Teaching history, a question I hear over and over again is: why does it matter? Why study the past when the present and future is what impacts me? Equally common is the tired response, that has been thrown into every personal statement to study the subject at university for time immemorial: that we need the lessons of the past to inform us of our imminent future. I assume it should read “that we need the lessons…] and to avoid all those mistakes our inferior ancestors fell headlong into. And so it goes on, weak points circling like a drunkard chasing his own thoughts.
I once read an article by someone professing to love nothing more than a good airport. For the author, it was an oasis of calm where he could finally ‘clear out his inbox’; dealing with those emails long avoided, and reading that book that was thus far untouched. For one, I’m not sure the feeling is mutual. Airports seem to me to have a similar atmosphere to a US embassy in Moscow circa 1962 – an oasis in the sense that it acts as a bubble to the outside world. Calming? No. And representative? Certainly not.
It increasingly seems like the world is a conflict zone. The Middle East is busy tearing itself apart, while NATO and Russia frantically add lighter fuel to the flames; ISIS run seemingly unchecked around Western capital cities; and in the labyrinths of Westminster, the Labour Party continues to dunk a toaster in its bathwater.
Jeremy is making the headlines. Not Clarkson with his brutish masculinity and off-hand humour, nor is it Kyle, preaching in his church of self-righteousness and working class inadequacy, but Jeremy Corbyn – clad in beige and sporting a scruffy beard. In recent days he has provoked a frenzy of coverage around his bid for leadership. As polls surge, his own party have clamoured to discredit both Corbyn and all the disaffected loonies in the general public that support him.
This week has seen an outpouring of jubilation from Number 10 on par with the birth of baby Jesus, or that moment when Georgie boy realised he’d got away with selling RBS shares to to all his hedge fund pals for a £1 billion loss to the taxpayer. And why is this, I hear you ask – is the Queen celebrating her continued gig as the head of society’s most exceptional farce? Nay, merely the arrival of President Xi Jinpeng.
I am writing this, quite fittingly, on the train. My train – our train. After three weeks catching the 7.13 I began to feel like we were bonding: the old MD’s resplendent with panamas and briefcases, young-gun salesmen in their loafers, middle-aged men and women sporting technical outerwear and a hiking backpack with collapsible umbrella stowed safely in a side pocket, prepared for the unpredictable London monsoon season and rough terrain.
The death sentence is tricky ground, and for ill-informed, loud-mouthed bloggers like myself it can be particularly treacherous. Therefore, I am largely avoiding the moral quagmire which surrounds the matter, and instead, will merely consider the effectiveness of the punishment recently handed out to ‘Boston Bomber’, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Talk of the deficit is very much in vogue, and the opposition leaders are fighting like toddlers in a ball pit in an attempt to air their own plans to cut the country’s deficit. Meanwhile, Dave and fellow toff George Osbourne look so chuffed about cutting the deficit by only taking money from people who were never going to vote for them in the first place, that they risk bursting into an unholy Eton mess.
Golden sunflowers blur alongside barley crops which sway lazily in the summer breeze. Around you the gently rolling hills are ablaze with colour, and intermittent natural woodland breaks up the expanse. Journey down from the higher ground towards the nearest settlement, the small river-side town of Le Bugue, and you are accompanied by the smell of wild lavender and the faint chiming of church bells.
Just as it does for many pupils, Gordon’s came to define me. As a boarder you don’t simply attend lessons – you become woven into the fabric of the school and it in turn shapes your outlook for years to come. To this day my friends still refer to themselves in the collective as ‘Camels’…and this is five years on! Life has a funny way of coming full circle.