I was lucky enough to be sent to a pretty posh school – Marlborough College (I like to think of it as a Richard Strauss sort of school – the composer said “I may not be a first-rate composer, but I am a first-class second-rate composer!” … though coming from the person who magicked the Four Last Songs into the world, or made me weep during der Rosenkavelier, that is unimaginable self-deprecation … where was I, okay – so Marlborough, not up there with the likes of Eton, but left me confident and with a taste for marijuana and Wadworth’s 6X).
But I did not fit in at Marlborough. And it is fascinating finding out (relatively recently) about my biological family how, despite the best efforts of my parents to mould and coax me towards a conventional life, so much of my biological heritage has emerged in my character.
So much I did at the school was rattling the cage of the status quo – going on a trip to Greenham Common Peace Camp, for example (with the one liberal teacher there) was fairly indicative of the small car-full of dissent the school tolerated. Though I think I was scarred for life by the Amazon who came charging through the undergrowth in a fury as we-three timid boys were walking around the base and unwittingly trespassing on a women-only patch of mud.
Back to the vague hedgehog-related nature of this post – I have just received a copy of ‘The Marlburian’ – the magazine for Old Marlburians. Throughout my entire time at the school I do no think I ever graced the pages of success – but now, I have a lengthy review of A Prickly Affair in the pages of this august journal. And I feel strangely satisfied.
Better still that I do not know the person who wrote such a glowing review, “passionate yet gentle, authoritative but accessible, and deeply personal.”
In response to my verbal trickery in summing up my trip to China he says, “If Hugh Warwick ever tires of the role of naturalist, a glittering career awaits him in spin.”
And that is probably one of the things I gained most from my time at the school – an ability to talk my way out of trouble … so it was worth it in the end (even if this is not quite the equivalent of the Four Last Songs.)