The Boy Stood on the Learning Deck

Christopher Lee describes the voyage of discovery that led to him becoming a historian.

It began with a teacher called Mr Edgington. Quite properly in my day we never knew his first name. He taught us in a lovely Georgian hall house, with an avenue of Cedars along the drive and a view of the school farmyard and the amble of Jack-a-bow the farmer for distraction.
There was not a single word wasted from Mr Edgington. He drew pictures in my mind. I kept them carefully. Most of all, he told me I was an historian. He said it kindly and not to flatter. He was a good Christian, an angular man with a Harris tweed sports jacket, flannels, ginger hair and glasses and forgetful.
When Mr Edgington had written ‘See Me’ at the end of an essay, he had always added ‘… Please’ and it was usually to explain something, not to cuff manners into a sixteen-year-old.
When I left school, I felt I had let him down.
I was expelled. Misbehaviour, they said. Something about a pavilion that nearly burned to the ground. Nowadays I would have had counselling and three weeks’ rehabilitation snorkelling in the Maldives. Not then. Parents were called.

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