November 12 2010
Thursday had an “educational” theme. I had been summoned by my wife Ghada to take our son William, 10, and daughter Charlotte, six, to school, and to make sure I gave my daughter the violin for her music class instead of continuing to carry it alone walking to work, like the last the time I was called for the same task.
I managed to do some office work between that delivery, meeting the painter at home (for another wife-pleasing exercise), and the 1pm visit to King’s College School in Wimbledon with my wife and son for an open day for students applying to join the school. We have a great aspiration of sending William to this fine school, like probably half of Chelsea. He was also excited about it until he arrived in the main assembly hall.
His eyes were ogling (just like mine) at the height of the pitched ceiling in brown oak, a magnificent piece of early 20th-century carpentry. The pristine red brick walls and the voice of the headmaster added majesty, and then we met two very confident young men who were in sixth form at King’s who described it as the best thing that had happened to them in their (very short) lives.
We looked at each other to find comfort; we found fear. How are we going to get in?
William then said to me, “I really want to get in here.” I am not surprised; he has a penchant for thrills. So; dear headmaster, if you are reading this, please get him in or send me the answers to his January exam.
The nearly 350 members of the assembly were split into small groups of eight to 10 and taken on a tour by one of the senior pupils of what I would discover to be: “a dream sports town”. Almost a “city”, if just the assembly hall had one more bell tower.
We were assigned the elegant Sahil, a tall young man who you can probably already trust with your money, or who may be capable of managing a couple of billions at Barclays Capital. He was 16, got into King’s on scholarship and won the Young Engineer for Britain award…
We were moved from one building to the other, braving the wind and rain and some bumpy encounters with other parents and children’s groups admiring what is a highly specified, fully equipped, distinguished establishment with a joyful and serene atmosphere. There were some distinguished smells that reminded me of the four walls and a ceiling with a blackboard and chalk in my old lycée in Paris. King’s, its boys, and (now) girls are refreshing.
I turned to William and asked him what he really thought of the school, and if he felt he would belong there. He loved it!
My day ended with an interview of another scholar, Fiona, who has just graduated from the Architectural Association. She is a good candidate to join our design team.