Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Village Schoolmaster

In the late 1970s I was doing a postgraduate course at the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff, and I shared a flat with four other girls. We were quite a multi-national group: a British Asian girl, a Ugandan Asian girl, another English girl, a Nigerian girl and me. We were all postgraduates studying different things.

The course I was doing was a Postgraduate Diploma in Theatre Studies. It was a new course and there were about sixteen people doing it, many of them from overseas. Several were from Nigeria.

One of the Nigerian students on my course was quite a bit older than the rest of us. He was an actor back in Nigeria, in a television soap called The Village Schoolmaster. Guess what it was about?

The actor on my course – sadly I’m not certain of his surname, but I think his first name was Femi – played the title role, and had done so for many years. Finally, longing for a change, he had managed to get a year’s leave of absence from the soap to do the course in Cardiff, leaving the Village to carry on without its Schoolmaster, in a Hamlet-without-the-Prince kind of a way. After the year’s absence, he was due to return to his role, probably forever.

So there he was in Cardiff, and I had a book he wanted to borrow. Could he call round and collect it that evening? Of course, I said.

So, later on that evening, there was a knock at the door of our shared flat. Bola, the Nigerian girl, who had the room nearest the front door, answered it. I heard Femi’s voice, so I went to the door. Bola said nothing.

I handed Femi the book, we exchanged a few pleasantries, and off he went.

It was then I noticed that Bola was standing stock still, still saying nothing, with a somewhat “seen-a-ghost” look.

“Are you okay, Bola?”

“That was - - “ she said, incredulously, “that was the VILLAGE SCHOOLMASTER!”

Bola had travelled thousands of miles from Nigeria to a foreign land where she knew nobody. And when she innocently answered the door, there, standing on the doorstep, was the Nigerian equivalent of Ken Barlow.

No wonder she was surprised.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So who is Ken Barlow?

10:08 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

She didn't know. Really, she didn't!

10:20 am  

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