“I have taught English Literature for more than 50 years – the last 48 of them in my current London school – and have adapted, written and directed musicals and plays for young people (having finished the 67th before lockdown scuppered the 68th). I still revise A Level Eng Lit every year, and have plans to start a GCSE English Club for those who wish to study the subject at A Level.
“Sometimes a chap will sidle up to me at rehearsal and say, “Sir, my Dad says you taught him Macbeth when he was here as a boy.’ And I gasp and reply, ‘What! You… arse! How can I have taught your Dad? How old is he?’ And the boy will say, ‘He’s 48, sir’. And I will pull him to one side and hiss, “Look, don’t tell the rest of the cast, but I’m – err – coming up to my 40th birthday next month. Your father must be thinking of another Mr Potter. Ssssh! Keep it mum.’ This has got harder to bring off convincingly of late, I admit.
“I was astonished to hear that I had been awarded an MBE in 2016 for my work. One of the questions the Queen asked me at Windsor Castle was, ‘Do you still enjoy doing all this now you are over retirement age?’ The answer, though I think I only mumbled an incoherent reply at the time, is: ‘Yes, I jolly well do!’