Monday, 19 September 2011

Lessons from Literature

I'm reading Evelyn Waugh's 1928 Decline and Fall at the moment. It starts with a set-piece describing the snobbish, amoral and antisocial antics of an Oxford University drinking club known as the Bollinger (or 'Boller') club:
It is not accurate to call this an annual event, because quite often the Club is suspended for some years after each meeting… At the last dinner, three years ago, a fox had been brought in a cage and stoned to death with champagne bottles. What an evening that had been! … For two days they had been pouring into Oxford: epileptic royalty from their villas of exile; uncouth peers from crumbling country seats; smooth young men of uncertain tastes from embassies and legations; illiterate lairds from wet granite hovel in the Highlands; ambitious young barristers and Conservative candidates torn from the London season and the indelicate advances of debutantes; all that was most sonorous of name and title was there for the beano. 
A shriller note could now be heard rising from Sir Alastair's rooms: any who have heard that sound will shrink at the recollection of it: it is the sound of the English county families baying for broken glass
It was a lovely evening. They broke up Mr. Austen's grand piano, and stamped Lord Rending's cigars into his carpet, and smashed his china, and tore up Mr Partridge's sheets, and threw the Matisse into his water-jug; Mr Sanders had nothing to break except his windows; but they found the manuscript at which he had been working for the Newdigate Prize Poem, and had great fun with that…
No resemblance intended to the snobbish, amoral and antisocial Oxford University drinking club known as the Bullingdon (or 'Buller'), of which David Cameron (2), George Osborne (1) and Boris Johnson (8) are previous members.

And lo, it came to pass that those members of the Bullingdon are now inflicting casual and wanton vandalism on their social inferiors still, only on a national scale. What larks!

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