The title of the article is I thought I’d made it when I got to Cambridge University. How wrong I was.
Around me, students effortlessly parted with well over £100 for that one night out. I could only struggle to do the same, so I applied to work for half of the ball in order to enjoy the other half for free. It soon dawned on me that, for a working-class student, a Cambridge education did not give me equal status.
I mean, yeah. It stands to reason. Expensive entertainment is for those who can pay for it. It’s OK if you can’t. It’s not compulsory, I believe?
I had hoped to pursue journalism. But in the work is often inconsistent and poorly paid
Again, duh! The humanities are poorly paid, in general. Either you are okay with that or, if it’s upwards social mobility you are seeking, then why not study something more practical?
I worry, too, that I do not display the “polish” that many recruiters seek. At one of the first talks I attended at university, the speaker made several references to 17th-century French politicians and compared them with contemporary British MPs. Each of the examples were greeted with bursts of laughter. Did I keep missing the punchline? How was I expected to know the biography of Louis XIV?
How are you expected to know the biography of Louis XIV? Through education. Or curiosity and self-education. Or, you know, don’t. Some people know about Louis XIV, some don’t; some people have broader education; some narrower. It’s OK.
As I navigate Cambridge, I often feel alienated as student colleagues confidently charm their way through conversations – referencing their favourite poetry by the likes of Keats, Browning and Hardy. I could not name a single title.
As above: it’s good to realize where blank spots in your education are and how you feel about them. If you have enough curiosity and motivation, go explore those poets. If you don’t — then don’t. It’s OK not to know poetry, I guess (I don’t). Just don’t go on about feeling alienated.
At Eton they learn the art of “oiling”: how to charm your way to success. Maybe that’s how Boris Johnson got into Downing Street: not by merit or hard work but because of his lessons in charm and persuasion.
I mean, really! If Boris has learnt his lessons in charm and persuasion so well, then why is it not through his "merit" or "hard work" that he has perfected them so?