The Autobiography of Alfred H. Mendes 1897-1991

By Michèle Levy; Alfred H. Mendes | Go to book overview
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Chapter 3

SCHOOL IN ENGLAND, 1912-1915

In the early part of my fifteenth year, my father took me to school in England. From the time I had begun to be aware of the world and to have some ideas of my own, I wanted to go to England for my schooling, until it had almost developed into an idée fixe. Up to the time of my mother's death in 1911, I pestered her and she kept repeating, "Ask your father." I did, at every opportune moment. I had of course been at kindergartens, private schools, and then at Queen's Royal College, the equivalent, I suppose, of the English grammar school, before leaving Trinidad. I was soon reading and writing with fertility and books I devoured with an ever increasing appetite. Coral Island; Swiss Family Robinson; The Last of the Mohicans; Robinson Crusoe the whole lot. Coral Island and Crusoe exercised my mind in a most exhilarating and romantic manner. The mere memory of the impressions they left on me stirs up a nostalgia for deserted islands, a longing to discover myself marooned on one and exploring its sandy coves, its secret caves with stalagmites and stalactites, its green hidden copses, its white beaches, and the spectrum of green, blue, brown sea surrounding it.

In addition to my Trinidad schools, my father had engaged the services of a private tutor whose duty it was to coach me in my weak subjects. This was the only time before leaving the island that I applied myself to my studies with any degree of resolution. The efforts I made during the twelve months with my tutor did not spring from my own volition but rather from the singular face-to-face relationship with him.

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