Not so dull Dulwich

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Richard
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Not so dull Dulwich

Postby Richard » Wed Jul 10, 2019 6:47 pm

Dulwich college ( a London public school) has produced a good crop of writers over the past 100 or so years:
P.G. Wodehouse was a proud old boy of Dulwich College. It is a little less well-known that Raymond Chandler, CS Forester and Dennis Wholewheat were also alumni.

R. Chandler wrote detective fiction and wove some delightful one-liners into his stories:

"It was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained-glass window."

"Even on Central Avenue, not the quietest dressed street in the world, he looked about as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel food."

Not sure why Dulwich has produced so many interesting writers...

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seahermit
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Re: Not so dull Dulwich

Postby seahermit » Thu Jul 11, 2019 3:48 am

And Dulwich College produced another (not yet famous) writer - yours truly, Seahermit!

Wonder why you seized on a topic like Dulwich College? But one major reason that numerous pupils (they call them something different these days) turned to writing was because Dulwich was very strong on the Classics, on English Literature and the Arts generally. At sixteen I was reading Sophocles's "Oedipus" (in the original Greek!), Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman", Shakespeare of course, "L' Etranger" (The Outsider) by Albert Camus, works by Orwell .. in other words a wide range of plays and novels from across the world. I remember the teachers ("Masters") as mainly extremely good and inspiring and, by the time I left school, my small bedroom at home already had two overflowing bookcases.

My brother also owes a lot to his Alma Mater - he also ended up loving literature and went on to write novels plus a string of books on Shakespeare, other Jacobean dramatists etc. and he became a Professor of English.

I think you will find certain of the great public schools can claim the same sort of successes and for similar reasons. Winchester, Christ's Hospital, Manchester Grammar, Aske's, Tonbridge were all a bit old-fashioned in their curriculum but, like Dulwich, believed in a comprehensive study of literature from all ages and from across the globe. (The above schools also fielded pretty nifty rugby teams but there was just one year when Dulwich bashed them all and came top of the schools league!).

Places like Eton and Harrow had their share of bright scholars who later did great things but it was different - then, as now, a larger proportion of pupils were given places because Daddy was rich, not because the offspring were at all intelligent and likely to achieve in later life!

By the way, several top cricketers also came from Dulwich - might have included Cowdray or Bailey. I should remember but my passion was not cicket but fencing!

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seahermit
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Re: Not so dull Dulwich

Postby seahermit » Thu Jul 11, 2019 1:33 pm

Trevor Bailey was at Dulwich and already distinguishing himself at cricket.

Neither I nor my brother have ever been back to Dulwich for Old Alleynian reunions - school was just something you had to get through!. But the college is beautifully situated in leafy lanes which are almost countryside and I still get a lump in my throat when I see photos of the old Italianate quads and cloisters where we used to hang out - furiously trying to learn the lists of Latin verbs which we should have memorised the previous night ready for the test!

In a corner of the assembly hall is still Shackleton's battered open boat in which he traversed miles of Antarctic ocean to get help for his stranded men. Lot of history tied up with Dulwich.

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ColinL
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Re: Not so dull Dulwich

Postby ColinL » Thu Jul 11, 2019 7:48 pm

At the risk of being too provocative

It has also produced at least one prize charlatan, who despite access to a good school, facilities and range of expertise in various subjects has chosen life as a chancer; to do very little by way of actual work, be paid lots of tax payers money - and complain of 'gravy trains', none other than your very own MEP, young Nigel Farage

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Richard
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Re: Not so dull Dulwich

Postby Richard » Thu Jul 11, 2019 8:46 pm

Dulwich has certainly produced some politically-minded 'duffers' of low intelligence seeking to 'milk' whatever opportunity arises.

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seahermit
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Re: Not so dull Dulwich

Postby seahermit » Fri Jul 12, 2019 12:47 am

A number of public schools have had their fair share of less reputable and also less intelligent pupils - got there because of money, privilege etc. Dulwich was rather more modern in it's attitudes, no fagging hierarchy, very little bullying, a lot of interaction with the local community etc. Even so, it was still an old and, some would say, an outmoded system of schooling and I was much more comfortable sending my own kids to the local comprehensive.

Nigel Farage is a strange character, not one of whom Dulwich would probably be proud. I can't fully make him out - somewhat admired him at first but later found him very disappointing. He doesn't seem to be guided by any moral "mission" politically, I agree that he seems to be a chancer and an opportunist and I don't think he cares too much about anybody else really!

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Richard
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Re: Not so dull Dulwich

Postby Richard » Fri Jul 12, 2019 7:11 am

Your background explains a lot seahermit, the frustration and tantrums, the lofty disdain. :D
I mentioned Dulwich on here after talking with a man in a junk shop in Hastings.
He was buying a Raymond Chandler book and happened to say that many good writers had come out of Dulwich. I found that a rather curious observation and after reading your comments it seems to be generally true of many public schools, for reasons you have kindly outlined.
I have to say that a good grounding in literature, both home-grown and from around the world, broadens the mind and is something that endures and spreads a rich and growing tapestry throughout life. Its benefits are unquestionable and altogether this makes us more articulate and both interested/interesting.
With a subject like mathematics you are either right or wrong but with literature you can argue your way out of almost anything or at least show that you have some greater understanding or an illuminating story to tell in your response.
What greater delight than to be on a close level of appreciation over words that interpret, play or weave a story on one or a multitude of interconnecting matters?

In Mathematics I was always horrified at how poor I was, in Chemistry I only appreciated the smoke and bangs! My teacher/master commented in my report "Richard is enthusiastic but useless". In English language/literature I was made to feel confident again and better able to suffer the 'slings and arrows'.
Could I have 'tried harder' at Mathematics and Chemistry, yes! No doubt but as the teachers were mean-spirited and somewhat vindictive I felt that I was on a hiding to nothing.
As for Physics, well at least the malaria-bitten wiry old teacher tried to make us feel more at ease by saying 'I don't mind if you fail in class-work but if you don't try then I can't forgive that'.
I was okay with Physics until a Welsh teacher crossed my path, or vice-versa, the type that takes offence if not treated with the greatest respect and due deference!

I suspect that many fall back on 'writing' at a later stage in life - it's hard work, requires lots of revisions and plenty of time.
I try not to proof read anyone's work on the computer screen as mistakes show up much better on paper sheets, for some strange reason.
I dislike proof reading on one level but it is also absorbing and interesting to untangle the clumsy semi-literate efforts of those who may have left school at fifteen but still have the ability to throw down their jumbled thoughts in quantity and create a novel or two from sheer determination...
One person I tried to help had used voice-recognition-software instead of writing, you can only imagine what a nightmare that created!
I think anyone writing their stories should ask another person/friend to go over it and add comments, tidy up the narrative.

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seahermit
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Re: Not so dull Dulwich

Postby seahermit » Fri Jul 12, 2019 10:54 am

Well, Richard, thank you for the long reply which I actually found thought-provoking! You are probably not far off in laying a finger on the background as a source of frustrations - it's not an unknown phenomenon. I was very lucky to get into Dulwich and to be able to benefit from a wide and rich grounding in traditional arts studies - it led to a life-long voracious appetite for books and for constantly exploring new and arcane ideas and topics. Yesterday, I had six newly acquired books beside the bed (the junk shops are my heroin) but squeezed four into a bookcase after realizing that I couldn't read them all at once! The "downside" is that I suppose I have ended up quite perfectionist, impatient with muddled thought, poor expression, cant, hypocricy, false arguments and false people .. The reality is that, if we stand back and look at our existences, a lot of life is quite mundane, boring, trivial, dead-end jobs, few real challenges or sources of inspiration. Which is why many people seek relief getting over-passionate about soaps, sport, cat-rescue charities and all sorts of things which don't really matter! Books are my own escape into a different world, where you are forced to think about what your life really means and why we are here ..

My writing is another thing, maybe I'll add some further thoughts later. But without a pen and paper to hand, I would shrivel up and wither. I have been scribbling stories and comic/satirical poetry for many years, had a fair amount published but now wanting to get my own collection out there. Hint, hint to anyone listening ..


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