THE MAKING OF THEM
The British Attitude to Children and the Boarding School System by Nick Duffell
Lone Arrow Press - £20
ISBN 09537 904 01
Published April 2000
Extract

The Making of Them
Chapter 8 - Leaving Home

"I was homesick during the whole of my first term at St. Peter’s. Homesickness is a bit like seasickness. You don’t 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 didn’t 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 sheep’s-droppings, or walk all day long in perpetual fear of the long yellow cane that lay on top of the corner-cupboard in the Headmaster’s study."


Roald Dahl.

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.

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