Omnia Spring/Summer 2019

Page 18



Issue 05 Spring/Summer 2019




Photograph courtesy of the U.S. Naval War College

Geoffrey Kemp served as Special Advisor for the Middle East at the White House during the Reagan administration. He is now an acclaimed writer and academic and lives in Washington DC. Here he tells us about his journey from Caterham School to the centre of USA politics.

You attended Caterham School as a pupil between 1949 and 1958, what brought you to Caterham School? As my father was a Congregational Minister in the United Reform Church, the school was earmarked for me from when I was born. I almost didn’t make it into the school however! A cancelled train made me late for my entrance exam and I had to start it part way through. Thankfully I was admitted, which was one of the best things that could have happened to me. How would you describe your experience as a pupil at the School? I arrived at Caterham School at the age of 10. At that time the youngest boys slept in a dormitory at Shirley Goss which is now the pre-prep school. The matron in charge was the most wonderful woman called Miss Dawes I have fond memories of her and of my time there. The Headmaster of the Prep School, Percy Soderburg, was famous for being a disciplinarian, great storyteller and linguist. He was also famous for being a world leading expert on cats. His most feared feline was a large and heavy Persian Blue called Pooey. This particular cat would install himself on children’s beds and everyone lived in terror of him! We used to say ‘don’t try to move Pooey or the Headmaster will be after you’. In those days boys spent a year at Beech Hanger when they left the Prep. I think the view that 12-13 year old boys would benefit from a year alone was still prevalent back then. Moving to Beech Hanger provided new experiences and for the first time we were allowed to play rugby –

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