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21-Jul-2017 22:45

Then, for the last quarter of a century, there has been Chitral, his mountain home.

Now, Langlands is returning to Aitchison, where rooms have been prepared for his "retirement".

Having earned a pittance during his teaching career – the principal's salary at Langlands School and College is 35,000 rupees a month, or about £220 – he must rely on the generosity of his former employer.

But as preparations for his departure have progressed, it has become clear that the Major does not want to go.

Generations of Pakistanis owe their education to him.

In a career lasting 60 years, he has sought to maintain the ethos of the English public school in an alien land, long after the sun set on the empire he served.

A mathematician, Langlands was working in a private school in Croydon when war broke out in September 1939.

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With no money, university was out of the question and teaching followed.

Langlands, last survivor of the Raj, certainly knows how to work a crowd. " asks Carey Schofield, the woman who arranged the surprise party in Langlands' honour on Tuesday. He is quite literally irreplaceable." Geoffrey Douglas Langlands CMG is a phenomenon.

When the British pulled out of India in 1947, he stayed on, first as a soldier instructing Pakistan's fledgling army and then as a teacher to that country's youth.

When pupils of Langlands School and College broke into a folk dance from their native Chitral, he was up, walking stick discarded, twirling around, hands raised above his head.

The boys and girls of the school whooped with delight as their old principal temporarily abolished the passing years, mobbing him as he danced.

Following his commission, he was sent to India, and life changed forever.