And so he did. The tireless columnist, historian and conference organiser has brought more positive media coverage to Wellington than it has had in many a year. We all know, for instance, that its stately walls now echo to the laughter of pupils enjoying happiness lessons.
But his successor at Brighton has no intention of letting obscurity descend. A press release sent to The TES this week begins: "When Brighton College became the first independent school in England to introduce compulsory Mandarin, the new headmaster, Richard Cairns, was described as one of the most visionary school leaders in England. The story hit the headlines across five continents."
Wow. His announcement this week that the school is to start compulsory grammar lessons for Year 9 entrants may spark less global frenzy, especially as it's the second time he's announced it. And it may, he concedes, make him seem reactionary rather than visionary.
But Mr Cairns is a flexible man. In late August, he sent out one press release calling for schools to cut back on unnecessary GCSE entries, closely followed by another in which he praised a Brighton pupil with 13 top grades.