Monday, 16 August 2010

Cue the usual pictures of fruity teenage girls…

Yes, it's A-level results week, the favourite time of year for posh newspapers. Not only can they bemoan the degraded state of the educational system if they're Conservative ('everybody gets an A* now, not like in my day when we had to recite Latin verbs while bog-snorkelling in full Cadet uniform merely for a D') or cheer the triumph of the comprehensive system if they're 'liberal' ('My daughter Proletaria got 12 As despite being disembowelled daily by the rough kids in her East London workhouse'), they all get to decorate the front page - and the following 6 pages - with bright pictures of nubile teenage girls opening their results letter, which pleases everyone, I'm sure you'll agree. Especially ageing paedophiles.

Comedian Robert Webb celebrates his victory in getting to Cambridge from a state school, in this lovely piece drawn to my attention by Adam.
I can also sense the phrase “bright kids from working-class backgrounds” is about to be dragged out of the cupboard under the stairs, like a plastic Christmas tree with a wonky stand. Who are these kids? Have you met one? The only one I know is me. As an authority on the subject, I can relate that what “bright kids from working-class backgrounds” need to do is a) have a luckily stable home life, b) be phenomenally lucky with their state school, c) work hard, d) stay awake in the interview and e) be lucky.

The trouble with showing off about the “journey” from watching Blind Date and having ice on the inside of your bedroom window to Robinson College (also responsible for Nick Clegg – sorry) is that it irritates your privately educated friends. They suspect that you’re quietly going around believing that your achievement in getting into a good university is somehow greater than theirs.
In this suspicion they are, of course, dead right. Hell hath no smugness like a grammar school boy come good.

Interestingly, Webb's comedy partner, Mitchell, went to a fee-paying school, and is presumably the target of this little wind-up.

I went to all the types of school there are, through the simple means of being quite rubbish at basically everything (4% in a maths exam was a particularly high point). I can confidently say that the state school I went to (St. John Fisher, Newcastle-under-Lyme) was both the least violent and most academic of the lot. Though Set 3 Maths class could be a bit lively, and we did spend metalwork making weaponry, including a fearsome throwing star which I very much regret losing.

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