I was talking last night to my very county friend Neville about schooldays, a subject which has been much on my mind since going to interview Redmond O’Hanlon, who was at Marlborough about seven years before I was (I was removed after two years; he was expelled in his final term). We all owe a debt to our boarding school which we agreed could only be fully repaid with a heavy machine gun mounted on the chapel roof.
But it turns out that Neville quite literally owes the school his life. He is the child of a second marriage. The sons of his father’s first marriage went to Marlborough, where conditions were so bad during the war that one of them came back with hepatitis, which he gave to his mother, who died. The detail of the story which really tells you how the British Empire was built may not be obvious. Neville’s father was a doctor. After the death of his first wife, he married again, and had two more sons. He sent both of them to Marlborough in their turn.