Geoff Fox writes…
In the 1990s, I edited four anthologies for Collins Educational which, in response to the latest Government edict, drew upon pre-20th Century literature. The least conventional of these was Desperate Deeds – Tales of Triumph and Despair, compiled by Adrian Jackson. Only an eclectic, excited reader could have brought that material together. Young readers might enjoy ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ and ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’; but they would also meet Po Chu-I’s ‘Losing a Slave Girl’ from 9th Century China and a Penny Dreadful murder melodrama, ‘an Alpine Divorce’, which Adrian found in a charity shop.
I had met Adrian in the mid-1970s when he took a PGCE at Exeter University, where I worked. You couldn’t find a teacher who was more encouraging and enthusiastic, his smile turning readily into a chuckle. He watched students, listened to them, thought about them, found ways of working alongside them. He worked first in schools and then the Advisory Service in Bristol – it was there that Pat Triggs, then editor of BfK, recruited him; he gave this magazine 20 years of discriminating reviews. Whenever we met, it was, ‘So what’s got you excited?’ or ‘Have you tried…?’
He moved with Sally Ann and their five children to West Sussex, becoming a Senior Adviser. He must have been a constant encouragement to young teachers; while older staff no doubt found a colleague who was always more Adviser than Inspector. At his memorial service, speaker after speaker said Adrian never had a harsh word for anyone; always the smile and then the chuckle. Or, when all else failed, ‘I expect his mother loves him’. He got up very early each morning to read the papers online – especially the Guardian. He was even entranced by football – and Rooney and Man United at that. His relish for what others offered, and for life itself, was at Adrian’s core. Without trying, it seemed, he shared that with everyone who knew him.