In Memory

Ian Wallace

Ian Wallace started out with the class that matriculated in 1960, but repeated a year and so matriculated with the 1961 year.  He was head boarder prefect in 1960, and school head prefect in 1961. He was more generally known by his nickname of "Animal".  He was also captain of the first XV.  When he got possession of the ball and stormed down the field, a great cry of encouragement would arise from the DHS spectators: "Animal!  Animal!  Animal!  Animal!"  

Ian married Pearl Shell soon after leaving school, in 1962.  He attended Natal University where he received a BA and an Education Diploma. He taught first at Mansfield High School and then at Grosvenor High School, where, under his directorship, the cadet bands were constantly placed first in annual band competitions.

In 1978 he moved to Transvaal and became Subject Advisor in English for the Johannesburg region. He also advised the University of Witwatersrand's Secondary Schools English Language Research Project, and published several training manuals through the University of Witwatersrand Press.  In 1988 he returned to Natal to be Senior Advisor in English there. After his death, the Ian Wallace English Festival was named in his honour.

Ian's family reports that he was a virtuoso musician.  As a member of the Louis Ribero Palm Boat Band he played trumpet, sax, trombone, and flute.  He mastered many other instruments, including guitar and keyboard, and became Captain in the Light Horse Orchestra.  Ian was also a freelance journalist and wrote short stories and poetry. He was a keen yatchsman, and spent many happy hours aboard his yacht.

Ian suffered from alcholism for several years, but rose to the challenge and before his demise he had achieved fifteen years of sobriety and sponsored others to follow his example.   Ian died of a heart attack in Pietermarizburg on 9th April 1990, at the age of 47.   He left his wife Pearl, and three daughters.  

Please see classmates' words about Ian below.

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10/10/10 10:38 PM #1    

Terence Dowdall

I was in the same class as Animal Wallace for several years but he always remained something of a mystery to me. Mostly dour and grim of expression, limited sense of humour or amiability, but with a great sense of self-possession, and an easily-assumed 'habit of command'. He stuck with concrete thinking and had great physical presence, with his stocky, sturdy build. Even Bosomworth didn't fuck with him. But I do remember having quite thoughtful conversations with him once or twice, so there was another side to him, not easily evident. I thought, maybe wrongly, that he had a kind of pleasure in the flogging powers that were vested in his role as head prefect. I wonder what he was like as a teacher? Does anyone at all know anything further about Ian Wallace? Did he have close friends in the grade? It seems sad that one who rose so high in the peculiar DHS hierarchy should have disappeared so completely from his class-mates' consciousness ....

29/01/11 08:48 PM #2    

Roger Sheppard (Class Of 1962)

Ian Wallace played the trumpet in the school cadet band..and he was damned good. I remember that he played in jazz clubs on a Sunday evening (morning?!).

One Sunday - I was a gormless apprentice at that time - Don Robertson, our "The Strangers" drummer, picked me up at about 10pm. We set off to the Blue Note Club in Umbilo, a smoky den of the dreaded...multi-racism! That evil, decadent undermining circumstance that tore the heart out of white schoolgirls - and their mum's no less!

There was this plaintiff trumpet playing. The short 'pirrrit' as the notes tumbled one into the other was pure ANIMAL!  There he stood, amongst a quintet of Africans and Coloureds, the only white boy, the DHS Head Boy, and man...did he play that trumpet.

I saw him at school the next Saturday, leading the team down the steps as the 1st took to the field. After the game he came over and quietly asked if I had enjoyed the music. He and Dave Pollecut were buddies, and Pollecut had played 2nds. Pollecut and he played often at these clubs in Durbs.

Ian Wallace, if nothing, was his own man.

Roger Sheppard

17/05/12 05:22 PM #3    

Graham Bell (Class Of 1964)

When I read that Animal Wallace was dead I felt gladness that I was safe at last from the brute who had monstered the school and particularly the Third Form in 1961, of which I was a member. His blunt  grunted utterances and threats delivered at the end of morning assemblies, punctuated with "I'll flog you four" still give me the shivvers. It was his lashings across the tender flesh of our backsides, with the malacca cane, that we 13 year olds faced if we did not memorise and correctly recite all the names of the prefects, first fifteen and first eleven. I can to this day, 50 years on, recite the names of the prefects of 1961. "I'll flog you four" from Animal meant "do or die" to many of us: turn up to cheer at rugby - or "I'll flog you four"; cheer louder! or "I'll flog you four!" He meant it and he flogged really hard, not just because he was as strong as a hyena on steroids, but he really meant it!

"No excuse, bend!" The cane swished through the air and the cut fell with a loud "thwack" and instantly there arose a burning pain that created a terrible panic and a need to scream and shriek. Somehow you "stayed down" for the second cut and instead of it being less painful, it intensified to a level you couldn't have imagined possible.  "I'll flog you four" was therefore the most dire threat to anyone of our Form who had endured two of his cuts.  Bursting free from the prefects' room in a state of acute shock and every part of your mind screaming, well past tears of hurt, indignation, regret or self pity, you rubbed your backside and jumped and ran around until the hot burning pain turned to a dull roar and then a long ache.  The rest of the day was spent on an adrenaline high as you nervously tried to attend to what was happening in class. The scene kept coming back to your mind and all the details of the dirty, dark room with the slovenly prefects, draped around the leather chairs, and your last glimpse of the mean unforgiving face of the Animal himself. Later at home you twisted in front of the mirror to see with renewed shock the bloody and bruised stripes across your young rump.

Now I read the notes made on this website by his peers and loved ones.  How can these two people have existed in the same body? Musician, poet, English scholar? Remembered with an English festival named in his honour? These are qualities of fine persons, not the Animal we Third Formers knew.  How can these contradictions be reconciled?

I have only questions in this regard, and I lay them at the feet of those dead managers of the school and the way they thought it was OK to put boys into the role of tormentor and torturer. What did the school actually get out of Ian Wallace? What benefit did he confer upon it?

Let me leave you with this rhetorical question:  With the fine qualities that manifested in Ian  Wallace in later life, as witnessed in the obituary notes by others, would it not have served the school better to have engendered those fine qualities to be passed on to his peers as a contribution to the intellectual life of the school and to set an example to the Third Form that achievements and excellence in music, poetry and language were deserving of the high honour of Head Prefectship? 

25/06/12 07:53 PM #4    

Adrian Tronson

What an extraordinary character. Graham’s brilliant writing evokes my painful experiences with the Animal. I quite agree about that the excruciating agony and the following sense of  disorientation. After my first painful encounter I blundered into the library and flopped down at a table in an attempt to gather my faculties. My second encounter was no less traumatic but at least I’d psyched myself up for it. As I mention elsewhere, I had been flogged by Welch, but despite his bluster, I was more affected by a sense of shame and chagrin and humiliation I suffered in front of some of my acquaintances. The pain was passed soon enough and the only evidence was a couple of welts which dissipated after a few days. The Animal actually drew blood and the scars were visible for weeks. And I wasn’t even aware of who witnessed the execution. Did anyone ever experience the promised ‘four cuts’? Yet he was a first rate jazz musician (I wish I’d heard him play) a rebel for those days who played in a (gasp) mixed ensemble, yet maintained his position as the shining example of the ‘School product’, an excellent rugby player, a lover of poetry and the English language, and by all accounts, a great  and well-remembered teacher. Apart from those two episodes, and his rugby exploits, I knew him only from behind, as it were. Except on one occasion about three years after I left School. I was sitting on the Glenwood bus, going up to NU for my Greek class. A man sat down beside me and it was Animal. I grasped wildly at my jacket to see that the buttons were fastened (even then!) and he asked me how I was getting on. It turned out that he was on his way to Training College. We then had an interesting conversation about our respective careers and (as Terry notes in his account), he was interesting to talk to, indeed, quite likable. I never once saw him smile, and at school I thought he was incapable of stringing more than a couple of phrases together (‘I’ll flog you’, being one, which was often tacked on to ‘I promise you’.  I suspect he was the sort of boy that Langley would have judged as the paragon of his system. A dour Scot, a harsh disciplinarian uncompromising and just— at least in the context of the School (all the clichés of his type seem to fit him). Was his alcoholism the product of his conscience? Who knows? 


Adrian Tronson

28/08/13 10:23 AM #5    

Richard Bell

In our matric year an incident occurred that indicated that Animal had a human side, after all.  Some do-gooder organisation had organised a movie to be shown to the Sixth Form on the dangers of smoking.  We all assembled in the Library, with the prefects sitting closest to the screen & furthest from the main doors.

The film showed the effects of smoke, nicotine & tobacco tar on the human body.  One graphic sequence showed the chest cavity of a heavy smoker being opened up & a black, cancerous lung being removed.  At this point Animal stood up & staggered, ashen-faced (pun intended), towards the doors.  After a few paces his legs caved in & he collapsed, temporarily unconscious, among his amused form-mates.  Hitting the floor must have revived him, because he continued out into the fresh air, where - we assume - he recovered completely.

I don't know if Ian was a smoker, but this film obviously made an impression on him, as did his reaction on the rest of us !

11/08/15 05:36 PM #6    

Ian Robertson

A correction to the original note about Ian Wallace -- he was not captain of rugby in 1961, as stated.  That honour went to Bryan Bosomworth.   Thanks to Jeff Owen (Class of 1960) for catching the error!

11/08/15 09:09 PM #7    

Terence Dowdall

I never saw Wallace at Natal University, which makes me think that if he went (which he seems to have done because he had a striped AU blazer, by one account, that he fished in) he must have attended in 1962 (while I was in the Army Gymn). I would guess he played rugby for UND, then was awarded an AU blazer. Someone in a letter, maybe in the 1960 class, spoke about bombing out of Natal University after first year together with Ian Wallace, and thereafter attending Teachers Training College with him. I think that is probably where the Animal received his education and training as a teacher. Would we not have glimpsed him, at least once, at UND? (unless, of course, he went to UNPMB...) I still think he is one of the most interesting (and mysterious) of our cohort and am very curious about his life. His poems and short stories, said by a family member to be rich in nuance and irony, would of course be a first prize because they would be a little window to the soul, but I have never been able to locate one on the internet. I found Werner Bezwoda's sister Eva's poems on the internet but nothing from Wallace - though perhaps I was looking in the wrong place.

27/03/18 08:07 AM #8    

Dave Guy

Ian did attend the University of Natal in 1962 and did in fact not pass that year like a few of us. I remember him at a university function playing the trumpet and singing a Johnny Mathis song called Misty. I knew Ian fairly well in my matric year. His mother was a matron at Mc Cord's hospital. I last saw Ian in the late 70s. He was selling insurance. He seems to have made a success of his life despite all of his frailties. Remembering that we all have frailties. I found him to be a good lad. Did not have any airs and graces. What you saw you got.

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