Check this out.

The Funny Part
– Their…interesting looks – proof of inbreeding to keep the blood pure and blue! It’s got to be.

The Deadly Serious and Angry Part

That strange woman wittering on about the girls being the “high achievers” of the future – yeah, because middle-class Oxbridge graduates are more likely to succeed in high-profile jobs such as lawyers. For a working-class worm like myself, law is pretty unreachable.

Oxbridge itself is a joke. You know they claim to be accepting more and more children from working-class backgrounds? Well, their theory is pleasant enough but it doesn’t work particularly well. In our state schools, we don’t get access to “the classics” or a chance to “read around the subject”, thus exposing ourselves to the kind of enlightenment afforded the private school bunch. Our classrooms are packed with thirty-plus pupils – all it takes is for one kid to disrupt the lesson and we end up with a five-minute teacher-pupil battle of wills before getting the lesson back on track. How are we supposed to further ourselves if we’re struggling to get through set course material in the first place? It’s hopeless. If you’re thinking of commenting to tell me that I’m wrong, I’m ever so sorry, sir or madam, but please go and fornicate with yourself using a lacrosse stick. I KNOW what it’s like because I HAVE BEEN THERE.

Nonetheless, I got to the stage where I was called to interview at Oxford. This, my tutor mused, was unusual, because I had a mix of As and Bs at AS level, and the Oxbridge brigade have a complete aversion to the corpulent second-best grade. I’m aware that I’m now going to sound like a bitter reject, so before we continue, I would like to state that I am extremely glad I escaped Oxford. I would have been wedged between a working-class family and middle-class fellow students, taken too far from my roots to return and be grateful, and not able to play with the big boys and keep up with the Harrington-Smythes due to my state education. I would have been entirely unhappy being something stuck in the middle, an outcast in both major sectors of my life.

I believe that I was interviewed because:

a) They saw my surname. My surname isn’t English. It’s Maltese. A mixed-race child? Score one for the Equal Opportunities team.

b) They knew I was from a state school and was studying at a state college. I was a clear example that they were therefore giving both working- and middle-class pupils a chance. A mixed-race working-class child?! Someone had an orgasm whilst sorting the paperwork, I imagine.

In short, I was the unfortunate pleb that made up part of their required equal opportunities quota, if they have such a thing.

But in interview, that’s where it fell apart. I grit my teeth and act in interviews. I hate the fuckers. I feel nervous and inadequate every time I’m seated before someone in a suit. So I gritted my teeth and beamed and acted like Sarah forking Bernhardt. But here’s the deal-clincher. Prior to prising our tender bodies apart with their clipboards, they asked us to make a list of books we’d read in the past year, so I did. One of the books was Jane Austen’s ‘Northanger Abbey’, which is tedious and which I never wish to subject myself to again.

In interview, in a high-ceilinged room that looked like how I imagine Mr Jaggers’s office to be, I was surrounded by three professors, two male, one female, two on my right, one on my left. They seemed to find it incredibly difficult to smile. I was, naturally, terrified of them.

One of the bright sparks in the group decided to question me on “the importance of distance in ‘Northanger Abbey’ and its effect on Catherine.” …Sounds simple enough? If I had to concoct an essay on it, I’d find it fairly easy.

How do you read a book, when you read it just once, and for pleasure? Do you take notes, underline, annotate, prepare yourself for potential interview questions on the contents? No? Surprisingly, neither do I! So when this GEM of a question was fired at me, I had nothing. I said things, things came pouring out of my mouth, but I can’t recall what they were, let alone if they were any good. I was out of my comfort zone and feeling like I’d been ripped apart publicly.

We’re not taught, in our overcrowded state schools, how to read that deeply and intelligently. And I’m aware that some, regardless of their working-class status, get in to Oxbridge. I’m not suggesting that the interview questions require dumbing down. I’m pondering why we need Oxbridge at all. In a perfect world, the same money and attention would lavished on every school and every pupil, and we’d all be as able as each other. We can’t shot of this class rift in reality – it’s been around for too long. People on the right side of it enjoy it. People like me have to grin and bear it, and keep fighting for opportunities.

And the debutantes can float around in their pretty dresses, looking vacant and trying to speak around their buck teeth. Tally ho Jenkins, to the drawing room!

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