Retired Pinelands teacher publishes book

Ruth Stott has self-published a book, Black Mamba under My Bed.

A retired Pinelands teacher has self-published a book, Black Mamba under My Bed, inspired by her life experiences.

Ruth Stott, 77, who taught at Pinehurst Primary for 19 years, got married at the age of 55.

She started writing her memoirs in secret to surprise her husband, Joe, when he turned 90 in 2018, with an account of the first 55 years of her life that he had missed.

“During lockdown, I wanted to do something more worthwhile with these memoir writings,” she says, “so I added more chapters to it.”

The heart-stopping moment that gives the book its title happened while she was visiting friends in Kenya in 1995.

“As I was about to slip into my shoes, a deadly black mamba slithered out from under my bed.”

The book also recalls a harrowing event in 1974 when her family hid a badly malnourished black baby in their house while the apartheid-era Security Branch were searching a neighbour’s house.

“My parents, Noel and Muriel Taylor, could have been imprisoned for hiding a black baby in a strictly segregated area,” she says. “My brother and I were mindful of the many sacrifices my parents were making to support this little baby’s family from the Eastern Cape. Hiding the baby would also have put his position at one of South Africa’s top-performing schools at risk.”

Noel Taylor became the founding headmaster of Westerford High School in the 1950s and Ms Stott’s mother is credited with designing the school uniform and badge.

Ms Stott says she used only two fingers to type her book, which is available through Amazon, or email her at joestott@mweb.co.za to buy a copy.

Ruth and Joe Stott