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Saturday, 20 December 2014

Lord Fisher of Lambeth, Archbishop of Canterbury - flogger or not?

Mentioning Geoffrey Fisher, the Archbishop of Canterbury when I were a lad, as I did below, reminds me of a conversation I had with Edward Upward about Repton School, where Fisher was Headmaster and Upward, and Christopher Isherwood, pupils.

Fisher gained a reputation, largely through the memoirs of Roald Dahl, as a sadistic flogger of small boys.  Edward, however - no great friend of public (i.e. private) schools, nor yet of the clergy -  felt that Fisher had been "badly traduced"; he was not the Headmaster of Repton when the beating to which Dahl referred took place, nor any great wielder of the cane.

Public schools could be foul places in those days - before the First World War and in the 50 years or so thereafter, but Fisher was far from being the worst sort of flogging Headmaster, who could lecture you about sin at the same time as thrashing your bare buttocks - a classic case of adding insult to injury.

There was a Bishop - possibly an Archbishop - who HAD been a flogger, of a particularly repellent type; Edward told me his name, but I've forgotten which of them it was; I had best not repeat Dahl's libellous habits by speculating on the culprit, and they're all interred in the hungry grave now anyway, as are many of their victims.  It always impressed me though that Edward Upward, a Marxist and atheist, should have cared about the reputation of a man with whom he can have had little in common - injustice, however, was something he couldn't tolerate.

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