Which well you may see at the zoo,
But uglier yet is the hump we get
From having too little to do.
John Reger was never
likely to get such a hump. Born in 1926, he was
educated afloat at Dartmouth (1940-43). He saw
active service with the Royal Navy from 1944 to
1951, notably serving on HMS Rodney in the
bombardment of the D-Day beaches. A promising
naval career was cut short when he was invalided and
placed on the retired list. Viewing
poliomyelitis as lesser men might regard a mild
twinge of toothache, John typically got on with his
life, reading history at Selwyn College, Cambridge
(1951-4). Marriage to Joyce and the birth of
his son were all part of those halcyon days.
From 1955 to 1963 he taught at Warblington Secondary
School where he became Head of History. Next
year, he joined the Grammar School which he has
served for the last twenty six years, running
Community Service, the Bookroom (where he saved us a
fortune over the years), and the Library which has
become one of the showpieces of the school.
After six years of gently teaching me how to run the
department, he became ead of history in 1988.
If you want something
done', runs the old adage, 'ask a busy man.'
Warblington School governor, district councillor,
county councillor for Havant - John has brought to
all these jobs the same winning blend of practical
good sense and intimate knowledge of his
parishioners that has enriched his teaching. His
Tory philosophy has been essentially Disraelian:
keeping bird watchers, yachtsmen and trippers away
from each other's throats rather than "troubling the
people with vexatious legislation"
John's lessons have
always been enriched by a deep knowledge of the
history of the Locality. He wrote popular columns
for the News and County Press, books on Emsworth,
Havant and Waterlooville and more. He is himself a
voracious reader. I remember one time, feeling
rather pleased with myself having read the TLS for
once, recommending for the library the latest
heavyweight tome on Chamberlain. "Yes., Good idea,"
said John (pause) "you'll find it among the
biographies. I read it last weekend. You're right.
and those of you who haven't made up your minds
yet". Year after year of pupils have relished the
sheer quality of John's insults. It took most of
them years to spot the dichotomy between the
outrageous threats (impalement on the High Street
railings being a favourite) and the scarce use of
punishment. Showmanship was no small part of the
best lessons. involving, typically, extensive chunks
of word-perfect Kipling, a few choruses of Gilbert
and Sullivan and Little couplets which pupils could
never quite work out whether they were quotations or
"Things are seldom who
Skim milk masquerades as cream."
And beyond the
dazzling displays of intellectual fireworks, all
appreciate most the way John has always had time for
people, from the humblest '0' level retake to the
Cambridge scholar. We have much cause for gratitude
to a historian who smiled rather than judged, and
wish John and Joyce a long and happy retirement.
A Short Personal
We first met Mr Reger in our first history lesson of the new term in September 1964, at the start of the O-level course. He introduced himself and announced that,
"The Headmaster has given his approval for me to 'experiment with you boys', we shall be following a new syllabus: 'Nineteenth Century English Social and Economic History'.
And, so we did! The experiment must have been a success as to the best of my memory most of us gained high grades in the exam two years later.
John Regar is currently revolving in his grave at Emsworth being sometimes described as a "Saxon" village instead of "Norman" - all of c400years out or the distrance in time between today and Elizabeth 1.