To be clear: WHS was an unbelievable, astonishing and enriching adventure and experience which totally marked out the path my life would take. I consider myself the most fortunate of boys to have stumbled into this opportunity from the backstreets of Camberwell. However, in hindsight, there are things I regret:
A) Not learning more about:
B) Having "Nihil Dominus Vanum" forced on us. There was never in my recollection any question about the existence of God and the primacy of Christianity. I have since very young NEVER believed in "God", since even when small I sensed that there was no proof of his existence. I do actually think that Jesus was a beautiful human and his faith one whose precepts the Human Race would be wise and moral to follow - but I can't do the supernatural bit. However, there was NEVER ANY HINT at WHS that atheism was acceptable. I remember Jim Hyde once confiding in me his regret that he could NEVER become a Headmaster because he could and would not pretend to be a believer - and so for him leading a Christian assembly would be impossible. There was no questioning "Nihil Dominus Vanum": it was a bit like the Middle Ages but without the Spanish Inquisition. We had an hour of R.E. each week, but it was all about Christianity; I don't remember any other faith being discussed, or discussion about WHY people have a faith in the first place.
C) Never acting in any production. I played in the orchestra - and on stage in "The Feetwarmers" jazz group, but never acted. I love films and hugely admire actors, but never had a go myself. I would have been useless, but at least I could have said I had done it!
D) Not ever being able to do sailing. Having opted (or been chosen - I have never found out how it was done) to do cricket one NEVER got the chance to go sailing in a sailing school. I still find that odd.
E) Not standing up for Martin Colley when a prefect whacked him several times very hard with the edge of a ruler as a punishment for whispering something in supervised prep. I have forgotten the prefect's name.
F) Not cultivating friendships with other boys; I was too reserved, too much a loner. There were opportunities to build lifelong friendships, but I did not take them.
G) Through shyness and timidity not telling on my first-ever date the first-ever girl I loved that I loved her - perhaps I assumed it was obvious, but it probably wasn't. Someone should have told us: "Guys: they're not mind-readers: you have to tell them how you feel."
H) Stupidly tripping over on a clod of earth as I was about to score the winning try in the last moments of the Ipswich 7s final against Ipswich School no less.
I) Not thinking clearly about the possible options for university study. I was very good at French and Stretch got me an interview to read it at Merton College, Oxford (and Dick Woollett was a big practical help in this, too.) I loved novels (Balzac for example) but though good at the language I really didn't like French poetry much - which didn't really impress the Merton dons who interviewed me when I told them so .... I wish now I had tried to get in to do PPE; I probably wasn't clever enough, but that is not an assumption that one SHOULD make about oneself re ANY ambition.
J) Not reading any of these as set books: some I never read till after leaving school: (there are probably lots more one could add.)
K) Not adequately expressing at the time my appreciation to my teachers, in particular: Smitherman himself (but he left after my second year), Patrick Hutton, Barry Salmon, Malcolm Poole, Bryan Middlebrook, Fred Mudd, Derek Thornbery, Michael Shakeshaft, George Bailey, Ernie Green, Ben Turner, Jim Hyde, Merlin Channon, Leslie Johnston and probably others .... they were all exceptional.
There are other things, but it would have been nice to have done or avoided just a few of the above! Next life perhaps!