01/09/2017

How posh was my school? (and did it have a Resident Swan?)




There’s a survey for me to find out how posh my school was posted a couple of years ago somewhere and still zooming around online like a speedster. My alma mater scored a mere 28 out of 50 which is sort of half posh. Of course poshness does have different connotations depending on whereabouts in the UK you live. In Liverpool being posh is using a knife and a fork (ha- just kidding scousers) whereas in Surrey it involves someone specifically employed to cut up your carrots with gold plated knives. Anyhow I thought I’d examine some of the criteria this survey associates with posh schools and see how it fits in with my experiences.You have to tick off the things your school had and there’s a nice picture for those people who don’t know what they are because you can be posh and simple of course. Here we go then-



A theatre- what? An actual full size theatre? How many schools have one of those? Very very few I’d say unless they’re a drama school. Anyway we didn’t have one, our plays took place in the main hall. The hall did however contain a church organ!! Oh yes, now that is so posh I’d have thought but it’s not mentioned in the survey.

A library- Yep we had a library because it was the pre Internet days. Maybe schools now don’t have libraries, they just have online `hubs`.

An art gallery- Well we had some paintings and photos of school sports teams on the walls if that counts. How come it was only sports teams that got their photos on display? Nobody ever mounted and framed a photo of the conkers team.

A fancy garden- Presumably as opposed to an unkempt garden?

A greenhouse- No. A glass building and hundreds of kids- who would build such a thing. It would be an episode of Grange Hill where Tonto smashes the window and blames it on Gonzo.

A chapel- We did have a chapel as it goes. It looked like a bonsai cathedral though was bigger on the inside than it looked. It was the scene of one of my most terrifying ordeals when I had to read aloud to the whole school something or other from the Bible. Not just me – we all had to take turns to do it every so often. It put me off public speaking for life.
My school's chapel- so posh the photo is black and white

A choir, An orchestra- We had these but I wouldn’t say it makes a school posh.

A recording studio- No because in those days any interest in pop music was not encouraged and all our teachers were 106 and thought Bach was a bit too punk.

Fees, A Latin motto, Latin lessons- A third of the pupils were boarders but I don’t know if they paid fees. We had a Latin motto which translated roughly as “You who enter here surrender all hope” but no Latin lessons. Actually it was non sibi sed omnibus which as we all know means "not for himself but for all". In other words whatever you do the school will take the credit.

French lessons- Come on every school had French lessons. The French are our neighbours n’est pas? Generations of English kids were brought up on the racy day to day life of the Bertillion family. I recall one of them was knocked off her bike and uttered something like “Oh dear” when we knew what she really wanted to say was “Oh MERDE!” and sue the wheels off that careless driver.

Founder’s Day, A statue of the Founder- Don’t think there was a statue but we did have a Founder’s Day rather unfortunately scheduled on a Sunday and clashing with the annual Orange Lodge march through the city. And it didn’t take place in our chapel- oh no- it was in an actual Cathedral. Now that’s posh with a capital P.

A pool, A fancy building- We had a pool but it was a modern extension. The school itself was a very fancy building so much so that I now use it as the basis for the school in my novels which I guess is quite a posh thing to say!
The front of our fancy school building

A proper gym, a tennis court, a rugby pitch, an athletics track- Luckily we didn’t play rugby but we did have a “proper” gym as opposed to an improper one. Squash courts rather than tennis though. We had a field with an athletics track painted on it and running on grass is harder than on a proper athletics track I can tell you. There was this thing called Standards whereby you had to reach a certain, er, standard. So you’d have to clear a certain level at high jump or run 200 meters in such a time. Every time someone achieved one of these the PE teacher would shout “Standard”. I am tempted to shout it still when I get a good latte in Costa.

I’m leaving a few categories out now but worth a mention are a head boy / girl, prefects, a dining room which I’m sure none posh schools had some variation of. We actually got to vote for our head boy though we never found out if the winner of the vote actually got the job as no results were published.

Nice-ish school dinners- Actually we did have them. Given that every dinner across the seven years I was there came with two neat domes of mashed potato like a little model of a futuristic city.

We didn’t have Saturday classes, a sanatorium, polo of any kind except the mints or various expensive sports teams like yachting or lacrosse.

And now my favourite category on this survey; Resident Swan. Noting the singular which is in itself odd because swans always come in pairs. Then I started to wonder what function a Resident Swan would have. Would it be allowed to wander round the fancy building of its own volition snapping at new pupils and joining the seniors behind the swimming pool for a fag. Would it perhaps give occasional lectures on how to appear serene while paddling furiously, a lesson many school kids would welcome. Was it on the Board of Governors? Our school did not have a Resident Swan but if it had I’m sure it would have taken this survey out of my hand and torn it to bits with its beak.
If you want to do the survey click on this link- Posh School Survey

The Resident Swan checks his tyres before driving to Waitrose


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