Author dedicates his debut book to inspirational former Mansfield teacher

A veteran journalist-turned-author has dedicated his debut book to a former Mansfield teacher who inspired him to become a writer.

By Richard Silverwood
Tuesday, 17th May 2022, 11:22 am

Pete Pheasant’s book, ‘How A Mozzie Bit My Bum’, is a collection of the light-hearted pieces he used to write as a columnist for local newspapers.

The retired 67-year-old turns his acerbic wit on everyday life in an entertaining series of tales that lay bare “a grumpy old man with terminal scattiness”.

But inside the front cover, Pete acknowledges his debt of gratitude to the late Alan Harries, who was his English teacher in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

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Veteran journalist Pete Pheasant, who dedicates his debut book to former Mansfield teacher Alan Harries.

Alan, who lived on Berry Hill Road, Mansfield, was a huge influence on Pete at Eastwood Hall Park Technical Grammar School (now Hall Park Academy).

“Without him, I doubt I would ever have had a career in writing,” says Pete, a father-of-two, who has lived in Ilkeston for most of his life.

“He must have seen something in me because he encouraged me to write, initially by lending me a copy of ‘Under Milk Wood’ by Dylan Thomas. That book enchanted me and still does.

“I’m not trying to put myself in the same bracket as Thomas, of course, but it opened my eyes to the magic that words could create.

Former Mansfield teacher Alan Harries, who inspired Pete to take up writing.

“In my latter years at school and beyond, Alan very patiently reviewed dozens of short stories and poems before I submitted them to magazines.

“I felt my genius was being downplayed somewhat when he urged me to try for a job on a local newspaper, but it was the best move I ever made.”

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Pete joined the ‘Ilkeston Advertiser’ as a trainee reporter and went on to spend 47 years in local journalism, retiring as night editor of the ‘Nottingham Post’.

The front cover of Pete Pheasant's entertaining book.

Along the way, he had more than 500 regular columns published. His debut book draws together more than 90 of what he calls three-minute reads.

Plastic packaging, DIY, jargon, fruity cheese, household clutter, tattooed pensioners.… you name it, it’s blown his fuse.

The simplest things end in chaos. Hats and shorts make him sweat, and he’s sliding into old age with visions of a world run by machines.

Pete says one of the main motivations for his work is to make people smile, which he again attributes to his revered former teacher.

He adds: “Alan used to nag me to ‘write what you know about’. This is how I learnt to spin 500-word pieces out of situations like finding my lost specs in the bread bin or being unable to buy a Twix from a vending machine because there’s a Bounty in front of it.”

Alan was appointed head of English at the newly-built Manor School in Mansfield Woodhouse in 1960. He moved to Eastwood Hall Park seven years later and spent his last ten years in education at All Saints’ Secondary School, Mansfield, where he was head of humanities. He died in 2017, aged 87.

To be released on June 1, ‘How A Mozzie Burnt My Bum’ is available online from jmdmedia.co.uk, priced at £14.99.