A Cambridge contemporary died recently. The funeral was in Hampshire. I didn’t go. I gather that at the do afterwards a group of them raised the possibility of hiring a venue for a house party reunion. Would I be interested? one of them asked.
Part of me is curious, of course. It would be fascinating to see who’s fatter, thinner, balder (men only college in those days), richer. It would be interesting to see who’s still a nice guy, who’s a pompous gobshite.
But a bigger part of me is reluctant to go, so I was examining why this might be so.
When I think about those years, the predominant feeling is that I was always smirked at, tolerated. I put that to the man who wondered if I might like the house party, and he agreed that it was so, but that it was always with affection. “Like the village idiot” I suggested, but response came there none. ‘You can’t help loving that Stan of ours’ they sang in a College concert,
Why? No public school veneer? No sporting ability or interest? No posh accent? No family connexions? No sex appeal? (This was the opinion of the Deputy Head, a woman, at Penrith Grammar School, who said so to SWMBO when we were both pupils).
At a time when students are about to begin college courses, leaving the nest, incurring massive debts with student loans, it’s as well to remember that the image of partying, drinking, and carousing student life is a figment of the imagination of irresponsible commentators. It just aint so.
Essays, reading, tutorials, practicals, lab work, site work, placements, regulations, theses, dissertations. It is hard work. And on top of this—even before this—one has to deal with one’s own insecurities and thread one’s way through the cliques and gangs and the self-appointed élite of the student body.
And when they come out? There are not enough jobs befitting their qualifications, according to today’s news. So they take jobs for which their courses have been entirely superfluous. Still, it’s kept them off the streets for 6 years or so.
My father felt strongly that education was the way to better oneself. That was so in his day, but not now. So why not send people to school until they can read, write and do sums, then at 12 they can join the jobs market. Higher education then follows only for those that need it or that actually would like it.
A sure vote winner.