Baroness Warsi has been hitting nails and nerves with her comments about public school toffs in the UK cabinet.
It puts me in mind of 1969, a new boy at Cambridge. Students from public schools were at home from day one. College was simply more of what they’d been used to at school. There were quads, courts, chapels, libraries. There were common rooms, ‘screens’ and ‘staircases’. There were gowns, gyps and bedders (no, not like that). There were shared toilets and no hot water. For these boys, the jargon, the culture and the ethos were just more of the boring same-old-same-old.
For me, it was exotic and exciting and romantic. And not a little daunting. More daunting still was my reaction to noticing the ennui of the posh boys. It took some effort not to be cowed by it and them, and their tiresome efforts to mimic a northern accent so that I could feel at home.
Despite this, it was membership of an élite club. Or so I thought.
I guess the atmosphere at Westminster is the next step on the ladder from public school and Oxbridge. Despite the influx of women, I don’t suppose it’s changed much. In fact, maybe because of the influx of women the Hooray Henrys have become more hooray-henry-ish in at attempt to keep their end up, so to speak. All very silly.
I’m reading again The Raj Quartet by Paul Scott (Jewel in the Crown for TV buffs). Hari Kumar was ‘too English for the Indians, too Indian for the English’. Baroness Warsi comes to mind, and indeed everyone who is too big to fit into little boxes all the same and made of ticky-tacky that are manufactured for them by unimaginative apparatchiks.