I chose this book because I had enjoyed Gentlemen and Players many years ago and this sequel takes place a year later in the same location, St Oswald’s Grammar School. Roy Straitley, an old-fashioned Latin Master is teaching his 35th year at the school and he has no desire for any other life. Nicknamed Quaz (Quasimodo) because of his resemblance to a gargoyle based in a classroom in the bell tower, his intellectual, laissez-faire approach and loyalty to a group of boys he calls his “Brodie Boys,” has caused boys and staff to be divided between those who detest him and those who have genuine respect and affection for him.
Although current events take place in 2005, alternate chapters take us back to 1981 when a group of 3 boys who join Straitley’s class, fail to fit in. Of the three, it is Johnny Harrington whom he most disliked. It is therefor a shock that the new Super Head brought in to sort out the school is the same Harrington. Reading a secret diary written by one of the boys in 1981 we gradually discover horrific events which took place.
Despite the serious nature of the plot there is also delightful humour. Having taught in a school from the 1980s till this century I empathise with Straitley’s resistance to the new ways of emails and “health and safety”. He defines his teaching style as “benevolent neglect” and on the whole his pupils respond by acting responsibly. However the past catches up in appalling consequences and only wit and comradeship can avoid disaster for the school, its staff and its pupils.
Different Class on Amazon UK