Mystery of an ‘Old Etonian'


LORD DRONE has emerged from his erie to address the masses

What-ho. My monocle popped out like a cork from a bottle when I picked up a port and lemon in one hand and the latest copy of The Oldie in the other just after luncheon the other day. 

The magazine stated in black and bloody white that our old chum Paul Callan was an alumnus of Eton College.

This dammit, as erstwhile readers of my mighty organ will know, is a matter of dispute, conjecture and considerable discussion. 

This eyebrow-raising occurrence came when The Old Un mentioned in the magazine’s gossip column that one hundred hacks had gathered for a summer reunion of former Evening Standard staff.

It added: “It is 50 years since two Oldie regulars, Valerie Grove and Mary Kenny, met on the Standard’s Londoner’s Diary desk.

"The team then consisted of Old Etonians – Magnus Linklater, Jeremy Deedes, John Moorehead, Ian Dunlop and Paul Callan, [pictured below] who conversed entirely in school jargon, while another OE, Jonathan Aitken (also present) wrote his 1967 series ‘Turn on, tune in, drop out’, about San Francisco hippies.”

‘Stroadinary business! I’m damned if I know the truth of the matter. Anyone?

                                                                     Read Callan’s blog here

On a related subject, the matter of Kelvin MacKenzie’s alma mater has also been the source of  dispute.

Yesterday I instructed my man McIntyre, who in turn ordered his faithful retainer Perkins, to reprint an item from Private Eye, written in 1986, which said MacKenzie had attended Dulwich College, which any fool knows, is incorrect. The mistake was Private Eye’s; we reprint their stuff verbatim, warts and all. 

Michael Hellicar was kind enough to get in touch to clarify matters. He said:

"Without wishing to be even more pedantic than usual, if that's possible, as much as I enjoyed today's update with yet another Kelvin MacKenzie legend, may I point out one error?   

"Kelvin did not attend the grand Dulwich College but the still posh but markedly more everyman Alleyn's School. Although they are separated by only 1.2 miles of expensive Dulwich Village houses and the dog-fouled green fields of Dulwich Park, there is a huge difference.

"Alleyn's was/is a grammar school packed with rather agreeable chaps, of which Kelvin was just one. Count characters like Pixie Geldof, Jude Law, Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen and Terence Higgins among the rest.

"Dulwich College, impossibly snooty and rather up itself, as the saying goes, includes P G Wodehouse, Raymond Chandler, and er, Bob Monkhouse and Nigel Farage among its ex pupils.

"Kelvin would never have claimed to have attended Dulwich College.  Indeed, as the epitome of reverse snobbery he was always reluctant to admit that he'd even been at Alleyn's.      

"I always suspected he would rather have attended my own school, just a few streets away. This was Thomas Calton Secondary Modern, which once had a TV documentary made about it, asking Is This London's Worst School? (Proud answer: Yes. Without a shadow of a doubt).” 

© 2005-2022 Alastair McIntyre