from India in England in April 1947 from India and stayed with family
in north Oxford until the autumn. This was my first experience of England
and imprinted itself on me. I returned again in the autumn of 1950 to
go to the Dragon School, a boarding school in north Oxford, very close
to where I had first arrived. I remained at the school for five years,
leaving in the summer of 1955, thus from the age of eight to thirteen.
has had a huge influence on my further developments through the boys,
teachers, institutions and culture of a rather unusual school. t was
one of the most progressive and distinguished preparatory boarding schools
in Britain and prided itself on its relaxed and creative atmosphere,
encouraging music, art, drama and friendship
of the world impinged on us in various ways. We debated current affairs
such as the atom bomb and growing tensions with Russia and the end of
Empire. We watched television for the first time at the Coronation of
Queen Elizabeth in 1953. We began to watch films with sound and even
colour. We suffered second-rate food and many forms of diseases, poor
clothing and bitter cold in the austerity years. Yet we also began to
experience an improvement in conditions from about 1953 and to sense
that change was in the air. Our comics improved, sweets were no longer
rationed, we could go on more elaborate holidays.
to the shock of a boy's dormitory, communal naked cold baths, to the
pressure of strangers and the potentials of bullying. I remember the
first year when I was ill and confused as very difficult. Yet gradually
I grew in size and confidence and began to do well in games, and particularly
rugger, which gave me prestige. I began to enjoy the friendships, the
expeditions and even some of the schoolwork. I became passionate about
hobbies like conkers, marbles and white mice and learnt the ways of
middle class England. By the end of my time I was in all four top games
teams and had passed the examinations to take me on to the next stage,
a northern public school.
hugely in these five years, putting on weight and height, gaining in
confidence in all parts of my life. I began to learn the arts of speaking,
joking, concentrating, presenting myself to others. I was still a child
by the end of the experience but the strong disciplining and constant
encouragement of good teachers had shaped me in the mould which would
remain for the rest of my life.
discovered that if I tried really hard at things I could achieve something,
even if my talents were not great. I had mastered what it was to be
a young English gentleman in the making. I had begun to explore the
pleasures of the great English tradition of poetry, literature and drama.
I was an individual and not damaged by an experience which has left
many scarred for life. My parents and grandparents noticed that I was
stretched and tired, my teachers noticed that I seldom smiled until
my last year. Yet by sheer effort and close observation of those around
me I learnt the rules and internalized a discipline which has been the
basis for every further stage of my life.
is no need to go into this place in more detail for it is described
and analysed at length on the basis of contemporary documents in a published
book, Becoming a Dragon.