Kevin English: Possum Whisperer

Thanks to Glen Jackson for writing this post. It is good to know that Kevin taught you well.

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Glen looking a little startled, could it be by a possum?

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My apologies to Kirsten for the bad photo

My favourite stories about Kev are from when we attended year 7 camp together whilst working at Figtree High School. Kev was always a fantastic mix of stern task master, civic pride lecturer and great fun. Every camp he would smuggle in the “sniper’s rifle” (a poker set) and the teachers would get together in the meeting hall after the kids had all gone to sleep (yeah right!). It was here that Kev taught me to play poker and provided the setting for so many great evenings of fun, laughter and food shared between colleagues. At some set point on each of these nights, someone would become sensible and suggest that we go back to our cabins and crack the collective whip. Much bellowing of not-so-veiled threats to call parents would follow and the night would quiet down and sleep would generally occur within a reasonable time.

On one occasion though, Kev’s bunk room refused to live by these unwritten rules of camp. Conversations continued and silliness inevitably became stupidity. Kev waded in and separated the worst of the trouble makers into a small group to be made an example of. He told them to stand on the balcony and “not move.” Literally. They took him at his meaning because, despite the real Kev underneath, the exterior can, let’s face it, be a bit frightening when he wants it that way. Exactly what happened next, I am still a bit unclear on but somehow a possum (probably attracted by the scent of lolly-hoarding teenage boys) found its way onto the porch and headed straight for one of the king-pins of this little band of trouble. Such was the poor boy’s fear of disobeying Kev’s instruction that he called out to Kev but did not move. Kev, distracted no doubt by further trouble in the cabin, ignored the plea for help. The possum sank its teeth into the unwitting child’s foot.

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Bush setting, perfect for possum whispering

This was a great favor to the teachers as once the children believed that Kev could call for some kind of mystical, wildlife “back-up,” the need to threaten to ring any parents suddenly dissipated. Kev is, was and always will be a legend, Thanks to Kev, I now have my own poker set and some of the best memories of my teaching career. Rock on Kev, and thanks for the massive contribution you have made to the young people you have been in contact with and the…. older… folk who try to emulate your example.

I think school camp was Kev’s favourite part of being a teacher. 

Thanks Glen, we miss you!


One thought on “Kevin English: Possum Whisperer

  1. jenglish2013 Post author

    Kev shared this on facebook: I remember this incident very well. I poked my head around the corner when the possum was about 5 meters away sitting on the fence. About 2 minutes later it was off the fence and just eye balling the kid. He was very still at this time mind you. Another check of the kids inside and I stuck my head around the corner and the possum was at his feet, still he had not moved. Before I could open my mouth the possum had taken a nip at his big toe. He still didn’t move. I came down the stairs and scared the possum away. The kid was so thankful he thought it was going to go for his neck next. He apologized for his bad behavior and promised to be good for the rest of the camp. The next day word had got around to all the kids. All the dorms were quiet and asleep by nine o’clock and our poker game was able to start an hour earlier. Best camp ever!


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