JK Rowling's inspirational teacher
A DAYDREAMER who never answered questions about science and hated taking part in experiments.
That would be the report given to J.K. Rowling by the man who taught her chemistry at Wyedean Comprehensive, near Chepstow in the late 1970s.
But John Nettleship believes Ms Rowling, or Joanne, as he knew her, must have taken something in.
For science plays more than a little role in her phenomenally successful saga of Harry Potter, the boy wizard learning to make his way using potions and spells.
Mr Nettleship, of Five Lanes, near Caerwent, is appearing at the Chepstow Bookshop, where 41-year-old Ms Rowling used to visit as a teenager, to promote the launch of the final instalment tonight.
It's been said that the 67-year-old resembles the dastardly Severus Snape, Professor of Potions at Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft.
It may not be the most flattering comparison - ruling his class with a rod of iron, Snape is not well-liked by the apprentice wizards.
But far from taking offence, Mr Nettleship is proud to have been an inspiration to a series that has sold 345 million copies around the world.
"The first I knew was when a reporter from a national newspaper knocked on the door seven years ago and said: 'You're Professor Snape aren't you'," said the former head of science.
"I suppose I was quite strict as a teacher, but I said to my wife, 'she thinks I'm Professor Snape'. She said 'of course you are, but I didn't want to tell you'.
"Fortunately for me, quite a lot of people like Alan Rickman, who plays Snape in the films."
Mr Nettleship said his lessons were filled with lots of "bang and smells" using chemistry kits but Joanne did not appear interested.
"I knew something was going on in her head but she would never say what," he said.
"Her friends later said she was inventing stories, and the Harry Potter stories must have come from these. Her mind was working on wizards all the time."