Newsnight celebrity Jeremy Paxman is a national celebrity. An English national celebrity, of course – he has written a number of books celebrating England. He was born in Leeds in 1950. I was born in Aberdeen in 1949 but spent my time between 1961 and 1973 in Leeds, going to possibly the worst Jesuit school in the known universe, the now demolished St Michael’s College. Paxman’s Wackypedia entry doesn’t say which school he attended.
Nor does it say whether Paxman has a dog.
We mention the dog because we watch Paxman interrogate students on University Challenge. Sometimes, we watch him interrogating politicians on Newsnight, too.
If he has a dog, and he has had a bad day at the orifice, we imagine this conversation when he gets home.
Paxman to dog: “Stop barking at me, Fudo, you remind me of myself.”
Fudo (in high voice): “Have you had a good day, master?”
Paxman (in mock surprise): “You are a talking dog! So I have some questions to ask you Fudo, Wien College Austria and for you Fido Doggywoggy College Braemar!
“It is your starter for 10. What is the Bessemer Process?”
[Fudo, Wien, buzzes]
”It is to do with steel.”
[Paxman looks smug because he has the answers on a card. He slaps one down, with a contemptuous look at the poor stude.]
Paxman: “This is the music round.” [Paxman looks triumphant]
[Wien College Austria, Shoshtakovich] “Bach.”
Paxman: “Well done!” [patronisingly]
[Paxman’s Dog] “Come on, come on. Feed me, now! [barks loudly]
[NUJ representative enters stage left, says there’s a strike on and perhaps Jeremy might, with his reputed million quid a year salary, buy his dogs the equivalent of cats’ Dreamies]
I totally disagree with your offhand comments about St. Michael’s College. It was a top school. Great teachers; good atmosphere; sadly missed. I was there from 1967 to 1975, so we clearly overlapped, although how you managed to spend 12 years there, God alone knows. Maybe your resentment stems from having been kept down every other year! If you, or anyone else reading this, wants to contact me, I am on firstname.lastname@example.org
Rory Mulvihill (School Captain 1974/5)
No, we didn’t overlap. I already had had a job for over a year. Jesuits are still the storm troopers of papistry. My Presbyterian mum in Aberdeen advised me when I was seven against the nonsense of the RC version of Xtianity. Just pleased I wasn’t at Stonyhurst because the Jesuits at St Mick’s in my day specialised in mental torture coupled with a dose or two of physical abuse, but not sexual abuse – as far as I know.
You’ve got me wrong. I’m not an apologist for Catholicism. I’m pleased to report that I broke free from the lie of organised religion long ago. But that’s the bath water, and the baby here is the great education that St. Mick’s provided. If you had a bad experience of the Js, I believe you, and would never defend it. When I was there, all the Js were top, committed teachers, and I never experienced or heard of any abuse of any sort. Fact.
I am sure Father Hand and Father Edwards are long dead so I can’t libel them. Hand believed in corporal punishment while Edwards believed in mental punishment. Hand was fat and Edwards was slim but now I am an old man think back to the 60s and the conditioning doled out by the establishment. Still, I’ve admiration for St Michael’s School because it engendered a nascent spirit of rebellion in me. I liked the English teacher, our form teacher, “Jonny” Walker who wrote in one of his reports, “this boy is an enigma!” Quite a compliment. The physics teacher used to grab hold of boys by their hair and bash their heads on the desk. The history teacher if he found a boy combing his hair confiscated it and burnt it in a waste bin at the front of the room. I was amused to see he was caught doing this once by the Reverand Hand was was disciplined for it. The English teacher who looked after the library – I think she was called Margaret, had a strict notice in the nascent library saying report to me any incident of books being defaced. I found a picture of that lovely female pirate with her pubic hairs and breasts pencilled over and brought it to her attention. She said: “Oh, I did that Michael, I didn’t think this was a suitable image for boys to see.” I was brought up in Aberdeen, in a non-secular school and for some reason the educational system there didn’t seem to involve beating children up :)