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My second stint at The Courtauld


Making the most of army furlough
Brian Sewell Writer
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I went in on September 7th, and I came out on September 7th, two years later, which left me four weeks before I had to go to The Courtauld as a student again. But I went back to The Courtauld, not as a boy anymore, but as a young man. A young man who had been through the mill, to some extent, and had been given some sort of authority. And all sorts of odd bits of training. But who had also had, because this is another point about the army, you have a great deal of leisure and you often have leisure that you must find a use for, because it isn’t long enough to go home. You have 24 hours, 36 hours, 72 hours. It’s hardly worth going home. In some cases, you’d go home and have to turn around and come straight back again. So you find something else to do with it, and that means that you, in my case, it’s off to the nearest abbey or cathedral or the great country house, or the nearest museum or nearest gallery, so that this learning process that The Courtauld required was happening concurrently with the learning processes of military service. And that was of enormous value to me. My one regret, and again, it says something about the army. When you graduate, as it were, as an officer, or indeed as an ordinary serviceman, you have to fill in a posting application, which is a normal-sized form and it says, you know, list three postings in order of preference. And I hadn’t really learned my lesson at this stage, because what I did was to draw two parallel lines across the whole form and put, in capital letters, anywhere abroad.

So I was sent first to Aldershot, which is where I’d begun my army career, and then to Blandford, which is in Dorset. And what I should have said was, Germany or Cyprus or Malaya or whatever other station I might have… I quite fancied going to Aden. But again, you see, the army got its revenge.

Anywhere abroad, huh, we’ll show him. Do as you’re told. You know, do as you’re told, you might get what you want.

Born in England, Brian Sewell (1931-2015) was considered to be one of Britain’s most prominent and outspoken art critics. He was educated at the Courtauld Institute of Art and subsequently became an art critic for the London Evening Standard; he received numerous awards for his work in journalism. Sewell also presented several television documentaries, including an arts travelogue called The Naked Pilgrim in 2003. He talked candidly about the prejudice he endured because of his sexuality.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: The Courtauld Institute of Art, leisure, Aldershot, national service, Blandford

Duration: 3 minutes, 5 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2013

Date story went live: 04 July 2013