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I started reading Philip Mason’s memoir because I wanted to hear his stories about the Indian Civil Service between 1928 and independence. But before the book gets to Mason’s India years, there is a chapter on his schooldays, mostly portraits of the masters he knew at Stancliffe: the shy math teacher who married the vivacious gym instructor but lost her to some fatal disease within a year and was never the same, the headmaster who would chat with him for hours about Kipling but under no circumstances would let him read English Literature at Oxford because it was a subject for women, and so on.

And then he brings up Neville Gorton, the school’s Anglican pastor, who also taught history (third from the left in the picture, laughing at the Archbishop of Canterbury’s joke). Gorton later became Bishop of Coventry. I don’t know how he managed to be promoted from public-school pastor to bishop, but presumably it was by enlivening his sermons with stupendously Anglican lines like this one, which Mason still remembered fifty years later:

“And so what Our Lord was really saying was, ‘Peter, you are a  brick !’”

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