Naipaul made this observation during a function held in his honour by his alma mater, Queens Royal College (QRC) at the Guardian Life Holdings buildings, Columbus Circle, Westmoorings on Saturday night. The 75-year- old Naipaul is currently in the country to attend a series of functions being held in his honour by the University of the West Indies.
Delivering some brief remarks at the function, Naipaul said he could find “very few words” to describe how happy he felt to be honoured by the college. With pride beaming in his eyes, Naipaul told the audience how much he cherished his days as a student in QRC in the early 1940’s and how those experiences served him in good stead for the “further steps” in education which he made in his life.
He said conversations with another renowned QRC “old boy,” Justice Rolston Nelson, reminded him about how a good education builds one’s character and values over time. Naipaul said he was pleased “there are still standards” in many spheres of education and people who are prepared to honour those standards.
QRC Old Boys Association president Hart Edwards said it was no secret that many of the students who graced the hallowed halls of the college over the years went on to become leaders in fields such as politics, economics and sport. However Edwards expressed the view that “few have shone as brightly as Sir Vidia Naipaul.” He added that the only QRC past student who could be considered a competitor to Naipaul in any sense of the word was the country’s first prime minister Dr Eric Williams.
Edwards said through his many literary works over the years, Naipaul has offered people “a deeply informed way of looking at societies” and an opportunity to look at the world from a perspective which they might not have considered.
Edwards conferred the QRC Hall of Honour Medal on Naipaul to formally induct him into the ranks of past students who formed this elite group. In presenting a copy of the QRC 2004 book to Naipaul, Justice Nelson said Naipaul’s homecoming was timely because it would lift the spirits of many people in Trinidad and Tobago who are still sorrowful over the fact that the West Indies cricket team will not qualify for the semi-finals of the 2007 Cricket World Cup.
Nelson told Naipaul the book, which contains several quotes from QRC students, should provide him with hours of enjoyable reading and bring back many fond memories. Veteran masman Peter Minshall delighted the audience with quotations from QRC 2004. Former West Indies wicket-keeper Deryck Murray expressed the view to Naipaul that he might enjoy the accolades heaped upon him even more than the Nobel Prize for Literature which he received in 2001.
QRC vice-principal Lyle Hinkson presented Naipaul with a rare gift of college records from the 1940’s when the author was a student there.