Susan Morrison: Boarding schools have a lot to answer for

Public school doesn't seem to do men many favours when it comes to dealing with the opposite sex, does it?

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 25th January 2018, 4:54 pm
Updated Friday, 26th January 2018, 3:19 pm
Public school boys seem to have trouble dealing with the opposite sex, says Susan Morrison.  Picture: S. R. Gaiger/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images
Public school boys seem to have trouble dealing with the opposite sex, says Susan Morrison. Picture: S. R. Gaiger/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

I think it might be the dim memories of Matron and the ­administration of cod liver oil after vigorous cross-country runs.

Quite why the moneyed classes like to send their boys and girls away at an early age to get educated has always been a mystery to me. Let’s be honest, any young parent yearns for the idea of a night off from the old mummy and daddy responsibilities, but a year? Two? Three?

Kids grow so fast. How do you know you’ve got the right child back when they come home for the hols? What pranks and larks for Snodgrass of the Upper Fourth to swap mumsies with Trevelayn of the Fifth. I’m convinced they do that.

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Even the top ex-public schoolboy Prince Phillip has always seemed a tad awkward around the ladies, but then, it’s difficult to tell, since he’s still something of a social hand grenade in any situation. His boarding school experiences made an appearance on The Crown, that massive TV series about the Queen’s life.

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It was fictionalised, but if ­only half of it was real, it looked to me like institutionalised child abuse thinly wrapped up in the notion that they were breeding the future leaders of our country. It made Lord of the Flies look like a mildly ­worrying episode of I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here. The trouble is these kinds of schools were teaching Britain’s future rulers to be ­really, ­really good at bullying anything ­weaker than themselves.

These boys were trained to loathe weakness. Quite how they then were supposed to become good managers of companies and countries is anyone’s guess.

It makes you realise why so many frontbench Tories regard the poor, unemployed and disabled as just the sort of people who would benefit from a stiff talking to from the Head and a refreshing 12-mile run, with not a clue as to how desperate these folks lives really are. It definitely explains their adoration of Margaret Thatcher.

It seems like they are still with us, the braying boys in the dinner suits. I’d never heard of the Presidents Club, until the Financial Times went undercover to reveal the old boys’ network of Eton, Harrow and Rugby at play.

Mind you, it sounds like a terrible night out. Stuck in room with a load of lads dressed like wannabe Bond ­villains, hooting like hyenas when they catch a glimpse of a gal in a short skirt, because it’s still a novelty.

Tell you what, though, it proves the rich stay rich by never parting from their hard-exploited cash. The hostesses only got paid £150 for a full night’s shift on their feet, in high heels, mark you, and having to put up with pawing and groping from men supposedly raised to be gentlemen, at least to ladies in the same income bracket.

After all, it pays to be nice to Jacinta MacIntosh-Ffitch, because her daddy might offer you a seat on the board. A little lass trying to earn a few quid is fair game in the eyes of lads raised to regard themselves as entitled to everything. If you ever hold your event again, lads, move it to Newcastle.

The lassies there will corner any number of city boys, investment bankers and frontbenchers like hungry lionesses until Snodgrass of the Upper Fourth blubs like a baby.