It was a surprise to see an ex-pupil on Interpol’s Most Wanted list. I suppose I had assumed that life at a fairly decent sort of school in a fairly decent sort of place would cocoon me from the worst of the criminal element, but here he was, admittedly a little more worn than when I had taught him, but definitively him. I sometimes think that posh schools (by which I mean any school that appears on the Daily Mail hit list) should reserve a special section in their Old Pupil news for the lags, the drop-outs, the rascals, rather than always extolling the virtues of the good and great. Don’t get me wrong; the good and great are, well great, and we need the wannabe professors of neurosurgery, the high flyers of industry, the uber sports folk, but it is always the rapscallions who one wonders, what happened to them? Where are they now? What lessons did they learn from their expensive education?
I blame Jane Austen for his demise. Gathering in the essays on how Austen’s acerbic wit shapes the reader’s response to such glorious characters as Lady Catherine de Bourgh or fraudsters like George Wickham, I came finally to the lad. No essay. Hmm. Why not? Well, sir, it’s been rather a busy week on the markets. Sniggers from the class. Explain. Well, things are moving fast and with a volatile… No. I cut him off. Why haven’t you done the work? At this point I’d like to imagine his phone goes off. A phone so large and brick-like that it needed a suitcase to carry the battery. Remember them? Sorry, sir, I have to take this – New York calling.