On behalf of the many past alumni of dear old Brighton Grammar — school motto meliorar sequamur, let us keep on pursuing better things — I am as saddened as anyone by news that a second teacher with an alleged penchant for kiddie-fiddling has been found among the school’s staff.

Eighteen months after one teacher, John Newton Hewitt, took an 18-month sentence in prison — or “big school” as we called it (the sentence was later suspended) for possessing child p-rn, comes the news that Year 6 teacher George Iliakis has confessed, following arrest and as disclosed in court yesterday, to possession of photos of boys being bound and gagged.

Now before anyone goes jumping to conclusions, there may be a simple explanation for this. Binding and gagging is, after all, a perfectly usual part of traditional private school discipline for serious infractions such as errors in declension of the Latin ablative case, for example, or interfering with the school cormorant. Mr Iliakas was possibly simply documenting the punishments, without or without the miscreants being nailed to the school’s wishing tree.

Certainly in my years there, I never saw anything untoward, neither during the school’s popular “Slab” game, in which boys would have to hold up a giant slab while kicking a ball towards a goal (the last of which was scored as recently as in 1923, the last death in 1967), nor during the annual lederhosen week, a standard part of life at any school.

All-male private schools are a wonderful feature of any society, not merely in terms of sport, but also drama and I still have photos from the Year 7 production of The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant, a staging which was among the most popular of the many l-sbian murder dramas performed by the Middle School Players.

It’s inevitable that any school that promotes an all-round vision of life is going to come under scrutiny and it’s such political correctness gone mad that made the n-de lacrosse tournament impossible to continue with, and also why Bill Henson no longer takes the class photos (which at least means no more standing around at Shell Refinery in dirty singlets all morning).

Though the school’s hands will soon be tied in discipline matters, as when the knout was discontinued in the late 80s after of the deaths of a couple of “beaners” (young fags were called beaners for their first two years unless they were the brother of an older boy who hadn’t played hockey in which case they were sub-moscs [from the Sanskrit] unless they spent any time in the dungeons underneath the j’ai alai stadium).

But I doubt that this will damage the school’s sense of mission. Notable alumni include not only leaders of men, such as comedian Peter Moon, and rounded individuals, such as Peter Reith, and one or two notable public intellectuals of the order of Warwick Capper. But of all the Old BuGGeRs as we’re affectionately known, the greatest is probably General William Grant, “hero” of Beersheba in WWI. As Wikipedia has it:

“At Maghara in October, the 11th Light Horse led a column on a night march across the desert, navigating by the stars. On the second night of the march, dense fog closed in and hid the stars, but somehow Grant, who apparently had a phenomenal sense of position and direction, managed to lead the column through the desert to emerge at daybreak directly in front of the Turkish position.”

Thus getting his formation cut to pieces and almost losing the entire Middle East campaign. That’s BGS — we’re always most comfortable finding ourselves at dawn facing backwards in front of some Turks.

If you’re considering it for your boy, it’s well worth the price of a car each year. And far less than 10% of the staff have been charged on child p-rn issues. And the local sister school is called Firbank. Seriously.

Let us keep on pursuing better young things.

Peter Fray

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