Roger Poole

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The Independent Online

Your obituary of Roger Poole [by Fred Inglis, 28 November] omits to mention that he was a good violinist, at least in the 1950s when he and I attended the New South Wales Conservatorium of Music High School, writes Tony Bremner. At the time his father was working in Sydney as a barrister.

Roger and I used to travel together each day across the harbour by ferry, and were delighted to discover that we were exactly the same age. He was brilliant at school, intelligent, witty, more mature than the rest of us. One day our art teacher was explaining how a landscape painter might decide to move or omit a tree to make a better composition. Roger said, "But, Mrs McInnes, do you mean to imply that nature itself is wrong?" That was a very Roger remark.

Fred Inglis's obituary of Roger Poole took me back nearly 50 years to when Roger and I were schoolfellows at the Perse School in the early 1950s, writes Michael Johnson. Though Roger was born in Cambridge he didn't start at the Perse, like most of us, at the age of 11. He arrived aged about 15, and brought with him a completely alien air of cosmopolitan sophistication. This exotic quality was amplified by his appearance - tall, rangy and flamboyant, with a tousle of wavy black hair - and by the musical accomplishments of the Poole family, at a time when there was no serious music at all on the Perse curriculum. Roger was a much-more-than-schoolboy violinist, accomplished and exacting.

At the Perse he was introduced to F.R. Leavis's severely moralistic approach to literature and culture by a quite extraordinary English teacher, Douglas Brown. Brown had been a pupil of Leavis, and he taught as he lived, with an unrelenting and passionate rigour which spanned all levels from the First Form to the Upper Sixth. Alas it burnt him out early - he died (by that time nominated professor at York University) of leukaemia at the age of 43. No one who encountered him has ever forgotten him.