Yesterday I had the enormously wonderful privilege of speaking at Eltham College. This was not only because it is a very nice school to visit, but also because it happens to be where Mervyn Peake went to school.
That’s him, second from the left in the back row of the 1928/1929 Rugby team. I was told he didn’t make much of a player, well not compared to Eric Liddell who had recently passed through the school too, but that even then he was drawing drawing drawing all the time, even all over his English books.
I don’t tend to lean towards hero worshipping generally, but yesterday I ignored that fact, and became the teenager I once was, obsessed by his writing: it reminded me how wonderfully strange Gormenghast was the first time I read it, and it reminded me why to be strange and unusual is a good thing in writing, much more fascinating than the mundane and the commonplace. Well, for my money anyway.
Thanks to my Dad for introducing me to Peake in the first place, and thanks to Stephanie Fearn of Eltham College for the invitation to visit the home of, yes, a hero.