Chris Dry: Daddy cool

IT'S hard to believe that I will soon be as rich as Croesus. Yes, forget Daddy Cool – in a few brief weeks it will be "so long Penurious Pops" forever. Will I blow my new found wealth on a world cruise... Jack in the nine-to-five to start a sideline as a leezhure consultant... Open a restaurant?

Nah! The sad truth is that a decade of cheese-paring parsimony have left their indelible mark. I'm tempted to splash the cash on that new bass guitar the boy has set his heart on – but what's the point? He'll take it away with him when he heads to university.

I'm referring, of course, to the end of school fees (though my other half would be outraged were you to think I'd paid them single-handed). And if they've had such a stultifying effect on my life, maybe I should spare a thought for what they've done to my poor boy's.

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Recently on TV, multi-millionaire Peter Beckwith was proud to liken his gift of Harrow scholarships to poor children to "social engineering", so there's no shame in the fact that Number One son is one of the more luxurious, highly tuned models to roll off the production line of his illustrious exams factory. But there's always that niggling doubt of what might have been, isn't there?

I myself was the product of a social experiment – one of the very last pupils to receive a full direct grant before Labour abolished them in the 1970s. Like Harry Potter, I was magically plucked from my humdrum Muggle semi to be set down in the girl-free purdah of a fee-paying school.

Until that time, I'd never stood up when someone entered the room, called anybody Sir, or been on second-name terms with a pal. But "Dry" I then became. And so it was that I discovered kindred spirits with a precocious appreciation of prog rock and Goon Show scripts – as well as algebra and the prosody of Stephen Spender's My parents kept me from children who were rough.

Unfortunately the sins of the father are revisited on the son (Philip Larkin in This Be The Verse put it rather more succinctly, but modesty forbids me from quoting that profane favourite of a certain English master). No doubt this is the chief reason that I have tormented my boy with a private education.

But I don't think any permanent damage has been done. I've never heard him bray or whinny annoyingly in public. The misery of rugby instilled in me a hatred of all sport, but he has evolved into a pumped-up jock who loves the game. Does he suspect that, far from coming from Venus, women are from Mars, as I did? I'm sure his girlfriend doesn't think so. Neither has the school badge of shame driven him to hit the fags and booze or dabble in drugs – yet.

In fact, I can see no reason why he shouldn't graduate with honours from the university of life.

Can you?

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• This article was first published in Scotland on Sunday, April 11, 2010