The irony referred to has nothing to do with the new Head Master of Warwick, Dr Smith but is at the foot of this article. Following lunch with my father in Shipston, Joshua and I headed back to my alma mater to discuss the sadistic abuser Geoffrey Eve and other matters.
Dr Smith has only been in charge for two weeks and so was accompanied by the head of HR who like him took notes as I explained what I wanted and what had happened. I provided the surname of the boy who a fellow OW thinks was the one Eve threw down the stairs and then threw his desk on top of him. Warwick has access to the old “blue books” which recorded the surname, initials, birth date and house of all attendees each term so Dr Smith may be better placed to track him down than I am. It is a rare surname. Not as rare as mine, but far rarer than that of the HM.
I was asked to, but did not, divulge the identify of the different master accused of sexual abuse by an OW who had contacted me. That will be for the victim to do if he wishes.
I was assured that Warwick would take this all very seriously even though it appears to have “lost” all relevant records relating to Eve. I explained that I was a bit sceptical since Warwick had Given Eve time off after his first round of abuse, allowing him back just in time to teach me aged 10 and abuse me. I know that the Headmaster then was aware of that and was not allowed by others to act. Eve therefore abused other boys and Warwick did nothing until the stairs incident at which point it gave him early retirement on a full pension and invited him back to concerts and OW events as an honoured guest. I see the old bastard is even mentioned twice in the official history of Warwick School and not as being a sadistic child abuser.
Someone had enough records of Eve to write him up in the school’s official history, just not the ones that really mattered. How convenient.
So after 50 years of protecting Eve and then covering up his crimes and after the previous HM Gus Lock failed to pursue this matter as he could after I raised it 18 months ago, I expressed my scepticism. And so I promised that I too would take this seriously and that if Warwick failed to act this time I would, if need be, seek legal redress against the school for concealment. I am advised that I have a very strong case.
I was clear to Dr Smith, and let me be clear to all, I am not seeking money. I do not want Warwick’s money. I do not need it. But if I have to flush out the truth by that route because Warwick (again) fails to act so be it. I seek only a full admission of its failings. The way to start that process is by asking other OW’s via the Old Warwickian publication if they suffered abuse at the hands of Eve or other masters and to follow that up with an Independent enquiry, funded by the school. It is not enough to ask the police to investigate as without any medical records to verify damage done they cannot act.
It is far better that Warwick itself steps up to the plate and launches that formal independent enquiry now while the key players are still alive than to leave it to a muck raking investigative journalist with offers of legal assistance to expose the school’s shocking past.
I picked up Joshua, who had explained to Dr Smith’s Executive assistant all about Thomas the Tank Engine for 25 minutes, which I am sure she had enjoyed greatly. Dr Smith and I talked a bit about Greece where he knew I lived for part of the year. He had taken a group of boys there at his previous school. Warwick’s coat of arms was, as it happens, designed by my great grandfather Sir Arthur Cochrane, and we discussed Delphi and Arthur’s unfortunate son David and his death there.
Then Joshua and I went for a wander around a school which has changed beyond all recognition. “That building used to be the Old Gym” I said to Joshua. I stared up at what used to be where 3A had its classroom. Mr Eve smashed my head against the corridor wall outside. I did not mention that to Joshua.
I noticed that the internal doors to the Chapel were open. That building has not changed. I have happy memories of that place as somewhere were you could be safe and also where I looked up at the all too long lists of OW’s who gave their lives in the two world wars. I suppose that as I tried to rationalise the death of my mother, although at the time now knowing how she died, there was some comfort in seeing others who had died young.
I thought of the two Chaplains who had been there in my time. The first was an old man who had been sent to France in 1944 as a bright young thing. The horrors of the Normandy campaign had affected him badly and given him a dreadful stammer. He was obviously a decent man, old school, clinging to a conservative world view and faith. His replacement, David Houghton, was a different kettle of fish altogether. He was very obviously gay. Even as a teenager we knew that. His faith was, I suspect, rather different but it was still very real and he was, I think, a good man. He confirmed me and he is the sort of teacher who made Warwick bearable if you were not a brutish rugger bore of limited intelligence, in other words the sort of fine chap we were all meant to be.
And so I wanted to take Joshua to the Chapel. He likes churches. The external doors were locked. I wandered back to the brand new reception area which is about fifty yards down an internal corridor from the Chapel and asked the woman who had signed m e in an hour previously to meet the HM, if myself and Joshua could go and see the Chapel.
“Oh no” she said sternly “we can’t let just anyone in, I am sure you understand, we’d need to find someone to escort you.” Hmmm so a man with his two year old son signed in to see the HM an hour ago to discuss how he was abused cannot wander 50 yards to see the chapel in a student free zone. This from the school which allowed Geoffrey Eve, a man they knew was an abuser, to smash my head against a wall (twice) and did nothing? Whatever…
Over to you Dr Smith, I appreciate you are new to the job but I do hope that this time Warwick does the right thing for me but also for dozens of other men who as little boys were terrified or abused by Geoffrey Eve. It is time to acknowledge the institutional failings of the past and say sorry.