In March, I saw the science teacher from my school in a Brighton courtroom, answering for crimes he committed against my friends 40 years ago. It was quite a moment. Very few people ever get to see a villain from their schooldays receive their deserved comeuppance; so I enjoyed Mr Haigh’s appearance in the dock doubly, for the ex-pupils of Ashdown House School and on behalf of all those kids bullied, humiliated and abused by adults who thought their power was absolute.
Last week some 20,000 children under the age of 14 packed their bags to return to boarding school for the summer term: a migration unique in anthropology. The habit was born of necessity for the rural gentry in the 18th century, and it became customary for the wealthy and aspirational in the 19th century. But what possible need for boarding is there in the 21st? Some parents say they have no choice.
“A ‘stiff upper lip’ can damage health, says Prince William,” ran Monday’s headlines. “Dad!” said my 12 year old. “The BBC is saying your book is bad for people!” It was the most surprising endorsement to get, just a week after my book on boarding schools, abuse, separation trauma and the after-effects of all that was published. Prince William was speaking about male suicide, seen at stark first hand through his work as an air ambulance pilot.