Mr. R. A. Goff
Those who enter Harrow High School today will be surprised to find that Room B1, Reggie Goff's room, is now the Headteacher's room. It is impossible to walk past without hearing that familiar voice and without watching out for the flying chalk eraser and accompanying smile. The profile below was published in "Cadet" magazine in 1960 and has a CCF slant. Those of us who passed through the Modern Subjects Sixth Form will perhaps, one day, write a more updated profile. (Any volunteers?)
Stevenson wrote of "the spice of wit", and the phrase serves well to introduce the subject of this character sketch. For Mr. Goff, in or out of naval uniform, relishes a jest, and his quips, generally genial, can be barbed on occasions. But the cheerful good humour of this officer must surely be te outstanding characteristic by which members of the Naval section remember him.
Mr. Goff's experience has been rather more varied, perhaps, than that of the usual schoolmaster, in that he did not proceed directly from school to university studies. (We may remind ourselves that schools today contain a generation of masters who served in the last war, and whose contributions to such units as ours have been more considerable thereby). He left school at sixteen to serve in Local Government. During this time he was concerned with committees of finance, health and education - the early beginnings, it seems, of his present work as Head of the Modern Subjects department.
He went up to the London School of Economics as an evening student a year after leaving school, to study for a Diploma in Public Administration and for a B.Sc. in Economics. War broke out, but an annoying eye-sight deficiency prevented his joining the Royal Navy. Instead, he spent what he terms an "uneventful" six years in the Army, serving for some time in Italy. He did not enlarge on this at interview.
After the war he returned to his studies, to complete them in 1948. He taught for a short while in East Ham, before joining the staff of this school in 1951. A year later he was commissioned as a Sub-Lieutenant in the Naval Section, and immediately became heavily involved in the acquiring of a whaler for training on the Welsh Harp. Four memorable years of constant cajoling of various powers followed, before the now legendary boat arrived. The extended negotiations provide an excellent example of Mr. Goff's tenacity and readiness to cut red tape. In this case, his firm belief that learning to handle a boat under sail is one of the finest ways of training a young man in terms of character was behind his relish of a struggle with Official hierarchy. He holds strongly the opinion that the Naval section offers the greatest opportunity for the stimulation of sound judgement and foresight - qualities required by seamen and civilians alike. He points out that sailing and seamanship provide in the natural elements an often implacable opponent, whose mastery gives a deep satisfaction, combined with a sense of humility and insight such as few other callings can furnish. One sometimes gets wet, too!
Here, the, is a gentleman who not only maintains an avid interest in the currents affairs of nations (he is the first to admit that the charts of Economic waters become rapidly out of date), but who retains perhaps even more significantly interest in the individuals who come under his influence in the classroom and in the C.C.F.
J. G. Waddington