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February 22, 2007



"I've often thought we should rename public schools as "special schools", designed to give an education to people who would otherwise be unequipped to thrive in normal society."

Well, if that isn't chippiness, then I don't know what is.


I've often wondered if part of Brown's contempt for Blair isn't only because Blair is dim, but also because Brown got the better schooling on the north bank of the Firth. But those days are long gone: fewer and fewer of the state-educated get a decent schooling, and more of the private schools do a serious job than in my youth, or Broon's or, I presume, yours. After all, their pupils now are so often the children of those who themselves went to grammar school.

Chris Williams

Chris D - this attitude exactly matches my own experience at Oxford (87-90). I also went on a short course at Eton once, and quickly came to the conclusion that (a) Fuck me, those teachers were good, and (b) Of course they bloody were - they were on exactly twice what the teachers in my comp were getting.


Well that post positively defined chippiness and you've got it bad: "it's not chippiness we feel towards public school kids, but contempt." A tad irrational of you, don't you think, seeing as how they had no say in the decision to send them to public-school. And if it confers no advantages - "Even the public schoolboys who have done quite well for themselves have done little better than us" - why get so het up about them?

Go on. Wind your neck in. The chip's showing.

tom s.

Chris - This is one argument you can't win.

Disputing a charge of chippiness cannot help but sound chippy, just as arguing with a Freudian proves you have unresolved issues about your mother and arguing with an academic proves you couldn't cut it in university.

There are certain smugnesses in the world that are impenetrable, and this is one of them. (guess I've got a chip on my shoulder).


If you don't have a chip on your shoulder, you're not peeling enough potatoes..


Wow - you've got it bad. That was pathetic.


Wow, Praguetory, is there any reasonable and discursive blog anywhere that you will not sully with a nasty insult?


«And if it confers no advantages - "Even the public schoolboys who have done quite well for themselves have done little better than us"»

Well, your conclusion does not apply, because that is statement about the size of the rewards, not the chances of obtaining them.

Many public schoolboys/Oxbridge people do no better than a few gifted and mostly lucky people from unprivileged backgrounds, but they have a *much better* chance of doing so.

What takes a small percentage of «"A snotty nosed little provincial oik"»s a lot of effort and luck is almost a class birth/walletright for the public schoolboys and Oxbridge people.

Charlie Whitaker

To the extent that private education promotes inequality, Blissex gets it right, I think. But no matter what their schooling, people who really do leave a mark on the world are very rare. The vast majority of us are just going through the motions.

In any case, what opportunities do you feel you've missed out on, Chris? You've had the Oxford experience, right?

James Hamilton

"..it's not chippiness we feel towards public school kids, but contempt."

I spent half of my education in public schools, Chris. Contempt received and felt, but, if I may say so, not entirely returned.

I'd actually disagreed with Finkelstein in the context of the Bullingdon Club, although I think what Buller represents is better met with humour than with.. this.

But this is not the first time, or indeed the second time, you've indicated that people are to be judged purely on their background, and that's clearly where we part company.


I think you could lighten up a bit about this one James. Surely you can see the humour in the situation...

"talking to an Harrovian colleague and asking: "aren't you embarrassed that, with all that money spent on your education, you've ended up working next to me?"

Personally, I'm in no position to hold anyone up for squandering their educational opportunities. I spent my allotted years at the Comprehensive sitting at the back of the class making the teachers' job impossible.

But - when I worked in the media - it was very plain that a lot of people enjoyed huge advantages in the more attractive jobs because of who they are.

And that's life I suppose. But - in my experience - the same people also behaved as though they got where they did by hard work alone. In those situations, they need the kind of response that they clearly get if they're unlucky enough to get a seat next to Chris.


I am not a public schoolboy, but if anyone I knew said "aren't you embarrassed that, with all that money spent on your education, you've ended up working next to me?" to any work colleague, I would immediately lose all respect for them. A single phrase that is both arrogant, snide and presumptive. It also suggests that workplace achievement is the only benchmark in life. V sad, in my opinion.


Workplace achievement isn't the only benchmark in life, says a Tory. Right, does that mean Thatcherism has been cancelled and I can go and do something interesting?


Too right a Tory says that. I don't know any Tories who would say otherwise.


I think you're way off beam here Chris. Better to stick with the managerialism.

Rob Spear

Chris's proud despising of perceived privilege is the mainspring of the cultural tendency that has destroyed most of the good things about traditional Britain. It is sad to see him so set in his ways.


"perceived privilege"? I'm curious to know why you add the word "perceived". Is attendance at an English public school not a great deal more than a "perceived" privilege?


I like to think of public-school baiting not as chippiness but more a hobby, and moreover a hobby that's entirely guilt-free and been paid for by someone else!


and whilst we're at it, if someone had someone sit next to them and say "aren't you embarrassed that, with all that money spent on your education, you've ended up working next to me?" and they lost all respect for that person, then I'd lose all respect for them!

Rob Spear

I may as well respond to Katherine, even though its a couple of months down the line, and no-one will likely read this.

I was referring to the image of the public school as being about smartly dressed young men, formal dinners, smug speeches and social climbing. I went to a public school for a couple of years while my parents were expatriated, and found it to be more about drugs, self-hatred, and feelings of being despised by anyone outside the school. Was it an actual privilege to go there? Well, I sure didn't think so. The best thing I can say about it is that I avoided a couple of years of socialist whittering from the other schools I went to. As for learning stuff, I've always learnt more by picking up books and reading than any kind of official schoolwork.

Francesca Evans

Your whole argument is thriving on jealously!
This is the most pathetic thing I have ever read.
Absolutely ridiculous.

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