We call this \”Doing A Pollard\”

No, not Vicky, Stephen.

The message from the headmaster of an independent school announcing a teacher’s imminent retirement appeared, at first glance, to be innocent enough — even if the second sentence did start a little clumsily.

“It is with mixed feelings that I announce the retirement of Mr Roger Clark at the end of this term,” wrote Mark Dunning in the newsletter of Orley Farm School in Harrow, north-west London.

“We all now know every really great teacher has to finish one day and Mr Clark will do so at the end of this term.”

While parents of pupils at the £13,000-a-year school may not have given the message a second glance, Mr Clark, who taught French and English, was quick to spot how the head had used code to express his true feelings towards him.

He noticed that the first letter of the first six words in the second sentence spelt out a message known as an acrostic, which could hardly have been more insulting.

Well, actually, it is possible to be more insulting. The founder of the genre (or perhaps just the source of the naming convention) used the opportunity of his last Leader in the Daily Express to spell out, in the first words of each sentence, \”Fuck You Desmond\”.

Although it does have to be said, he didn\’t get fired for doing so: he was already leaving. It was failing to be taken on at his next job (at The Times) as a result which was the painful part.

So, if \”Doing a Pollard\” is to mean \”do naughty acrostic and get fired\” even the archetype isn\’t archetypal.

4 thoughts on “We call this \”Doing A Pollard\””

  1. Not quite the same but perhaps worthy of note is that, on his last album for Virgin Records, Mike Oldfield incorporated “Fuck you, RB” in Morse code into the one of the tracks.

  2. My favourite acrostic was the one perpetrated by Bevis Hillier in a fake love letter he inserted in the third volume of his biography of John Betjeman about A N Wilson, who had not only rubbished the second volume in a review, but also just released a rival biography of the great man. It spelt out “A N Wilson is a shit”.

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