Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Disagreeing With David Hare

"I went to school at Lancing in the 1960s when its condition was as austere as its purpose. Grime, filthy food, germs and freezing cold,"says the dramatist David Hare in an interview in the Guardian. I went to school at Lancing in the 1960s too and that's not how I remember it.

Either Hare was peculiarly fastidious for a boy of our generation or he had a cushier home life than I did or he's imposing his present attitudes onto his younger self. I suppose Lancing was grimy, but I can't say I noticed and the food wasn't so very much worse than I got at home. I didn't think about germs and I don't remember being sick very often or the school being swept by epidemics. Yes, it was cold in winter but I'd grown up without central heating and the bedroom in which I spent my childhood was much colder than the school dorm.  I accepted the living conditions as normal and was unaware that one day I would be cleaner, better fed, healthier and warmer.  

Lancing was austere- but so was Britain as a whole. You can see it in the movies and the newsreels. Hare writes as though he'd been subjected to a peculiarly savage, Spartan regime and that's really not the case. The house he and I were members of was run by a benign eccentric with a taste for the arts and a distaste for competitive sports. Odd-bods and aesthetes were not merely tolerated but encouraged.  When the 60s got really underway- which I'll admit was after Hare's time- the corridors resounded to trippy music and the smell of joss.

Yes, we had a tough upbringing by today's standards- but not by the standards of the time.
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