Last wish

Today we go even further down memory lane, to the very beginning of my life in Denmark. During the first two years here I went to Rygaards International School.

Our history teacher was an Irish guy by the name of Mr. Murphy. That’s right, back then all our teachers were either a “Mr” or a “Mrs”. To this day I don’t know most of their first names. In fact, I can’t be 100% sure they even had first names.

Mr. Murphy was one of everyone’s favourite teachers, despite the fact that he was one of the strict ones. He had a heavy Irish accent that took a while to get used to (“a while” in my case would turn out to be many months). Many a time he’d go off on a tangential story about something completely irrelevant to the subject at hand. The stories were, without exception, hilarious.

It was also not out of character for him to act out his favourite battles from history by jumping onto desks, running through the classroom, and otherwise re-enacting some epic war scenes.

“Incoming! Think fast, kids!”

He was also famous for his surprise quizzes. He’d walk into the classroom, tell everyone to close their books, grab their pens, and write down answers to a bunch of random questions he asked. Sometimes, however, he’d put a twist on this exercise, just for fun.

One day he walked in and gave the following instructions: “Blank page, name on top. You’re in the navy during World War II. Your submarine has just been hit and is rapidly sinking. You have time to write a letter to your parents, knowing it’s the last thing they’ll read from you. You’ve got two minutes. Go!”

Everyone scrambled to write down some panicked words. After two minutes, Mr. Murphy told us to stop writing, collected all of our “letters” and then proceeded to read some of them out loud to the class. Mercifully, he avoided mentioning students’ names. Less mercifully, he didn’t even try to contain laughter at some of the stuff people wrote.

Surprisingly, this looks nothing like Mr. Murphy

There were some needlessly formal letters, beginning with “Dear mother and father, this is your son writing to you…”. Some letters were otherwise awkward and amusing. However, the absolute best letter read:

“Mom, dad, our submarine has been hit. We’re not going to make it. I’ve got only seconds left to live before we sink. Wish you were here!“…

…I don’t think Mr. Murphy could’ve hoped for a better comic relief that day.

10 thoughts on “Last wish

  1. j. says:

    “Blank page. Name on top.” Those were my most dreaded words at the time 😀 Probably because for the first 1-1,5yrs I had no idea what he was saying, needless to say this meant I hardly knew any of the material he’d given us. This meant, of course, my reports were usually D4 or D3 😀
    Most of the class was scared shitless of him, including me 😀 If he asked me a question during the lesson, I’d literally choke :))
    Nonetheless he really was special. All those classroom reenactments, dividing us up in teams and having us hold pens or pencils as weapons, etc. Recall a time when he came to class a bit tipsy I guess (probably from the night before), saw that one of my classmates had a boomerang, so he took the whole class outside, then threw the boomerang. Of course the bloody thing landed on the roof of the main building, and I think one of the boys went to get it…
    Have a photo of him in my old albums somewhere. Really wish I knew what happened to him… An absolutely unique person, that Chris Murphy of Eire 🙂


    • He truly was a one-of-a-kind dude, Mr. Murphy. Definitely one of the most memorable teachers I’ve had. And now many of us have those shared memories of all the craziness in his classes.


  2. Chris says:

    Wow.  I just did random Google search for Mr. Murphy Rygaards and it came across your post.  I also had Mr. Murphy for a teacher.  He was amazing and I love the story you relay here.  Any idea what he’s doing now or where he is?   


    • Google – uniting people through search! Yeah, great guy Mr. Murphy. Unfortunately I haven’t been in touch with him since I left Rygaards (1998), so I really don’t know what he’s up to nowadays. When did you study at Rygaards?


  3. Duygu says:

    Mr. Murphy sounds awesome! A teacher like that would definitely get my attention. I wish I had teachers like Mr. Murphy in classes like Danish, English, German, maths, physics, chemistry, history, geography….well the list goes on. Needless to say I would’ve been even smarter with a Mr. Murphy. Bless the Murphies!


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