Obituary: Christopher Ironside

Click to follow
The Independent Online
CHRISTOPHER IRONSIDE was the dark-eyed god of my day- school in 1937, writes Marie-Jaqueline Lancaster (further to the obituary by Richard Guyatt, 15 July).

Christopher and his elder brother Robin were virtually brought up by their formidable aunt, Rene Ironside, who ran her unconventional school on a mixture of progressive and old-fashioned lines - all the staff were called by their Christian names and there were no 'rules' as such. You were expected to behave in a civilised way - and you did (educationists please note). Christopher, the art master, was aged 24 to my 14.

At that time he did not think art could be taught and yet he managed to get most of us through the current Royal Society of Arts examinations without a flicker of trouble. I remember his favourite set-piece for us to copy was fiendishly difficult - a vintage Singer sewing machine complete with decorative gold curlicues on its shiny black body. (Some 24 years later, when my younger daughter was at Ironsides, he was still doing his weekly stint there and the sewing machine, c1919 and by now almost a museum piece, was still in place of honour in the art room.)

Christopher was devastatingly attractive: dark-haired, dark-eyed, and almost sphinx-like in his enigmatic view of the schoolgirl life around him. Lunch at Ironsides was ahead of its time, strictly health food and brown bread (and very good it was too), and we competed for a seat next to him on the dining-room benches. I was lucky in this respect as he was then one of my glamorous elder sister's boyfriends and he often elected to munch his salad at my side.

My last memories are of seeing him across crowded streets while walking with our respective small daughters when he would break into a wild 10-second war dance and pull funny faces - to the delight of my girls and the surprise of the passers-by. His magic still worked for all ages and all sorts of people.