The Education Service was a vital arm of the British Colonial Service while the British Council has been paramount in promoting the English language and culture overseas. But are both agents of British colonialism and neo-colonialism? Or are both simply altruistic purveyors of language and culture to a wider world?Verner Bickley as an Education Officer in the British Colonial Service and in the British Council provides the answer and shows that educational and cultural values were paramount and important in themselves, and through the medium of the near-global English language, vitally important in both culture and technical training. Life in overseas postings was set against a backdrop of turbulent international relations following World War II, including service in the Royal Navy in India and Ceylon, soon to be become independent Sri Lanka. Bickley was Education Officer in Singapore during the tumultuous 1950s, at the time of the Malayan 'Emergency' and in the lead-up to independence in 1957 which he announced on Radio Malaya. His service with the British Council began with a posting to Burma during the premiership of U Nu, struggling with ethnic problems and to be ousted by military coup. And during his time in Indonesia the British Embassy was burnt to the ground by rioters. Later service was in Japan - basking in its success as an emerging economic powerhouse. This is an essentially warm and human story enlivened, especially during the British Council period, by a succession of diverse personalities, including royalty, British and Thai, as well as writers like Anthony Burgess, Graham Greene and Willis Hall and actors such as Donald Sinden, Patrick Stewart and Max Adrian.
Footfalls Echo in the Memory
A Life with the Colonial Education Service and the British Council in Asia