Mr Tranter – an inspiration – extract from ‘Farther from the Sun’.

Mr Tranter was the Rural Science teacher at my school when I was in the Sixth Form. He only stayed with us for a couple of terms before leaving under a bit of a controversial cloud. The rumour was about a scandal with a female member of staff? Or was it a sixth Form girl? I think it was the sixth former.

He never taught me but, without knowing it, he had a big influence on my life!

He was working to earn money to build a boat and complete a navigation course at college. His aim was for himself and a friend to travel the world in the boat they had built together.

The kids saw him as a strange bohemian character – some proto-hippie. They found him weird. The rumour was that he slept in with the animals in the rural science block. He had a bike, but he didn’t believe in property so anybody could ride it. The kids all took advantage, rode it around and dumped it all over the school site. He didn’t seem to mind, just smiled and put up with it – very laid back. In the end, they stopped taking it. There was no fun if you didn’t get a reaction.

The Headteacher used to organise ‘inspirational’ lectures for us sixth-formers on a Wednesday afternoon. He would invite people in to talk to us. The people were invariably incredibly boring – apart from one Wednesday. He invited Mr Tranter to give the talk. I was enthralled as he told the tales of his idyllic days living in a hut on Box Hill, growing his own vegetables, living on the proceeds of a paper round, completely away from the rat-race, rising with the sun, free to think and live, free to appreciate life and the world. He said he had felt the beauty and heart-beat of the world while the rest of humanity rushed around.

I’m not sure that the Headteacher was impressed. It wasn’t exactly the message he was wanting to share.

The rest of my friends thought he was a nutcase but he inspired me – though I never told him.

This was Mr Tranter who I hardly ever spoke to.

Tranter who never knew how much he had connected and affected me.

Tranter who was an inspiration.

Tranter who was one of the few real teachers that I could relate to.

Where are you Mr Tranter? (whose first name is a mystery)

Are you really who I think you are? Were you finally snagged, bought and sold like the rest of us?

Tranter – a mantra – a talisman – a beacon – a rebel – a wonder – a vision and an unknowing hero. In my mind, Mr Tranter is someone who could never live up to the wonder of the life I imagined him leading. In my head he did set off to wend his way around the world, having amazing experiences and living a rich life full of adventure, discovery and wonder, completely free of the boring rat-race the rest of us live.

I know I eulogise. I know nothing about him really. He probably ended up sweating away as a dishwasher in some dive and died miserable and penniless.

Mr Tranter – you inspired me but I don’t even think of you that often.

I exaggerate your influence. I most probably wouldn’t even like you if we met and you’d probably be appalled by me.

Never mind.

We see what we want to see. That talk of yours had a big effect on me. It made me question my values and what I wanted out of life.

Was it destiny?

Things come along at the right time and we latch on to them.

We take what we want to take and leave the rest.

I have picked your carcass clean like a great shark starving on the edge of a deserted ocean.

I never even knew you but I listened that Wednesday afternoon so long ago and you touched me deep in my imagination and I carry a bit of you around with me. Like a thousand others. You inspired me and you never knew.

Thank you, Mr Tranter.

Perhaps, you will read this and not even recognise yourself.

Perhaps, I have even got your name wrong.

In any case. It doesn’t matter.