Obituary

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    THere’S a booming, unctuous voice in the JCr one night: it reverberates off the walls, and in
    spite of yourself you’re hypnotised by the talk of rugger, skiing in Val d’Isere, summers at
    Rock and stratospheric wealth. Rapt with attention, you edge closer to the source of the
    noise. Standing before you is a magnificent animal, from the quiff you could ski off right
    down to his smart brown loafers. He might not be wearing a salmon pink shirt, but
    for the sake of stereotype he may as well be. His jeans are neatly pressed and belted at
    precisely waist height: none of that jeans-round-the-ankles, boxers-on-show chic for this
    chap. Should the temperature drop slightly he will invariably produce a classic ralph Lauren
    jumper to layer artfully over the smart shirt, or to offer in gentleman-like fashion to his
    female companion. This, my friend, is a dying species: he is the public school boy,
    and in Oxford we observe him in one of his last natural habitats. The true public school boy
    is finding this new modern world a bit of a struggle, really. He’s been forced to
    evolve, he’s learnt it’s no longer cool to blurt out his status in the sure knowledge that he
    will be welcomed into the club. He has even, horror of horrors, learnt to modify his dress.Those men walking around Oxford sporting artfully distressed jumpers: public school boys
    each and every one. It’s a postmodern comment on their stack of gold. No longer will a
    school tie attract friends, and mentioning public school these days can be paramount to
    social suicide. Oxford courts the state schools, denying its stalwart public schools as much
    as humanly possible. Those dastardly chavscum have even stolen, amongst other things,
    the polo shirt, the manly colour of pink, and, perhaps most successfully of all, the entire
    Burberry brand. When was the last time you heard someone express anything other than
    contempt for the well-spoken amongst us? Look at what happened to Charlie from Busted,
    when he attempted to break the rock music scene with the inimitable Fightstar. Could he
    produce a convincing northern accent? no. Well then he couldn’t possibly be credible. But
    we somehow have to retain a grudging respect for the public school boy who unashamedly
    announces his background, conforming to the stereotypes. He’s part of the Oxford scenery
    and without him our lives would be a lot less colourful. Vitally important linguistic traits such
    as the use of ‘yah’ as an expression of agreement in conversation, and the inspired
    shortening of blatantly to ‘blates’ would slip into the realms of nostalgia.In recent years society has dictated, more for survival’s sake than anything else, a blander,
    more considered and overall more socially-aware public school boy. Only some remaining
    specimens have, through the medium of that rhinoceros skin they developed during
    the years of bullying and physical violence, survive to be as brash and unflinchingly,
    embarrassingly posh as always. Let us salute them.ARCHIVE: 4th week MT 2005

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