Tuesday, 12 April 2011

This charming man

Some time in the late 1980s, I found myself in one of the bars of an Oxford College. It was probably Brazenose; geographically, this would make sense. However,I was not an Oxford University student, I was just on a bit of a bender with some chums who were.

We were sober, well more sober than the 4 wealthy gentlemen propping up the bar. They seemed to find my flat northern vowels amusing and they certainly found it "quaint" that I was drinking/ordering pints of bitter. I tend to ignore such "southern softie" ignorance, but they seemed determined to engage me in conversation. Having ascertained my provenance as a "Manchester Lass", and having suffered a chorus of "ee bah gum Lass", they then, with some sincerity, told me how much they liked the Smiths. The Smiths were a popular band from Manchester at that time, though I have to admit I found them lumpen, insincere and overrated. The 4 gentlemen were so impressed with their knowledge of popular culture that they started singing a "hit" of the Smiths called "This Charming Man" complete with wavey, affected hand gestures. If they had been attempting to chat me up or even engage my interest, then they were an abject failure.

Now, I'm not saying that any of those gentlemen is now our current First Lord of the Treasury, but they represent a certain type of Oxford Student that exists to this day. I wonder if it has occurred to Mr Cameron that many 17-18 year olds simply do not aspire to an education at Oxford, partly because it is full of people like him.

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