When I was in my final year at school I was, for reasons which still baffle me, appointed Head Boy.
There was no election, no question of asking any of my peers if I was someone they would accept in that role. I was just called to the headmistress’ office and told that the job was mine.
This was a Bad Thing.
It was a Bad Thing because most schools appoint their Head Boy and Head Girl from the pupils who are doing A levels that year. Because, at our school, you had to move to an entirely different site to study for A-levels, Head Boys and Girls were appointed at age sixteen.
I simply was not ready for that sort of responsibility and it turned me into a raving lunatic. I vividly recall holding a meeting of prefects and berating the lot of them for not doing their job well enough – a position which was completely undermined when the headmistress came into the room and thanked us all for being the best group of prefects that the school had ever had.
It didn’t just stop there. I started calling teachers by their first names. I fell out with both my own deputy and the Head Girl because they wouldn’t do things my way. In retrospect, it was no wonder that, at the end of the year, someone tried to set my hair on fire just before a chemistry exam.
I wish I had had the courage of my friend Gavin Measey (now plying his trade as Dr John Measey) who, the following year, refused to allow the school to even make him a prefect. At the time, I thought he was barking mad. Now I realise that he was probably more mature than the rest of us.