But the straight-faced, 58-year- old Scot is not the man to shirk the role thrust upon him by widespread coverage of his attack on the family, the Church and politicians for leaving 'a moral vacuum' in society. He said: 'I have never really felt that I wanted to carry a flaming torch, but having started something I hope to try and keep up the pressure.'
Mr Chapman, head of Malvern College, was unperturbed by critical reactions to his speech. As the Church of England accused him of 'a cheap jibe' and some fellow public school heads suggested he was out of touch, he said: 'It is entirely possible
that as a boarding school head I could be out of touch but I am
not blind and I am not deaf.'
His friends were not surprised that he had decided 'to shoot from the shoulder' about his long-held belief that schools including his own are being forced to pick up of the pieces left by declining moral standards in society and the family.
Mr Chapman, they say, is not all he seems: underneath the forbidding exterior lies a dry sense of humour.
Those who assumed after hearing his speech that he must be an evangelical Christian with a Presbyterian background were wrong. He is a middle-of-the road Anglican, and, as a child, went every Sunday to the Episcopal Church in Scotland.
He comes from a colonial background: his father was in the Army and the police in India and his mother's family were in the Indian Civil Service. Religion was a strong influence in the family and his brother is the principal of a theological college.
When he was eight the family returned from India and he went as a day boy to Dollar Academy, a private school in Clackmannanshire. He read modern languages at St Andrew's University and became Rector of Glasgow Academy in 1975. He has been at Malvern since 1982.
His wife is a history graduate who, he says, 'has a full-time job as wife of a public school headmaster and magistrate'. They have two sons, aged 32 and 29, and a daughter aged 31.
He believes that the family has failed to provide a moral lead because old-fashioned discipline has broken down. He does not, however, advocate the reintroduction of corporal punishment. 'My own children were punished by deprivation of privileges or being metaphorically put in the doghouse, though not for long.'