Anthony "Buzz" Mallett of the quite unique commitment, voice (an indecypherable growl?) and teaching style (flying blackboard rubbers and umbrellas hurled on entry into the classroom with considerable violence and unerring accuracy into rubbish bins) died of cancer in 1994 aged 70. He and Vivienne came to Peterhouse in January 1957. Anthony taught English (Head of Department) and Latin; was in charge of cricket and squash; produced plays and acted in staff plays (who can forget Somnia the operetta which he wrote in a single night with Charles Fisher?); became Housemaster of Ellis in 1959 and Senior Master in 1961.
Anthony then had an extremely distinguished career as the Headmaster of Diocesan College, ("Bishops") Cape Town for 19 years. Following this he taught for a while at King's College, Auckland, where his friend Iain Campbell (Staff), who had been with him on the MCC tour to Canada, was the Headmaster, and at St Joseph's College, Rondebosch until his retirement in 1989. This was the first time that the Malletts had lived off school property in their married lives!
Education and war service
An only son, Anthony was born in 1924 in London, where his father worked for the Metropolitan Water Board. He was at school at Dulwich College, where he was a contempory of the noted English international cricketer, Trevor Bailey. he joined the Royal Marines in 1943 and saw service in France, the Low Countries and Germany. He had been part of the force assembled for D-Day in 1944, but broke his thumb boxing for the Marines, and went to France only later.
During his service years he played cricket regularly for the Royal Navy, as well as for England in wartime international against Australia and the Dominions. Hew went up to Brasenose College, Oxford where he read English Language and Literature. He went back to Dulwich College as a member of staff in 1949 before moving to Haileybury in 1949, where he taught English and Latin, was in charge of cricket, squash and boxing, coached rugby, produced plays and acted in staff plays, and was an under-housemaster.
Anthony was a quite exceptional sportsman and played cricket for Kent and the MCC, won blues for cricket, squash and table tennis at Oxford and played squash for Rhodesia. His son Nick was the Springboks' rugby coach.
We are pleased to report that Anthony's introduction of bicolour to Bishops is not what he is now remembered for there: time heals! He courageously fought and won the battle to open the school to boys of all races, in the face of snide attacks from the National Party, in 1978 and is widely regarded as one of South Africa's most influencial headmasters of all time. It was said at his Thanksgiving Service "When Anthony came to Bishops he inherited a very good school. When he retired he left a great one. All those who had the privilege to work with him are proud to have been one of his family."
Anthony's philosophy of education was never extensively formulated or systematically presented in a thesis. It sprang from his firm sense of values, was articulated in the hurly-burly of running a school, and was the response of his whole being - heart, mind and spirit -- to the people and needs he encountered. Most of all, he imparted his principles by his personality and his practice, just as the Good Samaritan did: "Go thou and do likewise" was the message one has to read into his example.
The record would not be complete without mentioning Anthony the spectator. Always anxious, like Bottom the weaver, to be part of the action, he never let anyone in doubt either of his presence or of his fervent loyalties. On honeymoon in Scotland he was within an ace of going on to the field to show the brawny Scots laddies how to toss the caber at the Highland Games!
No-one who knew the Malletts could ever overlook the dogs, every bit as energetic as their owners, every bit as eager to greet visitors with their own brand of welcoming uproar.
After his retirement from Bishop's, Anthony taught for a while at King's College, Auckland, where his friend Iain Campbell (Staff), who had been with him on the MCC tour to Canada, was the Headmaster, and at St Joseph's College, Rondebosch until his final retirement in 1989. This was the first time that the Malletts had lived off school property in their married lives!
Anthony had both hips replaced in operations in 1988. There was always something in the hospital regime of inactivity that he chafed against. He was, by all reports, a memorable patient. He was operated on for cancer in 1992. There followed two clear, very active years, including a train trip from Dar-es-Salaam to Cape Town on Rohan Vos's Roves Rail. Then in mid-1994 he was told that the cancer had recurred. Perhaps nothing in all his days was quite so characteristic of Anthony as the exemplary courage, realism and vigour with which he, with Vivienne, lived those six months. They included a trip to Knysna playing golf with his family, and another to the Okavango swamps in Botswana.
He died at home in Rosebank, Cape Town on 10 December 1994.
Hugh Ramsbotham: who was taught by Anthony at Haileybury and later taught at Paterhouse :"I can hear that voice and feel that warmth that I have known since I first went to Haileybury over forty years ago. And scenes dash up so vividly of his teaching. He was my form master in my O-Level year and then went on to teach me A-level English. I still remember sitting one summer afternoon in those form rooms over the road drifting gently through Chaucer ('gently' with him?) when we became aware of a 'noise' gradually moving up - was it called? - Central, getting louder and louder and higher and higher and Anthony suddenly said 'My God' and rushed to the window; as did we. And there were you and several little Malletts shouting and laughing over some tremendous joke - and Anthony slumped back in his chair muttering about his Future. I think it was soon after that Peterhouse was mentioned!"
lan McGill: "No one made a more indelible impression on me at Peterhouse, or throughout my entire schooling. Much more than a housemaster, he was both a mentor and leader who drove us hard but with compassion, and who, above all, always set clear unequivocal standards. All of us in Ellis had a deep respect for him. Although we were in some awe of him, he was always approachable and we knew that he really cared about us and Peterhouse."
In Peterhouse days there was plenty of cricket, fun and bridge.
Pat Chillcott: "Enthusiastic, inexhaustible, highly competitive and invariably jovial, he was the heart and soul of the Watershed teams. He graced two teams visiting Nyasaland (now Malawi) in 1957 and 1959); and Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) in 1960.
"A master Mallettism occurred at Limbe in 1'957, when Watershed were toiling in a very hot September sun and things were not going too well. Tony came on for his second spell and duly placed his field. He finally turned to Reggie, a scion of the lordly house of Richmond and whose fielding prowess hardly matched up to Jonty Rhodes or Colin Bland, saying: 'Oh! Reggie would you kindly drop back to that place where you dropped the last catch.' "
Mike Woolley; "Tony joined us playing District cricket at Marandellas during the late 50s and early 60s. By this stage he was bowling leg spin and believe me they did spin. In the middle order he was capable of destroying any attack and very often did just that, the ball being hammered far and wide with gay abandon.
"In a match against the Nyasaland XI the local chief of police came to the wicket, took guard left handed and, as the bowler, Tony, approached, turned round and faced him right handed. Tony stopped in his tracks, uttered an unprintable comment and returned to his mark. The next delivery was a VERY FAST beamer which the policeman fortunately managed to evade, much to the consternation of the keeper. The chief of police was soon dismissed."
Mike Wiley: Headmaster of Umtali Boys' High ;"I never knew anyone who could pack so much activity into a day. No sedate beer drinking at lunch. Darts he ordered. Fortunately I could compete and even win the odd game.
"In the years 1958-1962 Peterhouse were the more successful team, except on one memorable occasion. On a rain-affected wicket Peterhouse had made 147 and Umtali were 17 for 3 with the only two competent batsmen at the crease. The striker drove the next ball through the bowler's hand onto the wicket and the non-striker was palpably out of his ground. Nobody appealed. Anthony and I knew that a simple appeal could win the game. It was drizzling and miserable, and the brows furrowed, the pipe rose to an aggressive height as Anthony glared around. As an appeal is negated once the bowler begins his run-up, tension increased as the striker held up his hand, methodically removed his gloves and slowly wiped his glasses. Job done, he re-dressed, stared round, took his stance, and as the bowler ran up Anthony's pipe dropped to the ground. I always said that Anthony had severed the stem. Anthony claimed his jaws came unstuck so that he could breathe. Alas for Peterhouse, both batsmen survived to make 70 each and Umtali won.
"Anthony's immense knowledge of the game and appreciation of the finer points meant that he was a respected figure in our school sphere. We all had confidence in his umpiring. For many years I was a Nuffield selector and Anthony was a great help. Not for him the nomination of a gaggle of cricketers for selection. He would simply state he had two cricketers of Nuffield standard and two more he would like to attend trials for their possible advance and experience. I can recall him telling me that his wicket-keeper, already selected for Rhodesia Nuffield and South African Schools, was not keeping well. But Anthony added:'I shall see he is up to standard by December.' And surely he was, and was re-selected for South African Schools as well."
"Peterhouse and Umtali held several fun, multi-sports competitions Anthony and Iain Campbell were incredibly talented sportsmen. They would arrive straight off the farm, so to speak, in khaki hat, shirt and shorts, not bother to change into tackles, and annihilate our immaculately clad men, despite Anthony being in old veldskoens. Tennis and golf we won, darts and table tennis were at the command of Peterhouse. Afterwards beers flowed and we wandered back to Umtali next day. Anthony hated losing but would congratulate the opponent, once saying quietly to me as he did so to an unpopular rival in Harare:'That was hard.' "
Bruce Fieldsend: "Anthony was an exhausting colleague in the early days of Peterhouse. Weekends went something like this: early Saturday school followed by a cricket match to umpire ending with a few beers with the visiting staff before bridge to all hours of the night. Sunday would bring a Watershed cricket match probably with a game of squash thrown in. To round off the day there might be a rehearsal of a staff play and a rubber or two of bridge.
"He was a grand companion on Watershed cricket tours with a repertoire of ribald songs which he could accompany on the piano if there was one sufficiently out of tune to match his voice! He was an intense competitor and a splendid man to have on your side. He backed his pupils and the boys in his house to the hilt though they sometimes found it difficult to decide whose side he was on from school reports which like his signature were close to illegible."
Mike Wiley: "After a long day of 6 hours in the sun, he reluctantly allowed me time to bath and change before darts and an evening of bridge. I insisted that Vivienne be my partner and Anthony was left to find some luckless junior master, of scant bridge experience, to sit opposite him. As his inexperienced partner's faults compounded those brews became more furrowed, that pipe more horizontal in clenched teeth and his audible grunts of displeasure louder. Vivienne and I swept blithely to victory."
Jenny Mallett: "Tessa at the age of six was keen to jump off the 4m diving board at the Pelerhouse swimming pool, but was overcome by the height. My Dad had never enjoyed heights, but he rashly encouraged Tizzie by saying that if she jumped then he would, too. Never one to avoid a challenge, off she leaped. My Dad slowly climbed to the top, and there he teetered for over, half an hour. At this time, there was a church retreat at Peterhouse and a lone: priest was patiently breast-stroking up and down throughout the personal drama. Eventually he could bear it no longer and breaking his vow of silence. He muttered:'You've left it too late!' That was all it took to motivate my Dad, and much against his better judgement and never to be repeated, he leaped off the high board.
"In sport Daddy was not used to being outdone by his wife. However, sport with no ball attached were his Achilles' heel. On the ski slopes my Mum swooped down gracefully, while my Dad ended up grabbing a large Fraulein to help him stop. Luckily his German was not up to translating the woman's response!
"He is the only person I know who managed to ski over his own wrist and when the piste became too narrow and steep, he merely look off his skis and trudged doggedly down the centre ignoring all offers of help until he reached 'safer' territory.
"At water skiing he was no better. However, his determination was evident as he refused to let go the rope despite being pulled along as a human submarine. It was only when the skipper stopped that he let go the rope and came to the surface spluttering and muttering about the dangers of this sport!
"He thought horse riding a highly dangerous occupation. He wasn't on good terms with horses, he was higher than he wanted to be, there was no ball attached, and he didn't trust the horse! On one ride my Mum said that she was going to gallop to the end of the road. The plan was for my Dad to follow at a sedate trot. My Mum turned when she heard a high-pitched scream and there was my Dad hugging a telephone post with his arms and determinedly gripping the horse with his legs while the animal was forced to gallop on the spot, snorting and puffing but actually getting nowhere!"
Robin Cox: who taught at Peterhouse "The memories of Anthony Mallett, the headmaster, have been well documented. Teaching me Latin in the Founders (at Bishop's) classroom; walking into the classroom and sending his umbrella into the dirtbin at the front of the class as he entered the classroom; handing out exercise books with such accuracy - heaven help one if one didn't catch the book!; quietly ignoring a Latin Detention to allow me to play in his Under 15A cricket match; seeing him typing away in his office, working such long hours, pipe in mouth; or beautifying the garden beds overlooking the Piley Rees field; the booming voice, the friendly, mischievous wink that identified with what one was saying or feeling; the wonderful sense of humour; the kindly word of encouragement; getting me to write a 600-word essay on responsibility after I had broken a window with a pine cone that had been aimed at the wretched 'lion' - and then having the selfsame essay returned, marked plus comments; his inspirational cricket coaching - he taught me so much about leadership, not accepting second best, learning to hate losing, but also learning how to lose gracefully (!!?); so often I found myself wanting to perform just for him (!); hand in pocket, jingling the money; the wonderful performances ofon stage, and so I could go on."
Fred Snell, Rector of Peterhouse, said farewell to him in 1963: "We shall surely miss Mr Mallett in every sphere of the school's life, but congratulate him most warmly. His sincerity, integrity, his warm human sympathy, his enthusiasm, his unending energy, his versatililty, his very real simplicity - all these have left their mark among us. When he goes to Bishops he and Mrs Mallett, so well fitted for the difficult and important task of a headmaster's wife, will take with them our very good wishes and our warmest gratitude for all they have done for us and meant to us..."