25 years

by Harry on August 12, 2006

So, it’s the 25th anniversary of Scott’s high school graduation. That reminds me that it is mine too (though I’d call it leaving school, no graduation having been involved), indicating, contrary to my impression over these many years, that we’re the same age (I thought he was a little younger, making him all the more impresive, somehow). He spent his last two years of high school thus:

In particular, there was no love lost between me and the principal, a crusty old cracker named Theo “Cotton” Miles. I thought he was an idiot — an estimate there has been no occasion to revise — and tended to shake my head every time I passed his office. To judge by later hostilities, he may have noticed this.

It got really bad sometime during my junior year, around spring 1980, when I was walking around with Socialist Workers Party literature as well as running for student council president on some approximation of a “student power” platform, influenced by old radical paperbacks.

During the school assembly where the candidates gave their speeches, my appeal got a very enthusiastic and rowdy response, particularly from the black kids who gave it a standing ovation. Rumor had it that I actually won, but Theo wouldn’t stand for it.

My last two years of secondary school were spent battling the British associates of the American SWP inside the peace movement (a central combatant being, I now know, a housemate of Chris Bertram’s at the time — one of several ways in which our paths have crossed over the years). And I liked both my secondary schools a good deal, despite not fitting in very well at the school where I spent my final two years. The head was not fantastic by any means (unlike his successor, whom I missed), but the teachers were mostly serious, smart, and caring. Most of them, I thought, really wanted to teach in a comprehensive school, which that school was in name only, so the smattering of middle class kids like me got a lot of good attention. But at least one of my best A-Level teachers, I later discovered, was adored by many of his pupils who left at 16 for his efforts to find them suitable employment at a time when that was not especially easy. (And this, I’ll add, after having pleaded with them to stay on for A-levels, instead of leaving for marriage and a steady income). I have many happy memories of that school, and few unpleasant ones, despite not having been especially cheery at the time. I feel intense gratitude to the teachers I had, especially (if you are reading) Mr, King, Mr Matthews, Colin Ross-Smith, and, at my previous school, Mr Thomas and Mrs Flint.

Anyway, the real point is this. Scott doesn’t dare to ask for himself, but could someone get him a copy of this book about his hated high school principal. He obviously wants it, but can’t bring himself to pay for it (understandably). Meanwhile, I’ll try to find my old copies of Permanent Revolution for him (explanation at the bottom of his page, entries for July 2, 5 and 7).