That post generally paints my school days as a waste. And I stand by that. But it was mainly written in reply to Andrew Sullivan's rose-tinted Sunday Times propaganda. And although I did mention Aubrey Scrase I probably didn't say enough about how he personally educated me and made a difference to my life. So, here's a few thoughts:
1. During tests he used to smack the boy sat next to the one who was cheating - "for letting him cheat." This seemed fair to us all. And I apologise to all those boys who were smacked because of me.
2. Half of us were able to do the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme instead of joining the Combined Cadet Force - this was Aubrey's doing. He was very anti-war, and once a year would cancel Latin and tell us his war stories. (And once a sex education lesson, which is the only one I ever received - and on reflection I'm not sure it was very accurate, nor he best person to give it - but it was mighty appreciated at the time.)
3. He used to take a minibus of kids to the theatre in London and Brighton. I saw my first operas - Rigoletto, Carmen and Gilbert and Sullivan - my first ballet - Swan Lake and The Nutcracker - plenty of Shakespeare, The Proms and, bizarrely, The Rocky Horror Show. I am absurdly grateful for this. This was the one great advantage of being a poor kid at a grammar school. I would have never been introduced to "culture" otherwise. It was a far more important and memorable part of my education than any of the day-to-day lessons or exams.
4. As a thank you we once took him to see Life of Brian. He enjoyed the bit where the Roman soldier goes all Latin teacher correcting the Romani eunt domus graffiti, so much so that the audience couldn't hear the next few minutes from him laughing so much.
5. He got me an A at Latin O Level - even though by then I was firmly in the lazy class. He did this by teaching me that Puffacove takes the ablative, despite me never knowing what the ablative was and, presumably, is.
6. When my dog died and I was upset, he said to me, "ask yourself this, are you crying for the dog or for yourself?" which was a profound thought for this thirteen year old, and has remained so through each successive trauma.
7. When a friend and I re-visited the school some 15 years or so ago now, he was actually still there and took us on a leisurely tour of all the shiny new facilities. He remembered Ivan, but not me. When I was alone with him I went to say how grateful I was and thank you, but I was too tongue-tied and missed the moment. So I sent him a letter later. He replied with much cheer and an offer to get me tickets to Rigoletto. He said he'd looked up the O Level results for my year - "24 As and an ugly B - some bloody kid called Watson."
8. When he was showing us around he was greeted affectionately by teachers and pupils alike. And he gave us another example as to why. We went into an arts class of 12 year olds. A boy was making a dinosaur and was putting the tail on. Scrase picked it up and said - "For heaven's sake lad, you've put his willy on the wrong way round."