But for Rochdale head Derek Wiggett, it came true.
He wrote to millionaire businessman Peter Ogden to tell him that Rochdale grammar wasn't closed, as the ex-pupil believed, but was now a local authority school - Balderstone community.
Mr Ogden, a co-founder of new technology firm Computacenter, spent a day at the school. He was so impressed he put up pound;50,000 towards a bid for specialist technology status.
The school expects to hear in January if it has been successful, and would take up its new status next September, triggering an additional lump sum of pound;100,000 from the Government, plus pound;120 per pupil per year for four years.
Mr Ogden is one of the new breed of educational philanthropists. Last year he set up a pound;25 million trust fund so bright children from low-income families could go to top independent schools.