My contribution to the school play was limited to the sets. Making them required hardboard and large pot of paint: the result was more MFI than MGM. On Saturday, we went to see the school’s most recent production, The Madness of George III, in which my eldest son William played the distinguished role of third courtier. How the world has moved on. The play took place in a theatre rather than the great hall. There was a revolving stage, a dry-ice machine blowing different densities of mist onto the set and West End lighting.
As for the performance itself, the professionalism was almost shocking. Where were the missed cues, the general air of a shambles narrowly averted (see page 50)? Some of the leading actors could well have careers on the stage. The contrast can’t entirely be explained by the decades of investment that have taken place since I left. Nor even by the ferocious competition that exists now between London day schools in the bid to secure ever better results and pupils. Young people have higher standards.
They’re more sophisticated, work harder and have seen The X Factor (on which the mediocre is mocked). Forgive my tear of nostalgia for the amateurism of the past; really, I’m in awe.