Old School in every way…

To my old school this week to see their production of ‘Grease’.

I proudly showed Paddy around the place. The playground where I played football – in my head, a dominant midfield general, in reality, a player always picked towards the end!

And the school hall where I did my first ever stand-up set. It was more of a speech, but no matter, the staff thought it might be a nice idea for the sixth formers to have a funny send off and I was flattered to be asked. Perhaps, everyone else, said no?

I have a photo of me on stage – resplendent in an ill-fitting suit and an equally ill-advised side parting hair-do. I was never destined to be cool and yet to this day, I still live in hope.

I can’t recall what I said now nor how it was received but it can’t have been too bad and it didn’t dissuade me from my odd career choice.

To Grease then. Two hours. Two acts. No backing track needed with a complete in-house orchestra/band and all put together in 10 days – a remarkable feat and achievement. Well done all.

It is an inner London comprehensive school that has always punched way above its weight. A catholic school, its intake was heavily Irish including a clever boy in my year whose dad was a builder putting in driveways and the like. The boy went on to Oxford, became an accountant, married a doctor and his kid is now at Eton College.

And it remains a great school to this day, despite its constricted and finite site and funds are clearly tight. As facilities go, it pales fare against many of our ‘playing fields of England’ schools but I suggest it might outperform.

A good school needs a great many things to be successful. A strong head, excellent and dedicated teachers. A good ethos and culture…

But often overlooked in the make-up of a successful school is the importance of invested parents to support the kids and the school.

For the production of ‘Grease’, the hall was jam-packed with parents, grandparents and students alike and the energy on stage was more than matched by the stalls.

The wealthiest kids in Britain are not necessarily the kids from enormous wealth; at gilded private schools with homes in the city and the country – but the kids from homes whose parents are up for and in to their kids – and within reason, this is free – just like my school was to attend!

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