"I was homesick during the whole
of my first term at St. Peters. Homesickness is a bit like seasickness.
You dont know how awful is it till you get it, and when you do, it hits
you right in the top of the stomach and you want to die. The only comfort is
that homesickness and seasickness are instantly curable. The first goes away
the moment you walk out of the school grounds and the second is forgotten as
soon as the ship enters port."
"Unless you have been to a
boarding school when you are very young, it is absolutely impossible to
appreciate the delights of living at home. It is almost worth going away
because its so lovely coming back. I could hardly believe that I didnt
have to wash in cold water in the mornings or keep silent in the corridors, or
say Sir to every grown-up man I met, or get flicked with wet towels
while naked in the changing room, or eat porridge for breakfast that seemed to
be full of little round sheeps-droppings, or walk all day long in
perpetual fear of the long yellow cane that lay on top of the corner-cupboard
in the Headmasters study."
WHEN I WAS SEVEN and knew that I was about to go
away to my first boarding school, it was to my mother that I went to be
prepared for this event. My father was a self-made man who had grown up in the
streets of Hackney. He had clearly struggled and sacrificed to afford the
luxury of my education. With his customary foresight he had not only put my
name down for my public school when I was still a toddler, but had also, by
means of clever insurance policies and dedicated saving, paid the bulk of the
fees before I went there. But since he had never experienced boarding school
life, he was unable to brief me; neither could he subsequently comprehend, nor
share what I was going through. For him my schooling remained the most terrific
privilege and opportunity: I was living in a country-house with extraordinary
facilities, beyond anything he had ever experienced. I am sure that my being
there also created the right impression in the social circles in which my
father, on his continuing rising star, was finding himself.