You have to understand that my politics are oriented to State education; and a private right-wing leaning all-boys school might not have seemed the obvious direction to take. I was deeply ambivalent, to put it mildly, about becoming part, even temporarily, of the public-school system.
I was interviewed by the Second Master, and the Head of English, both of whom were utterly charming, widely intelligent, interesting and engaging as well as socially-engaged men (I have to admit to having been party to certain stereotyping prejudices about the politics of teachers at English public schools). I was won over already.
My fate was sealed when I mentioned that I had dogs in the car, and the Head of English offered to show me the ancient holloway which formed part of the school's cross-country course where I could give the dogs a run. I fell in love with the landscape, and HoE and I talked non-stop of poetry. I realised with some chagrin that I then had to be presented to the Master; by that time I was muddy from head to toe, and the interview was to take place in the beautiful clean silent mediaeval library. The Head looked me up and down, smiled, and said 'You'll fit the bill. Your brief will be to introduce creativity into every aspect of the curriculum, in whatever way you see fit.'
And they found for me a wonderful little dog-friendly cottage with a walled garden in a small and utterly unspoilt village where, as it happens, the writer Thomas Hardy spent some time, writing it into his books, as his grandparents lived there.
That turned out to be one of the most rewarding and happy six-month periods of my life. In addition to working with creatuve writing in every department (which included posting electronic poems between the cadet-force and rugby fixtures on the digital displayboards around the place) I completed two books.
There's much to say about it all, but here that's merely an intro to this poem, which I wrote driving back from my interview (I pulled over into a layby maybe half a dozen times to jot this in fragments):