seventies we would probably have been required to wear helmets in class.

    Gut Shabbes

  25. jeremy issacharoff

    Hey Julian what’s up? I am a multi tasker and can read blogs and chew gum at the same time. I don’t remember the Ellman incident but I recall a few more incidents involving you that I of course will not reproduce even on this blog!!! Your secrets are still safe with me. Martin good to hear from you. What’s up? At last you guys are weighing in and writing something!

  26. Leo Grunwald

    Jeremy Issacharoff, Martin Malin and Julian Schamroth I would never have dreamt I would see those three names on the same page in 2009.

  27. Nick Harrison

    What a delight to find these touching, hilarious and largely affectionate reminiscences of my father, Woodthorpe Harrison. For the record, he lived until January 16th, 1997, and in the post-Hasmonean years a number of anecdotes about his time as a teacher at the school were added to the collection of stories we kids (this one now 60) used to call “Woody’s Greatest Hits”. Certainly the one about the boys showing up in the pub at lunchtime was among them. Woody would no doubt have railed against the idea of a blog but I am sure he would have loved the content of this one and found pleasure in that fact that scattered through the comments from his former “little buggers” is an endorsement of his policy of flouting the syllabus in favour of a good story. There may have been an element of laziness in this approach but it lined up squarely with what was no doubt one of his main objectives and one he appears to have achieved: to make people think. Affectionately, Nick Harrison, Seatttle, Washington.

  28. Hi Nick,

    When I saw the name “Nick Harrison”, I was hoping against hope that it would be Woody’s son! And having you receive positively the post on your late father is the ultimate compliment. Of course, if you hadn’t approved of the piece, it would have been all the fault of Nick and Daniel . . . I just translated their material into non-Hasmo English! 😉

    I am most curious – how did you hear about the piece? And how did you hear about the “anecdotes” (to which you refer in your comment)?

    Are there any factual inaccuracies in the post? Can you add any of your late father’s views on Hasmo (as you recall them)? And, if you care to share, what was he like as a father? (Judging by your age, I guess you are not the child written about in the post . . . unless Nick and Daniel got their dates very badly wrong!)

    It would be wonderful to be able to incorporate one or more photographs of your late father (preferably from around his time at Hasmo) into the post. Any chance . . . ?!

    All the very best and thank you for commenting,


  29. Nick

    Your Dad taught me one very important thing. He used to say if you are wrong be a man and admit that you were wrong. I have never forgotten that lesson.

    The other saying of his I remember was “better than slap on the belly than a wet fish”.

    I visited him at his flat in Bayswater as he helped me do an extra A level at the last minute in Politics and he gave me a free series of lessons. I did the subject in just 6 weeks and with his assistance got a B grade. He was a great guy and I remember him with great fondness.

  30. Nick Harrison

    Ah, the flat in Bayswater…… Daniel, you guys are really taking me back. Mike, I will clean up one or two minor inaccuracies in due course and submit. Need help from my brother and sisters in London on some of it. Certainly the family had moved to London by late 1946 or early ’47 at the latest. Mum will know. She read the blog with great amusement, she told me on the phone from London this morning, and agreed to dig out a photo from Woody’s Hasmonean period. We should really persuade her to write something. Mike, the anecdotes I mentioned were Woody’s own version of what happened up in Hendon. How did I hear of the blog, you ask? I had googled Felix Aprahamian (he’s on your team) and was thinking how useful it is (if you want to be found) to have an unusual name . With that in mind I googled Woodthorpe Harrison and there was your blog, top of the page.

  31. Nick Kopaloff

    Dear Nick Harrison,
    I was surprised and delighted to learn that an unexpected namesake had surfaced on the blog.
    Immediately I surveying my past comments, to make certain I had not enraged the fruit of Mr. Harrison’s loins by writing anything libelous that may have escaped Mike’s ever-watchful eye. Thankfully I had not.
    I am sure I speak for most of my then classmates, when I say that your father was a kind and likeable man. I cannot think of anything I would have enjoyed more than to have been able to take a drink or two with him and shoot the breeze over this that and t’other. True, he had some faults, the most noteworthy of which was his inability to teach – at least within the rigid formal educational framework of Hasmonean. But Daniel Marks makes the insightful point that your father would have succeeded far more as a top university lecturer, where he would have excelled as a facilitator of knowledge rather than as a force feeder of a curriculum down the throats of unruly jewish boys who, like unruly jewish girls, would not swallow.
    I hope your father lived out his years in health and happiness and since I cannot thank him personally for some of the most fantastic and unforgettable times of my life, I would like to keep it in the family and thank you.

  32. “. . . he would have excelled as a facilitator of knowledge rather than as a force feeder of a curriculum down the throats of unruly jewish boys who, like unruly jewish girls, would not swallow.”

    Top comment out of the 1,567 since melchett mike‘s inception!!

  33. Daniel Marks



    Several ex-Hasmonean girls with whom you were acquainted all those years ago have asked me to act as their mouthpiece, naturally not in the way to which you made reference, and to publicly take serious issue with your sordid insinuation.

    Therefore, on behalf of many ex-Hasmonean girls. and others who, you more than anyone else assured us, did swallow I ask you to publish a public retraction.

    In the event that you continue to deny cunilingual skills of these ladies, legal steps will be considered.
    On a personal note I would say that many of your Exes are mothers and grandmothers and your implication can only cause distress and anguish to them, their family and their loved ones. In the name of Shmirat Haloshon I urge you to retract.


  34. Ellis Feigenbaum

    Daniel , who is Shmirat HaLashon? was she in our year? and why are you asking Nick to do something in her name?

  35. Daniel Marks

    Ellis, I don’t think you knew her. I believe that your main romantic interests at the time were with your “Yad Hahazakah”.

    It was nice seeing you Motsash. You will always be a legend, our pride, inspiration and spiritual guru. I was delighted to hear that you had a one-on-one hevrutah with one of the gedoley hador for two years.

    She’Yirbu Kamocha Beyisrael!

  36. Ellis Feigenbaum

    I would imagine he looked upon it in terms of MiKol Melaamdei Hiskalti , however he is probably looking down upon me now from a better place and wondering if I ever took any notice of anything he said.

    That being said, you do realise that according to Rabbi Akiva, Yad Hahazakah is 5 times as good as the regular yad, or at least 5 times as potent.

    But be that as it maybe and using the halachic principle brought down to us by chazal of “al pi shnei edim yakum davar” I defy you to bring witnesses for your beleifs.

    Apikorsus- am haratsus, vive la difference.

    Chag Sameach.

  37. Daniel Marks

    Dear Nick (Harrison),

    I can only echo the ever eloquent words of Nick Kopaloff.

    I owe your father a very personal debt. Towards the end of the 5th form, as a desperate act to prevent me carrying on into the 6th form our headmaster (WWS) informed me that I would be allowed to take only four O’levels, one short of the minimum required to continue.

    Your father intervened strongly on my behalf, I have some vague recollection that threats were even made. Ultimately the GOM facilitated the continuation of my education – always diddly though it was. I was not sufficiently appreciative at the time so like Nick (Kopaloff) I thank you instead. Your father was a man to be proud of.

    Please convey my warmest regards to your mother. I suspect she may have heard my name mentioned, I dread to imagine in which context – unfortunately, it’s all true.

    Nick’s thought of going out for a drink with Woody and shooting the breeze one more time about the post-war Greek Drachma or the Queen’s coronation is just too delicious to imagine, unfortunately unattainable – but you’d do.

    Be assured that if ever you’re in Israel there are many men who would love to meet you and buy you a drink.

    Daniel Marks

  38. Nick Harrison

    Dear Daniel:
    Thank you for the kind words. I will make it to Israel one dayand be sure to get in touch. In the meantime, I will find a photograph to go with the bio as soon as I can.

  39. Nick Harrison

    I have pleasure in attaching this photo of my father with a class of the Hasmonean. I cannot date it and have no details but if you post it I am sure some of your correspondents will supply the names and so forth.
    In case we do not stay in touch through your blog, let me offer you an open invitation to visit us in Seattle.
    Best to you.

  40. Thank you so much for the great photograph, Nick. I have inserted it into my post (above).

    Thank you, too, for the invitation to Seattle. It would be wonderful, also, to see you in Israel some day . . . I know that there are numerous ex-pupils of your father who would relish the opportunity to reminisce about him with you!



    [So, ex-Hasmos, anyone have a circa date and names? I think I recognise Malcolm Cohen (behind “Woody”) . . . though I have the benefit of a larger photo!]

  41. Ellis Feigenbaum

    Looks like 5 or so years above us, picture was probably taken circa 1972/3.
    I think the guy back row second from the right is Mark Freed, and the guy directly behind Woody was a guy called Cohen who eventually went on to be head boy.

  42. Weren’t you Head Boy, too, Ellis?

  43. David Prager

    The picture is of my year – class of 1967-74.
    Here are the names of the pupils pictured:
    Kneeling – Jonny Moore.
    Standing with hand on hip – Alan Goschalk.
    Standing on other side – Ronnie Rosenfelder z”l.
    Sitting on wall, from left to right – Menashe Bassous, Mark deLange, David Prager, Aaron Cohen, Malcolm Cohen, Martin Alfreds.
    Back Row – Sam Bamberger, Gerald Feldman, Howard Dove, Mark Freed, Adrian Frei, Avram Lapian. Malcolm Cohen’s hand is masking someone.
    The picture would have been taken in Summer of 1974.
    I trust that that claifies things for one and all.

  44. David Prager

    In between Gerald Feldman and Howard Dove is Simon Lazarus.

  45. David I never realised you were ever that young.

  46. Simon Myers

    Take that Hat off!

    Basket full off porno mags.


  47. Geoffrey Black


    The face being covered by Malcolm Cohen’s hand is probably Geoffrey Dawson’s, but might be mine. We were both taught British Constitution and Economics by Woody.

    Incidentally, Woody also served in Palestine, and mentioned driving up and buying lorry loads of oranges at ridiculous prices from the farmers.

    I liked Woody, and learnt a lot from him, including some of the syllabus.

    Another point is that there have been posts asking about another teacher, Curly Kohn, O”H. I last saw him 10-15 years ago, in an old age home in Talpiot, Jerusalem. I was later informed that he had died. He learnt in the Telz Yeshivah in Europe, and I am sorry to say that I also remember the class throwing masses of paper aeroplanes at him every time he turned to write something on the board.

  48. Jeremy Issacharoff

    Mr Kohn was an extremely influential teacher for me personally. He introduced around 1970 Modern Jewish History in the history syllabus based on the book written by Howard Morley Sachar. While the book was rather thick and very small font (anathema to most hasmo “scholars”) the content of the book – the emancipation of Jews , the beginnings of Zionism , the Russian revolution, the Holocaust and the establishment of Israel – all had a cumulative effect on my (and maybe others) ultimate decision and to make Aliyah and live in Israel. The immense power and influence that some of these teachers had over our subsequent lives is quite outstanding particularly considering that we loved to make fun of them and still are so proud of our exploits. In the final analysis these people could have come to work, contend with these young Jewish louts and then gone home in the evening content merely to have survived the day. Curly was not one of these teachers and I believe he really wanted to give his pupils something that would become a greater part of them (more than they realized) later on in their lives. After he left the school he went on Aliyah to Israel and lived in a modest apartment on Rechov Tshernichovsky in Jerusalem. He once asked me over to tea and I also kept in touch through his son Yehudah. I write this for this decent, patient and insightful teacher so that his role in Hasmo and in our lives will not only be remembered by the darts thrown in his lesson behind his back.

  49. yehudah cohn

    I just bumped into Jeremy Issacharoff in Jerusalem, and was touched to read his comments here. To set the record straight on Geoffrey Black’s post, my father had studied at the Kelm yeshivah in Lithuania, not Telz (not a big difference when looked at from 2009, but nevertheless one that he would have commented on himself).

  50. Mike "Ivor" Braff

    I`ll always remember Woody reminding me that I had added a word to the English dictionary “Braffing around”…literally translated as messing around. In the early 80´s I was living in Notting Hill (long before Hugh Grant had made it upmarket and American bankers had moved in…it was more bohemian and edgy) and I notice Woody walking out of the pub. I`m startled to see him walk in to the flat next to me…Woody was my neighbour…He never complained of my loud music,strange friends coming in and out at all hours and strange smells coming from my kitchen in my experimental days. He belongs to another era…a true legend.

  51. Anthony Mammon

    WOW.. just stumbled across this Woody blog, although I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of years now. I think for me, Woody & Cyril were the most memorable teachers at Hasmo, and I should thank Woody, for had I not had him for both economics & political studies in Lower 6th (1977-78), I probably would have stayed at school, and carried on my education. As it is I am perfectly happy doing what I do, and have done fairly well, but I guess that seems to be the standard retort to a Hasmo education, we all have succeeded inspite of going to Hasmo, I actually wonder how well we would have done if Hasmo had been a good school. The defining moment for me in decideing to leave school, was probably about third of the way through lower 6th, during either an economics or political studies lesson, half way through the lesson, Woody was waffling on about something, when Gerry Abrams put his hand up and said, and I quote, ” scuse me sir but this is a political studies lesson, not economics”, up until that point NOT ONE OF US, even had a clue what Woody was going on about and the fact that NO realised he was teaching the wrong subject prooved to me that we were wasting our time. It was at that point I decided to leave school, and although I stayed till the end of the year, I enjoyed those last few months the most, and however hard I tried could not get myself expelled.
    One memorable Woody moment was in class in Lower 6th, sitting next to Shlomo Soleiman, who always wore a polo neck shirt under his shirt, top button open and tie half way down. Woody looks at me, and tells me to tell the clown sitting next to me to stop talking. I don’t know why, but I replied “how can you call him a clown, when you’re sitting there with a bright red bowtie and a red nose?”. Woody just looked at me and carried on the lesson.
    Last note. 1st day of school, upper 6th, I go to Willys office to tell him I’m leaving. Willys reply was ” Mammon you’ve made a wise decision”.

  52. I’ve arrived in this conversation a year late but, Julian, you may be confusing Woody with Parnell. He face and neck were often spotted with bloody tissues and his collar, too, would bear the crimson evidence of a shaving accident.
    He also had a fine collection of ornamental pipes. A lesson would often be conducted with a (unlit) pipe hanging from his mouth making most of what he said quite unintelligible!

  53. But what you ghastly little oiks did not know was what went on in the staffroom. Where Woody, Cyril and Albert formed a tight little group. It was always fun to listen in on their conversations. My own favourite was Woody expanding on some wonderful ties he had seen in some discount tailor that cost 5 quid each “or ‘stuck’ as Mr Meyer would say…” Albert smiled and in the suavest and most beautiful of educated German/English accents said ‘Your German, Mr Woodthorpe, is so sophisticated that even I cannot understand it…’ Woody beamed.

    Charles, Ivan Marks, Philip Skelker and I sat over in culture corner and laughed our heads off.

  54. Helen Crollick! At last! I would be most grateful if you would return the school tie you ripped off my neck before permanently banning me from your 4th Form English class in 1973. If I remember correctly, I was innocently trying to throttle somebody at the time. Forgive me for saying that I thought your reaction a little intolerant just because it happened to be in the middle of your lesson. Hope you are well.

  55. albert de gogan

    Thank you for a very enjoyable couple of hours, reading the blog and the posts. I have attached a photo of the Hasmo staff 1970. Maybe someone could kindly supply some names.

    Kindest regards,

  56. In response to Albert’s team photo, here are about half the names, and I hope my memory has served me well:

    Front Row Seated, from left to right:
    Cyril, Jack Ordman, DJ, Mitch Taylor, Willy Stanton, Rabbi Roberg, Rabbi Cooper, ?, Rabbi Kahan, ?.

    2nd Row Standing, from left to right:
    Jonny Bokor, ?, Stephen Posen, Jonny Denham, Chisios, ?, Nachum Ordman, ?, ?, Osher Baddiel, ?, Rabbi Abrahams.

    3rd Row Standing, left to right:
    ?, Rabbi Schmal (I think), ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, Ivan Marks, Roger Gothold.

    So that’s 17 out of 32 identified.

    If I am right there are 4 stalwarts (at least) missing: Albert Meyer, Sid Bailin, Jo Witriol and Mr Ellman (did he have a first name?!). And is Jack Parnell among the ones I didn’t recognise?

  57. Just had another look at the photo and I think the one “after” Nachum Ordman might be Rabbi “Teapot” Ballon.

  58. Where did you come across that photo, Albert? The “bum Deal” 😉 Facebook group which, I discovered yesterday, has been thieving images from melchett mike without even having the decency to credit it?!

    I originally posted the photo – which is circa 1979, not 1970 – here. And see this comment for a complete who’s who.

  59. albert de gogan

    Thank you David, for putting names to the faces. I was not a Hasmo boy, but attended a similar college in Dublin in the fifties. It was one of the few independent secular schools, in the Republic of Ireland at that time.

    Take care David.


  60. albert de gogan

    Hi Mike,

    I found the photo on the Hasmonean Grammar School site, I should have acknowledged where It was nicked from. I can only claim the lateness of the hour, and a sleepy old head.

    I would like to take this opportunity Mike, to congratulate you on an excellent site. And anyone who is into L Cohen and Dylan has to have their heart in the right place.


  61. Thank you for your compliments re melchett mike, Albert. By your surname, you don’t sound like a Jewish Dubliner. If you are, however, perhaps you recall my late father, Harold, and uncle Percy? They were both at Wesley College, then studied medicine at Trinity. My grandfather, too, was the ‘legendary'(!) shammes at Adelaide Road. Have you stumbled across Curbing My (Irish) Enthusiasm yet?

    You are not to be blamed for the actions of the Hasmonean Alumni Association – who work hard for a good cause (anyway, I nicked photos from the official Hasmo site when I got Hasmo Legends up and running!) – but using personal photos on a Facebook page as if they are your own is another matter . . . though, on the other hand, what can one expect from an ex-Hasmo?! 😉

  62. albert de gogan

    Dear Mike,

    Thank you for your reply, to answer your question we are (or were Dublin Jews). My ancestor arrived in Dublin from France in 1814. According to my Dad he was involved in the Napoleonic wars, and was on the run from the French.

    Even our name we are convinced he changed, his sister came over later and her name was Lyons. She lived in the very large house he purchased in Clontarf, and there is no record we could find that she was ever married. He was a very wealthy man so what ever he did in France…?

    My mothers side of the family, were the Isaac’s from Liverpool. I don’t know I they were related to the Isaac’s from the South Circular Road. I remember driving over to Clanbrassil Street, with my mother to shop. She seemed to know lots for the people in the area, and would be talking for hours.

    My father was born in 1911, and at the age of eleven, he was sent to Westminster School London as a boarder. So he may not have known your father, but my uncle would. He went to Wesley, and was a friend of Chaim Herzog. I think he did a bit of boxing, and was a good rugby player. He was killed in Jerusalem in 1948, my other uncle came back in 1950. To run the business because my grandad had a stroke.

    I am looking forward to reading your piece “Curbing My (Irish) Enthusiasm”.

    Gut Shabbos Mike, and take care of yourself.


  63. Dear Mr Fisher, I’m sorry about the tie.

    I was not a born teacher, something that won’t be news to you poor unfortunates who had to put up with me that year. But even though teaching bored adolescents about boring French verbs was deadly for both students and teacher, Hasmo was a lot of fun and I enjoyed myself immensely. I have never seen such a collection of characters under one (leaky) roof.

    I’m a literary agent now and have been for years and years. Hasmo was excellent training. Dealing with recalcitrant publishers is nothing to me. Not after having dealt with the likes of David Lixenberg, David Fox and the aforementioned John Fisher…

  64. Hi again, Albert.

    We are Isaacsons from South Circular Road. My late father (born 1915) and Herzog were mates, and he tutored Chaim in maths!

    Uncle Percy is still with us (he is about 87 now). He was said to be one of Ireland’s all-time (though that isn’t very long!) finest Jewish sportsmen (something, sadly, which wasn’t passed down!) Give me the full names of your dad and uncles, and I will ask Percy if he remembers them.

    Shabbat shalom,


  65. albert de gogan

    Hi Mike,

    All of my family lived on the North side of Dublin. The Isaacs lived on the North Strand, were they had a lot of property. In 1941 the Germans dropped bombs on the North Strand, and killed and injured a lot of their tenants, and levelled lots of their houses and shops. For years that area was a big open space, which was known as the bombed area. My Mum said her aunt was never the same after that, she ran the office and got to knew all the people over the years.

    Before the Litvaks came most Jews lived on that side of the city. The Bally bough shul, and the oldest Jewish cemetery is over there. The shul closed around 1946.

    It was great to hear your Uncle Percy is still around, my uncles names were Eddy and Arthur Isaacs. Eddy went to Wesley, and Arthur went to O Connells school staffed by Christian brothers. A great school but a slaughter house like Hasmo, my eldest brother also went there. I know it sounds strange Jews going to Catholic schools, buts that’s the way it was then.

    I went to Kostka College Clontarf, a lot like Hasmo without the violence and no religion. But great mates, and one of the great times of my life. Before that I went to Marino Primary School, run by Christian Bros, a bit like a boot camp. Again like Hasmo, all they were short of doing was killing us. I was glad to leave when I was eleven. But we were never discriminated against, Our headmaster loved the Jews, because of their involvement in the troubles, and they helped the Irish people during the famine. If there is anything to kill discrimination dead, is to point out the good things people do.

    Take care


    PS I loved your Irish roots blog, but was sorry about the bad manners of the schnip Herzog, as they would say in Dublin, he needs a Ringsend uppercut.

  66. Interesting, Albert. I will ask Percy about Eddy (was he the one killed over here in ’48?) and Arthur. And did you know of Michael Noyek (my dad’s cousin, who defended many Sinn Féin Nationalists)?

    My dad used to relate how, when he used to go and watch Percy play football (I think he played in the top division there), the goyim used to shout out, “Take the ball off the Jewman!” Though dad (whose yahrzeit it is, incidentally, this evening) always said it was more good-natured – or, at least, less threatening – than it might have sounded!

    Are you still in Dublin?

  67. Hi Mrs. Heller,

    I’m sure you don’t remember me, but you taught me in the first form. I have a fond memory of running with friends through the dining room on my first day and you stopping me and being thoughtful enough to explain that I would be punished because I was the only one whose name you remembered.

    I respectfully disagree with your saying that you were “not a born teacher”. Thirty-five years later I still remember you asking us for funny words and when I suggested “groovy” you explained that it was quite passé and that none of your friends used it anymore. I took what you said on board and have not used that particular adjective since. You were certainly among the cool teachers together with Mr Lawrence and a few others. We never really got to know your husband because, though he was our music teacher for a year or two, they only ever consisted of having free lessons. I have often wondered why that was. Was he actually instructed to do so?

    Has sufficient time passed that you might disclose how it was to be a courting couple in the Hasmonean staff room of the early 70s? There were many rumors at that time, a good number of them spread by a certain Ellis Feigenbaum, however, I’m certain we’d all love to hear your version. Nothing too lewd of course, apparently this blog is already out of favor with EdgwareK, whatever that is.

  68. Mrs Heller. You solved your problem by changing career. I solved mine by emigrating to Israel where incorrigibility is a virtue. The Catch 22 is having to deal with the incorrigibility of others. Joseph Heller (any relation?) could have written a book about that. In fact, in case he isn’t dead (and is a relation), why don’t you suggest it?

    By the way, I unreservedly apologise for, what I suspect, was the misspelling of your maiden name. However, what can you expect from one whose English Language education was so savagely cut off in its prime?

    Don’t worry about the tie – in any event we don’t wear them much around here.

  69. albert de gogan

    Eddy Isaacs, died in Jerusalem in 1948. According to my aunt, he was blown up with some other guys and his body was never found. Arthur came back, but he was never in the best of health and died in the late fifties.

    Michael Noyek, he’s a legend in Irish history, as is the quartermaster for the IRB Bobby Briscoe. It amazes me to think that all these guys parents came out of the Pale of Settlement. What brave people they were, and what a credit to them their kids were. Dublin was a special place for me growing-up, I went back a couple of years ago and could not relate to it at all. Sometimes progress is not all its cracked to be.

    Percy must have played for Shamrock Rovers, that was the top team in Ireland. It had a great Jewish support, he must have been very good to play for them. My favourite sport was rowing, it was easy for me because we lived by the sea.

    Mike I have lived in London for for nearly 56 years, with a stint in Australia for 6 years. I ran off in 1955, after my intermediate exam (like the O levels) and joined the Royal Navy. Not a period I’m proud of, I did it to defy my dad.

    Alev Ha-sholem for your dad Mike.


  70. Dear Daniel I do remember you! As for you, Mr Fisher, I will not give you detention for spelling my maiden name wrong. But I have to disappoint you about Joseph Heller. He’s not a relation.

    I’d love to talk about budding romance in the staffroom, but Charles and I were already going out before we went to Hasmo. Charles had gotten the job as biology teacher and I was trying to get into publishing without much success. He told me they were looking for an English teacher and I thought ‘why not!’ It was great fun teaching there because the boys were generally funny, bright and versatile. I still remember Perlmutter (I think) saying that he meant ‘down in the sense of up’ and giving some Gemara reference to prove his point. It made sense after he’d explained and I was highly impressed.

    Just so you know, those of us in Culture Corner used to hiss under our breaths when the nastier and more hard-line rabbonim started up. There was a definite rift in the staffroom where the hardliners sat in a large black cloud on one side. Culture Corner sat as far away as possible. And Mssrs Harrison, Meyer and Bloomberg sat by the window. Although Mr Meyer, whom I remember extremely fondly, used to cruise CC and talk to us about pre-Reich Berlin which he was still clearly very homesick for.

    All being well, I’ll be in London in April for the Book Fair, so any ex-members of 1K or any other of my unfortunate students is welcome to come and have coffee at some appropriate caff in Hendon or wherever!

  71. Ellis Feigenbaum

    Browsing Mike’s blog at 6 am and reading this particular thread does not makes for a particularly auspicious start to the day.

    I recently celebrated my 50th Birthday and a full 39 years later memories of disgust come flooding back; will I ever get past the evil done to me by that woman?

    More than any Rabbi in school the vitriol dished out to me by this “teacher” left a mark of Cain on any educational efforts meted out by Hasmonean.

  72. What “evil”? What “woman”?

  73. albert de gogan

    Ellis what a horrible start to your day, and I understand how these terrible incidences in our young lives can effect us. When I was a very young boy, (about seven) I was the victim of an evil teacher. The incident I can remember like it was yesterday. It all revolved around a letter which was sent to the school without a stamp by my mother. An oversight which should have been treated as such, but instead he chose to humiliate me in front of the of the class. And cast insinuations about my parents, and call them bad mannered, which was so far away from the truth. Beatings and acts of physical abuse I could take in my stride, but that one act of unjustified humiliation is still with me sixty five years later. So I understand your anger Ellis.

  74. albert de gogan

    Mike, this is a list of some of Michael Noyk’s case files, which you as a lawyer and a relative might be interested in.

    I also have a picture of a man talking to Michael Collins, at the graveside of Arthur Griffiths. I think it is your uncle because he looks like you. Griffiths, who was the President of Sinn Fein, was an antisemite until he met your uncle.

    There is I believe a painting of your uncle in the National Gallery of Ireland, but you may have seen that.


  75. I think I was the evil teacher. I really do apologize Mr Feigenbaum. Except I can’t quite remember what I did…

  76. Dear Mrs. Heller,

    A word of warning. Two years ago Ellis wrote on this excellent blog:

    “I remember (spelling his) having a bet with Charlie for a fiver . a lot of money in 1977 that i wouldnt pass ivrit o level- because i never went to a lesson for the whole of the 5th year, I got an A..”

    February 14, 2009 at 9:07 pm


    Then, in a similar vein, a month ago Ellis wrote:

    “I remember Joe fondly, he tried to impart ivrit to me, I however absconded from some 50% of his lessons. To this end he was prepared to bet a whole pound, a reasonable sum in 1977, that I would fail my “o” level. Unfortunately for him he lost the bet, I never collected but I am sure if I had he would have paid up with good humour. He was that kind of man, his word meant a lot to him…”

    December 21, 2010 at 12:10 pm


    One of two conclusions must be drawn. Either our masters back then were all compulsive gamblers, prepared at the drop of a yamelke to gamble away monthly salaries in their certainty of El’s linguistic ignorance, or this is the beginning of an elaborate scheme to defraud their estates out of the aforementioned fortunes. In short, if Feigenbaum reminds you of any long forgotten bets, I recommend his claim be taken with a proverbial pinch of salt.

    The excellent Hellen Heller Agency site is at pains to explain just how busy you ladies are, however, if you take off time to read over old Hasmonean postings you’ll discover an exciting new literary genre. Basically it is the flash-yid crying about what his teacher’s did to him, but forever being sure to let us know just how well he has done:

    “Mr Stanton, the then head had me in his study on leaving day and told me that, “yes I was a very charming young man but academically thick and would never achieve anything in life”……Many years later when I parked my Jag XKR Supercharger in the playground to attend a Hasmo pupil reunion, having just retired from running a large international public company in the advertising industry, I did have a quiet chuckle to myself!”

    Here we have an extreme example of our protagonist the “super flash-yid” metaphorically parking his yid-car on the blog, but there are countless others. We meet grandfathers boasting dubious A level results four decades on and other unfortunates describing the VIP lounges in which they find themselves reading the blog or the champagne they sip while doing so.

    I know that your company does not welcome “unsolicited queries”, were I in your shoes I might consider making an exception in this case. I would cheerfully pay the author of this excellent blog his princely sum, and have the striking Sarah Heller edit its pages into a truly remarkable book that might proudly take its place on Hellen Heller’s best-seller shelf.

    If all goes well and the movie rights are sold, I would only, humbly, ask that Leonardo DiCaprio play the part of Daniel Marks as he is beaten up by his Steve Posen lookalike. It’s a win-win situation!

  77. Ellis Feigenbaum

    Dear Daniel,

    I would suggest that you phone Nick, see what he remembers of the incedent and get back to me, in a private email, there are some topics relating to Hasmonean which should not be aired on this website as I am sure the editor (rotter) in chief would agree.

  78. El,

    Actually, I did speak to the evergreen Nick today, regarding my last posting, but I recall nothing being said that might cast light on the mysterious incident to which you have made reference. I know that there was a legend of your having been thoroughly persecuted by (then) Miss Krolicks’s gentleman friend, music teacher, assembly pianist and giver of free lessons extraordinaire – Master Charles Heller. If I recall the tale involved a member of your family being his, her or their landlord, however, with the passing of years other details elude me.

    Either way it seems a tad excessive, almost four decades later, to blame all one’s failings on one incident, however appalling it might have been. Furthermore, if you are to do so, out of fairness and intellectual honesty, surely its perpetrators deserve similar credit for your countless life-time accomplishments – not the least of them being that universally celebrated Modern Hebrew O level.

    I’m sure your close friend and bridge partner Mr. Bill Gates would be the first to tell you to bury the hatchet and let bygones be bygones.

    And who am I to argue?

  79. Ellis Feigenbaum

    Bill gates is not my bridge partner, He has been known to play with Bob Hamman and with Warren Buffet. I have played against all three of those gentlemen but never as partners or team mates.
    Personally I dont view my life in general as a failure, though as is general to the Human condition Ihave failed in some things, I have also succeded in others. I blame no one for my failures and am generous in crediting those who helped me to success.
    However I see no reason to attach blame or credit to the above mentioned imparters of knowledge other than to state categorically 4 decades later their names still turn my stomach.

  80. El my beloved one,

    Just to state the obvious, that other than pointing out my mistake, namely the fact that you played with BG but not as a partner, we were and are in fundamental agreement. It goes without saying that there was nothing in my “…to blame all one’s failings on one incident” to imply any value judgment regarding your life in general. As you so wisely say, all our lives are full of failures, successes and whatever falls between them. Was it not the legendary Moshe Goldman who when asked which day he deemed to be his greatest, replied “Tommorrow!”

    I wish you and your good lady wife a joyful Tu Bi’shvat and, as it is also a Rosh Hashanah of sorts, urge you once again to forgive those who have wronged you over the years – my good self included.

  81. Dear Daniel,

    Thanks for the suggestion. I have been reading the blog and very educational it is! I’m not sure it’s a book. But some aspects of it have a lot of potential…

  82. Ellis Feigenbaum

    Happy tree planting day to you and yours.

  83. Daniel and Ellis, delighted to have you both back (with comments inscrutable to everyone but yourselves).

    But what of your old mate, Kopaloff? A dickybird told me, last week, that he is under the impression that he is barred from this excellent blog, and that – in an extended fit of pique – is spending all of his non-chess-playing hours contributing to some site focusing on anti-Israel activity in the UK . . . rather than dedicating it, more constructively, to rehashing things that happened in the corridors and classrooms of Holders Hill Road some 40 years ago.

    Nicholas, I say, come home!

  84. A report in this morning’s Haaretz has caused me to think that the Palestinians really may be a “partner for a peace” after all . . .

    Apparently, leaked documents published by Al Jazeera reveal that the Palestinian Authority has shown willing to take Ma’ale Adumim, but most impressively Daniel Marks, under its control.

    Can there be any greater evidence of responsibility and commitment (some might say foolhardiness) than that?!

  85. I’m considered one of the nicer settlers here. The author of this excellent blog is free to imagine what the others must be like!

    Seriously, whenever we host German journalists, politicians and academics I talk about politics here and explain that in my opinion Maale Adumim is basically Likud (the mayor is, the opposition is, etc). Then I say, “Of course there are some extremists, like myself, but we’re basically Likud.”

    This confuses the Germans no end as they customarily ask me what I meant when I said I was an extremist. Sometimes, out of despair I say it was a joke and as they invariably have n0 sense of humor, they laugh politely and take my word for it.

    I was going to write an entry in your current posting proposing the early 20th century boxer Jack Johnson, but felt too sick. He was truly a fascinating character, but alas I am in no condition to do the great man justice.

    Finally, might I humbly propose that both this and your previous comment be moved to the excellent Twatter or some more fitting page. I may have had some small part in the writing of this superb posting, but I don’t actually live here.

  86. Glancing at melchett mike’s Search Engine Terms (how surfers arrive at the blog) for yesterday, I couldn’t help but notice the sixth in the list (boldened by me). They must have meant a different one . . .

    Search Views
    melchet mike 1
    secret to dating an israeli girl 1
    melchett mike 1
    dating israeli girls 1
    rosh hashanah in israel 1
    daniel marks gay 1
    hasmonean high school blog 1
    hewitt prince harry 1
    hasmonean blog 1
    natali portman skinhead sexy 1
    Other search terms 4
    Unknown search terms 4
    Total search terms 14

  87. Undoubtedly penned by a forever hopeful gay admirer – I am truly flattered.

    What with that and the circumcision of one’s first grandson, and all in one week. Does life get any better?

  88. Is he in with a chance at all? However flattered, you wouldn’t want to foster false hope.

    So, the Marks clan hasn’t joined the “Circumcision is Barbaric” brigade? Apart from anything else, the word is that its male members don’t have too much to play with (if you will excuse the expression).

  89. Jeffrey Glausiusz

    I have recently started my own blog http://pax-orbis.org/ on global affairs (to avoid sounding too presumptuous i have used the title pax orbis). Anyway to add the personal touch i have added an anecdote about Woodthorpe Harrison which may be seen here: http://pax-orbis.org/?p=82 .

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