Major Geoffrey Langlands, 94, leaves his post in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province after 60 years —
Geoffrey Langlands has long been waiting for a British successor to run the remote Pakistani school he founded. Now he’s handing over – to a woman.
Geoffrey Langlands began teaching in the autumn of 1936. It was at a public school in Croydon and the abdication crisis was being played out in the newspapers. His salary: £5 a month. Seventy-six years later and Major Langlands has seen some improvement in pay. As principal of the college that carries his name, he now earns £40 a week. Fortunately, £40 goes a bit further in the Hindu Kush than it does in Croydon.
Never one to desert his post, the Major – who never married, and was himself kidnapped by tribesmen in 1988 – has hung on, waiting for the right man.
“They just couldn’t dream of coming to Pakistan,” he said of previous applicants. “One of them wrote in his final letter that he thought Pakistan was supposed to be getting better but found out it was getting worse. But that is what has kept me here: the idea of getting my little bit better and better.”
Eventually, though, Langlands found the right man. A woman.
Carey Schofield is an unlikely successor. A journalist, specialising in military and international affairs, she has never taught for a living, but so impressed was she by the college that she decided to take it on.