Leading Article: The prime of Mr Brandon Lee

Share
Related Topics
Mrs May MacKinnon and her son Brian kept themselves to themselves. Most days neighbours on their Glasgow estate would see the 32-year-old man come and go, often in his old car. They thought nothing more about it. Until this week, when they discovered that Brian MacKinnon's day job was acting the part of Brandon Lee, aged 17, star pupil at Bearsden Academy. In a performance requiring endurance far outweighing Tilda Swinton's stay in a glass case, old Brian played young Brandon for a year - a year in which he starred in the school production of South Pacific and which culminated in his achieving good enough qualifications to earn a place at Dundee University studying medicine.

The original Brian had attended the same school some 16 years earlier, but had left early with no qualifications. He was so unremarkable that even those teachers who spanned both his school careers do not remember him. And so Brian MacKinnon lived out a shared fantasy - he reinvented himself. Second time around he had a memorable name, more confidence and a model attitude towards study. He soared.

Today a lot of people are very unhappy about poor Brian-Brandon. Strathclyde education authority is to overhaul its registration procedures to avert another such incident. Glaswegians are not alone in wondering how it was possible for a schoolboy to secure his place at the school. Were the parents never contacted? Did no one wonder why Brandon's doting relatives failed to turn up with the Olympus flash camera to capture his "There is Nothing Like a Dame" for posterity? Is our educational system becoming so impersonal that teachers literally don't know who is sitting in the back row?

All this criticism misses the point. The teachers did not suspect anything because what Brian MacKinnon did was so very unlikely. Most of their efforts are directed to keeping children who want to be adults in school to study, not to keeping out adults who want to be pupils.

What is truly remarkable is not that the gratified teachers who taught the enthusiastic Brandon failed to twig, but that his "fellow" teenagers utterly missed what was in front of their noses. Consider the arcane codes, the obscure rituals, the oh-so-delicate social consciousness of adolescence. Vast amounts are read into tiny choices, from the soles of your trainers to the CDs in your collection; from the house you live in to the car your parents drive. Yet when he was asked why he looked, well, a bit tired, a mite wrinkly, Brandon's classmates appear to have accepted the explanation that it was "due to stress".

Apart from Strathclyde's belated action to ensure that never again do such keen would-be pupils get into their schools, Dundee University is also considering action. Brian's falsification of documents has "put his place at risk". This is bureaucratic nonsense. Brian MacKinnon has harmed no one, achieved his results fair and square - and given new meaning to the education rhetoric of all the parties. He will, surely, be remembered as the laureate of lifetime learning.

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron faces the press as he arrives in Brussels for the EU leaders summit on Thursday reuters  

On the Tusk of a dilemma: Cameron's latest EU renegotiation foe

Andrew Grice
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959  

Stephen Ward’s trial was disgraceful. There can be no justification for it

Geoffrey Robertson QC
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas