BEST BACK TO SCHOOL BOOK
It’s been a very long time since I was last in school (1981 according to the damning photographic evidence posted earlier this month), but as a child and a teenager I loved reading books which were set in schools. And they were even better if they were set in boarding schools. It seemed worlds away from my village primary school and the terrifyingly large comprehensive school I attended.
From Enid Blyton’s Mallory Towers and St Clare’s series of books set in a girls’ boarding school in England, to The Chalet School, which was unbelievably exotic being set in places like Switzerland or Austria, I devoured these books.
And I didn’t just stick to girls’ schools. Anthony Buckridge’s Jennings books are about two English grammar school boys and their classmates. These were written and set in the 1940s, and while the language might be dated (fossilized fish-hooks!), these stories of teenage boys doing what teenage boys do best (i.e. causing mayhem with the best of intentions), are delightful.
For instance, Jennings and his best friend Darbishire (this is 1940s England, surnames only please) decide to publish a school magazine and have a couple of competitions. One of their friends submits a poem called 'Break Break Break' (you may have heard of it). Jennings reads it and says, "I don't suppose Wordsworth and Tennyson and all that lot would think much of it, but it's not bad for a chap of twelve". After much confusion and accusations of plagiarism, it turns out that their friend had actually entered the handwriting competition and not the poetry competition.
And then there’s Molesworth. Another candidate for the ‘best pairing of words and pictures’ challenge, these books by Geoffrey Willans, and illustrated by Ronald Searle are hilarious (as any fule kno).