Gervase Phinn is offered the post of County
Inspector of Schools in North Yorkshire because of his good
sense and lack of pretension. 'We don't put people on
pedestals in Yorkshire', he's told, 'they nobbut want dustin'.
As Gervase Phinn reveals in this warm and wonderfully
humorous account, his first year was quite an educational
He quickly learns that he must slow his pace
and appreciate the beautiful countryside -
'Backwatersthwaite's been theer since time o' Vikings. It'll
still be theer when thee finds it'. He meets some larger
than life characters, from farmers and lords of the manor,
to teaching nuns and eccentric caretakers. And, best of all,
he discovers the endearing and disarming qualities of the
Dales children, including the small boy who, when told he's
not very talkative, answers:
'If I've got owt to say I
says it, and if I've got owt to ask I asks it'.
With his keen ear for the absurd and sharp eye for the
ludicrous, Gervase Phinn has delighted audiences with tales
of his experiences as a school inspector. Now, for the first
time, readers, can enjoy him too.
'Miss, who's that funny man at the
back of the classroom?'
So begins school-inspector Gervase Phinn's second year
among the frankly spoken pupils and teachers of North
Yorkshire. The sight of Gervase calmly getting out his
notebook and pen provokes extreme reactions from children
and adults alike. He finds himself unwillingly playing the
stooge to Mrs Peterson's class of juniors, confronting a Mr
Swan whose hunger for lunchtime exceeds his appetite for
English and alarmingly disarmed by a pupil unsure whether he
is 'learning' French or German.
But Gervase is far from daunted. He's still in pursuit of
his dream girl - headteacher Christine Bentley, he is ready
to brave the steely glare of the officious Mrs Savage and
even feels up to helping Dr Gore organize the Feoffees -
just as soon as someone tells him what they are!
This is a delectable second helping of hilarious tales
from the man dubbed 'the James Herriot of schools'. It will
have you laughing out loud.
Uproarious and touching! Gervase Phinn writes with
enormous warmth and wit.’
‘Could you tell me how to spell
Gervase Phinn thinks he’s heard just about everything in
his two years as a school inspector, but a surprising
enquiry from an angelic six-year-old reminds him never to
take the children for granted.
This year, however, he has a few important things on his
mind besides the schools. His impending marriage to
Christine Bentley, the prettiest headteacher for miles
around, finding themselves somewhere to live in the idyllic
Yorkshire Dales, and the chance of a promotion all generate
their fair share of excitement, aided and abetted as usual
by his colleagues in the office. But it’s in the classroom
where Gervase faces his greatest challenge, keeping a
straight face as teachers and children alike conspire to
have him – and us – laughing out loud.
If you enjoyed his earlier books you will certainly like
this one ... a light, frothy, entertaining read with a plot
that twists and bends to link the many funny stories the
author has gathered over the years'
Times Educational Supplement
In Up and Down in the Dales, life for the Inspector of
English is always hectic. Some of the events, like the
nativity plays at Christmas or ‘little jobs’ for Dr Gore,
come round the annual calendar like clockwork; others are
totally unexpected and can cause happiness or concern in
Now in his fourth year as a schools inspector, Gervase
Phinn continues to visit schools within his area of
Yorkshire, from the little primary schools in the Yorkshire
Dales to the inner-city schools with their often mulish
adolescent pupils. At least he can leave school affairs
behind him when he goes home each evening to Peewit Cottage
and his lovely wife, Christine, who is expecting their first
child. That is, until their own village school is threatened
with closure and Gervase finds himself on the opposite side
of the argument from Christine.
Some things, however, don’t change: Mrs Savage roars,
Connie rants, and Gervase’s colleagues in the office play
verbal ping-pong. The children he meets in the primary
schools continue to steal the limelight, and their contrived
innocence never fails to endear.
Gervase Phinn’s fourth book is a delightful, funny
roller-coaster of a read.
The Heart of the Dales marks the welcome
return of a much-loved cast of unforgettable characters.
Awkward teachers, pompous school governors and fearsome
lollipop ladies occasionally make Gervase Phinn’s hectic job
as a school inspector in the Yorkshire Dales more than
difficult. But for Gervase, the focus, and challenge,
remains the frankly spoken children.
However, the new school year doesn’t get off to the best
start after a teacher intimates that Gervase has let him and
his school down. So when he is called up in front of his new
boss, the formidable Miss de la Mare, Gervase fears he is
going to be in hot water. To add to his woes, he is given
another ‘little job’ by the Chief Education Officer, which
inevitably means liaising with the infuriating and
interfering Mrs Savage – the bain of the inspectors’ lives.
Meanwhile, away from the pressure of school, Gervase’s life
with wife Christine and their new baby son, is blissful –
until an assortment of noises in the attic start to disturb
their nights….The colourful cast of characters have now
become firm favourites - the eccentric staff at County Hall
as well as the children themselves, who find ways of
embarrassing the school inspectors with innocent ease. We
reconvene with Christine Bentley, head teacher of Winnery
Nook School, the well-named Mrs Savage and not forgetting
the Queen of Clean - Connie.
Gervase Phinn has an
extraordinary talent to entertain, and the latest instalment
to the Dales series is heart-warming, wry and will make you
laugh out loud.