Subject: Response to Zoe Williams, Weekend, March 27 2004
I’m baffled and slightly insulted by Zoe Williams’ blanket dismissal of private-school education, which I have had the mixed blessing of experiencing. Although I don’t think it makes me a better person, I can spell “orgy”, I do know who Marlene Dietrich is and I can namecheck Lewis Carroll without “miming a head louse in a magical place”, which sounds like sexy talk to me. (I even know his real name, but if that increases the likelihood of an invite to Ms Williams’ riveting parlour games then I’m keeping shtum.)
Furthermore, we didn’t have pricey textbooks, we did have “problem pupils” and probably the only sports we learnt “that aren’t played in any other countries” were irony and excessive self-deprecation. Oh, and how to destroy a “Hymns Ancient and Modern” over the course of six months, which they admittedly used to do elsewhere in the days of the Empire but their hearts were never in it.
While I can’t speak for all private-school alumni, neither can Ms Williams. If it’s true that people who both attended private school and want to hang around with her aren’t particularly bright, then it might correlate less with their education and more with the company they keep.