John Sewell

Today (17Nov20) I read of Ian’s death. We were at school together and shared a study for a year in the sixth form. We have not met since, but I have always remembered him fondly – for all the reasons other people mention. He was very knowledgeable, challenging, thoughtful and when you got to know him kind.


I apologise to the Ian I remember, who would not have wished anyone to be reminded of his public schooling. Owen Tudor says “public schoolboy in the ‘60s and ‘70s exposed people to the brutality and abuse of power that are central to the widespread physical and sexual abuse that infected private schools at the time” – not really true actually, at Marlborough at least.

However, there was almost zero pastoral care and nothing much to stop hormonal boys being horrid to each other, but it was – I think – almost never physical and never sexual. Ian’s challenge was that he was marginally younger than his cohort (had jumped a year? I can’t remember) and he never made much effort to hide his contempt for dimness. He always struggled to get a study mate, so we ended up sharing due to some very detailed and precise school politics of the time.

The overall attitude of the time – at the school as in the wider country – was sullen rebelliousness, and in that context Ian was probably the most successful of his – notably unsuccessful – cohort. However, I always thought he would have made an excellent parliamentarian and it is a pity it never happened. One final embarrassment for Ian: in those days he was a Liberal.