OUT TO LUNCH
Could I ask you for a moment to cast your mind back to the days of yore when we had things called ‘pubs’ or ‘bars’. These were public places where people would gather to consume alcohol, eat food, chat up barmaids, play darts, participate in quizzes and enjoy conversation without having to observe this strange phenomenon known as social distancing.
Often the pub would provide live music and on one or two nights a week a chap would turn up with his guitar and a box of electronic tricks designed to simulate the four missing members of the band.
As a former drummer I felt this was rather discriminatory because I never saw anyone turn up at a pub with a drum kit and a box of tricks designed to simulate organs, guitars and saxophones. But this may just be one of my many deep rooted insecurities.
Anyway, the chap with the guitar would turn up and play his heart out while everyone was drowning out his sterling efforts by talking. Occasionally somebody would take notice and applaud but for the best part of the evening he may just as well have not been there.
Then he strikes up the opening bars to Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and the cognoscenti in the pub stop babbling and take notice. How will he cope with the guitar solo in the middle of the song they wonder? It turns out that he copes with it very well indeed. In fact, Jimmy Page himself would have been impressed and when the song ends some of the punters go up to him to thank him and congratulate him on his guitar artistry, telling him that he is every bit as good as the legendary Mr Page.
He nods and thanks them as they drop a few extra coins in the beer mug placed on top of his guitar speaker. Yes, he thinks to himself, he is every bit as good as Jimmy Page but he isn’t Jimmy bloody Page and never will be. He is a struggling musician looking for a big break, playing in pubs for beer money and there are at least a few thousand like him spread all over cities around the world.
Chances are that the big break will never materialize just as the hopes of kids growing up in poor areas to be selected to play for Manchester United or become mega-rich rappers will come to nothing.
Despite all the current ‘woke’ demands for equality life is, and will remain, horribly unfair for most of us as only the truly talented and incredibly lucky will ever make it to the top of the heap. The majority of us will just rub along as part of life’s chorus leaving absolutely nothing to posterity. So much for equality.
Despite such hard realities recent events suggest that a large part of humankind has not received the memo, and the worship of mediocrity, sense of victimhood and our apparent keenness to celebrate the lowest common denominator may well cause us to self destruct eventually.
One might have hoped that there would be the odd oasis of hope amongst this gloomy scenario but it seems not. Even Oxford University, which dates back as a place of great learning to the 11th century, has been bullied by the mob into removing the statue of a man whose legacy allowed many who would otherwise have been unable to afford it to receive an Oxford education. The tragedy is that it is many of these recipients of Rhodes’ largesse, people such as Eusebius McKaiser, who are demanding his statue be removed from Oriel College because it ‘makes them feel uncomfortable’. This obviously wasn’t a problem while his legacy was paying for everything.
Here at home that bastion of educational privilege, The Diocesan College (Bishops), has its own peculiar problems as this year’s matrics have drawn up a list of 20 non-negotiable ‘demands’. Presumably if they are not met then the school library will have to be torched.
When the news broke about the Bishops brats’ demands they were so outlandish that I thought it had to be fake news; possibly circulated by a jealous rival in the Natal Midlands. But clearly it isn’t and I have subsequently heard horror stories of similar demands being made at other elitist schools as well as compulsory mourning at the death of the now beatified George Floyd. At one private school in Gauteng the staff were ordered to lie face down on the floor for two minutes as a mark of respect for the late lamented felon. And like good little lambs they did just that.
If I had made ‘demands’ similar to the Bishops brats then my father would have given me a good hiding since he was paying my school a large amount of money every year to toughen me up for life’s little ups and downs. Annual fees for a boarder at Bishops are around R277 000 and that probably doesn’t include extra curricular activities like after-hours water polo lessons. Looking at the list of demands I wonder whether parents think this is money well spent.
The ‘decolonisation’ of the school syllabus is, predictably, one of the key points. Among the other demands are that ground and cleaning staff’s children should have access to the same bursaries that are made available to teacher’s children. They should also have access to better food and facilities. That’s easily done by hiking the school fees by 15%. Hope Daddy doesn’t mind.
Another demand is that the school’s oppressive and discriminatory hair policy be abolished. As someone who regularly missed the Sunday haircut inspection at my school I am totally supportive although long unkempt hair doesn’t really go that well with an elitist school uniform and those school photos can come back to haunt you in later life.
The demand for safe spaces and forums for vulnerable students where such students can “seek refuge from the harms Bishops confronts them with” makes you wonder whether the school fees are a tad excessive. I know of many places where vulnerable people could be made to feel ‘unsafe’ at a fraction of the cost of a Bishops school fee. Just to be clear how safe these safe spaces need to be the little darlings have added “Under no circumstances should white people enter POC safe spaces, and non LGTQI+ people should not be allowed in queer places”. I should think not. Nobody wants a butch heterosexual prefect wandering in when you’re trying to have your wicked way with a fellow pupil in your queer place.
Oddest of all though is the demand of the establishment of a feminist society to promote womxn’s (sic) empowerment and the eradication of rape culture at Bishops. Starting a feminist society at an all boy’s school is a bold move indeed and certainly a giant leap forward from the model airplane society my school offered. But the news that there is a rape culture at Bishops has to be very disturbing, particularly for anyone with young daughters living in the Rondebosch area. They should put more bromide in the tea.
The school’s governing body has until June 28th to agree to all these demands and I have no doubt that many hours have already been wasted as frightened adults try to work out how to appease undisciplined school-kids from wealthy backgrounds while not being seen as a complete pushover.
Guy Pearson, the newly retired principal of Bishops must count himself as one of the luckiest men alive to be out of all this.