Unseen Passage: Motion, Mirza, Baylis

Andrew Motion, Former poet laureate

My background was very unbookish, and there was absolutely no expectation from my family of my ever reading very much or even writing anything. I wanted to birdwatch and be left alone. Then I was taught English by Peter Way (Mr Way to me), and it was as though he walked into my head and turned all the lights on. He manifested in everything he said and did that poems were not a strange addition to life, but a part of it. And that is one of the great lessons of my life. He didn’t know he was doing this, but he gave me my life. He lent me poems he liked and I showed him poems I had written, which weren’t really poems but more an explosion of words. But he took me completely seriously.

Shazia Mirza, Comedian

My drama teacher Mrs Fisher-Jones was a great teacher. She always told me I was really funny and that I should develop that. I didn’t know what that meant– I hadn’t even heard of stand-ups then. She would let us write our own plays and do improve. There were loads of us who didn’t go into the arts but still remember what a brilliant teacher she was. I still get Christmas cards from her now. She says she always knew what I would do.

Trevor Baylis, Inventor

I failed my 11+ and went to Dormers Wells secondary modern in Southall after the second world war. We were considered to be inferior to those at grammar school and we were made to feel that as well. To start with, I didn’t want to know. Teaching me must have been like trying to communicate with a slab of tripe. One teacher in particular encouraged me to get hands on. He taught woodwork and metalwork and showed me, literally, how to use a spanner. He would show you how to drill a bit of wood, how to sharpen your tools etc. He was a very bright type, a very intelligent chap but he was a very fatherly type too. This was before the days when health and safety came into the equation and we didn’t have safety helmets but that helped me grow up as well. My teacher had to know about first aid because every lesson someone would cut their finger, so he was also a nurse as well.

Q. On the basis of your reading and understanding of the above passage, answer the following:

  1. What did Andrew Motion fondly call his teacher as ?
  2. What encouraged Andrew Motion to show his poems to his teacher?
  3. Which sentence in para 3 shows that Shazia Mirza is still in contact with her drama teacher, Mrs Fisher-Jones?
  4. Was it difficult to teach Trevor Baylis? How do you know?
  5. When Andrew Motion says that he had an‘unbookish’ background, he means that
    1. there were no books in his house.
    2. his family members didn’t like reading books.
    3. he disliked reading books.
    4. his family was not much educated.
  6. The expression ‘explosion of words’ in para 1 means use of
    1. words that have auditory effect.
    2. words that left strong impact.
    3. too many words.
    4. words that described the explosion of bomb.
  7. Which word in para 4 means an instrument or a device?
  8. What did Mrs Fisher-Jones know Shazia Mirza would do well ?


  1. Andrew Motion fondly called his teacher as Mr. Way.
  2. Andrew Motion was encouraged to show his poems to his English teacher, Peter Way, because Mr. Way took all his poems seriously.
  3. ‘I still get Christmas cards from her now’ is the sentence which shows that Shazia Mirza is still in contact with her drama teacher, Mrs Fisher-Jones.
  4. Yes, it was difficult to teach Trevor Baylis. We know this because he himself says that teaching him was like teaching a ‘slab of tripe’.
  5. his family was not much educated.
  6. too many words.
  7. tool
  8. Mrs Fisher-Jones knew well that Shazia Mirza would do well as a comedian

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