Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A bit of rough

You'll recall that when I went up to university in the sixties I kind of went off the rails. No doubt there're lots of reasons why that happened but whatever the cause the net result was that I drank a lot and chased a lot of women. In a way it was kind of what you did back then, especially if you wanted to be a writer. I imagine it was our idea of pursuing a Bohemian lifestyle. I expect it's all different now. People want a career and to earn lots of money, so they need to get a good degree and they work hard to make sure they do. They don't have so much time for playing around. I guess that's how it works now, anyway.

The thing about university back then - at least in the UK - was that it was populated overwhelmingly by the middle classes. Looking back, I don't think that while I was there I met a single student who had been to a state school like mine, although there must have been some around, lurking in the shadows. Everybody I met seemed to have attended a "public" (that is, a fee-paying) school. Coming from a poor, working class background I was kind of dazzled by my fellow students. They had a certain glamour, an air of superiority, call it breeding if you like. The women were especially exotic, almost like film stars, equally desirable, and, in some cases, just as unattainable.

I hadn't thought about it before now but I wonder what these glamorous young women must have thought about me back then - if they thought about me at all that is. In those days I was thin, six foot tall, had long blonde hair and - I hope I'm not being too immodest here - was quite good-looking. But, although I tried to hide it, I was undeniably working class. I had no polish, didn't really speak their language, had no prospects and few of the social graces. Nevertheless, I had no trouble attracting women, so I must have had some quality they found attractive. And no, it wasn't what you're thinking either. Unfortunately. Maybe it was the novelty value, the thrill of possessing an amusing divertimento before the real business of finding a suitable partner began. Or more likely it was the temporary thrill of going out with a bit of rough.

So perhaps that was me back in the swinging sixties. A little bit of rough bobbing around on a sea of alcohol. If it was, well, I've no complaints. Worse things happen at sea.


  1. Didn't you know, Pundy, every public school girl likes a blue collar worker - they're not marriage material, but they're that much more sexy. Even an alien chicken knows that.

  2. Well, atyllah, I know this response is in pretty bad taste, but for a while back then I was like the fox let loose in the hen house...

  3. It was fun while it lasted, though, wasn't it? Mine were much the same, and it was a pure delight to see their carefully constructed veneer of polish and poise slip away, the Lady Bountiful mask replaced by feral, sweaty, greedy truth. Oh, it was wonderful, for all of us. I wish I was young again.

  4. "but for a while back then I was like the fox let loose in the hen house..."

    And things have changed?

  5. We were the top 5%, weren’t we? The cream of the cream. If you were not from a middle-class family you represented an even smaller percentage of your peers. Why the fuss now about the difficulties of those from deprived backgrounds getting into university? The one I went to was not known then and is not known now for its readiness to compromise quality for quantity or for any kind of social engineering. Those of us who were lucky enough to be accepted got there because those who accepted us thought we might have whatever it takes to benefit from what was on offer and, perhaps more importantly, something to contribute. They may sometimes have been wrong and we, being young, may not always have taken full advantage of our privilege, but we did not do so in the belief that we had a God-given right to be there.

    Universities remain, in my view, places where knowledge is extended and passed on and any material benefits in terms of career, fame and fortune are incidental. They are also places where the occasional fox might have its place.

  6. Maybe you had a tatoo? If so, I would have been scratching at the screen door,too!