I’ve got Wikipedia insight. I used to be able to sit at dinner parties and talk at length about a novel, having just read the jacket in a bookshop. Now it’s like I’ve got the jacket and the inside cover as well, but nothing more.
Boarding school gives you precocious social skills for life. You’re separated from your parents and you learn about peer groups and gain confidence. When I was in my 20s people would remark on it, which I now realise was them remarking on your awful precociousness. I’m undecided as to the damage it possibly does to an eight-year-old, especially learning not to cry.
Being with Americans is a bit like hanging out with a teenager. They haven’t quite developed the confidence to have a sense of humour about themselves, which just comes with age. And they also have that forward-thrusting energy a teenager has.
It’s quite easy to assume when you first have children that you’ll manage your life as you always have but you’re just accessorised in some interesting, cute way. It’s not entirely true.
Manners are exceptionally important. I was brought up with a rather Edwardian attitude towards them – I was encouraged to call people Sir, and there were occasions when we were encouraged to knock on the living room door before going in.
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