A comical story of life in a London comprehensive school in the 1960s
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When rookie teacher Lawrence Fairbrother arrives at Docklands Comprehensive School he finds himself in the centre of conflict. The Annexe to which he is assigned is staffed largely by malcontents and cynics struggling to occupy the less able pupils. In contrast The Paddock, late the Girls' Grammar School, houses a nucleus of reactionary academics. He is thus between the devil and the dep blue sea. When he is offered a post at The Paddock, in preference to the attractive but wayward Valerie Arrowsmith, for whom he has conceived a passion, Lawrence has to scrutinise his conscience and his professional ethic.
Whether in the classroom or on the games field, in the staffroom or in the pub, Fairbrother finds himself constantly bamboozled by naive idealists, hardened cynics, shameless lechers and even outright villains masquerading as philanthropists.
While Boy Among Men maintains an essentially knockabout approach, it nevertheless addresses such perenially vital themes as elitism versus democratic education, art and the marketplace, anti-feminism and the place of trade unions in the politics of education.
With fifteen minutes remaining before a bell would sound for a change of lessons, Fairbrother steered the discussion of miracles carefully away from any doctrinal cruxes. He spoke of dreams and in what sense they were true. Sidney Woodfield, amid much heckling, struggled to reveal one of his dreams in which he had been playing soccer for Millwall football club. Fairbrother consulted his silver watch concealed under the class register. Only five minutes to go. And then a free period.
'Right, listen. I'm going to ask you to do something for me. Quiet please, I want you to -
'Shut up, Sir's talking.'
'Ee wants us to do somefing.'
'Next Monday, I'll be taking you again for Art up in the Studio.'
'Sorry sir, sorry sir.'
'And I want you to think of dreams.'
'Dream, dream, dream.'Someone sang a tune.
'Wet dreams, OK, Sir? I 'ave 'em all the time.'
'Foster! Stay behind at break time.'
'Now dreams are a very important part of our life ' ' ' very valuable to us in fact . . . and they tell us . . . '
'Too long, Sir'
'Break time, Sir!'