Alice Jones: Teenage romp undermines the Bedales utopia

IMHO...

Share
Related Topics

Sex in the sandpit, shoplifting from Waitrose and whiskey binges; you get a higher class of teen rebellion at Bedales.

This week the £30,000-a-year co-ed boarding school expelled three 13-year-old pupils after an end-of-term jolly ended in a drunken romp in its lush grounds.

It's a serious lapse of discipline from the school which counts Daniel Day Lewis and Lily Allen among its alumni. And while teachers in more challenging inner-city schools probably wish that they only had occasional thievery and friskiness to deal with, it attracts far more attention when privileged rock-star spawn and mini aristocrats get caught being naughty.

This week the writer Amanda Craig, who immortalised her experiences at the school in her 1970s novel, A Private Place, delivered her own damning report in the Daily Mail. Her time at Bedales was "the worst five years" of her life, characterised by loneliness, bullying, even sexual assault.

"Drink and drugs were endemic", she writes. "It was like Hogwarts on Viagra" (the admissions office will thank her for that one).

It's a very different picture from the bohemian idyll painted by the prospectus. Priding itself on its progressive attitude, the school focuses on the individual with an enriching extra-curricular programme – Thursday mornings are dedicated to bread-baking, while sheep-rearing, chutney-stewing and hydrotherapy are also on offer. Teachers and pupils are on first-name terms and there's a liberal code of discipline: "Students who break the rules may spend longer being questioned and guided than being punished."

Like all utopias, it sounds great in principle, but Bedales' chummy community is not without its cracks. It's Craig's description of the rigid social cliques – "in descending order of status, Jetsetters, Semi-Jetsetters, Groovers, Semi-Groovers, Semi-Rejects or Rejects" – that's most telling. You can remove the iron rule of the teachers, but the laws of the playground are far more entrenched – and, for any 13-year old pupil trying to fit in, far more terrifying.

The Olympic Velodrome is tipped to scoop this year's Stirling Prize – and rightly so. The streamlined swoosh of cedar and glass housing the world's fastest bicycle track was the first venue to open at the site, completed on time and on budget. For that alone, it probably deserve the gold medal but in any case, it's already won architecture's most coveted prize – an affectionate nickname. Taking its place alongside the Gherkin, the Razor and the Shard on London's increasingly Lego-like skyline, please welcome the Giant Pringle.

I wonder, though, how Mike Taylor, chief architect, feels about the comparison of his sleek, precision-engineered design to a potato-based fried snack. Do architects dislike these glib monikers? Or do they, perhaps, design buildings with them in mind? If so, Taylor must have been hoping for something a little more sporting – the Tilted Wheel, perhaps.

In fact, though it might seem counter-intuitive to link the venue likely to give Team GB its greatest medal haul with junk food, it's a perfect fit with the on-site catering ethos. This week, McDonald's announced plans to open its largest restaurant on the planet – a two-storey, 32,000 sq ft hangar, seating 1,500 people – at the Olympic Park. There'll be three other outlets there too, for the overspill. Is it too early to christen the main stadium the Doughnut?

***

Every cloud has a silver lining. And in the case of the copious clouds currently washing out what traditionalists like to call "the Great British Summer", the upside is the consignment of the most annoying word of 2010 to the dictionary dustbin. If July's rainstorms have taught us anything – other than the fact that soggy sandwiches and wellies do not a happy holidaymaker make – it's that the staycation is dead. Those smug types boasting about their recession-busting breaks two hours' drive down the motorway, have gone curiously quiet this year. Bring on the budget airfares, package deals and lobster sunburn, the summer holiday is back.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: how to spell BBQ and other linguistic irregularities

Guy Keleny
 

South Africa's race problem is less between black and white than between poor blacks and immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa

John Carlin
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own