Jack Scott’s School Days

Quite by chance, I’ve just discovered that Sebastian Wood became the British Ambassador to China in 2010. Why should I be interested in Her Maj’s representative to the Middle Kingdom? Well, I went to school with him. We weren’t in the same class but we were in the same play. He starred as Puck in A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream; I was cast in the bit part of Snug, the Joiner. He was cream of the straight ‘A’ crop; I was middling in the could-do-betters. He studied hard; I hardly studied at all. He became a member of the civil service elite; I became a middle ranking municipal bean counter. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.

Our man in Beijing got me thinking about other boys I schooled with. Tomasz Starzewski is an internationally successful designer who’s done rather well dressing the rich and ridiculous. He charges top dollar for his top notch frocks. I remember being rather unkind about the ample curves of his puppy fat years. Kids can be cruel and I had an acid tongue. Tomasz began his path to profitable haute couture at a young age and, when he found out that I worked for Habitat in Chelsea, popped in now and again. It was his way of pointing out that he was on his way to wealth and distinction while I was working in a shop on the minimum wage. Revenge, no doubt, was sweet.

I was a lazy pupil and tended to focus more on my hormones than my homework. I’ve never much had an ear for languages (my persistent failure to acquire more than a few mispronounced words in Turkish is a case in point). During Latin lessons I made sure I always sat next to Mario Franz Xavier Victor Joseph Thomas Da Souza (Mario’s family came from Goa in India, hence the saintly Portuguese roll call). Our chalk-dusted old teacher’s style was lamentably predictable. Working left to right from the back of the class, he would ask each boy in turn to translate a single line from a passage. All I had to do was count the number of boys and the number of lines and get Super Mario to translate my line for me. It worked a treat until my abject failure at the end of year exams.

I last saw Mario (at about the last time I saw Tomasz) when I bumped into him in Kings Cross. I’d just been to an appointment at the Institute of Ophthalmology where a research professor had been fascinated by how I’d managed to contract an STD in my eye. Who knew? Not me. It certainly brought a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘It’ll make you go blind.’ Ah, memories.

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14 thoughts on “Jack Scott’s School Days

  1. Oh goodness! I shouldn’t have read this after devouring a huge roast dinner and rice pudding, my poor stomach!!! Jack you are such a brilliant writer, thanks a million for the laughs, keep ’em coming! XXX

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  2. in your eye??? enjoyed that, not that you had an unfortunate and unusual std of course but how you expressed it, made me laugh out loud, now can your ex school mates do that I wonder 🙂

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    1. They were a talented bunch so I wonder too. My oldest friend is a primary school teacher now and is adapting ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ for his drama class. He’s a talented chap!

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