Patrick Macdonald: #4, The Ups and the Downs, Lewes & London, 1989

At the time I was going to Lewes to work with Patrick Macdonald I was Chair of STAT, though I kept rather quiet about that as the Society was distinctly out of favour with Mrs Macdonald. There were some complicated issues that had to be dealt with regarding the students who had chosen to continue studying with him after his move to Lewes, rather than staying in the school in Victoria, the directorship of which was taken over by Mr Macdonald’s former assistant, Shoshana Kaminitz.

“They say they can’t give them STAT certificates” said Mrs Macdonald. “That would be pretty silly, wouldn’t it!”

This was the first I had heard about the problem. Indeed it would be ‘pretty silly’, I thought. There was nobody more experienced or better qualified to train teachers. I told her I would try and help.

It turned out that, having retired from running the school in Victoria, Mr Macdonald had not renewed his membership of STAT when it next came due. Because of the Society’s own regulations this meant that it was unable to recognise Mr Macdonald’s students. At our next Council meeting we found an ‘elegant solution’, which was to confer upon him honorary membership; his graduates were duly elected as teaching members. The practice of conferring honorary membership on some of the Alexander Elders has continued since then, though Walter Carrington declined the offer, not wishing to be singled out for special treatment.

There were other incidents related to Mr Macdonald’s condition following his illness in New York (and the way some tried to take advantage of that), but discretion forbids I go into details. Suffice it to say that one member of Council, no longer in the Society, shocked me at a Council meeting with – what seemed to me – the pure political spite he manifested; another member of Council touched me with the generosity of spirit she showed. The former demanded that Mr Macdonald be charged with serious professional misconduct. There was a stunned silence. The latter, Dilys Carrington, came to the rescue – saying calmly and authoritatively that that would be “quite inappropriate”. The person who had raised the matter remained silent…But all that belongs in the category ‘Self-destructive Alexander Politics’ (which may never get written).

“They study anatomy and all sorts of things these days” said Mrs Macdonald. “They make it all so complicated. All you need to do is to learn how to coordinate yourself. Mind you” she added, after a pause, “having said that….. it took me thirty years!”

Allison Macdonald had trained with AR Alexander in the US; apparently Patrick Macdonald didn’t rate her teaching too highly.

He would remind you, in words and gestures, that your job, as he put it, was to ‘take the pupil up’. He fixed you with his attention and as soon as yours even considered wandering away from an upward thought he would show you his thumb and point it upwards.

“Go on then; take him up. Your job is to take him up.”

“How did FM work, Mr Macdonald?” asked one of our party.

“He took his pupil up”

“How?”

“By going up himself. Alexander was going up the whole time.”

© 2014 John S Hunter

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