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14th January 2013 - Remembering Dorothy Bridger

Posted: 14th January 2013 | Category: Headmaster's Blog

Happy New Year, one and all!

The end of term was hectic but gratifying!  'Christmas with Molly and Louise and the Early Years' was magical and Year 1 and Year 2’s production of 'Prickly Hay' was just the way to kindle the festive spirit!

Our Carol Service at St. Leonards was a true pageant.  The programme was challenging and varied and the three choirs sang beautifully.  It was delightful to work alongside Andrew Barclay, Head of Music at Bede’s, as well as being transported by the expertise of Robert Scarmadella, the accompanist.

The focus of my blog today is to remember fondly Dorothy Bridger, our Choir Mistress and Vocal Trainer.  Dorothy sadly passed away just before Christmas and before her time.

Dorothy came to Skippers in 1990 and took on our Intermediate and Senior Choirs, as well as a number of individuals for “singing lessons”. Dorothy was a top flight singing teacher.  Her dedication and ability shone out through the performances of her students, whether in the various music festivals, in school productions, charity soirees or in the individual preparation for her tutees for exacting Vocal Training examinations where she had outstanding success – a 100% record...magnificent!  She loved and encouraged every pupil right up to the end and her pupils reciprocated their love by giving their utmost to her.

We all have happy memories of Dorothy!  She was an impressive character!  She had an aura, oozed ebullience, smiled all the time, loved her food and was naturally hysterical and by that I mean her sense of humour was legend!  Above all, she loved to perform and “Dotty”, as some of the staff liked to call her, always had a twinkle in her eye and had that great trait of being able to laugh at herself when she made a faux pas, either verbally (which was quite often!) or in physical reality.

Dorothy was prone to dogberryisms or malapropisms – the equivalent of Colemanballs, Bushisms or verbal gaffs!  Here are a couple that tickled:

One day Dorothy rushed into the room in a right old state: 
“Something terrible has happened on Wellbrook Hill – a lorry has been hijacked!” 
She obviously meant that a lorry had jackknifed!

A story closer to home:
Quite a few years ago I had been teaching English to a Year 8 class and we had been investigating malapropisms and the humour that lay behind various examples.  Mrs. Malaprop herself sprang to mind and I used her as an example: “She’s as headstrong as an allegory on the banks of the Nile.”  This is funny because she meant to say alligator and, on another level, she should have realized that there are no alligators in the Nile, only tusky old crocodiles!

Now Dorothy may certainly have been prone to malapropisms but in terms of singing she hated mondegreens, where words may be misheard, normally through sloppy diction.  One of the Year 8 choristers piped up in the same class: “You’ll never guess what happened yesterday in Choir Practice” and he told this tale:

“You see, Sir…we were rehearsing Silent Night and we only had two practices left before the Carol Service so Mrs Bridger was a little bit on edge, especially as some of us were not focusing.  Everything was going sort of alright until the end of verse one, when Mrs. Bridger suddenly stopped playing, shut the lid with a thud, stood up and fixed us all with a beady eye and she scolded us like this -
'It was bad enough in the last practice when shepherds were apparently washing their socks by night much to your amusement but the thought of baby Jesus sleeping in heavenly peas is just too much for me!  They did not have Birds Eye peas in Bethlehem!  Shall we try again?'”

A super example of a mondegreen!

Warmth, humanity and love all bundled up in one glorious parcel.  Dorothy Bridger was all heart.  She was a huge part of the Skippers family, the musical hub of so many lives, a tour de force in the local community and one of life’s great performers.

A hard act to follow!

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