The editors of Our Boys 2011 record it in an enhanced font: “My Race is Kingswood – My Religion is Kingswood”. Well, then, blasphemy is your fault and Hell is your destination.
The notice on one of the school boards induced me to buy the “[120th] Anniversary Edition” of Our Boys. Published in 2011, with a fatally attractive cover and rich glossy finish, the school’s magazine (true to Robert Frost’s belief) did “begin with delight”. However, among the many streaks of wisdom that the magazine offered me, not to “judge a book by its cover” was the least mistakable. Glossy and well finished as Our Boys – 2011 may be, whether the Magazine Committee has fully grasped its responsibility as the editors of the “school’s magazine” is questionable.
Let us begin with the basics. Our Boys is the name the Kingswood Magazine was given when such a concept was first put into print in the 1890s. As LE Blaze himself records in KFE: The Story of Kingswood, Kandy, the magazine was initially an affair of a few pages held together: more like a pamphlet, which carried the creative work and other notices the school had to offer. In its best early years the publishing of Our Boys ran up to a steller magazine every quarter of a year, with, in worst cases, the publication being suspended altogether. In later years, the magazine, too, evolves – with it being more a record and summary of the school’s academic year. In this respect, Our Boys or the Kingswood Magazine becomes no better than an almanac; more like what Trinity, Hillwood etc issue every year. Post-1987 the publication of Our Boys has been most irrgular. There has been but a few (if not zero) issues of Our Boys between 1987 and 2008. A “school magazine” with horrendous editing came out either in 2007-08.
The chief drawback of the current magazine in question is the lack of conceptualization. When one prints a magazine you should ask youself why and as to whom the magazine is printed. Ideally, the Kingswood Magazine has to cater to the Kingswood community, with an outreach that can encapsulate the wide corpus of people who connect with the school. But, what our editors have offered us as the 120th Anniversary edition is largely a flimsy collection of data logs, accompanied by an assortment of graphics of the school’s lay. Most of these graphics are familiar, exhausted captures of the school, offering very little novelty. Except for a record of sports teams (five pages), a brief resume of the different sections of the school (two pages), a sketch of the Kingswood Week agenda (one page), the following articles on the school can be found:
- A list of Principals from 1891 to the present day (Names of Principals are errenously recorded, and Mr. Nelson Rathnayake’s portrait is deselected).
- An article highlighting 120 Years of Excellence in the school.
- A brief sketch of the Our Boys history.
- An outline of “Clubs and Societies” (in which two societies are focused on. Kingswood has over 30 other clubs and movements).
The validity of articles 1 and 3 can be questioned. What is “new” about the list of school heads is best answered by the editors, while the clumsy manner in which they relate to these men of the school’s past is unpardonable. Names are either misspelled or confounded. The former we may forgive, as the magazine is consistent in its inconsistent spelling; but, the latter cannot be easily overlooked. Why two clubs – the Dancing and Singing Units – are prioratized over a possible 30-odd other clubs which do not even get a mention is bewildering.
The “article” on the history of Our Boys is borrowed without acknowledgement from KFE: The Story of Kingswood, Kandy. The extract ends abruptly, but mentions no author – the author being Blaze and whom the editors have cheated by stealing his material without mention. Even in copy-pasting there is a standard. The “article” here is a classic example of a bungled copy-paste, as the pasting has been done twice, making a repeat of more or less the same words back to back.
The editors seem to run out of ideas once they are done with the sports team lists and the other accessory insertions. The space is eventually dedicated to the following articles which, in my opinion, are badly out of place in an annually printed school magazine:
- How to Learn English
- An article on Steve Jobss
- An article on hybrid motor cars
- An article on Einstein and Neil Armstrong
- An article on the possible end of the world in 2012.
not that these items are ill in value. But, how do one make a case for these selections in the wider frame the magazine aspires to? From these insertions, it can be deduced that the editorial board is highly influenced by science and astrology, though it doesn’t give them the licence to tailor the school magazine in those directions.
Arthur McGill — a most respected and eminent old boy — is called “Auther McGill”. Incidentally this is the (mis)spelling found in the Memorial Museum dedicated to the gentleman’s name.
Consider the following cavities:
|Name as given in the magazine||Proper name|
|Reb. R. Pearson||Rev. R. Pearson|
|G.L Gibbon||O.L Gibbon|
|F.A. Jutting||F.A.J. Utting|
|R.H. Nonis||P.H. Nonis|
|K.M. de Laneroll||K.M. De Lanerolle|
|Mr. Gibson||O.L. Gibbon|
|D.A.G Utting||F.A.J. Utting|
In the article listing out the Principals of the school (and not the “Principles”, as the editor titles the page) Gibbon and Utting are written in two different ways – both wrong – in the same page. Some names are recorded without initials. These formatting and factual errors are sad to see, since what is misrepresented is core and commonplace knowledge. The editor calls the Principals who served after 1942 as “Sri Lankan Principal [sic] jointed [sic] to [sic] school”. In fact, LE Blaze – the founder – himself is a Ceylonese, hailing from South Western Payagala.
The Prologue of 2010 is included, but is badly mutilated. Lines are ommitted and badly tampered in places which, in turn, give a nonsensical air from time to time.
So, my attempt at reading the latest Our Boys resulted in me being frustrated and pissed – at the imbecility which makes our school a laughing stock in knowledgeable company. The civilized may tolerate, but the others may sneer and laugh – which are indeed justifiable, because we go out of our way to beg them to laugh at us. The least that can be done here is to appoint a sound editorial panel (nothing personal, as I do not know any of the editors individually; I am solely assessing them through the efficacy of their brainchild – Our Boys) and a good proof reader. The magazine is at its very best an indicator of where we stand: an irresponsible lot, with much gloss without substance to resonate. And we pen it off by calling the publication Our Boys.