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Boys' own hero

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The Enigma of Kidson by Jamie Blackett reviewed by Ysenda Maxtone Graham

I didn’t expect to be moved to tears by a tribute book to an Etonian schoolmaster, especially a book compiled by an Old Etonian for Old Etonians, stuffed with Etonianisms such as ‘Having been elected to Pop, I had been caught by the Dame in my house with a cigarette in my hand during Chambers.’ But the story of Michael Kidson (1929–2015) drew me in and moved me deeply. This sprawling hotchpotch of recollections turns out to be essential reading for anyone interested in the forming of teenaged boys’ minds and, in its very haphazardness, manages to paint a remarkably full portrait of a good, kind and enigmatic bachelor schoolmaster who changed boys’ lives by civilising them and being there for them in the ways that mattered. At first, I was all cynicism, scoffing at the quintessentially Etonian scrapes boys in the 1970s and 1980s got into, recounted in Jamie...


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