Saturday 11 August 2012

Eton Shirkers

The BOF is so tired of hearing rose-tinted accounts of the bracing nature of Bogus 'mayor' Johnson's experience of sport at school that he thinks it is time to describe the torture as it really was. Generously, the BOF comes clean about his upbringing at Westbury House, a post war prep school in Arcadian Hampshire, and Eton College. Oh yes, he knows and will, for once, speak directly of his experiences.

Prepare for the change of person.

I was never good at sports of any kind, and I had no interest in them until it was too late to start playing. The first time I was picked for a school team, it was as scorer for the second XI cricket team, this only because of a summer cold laying strong boys low.

I declined, provoking a storm not unlike that associated with Oliver asking for more. What amazes me now is that I won. I did not have to fulfil the role. I was never picked again for anything, which suited me.

On to Eton, and a quick word about how it worked. There was no compulsorary two hours a day. No, it was a weekly total that mattered, and that was arrived at by a system which optimistically relied on the honesty of teenagers. We marked up a chart with Xs for the exercise we had supposedly taken.

As someone still allergic to team sports, I soon found the slacker's fallback, the cross country run.

Or, rather, the stroll(in shorts) to the Road Bridge. Shimmying up the slope of concrete, a place of safety could be found where blue tobacco smoke (and more) filled the afternoon air. A small transistor radio, a tranny, wafted 'Flowers in the Rain' or 'See Emily Play' or 'Honey'  around the new world environment of the motorway flyover.

During the summer I would row gently up the river to Queens Eyot, an island in the Thames with a bar exclusively for Etonians and a lawn on which to loll and laugh and become very drunk. How I ever rowed back, I don't know. Once, on this trip, a child's life was saved on the way there, something more satisfying than any sporting victory. 

No doubt the same thing was happening in every type and level of school. For those who wanted it, sport was there on tap. For those who didn't, it was a perfect exercise in skiving. Or perhaps a perfect exercise in self-determination - who knows? 

Whatever, it was not two hours of cumpulsorary sport a day. For many of us it was a daily triumph over authority. Sorry, Bogus; it was Xs, not hours that mattered. And, as every politician knoe, Xs mean votes. Come clean about your real school sporting days, Bogus.

Thursday 9 August 2012

Lines written upon visiting Damien Hirst's shop, Other Criteria, on Bond Street

Damien Hirst 
Is now the worst
Artist in this country. 

Other Criteria
Couldn't be drearier
Even if the cunt tried.