Last night I finally went to see a play that opened at the Royal Court in London almost 2 years ago. If you get the chance, take a deep breath and go and see it.
It’s on at the Duke of Yorks theatre, it’s called POSH and it depicts the frightening antics of a group of very privileged young men who have arranged a dinner to celebrate the return of their very exclusive secret club.
Without much of a leap of imagination, the fictitious riot club is based on the Bullingdon Club of which our current Prime Minsiter, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Mayor of London were all members.
So, it’s just a bunch of young toffs who get up to japes and pay off anyone who complains, where’s the harm? What’s all the fuss about, the Prime Minister has far more important things to worry about.
A 'banned' picture of the Bullingdon club in 1987 featuring among others, (2) David Cameron and (8) Boris Johnson
In the 1970’s I worked in a restaurant in Oxford called ‘Colonel Bogeys.’ Yes, not a pleasant name but for a short time it was very popular. I worked as a kitchen hand and rarely had contact with customers, except one night when a group of rowdy young men (this was long before Dave Cameron’s time) arrived and took over one end of the large dining area. They were very drunk and all dressed in the same get up, a bizarre combination of dining suits, starched shirts and bow ties, like 19th century toffs.
Now, seeing as I had hair down to my ass at the time, on this particular evening it would have been tied in a pony tail, I’m hardly in a position to judge the dress codes of others, but this bunch were all wearing exactly the same laughable rags, down to identical buttons and collar studs.
As I passed by their table (I had been drafted in to being a waiter on this particular evening) carry a load of plates, one of these young men, a diminutive blonde kid, grabbed my apron and said ‘Oi.’
I carefully placed the plates on a nearby table, leant my face right into his so our noses were virtually touching and said quietly. ‘Don’t ‘Oi’ me chum, say excuse me.’
This response caused huge uproar among his chums and the restaurant manager quickly intervened and ushered me out to the kitchens. She then discreetly explained that these young chaps were all members of a dining club, it was ‘the sort of thing that happens in Oxford’ and that I shouldn’t cross them as they were all from very powerful, wealthy families.
I was, as you may be able to imagine, fairly shocked by this information. It quickly spread through the bedraggled kitchen staff, mutterings of revenge plans were hatched, even talk of waiting for this crowd of twats outside the restaurant and ‘doing them.’
However, even at our young age we all knew it was pointless, yes, we may indeed by capable of hospitalizing a few of them, but we knew they’d win in the long run, they always had and they always would.
To say this miniscule contact with the uber-elite of our small island has tainted my vision of our fair and pleasant land is to define understatement.
The pathetic, pitiful arguments put forward by members of such elite clubs that ‘it’s just the same with working class people, they behave just as badly’ or that it is some ways unfair to pick on this tiny group is only worthy of snide derision.
The fact that our current Prime Minister, no matter what his personal behavior was or is now, was once a member of such a foul cauldron of arrogance, ignorance and blatant bigotry tells us more about him than any number of policy horrors he’s ejaculating over our culture.
The play captures the frustration and anger these privileged young men experience as the paltry gains of the 99% represent to them an affront to the natural order. They were born to be in power, they scoff at our bumbling struggle toward some form of tragic equality. Anyone who isn’t like them, and there’s very few of them, is by definition scum. Women, white men who have to work, all black people, Europeans, not homosexuals strangely as many of them are just that, anyone poor, anyone struggling to feed their children and obviously anyone who doesn’t agree that they have an inbuilt, genetic level of right to rule.
Before the play we listened to a panel discussion expertly chaired by Alistair Cambell, the man behind the dodgy dossier, including Luciana Berger, Labour MP; Dr James Tilley, lecturer at Oxford in politics and international relations; Rachel Johnson, Editor in Chief of The Lady (a magazine) who is Boris (Bullingdon Club ’83) Johnson’s sister and the play’s very erudite director Lyndsey Turner.
It was short, interesting and made the entire evening highly stimulating. My 15-year-old daughter loved it, she found the play fairly disturbing. Indeed it is funny and deeply depressing at the same time.
If, as has been argued, it was a play about a bunch of white working class boys, or a bunch of young black kids and let’s face it many such plays have been produced, and they beat up a barman, the force of law would have been down on them with vengeance.
However this tiny sub-set are effectively above the law, they are the children of the men who make and manipulate the law for their own ends. Through wealth and social connection they can play the game, cheat, steal, destroy and lie their way through life while at the same time, through careful outward behavior convince the rest of us that the country is in good hands with them at the helm.
5% of our population attends expensive private school, an even smaller precentage attend Oxford or Cambridge university. A full 60% of the current government, the cabinet, are from such backgrounds. They have won, they will always win, this is what we are left with at the end of the play. They will, always, win.