Eton ain’t what it used to be

Here’s an excerpt from the aria of Harry in Oprah, Act 2: “My father used to say to me, when I was younger, he used to say to both William and I, ‘Well, it was like that for me, so it’s going to be like that for you’…”

Aren’t you shocked? I know I am.

It should have been “…he used to say to both William and me”, and Harry doesn’t even have the excuse of having gone to a comprehensive school. Yet he does have the excuse of having gone to Eton, whose standards are evidently slipping. That’s what commitment to an unalloyed woke curriculum can do to a school. Its graduates can’t even talk proper, like, even if brung up in posh families.

However, one suspects Harry’s grammar wouldn’t have advanced past the semi-literate level even had he gone to Gordonstoun, treading the path beaten by just about every male member of his family for three generations.

For, if we agree that Eton has been accelerating on a downward slide, Harry outpaced most of his classmates on that trajectory. He excelled only in such rigorous academic disciplines as polo and rugby, while his performance in more cerebral subjects was marred by accusations of cheating at exams.

The subsequent tribunal refrained from ruling on the cheating claim. Instead that body used Aesopian language, saying it “accepted the prince had received help” in his A-level project. A distinction without a difference, I’d suggest.

Alas, while unable to hoist Harry even to an average level academically, Eton also demonstrably failed in forging his character, which has for centuries been the crux of the school’s mission.

If we believe Wellington’s assertion that the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton, then today’s playing fields have produced a snivelling, treacherous, lachrymose spouter of psychobabble trying to get in touch with his feminine side.

I blame Mrs Thatcher myself… What, it wasn’t her fault? Sorry, I thought she could be blamed for everything. How about “It’s all society’s fault?” Actually, this works, to an extent.

We may believe in free will and hence personal responsibility. But it takes strength of mind and character for one’s free will to break through the dense fog of zeitgeist. Someone like Harry, who after years of expensive education can’t even use elementary grammar, lacks the mental and moral tools to prevent the fog from blurring his vision.

And zeitgeist includes self-indulgent, touchy-feely, I-want-to-be-me psychobabble as its inalienable constituent. Freud and Jung (Fraud and Junk?) emptied a bag of rubbish on modernity, and the likes of Harry, his wife and most of our semi-educated, half-baked pseuds got buried under the fetid pile.

But not to worry: help is on the way. After all, every time I criticise some social or political phenomenon, there’s always a reader out there, asking the question deeply rooted in the pragmatic English mind: So what are we going to do about it?

Before I went (sort of) native, I used to say, “Let’s start by diagnosing the disease. Once its aetiology is properly understood, then we can think about the treatment.” Alas, that left my audiences dissatisfied, disappointed and sometimes even disdainful.

Paying heed, here’s my solution to the problem that warped Harry’s mind and character, whatever little of those faculties he possessed to begin with:

Only clinical psychiatrists holding valid medical accreditation should be allowed to ply their trade, which is treating people with real mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia.

All psychologists, psychoanalysts, therapists, behavioural coaches and other such parasites must be summarily struck off whatever registers they belong to, with their licences burnt and their practices shut down by court order. They should then be retrained in occupations that are currently shorthanded, such as restaurant dish-washing and fruit picking.

At the same time, a blanket ban must be issued on all people past age 21 mentioning their childhood traumas, those caused by daddy or mummy having wanted a child of the other sex, daddy and mummy displaying not enough affection or too much or the wrong kind, or even daddy or mummy dying prematurely.

The latter misfortune especially may be a legitimate cause for grief. But it mustn’t be used as an excuse for anything – grown people, especially men, should have developed sufficient inner resources to stop moaning about mummy and daddy. Saying a prayer for them or raising a glass to their memory should be sufficient.

This ought to be the focus of the character-building courses I am hereby proposing as compulsory school subjects. In Britain specifically, children should be taught to cultivate the traditional, now unfortunately moribund, virtues of stiff upper lip, modesty, self-restraint, deference and good manners – qualities preventing people from shoving their little quirks down anyone else’s throat.

‘Down with solipsism’ and ‘a problem shared is a problem doubled’ should be the underlying principles. For, if even our best schools fail to instil Britishness in their pupils, the playing fields of Eton will become places where all subsequent battles will be lost. Especially the one against the toxic zeitgeist of modernity.

P.S. It’s not only Harry and football commentators who misuse English. My once co-author, the Archbishop of Westminster, has on this Pentecost Sunday sent a woke letter to parishioners, in which he talks about “the enormity [sic] of the challenges we are facing”, the prime one springing from the use of carbon fuels.

Unless he really (and appropriately) meant that this particular challenge is revolting, the proper word would have been immensity or perhaps magnitude. Never mind speaking in tongues — today’s prelates can’t even speak English properly.

2 thoughts on “Eton ain’t what it used to be”

  1. If a man is at absolute breaking point, he ought to tell someone. But I think a great many of us would be surprised by how resolute we can be. Whenever I begin to feel sorry for myself I say: “Well, at least I’m not a kidnapped Aztec being lead to the sacrificial altar” this usually lends some much needed perspective.

    For my money, Jung is worse than Freud, at least Freud is worth reading.

  2. The Oxford Dict. Of English (2000AD) defines Enormity:
    “The great or extreme scale, seriousness, or extent of something perceived as BAD (cap letters for the Archbishop) or morally WRONG”.
    A psych grad myself, I never trusted the discipline with the mostly (quite attractive, albeit) young women flocking to the classes, all taken in by that far-fetched Freudian stuff. I think, though, Jung’s ‘Psychological Types’ should be read.
    After leaving univ., you may be glad to know, I stuck to the more useful occupations of serving meals and sandwiches to rude hungry folk, nor shied away from scrubbing a pot or two.

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