Up and down in the dales by Gervase Phinn is his fourth in the series of fictionalized memoirs. “I had been a school inspector now in the great county of Yorkshire for three years and each week brought something new and unexpected.” is the introduction he gives about himself in the opening page. Phinn’s earlier works were also of autobiographical in tone. As he is associated with the field of education, he is more comfortable in elucidating the classroom activities and the pupil’s mind-set.
Gervase Phinn enjoys his works as a school inspector and shares his visits to various schools and colleges, discussions with different students, interacting with English teachers, meetings with head of the institutions and finally submitting the report to Mrs..Brenda savage Gervase mentions about the need for the proper maintenance of the library and to have good books for the sake of the children in schools. Gervase presents a “cautionary tale” to protect children from any harm.
“One of the great joys of being a school inspector is the opportunity to meet so many interesting, unusual and sometimes truly bizarre people.” In this novel, Gervase provides us a detailed description of Rats and the disease associated with them. This is in the way of meeting a pest control officer. Gervase is made to pinpoint when his name being misspelt by the school head. During his inspection, he even teaches a bit of verbs, punctuations and helps to learn pronunciations.
Gervase wants all the children should be taught by enthusiastic, committed, good humoured and hard- working teachers. When they fail to meet his expectations, Gervase becomes purely critical. Gervase gives credit to all his matured work to his teacher Ms. Wain wright whom he describes as a “diminutive woman in tweeds.” She is a hardworking, dedicated, respectful of children. “All my life, I have been repaying my debt to her” says Gervase The author’s interest in poetry comes forth when he scribbles a poem for his unborn child. He likes gardening too. He does a tedious job to convert his backyard into a beautiful garden where he hurts his knee and that swells like a pomegranate.
Gervase’s wife Christine loves to have a “grandfather clock” in the room. When he meets Mr. Frobisher in the shop, he thinks:-“Had he only shown the same enthusiasm with his pupils that he showed for his clocks, I thought sadly, he would still be teaching.” The scenario of the class room is lively, the parental influence on the children is brought out intimately. The expectations of the teachers are realistic as they want the students to perform well before the inspector.
The novel “Up and down in the dales” is intrinsic and which leaves us with fulfilling experience. Definitely it will make us to have a trip down the memory lane. It is highly nostalgic. Gervase Phinn as a school inspector is inspiring and educating in many ways. As a husband – he is caring and understanding towards his wife. No doubt he will prove to be a conscious father to Richard Leslie Phinn – his son. Above all a good man with all human qualities I conclude by quoting Shakespeare’s Mid summer night’s dream as a compliment to GervasePhinn
“For never anything can be amiss,
When simpleness and duty tender it.”