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Comp: A Survivor's Tale Paperback – 5 Mar 1998
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|Paperback, 5 Mar 1998||
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A riotously funny account of the author's schooldays at a London comprehensive.
An account by journalist John-Paul Flintoff of his schooldays at Holland Park Comprehensive. His education includes winding up teachers, snogging girls, playing football on speed, fighting and playing "Message in a Bottle" on the xylophone.See all Product description
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He is also brave enough to depict himself as a complete scumbag, in story after story the author emerges as a thoroughly nasty piece of work, a bully’s catamite who sadistically enables and encourages various brutal psychopaths to attack the more sensitive children. His lowest moment is pretending not to hear while someone sexually assaults his girlfriend outside a party.
It doesn’t seem like the author has been able to overcome being institutionalised by the bully’s mind-set and values, rather than grasping that the children who are being bullied are victims and that refusing to fight back is a principled reaction to being forced into a series of rigged encounters the author continues sneering at the victims right into the ‘where are they now’ section at the end.
There is a moment about halfway through where some of his former friends confront the author on his behaviour and turn their backs on him, in some ways it’s a shame the book doesn’t end there because it is the closest it comes to a moral conclusion.
The book peters out towards the end with a somewhat pointless return to Holland park (although the article does have a nice chilling twist) and some execrable Vogon poetry dedicated to former headmaster Dr Rushworth which spectacularly jibes with everything we have read thus far, the headmaster doesn’t deserve to be celebrated, he ran the school terribly, nearly all of the teachers plumbed the depths of incompetence and negligence, allowing the bullies to run rampant, it was a really bad school, a failed unregulated social experiment that left decent children pegged out on the hills like lambs to the slaughter.
So, it’s a mixed bag, but the books sub-title ‘Comp! a survivors tale’ hits the mark, those of us who attended the school at the time are survivors, people outside of that vicious trap can’t understand the choices we had to make, for all its faults I’m grateful that somebody made a chronicle of the time, I’m even more grateful that he wasn’t in my year.
I think that this book will appeal to most people, but especially those who have been brought up in London - brilliant, brilliant!
not recommend this book to anyone else. I shall bin it. I was very disappointed.
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