He recalls an Eton beak who experimented in “de-Platonisation” – this meant going with his pupils to the local playground, getting on the swings and shedding what the beak called “the high-flying, over-intellectualised life of the imagination.” [Adam] Nicolson thinks that this saved his skin. “I was brought to a pitch of great intellectual sophistication at Eton,” he recalls. “But it was no more than a crust. There was a vacuum of understanding of people in the world. I had all the analytical equipment I needed and more. But I didn’t understand anything.” I ask what happened to the beak on the swings. “Oh, he was fired,” Nicholson says. “They got rid of him quickly.”

Nick Fraser, “The Importance of Being Eton”.

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