I'm suffering from a severe case of the Brexit blues. Who to blame for the state of England, Albanian pimps, Polish builders, Russian Oligarchs or Romanian welfare scroungers? No, silly. Blame the Old Etonians. From Suez to Brexit, when those posh boys do politics, they almost always leave an Eton Mess.
When it comes to the subject of Eton College, I am never impartial, fair or accurate. I've hated Eton, England's most famous fee-paying boarding school, ever since they turned up in Victorian-era top hats and tails and beat our soccer team 3-1. And, not long after, it was branded when a posh girl called Georgina blew me out, aged 16, with the immortal Foxtrot Oscar, "Sorry, I only date Etonians."
Yeah, I geddit Georgina. But what makes this rinky-dink English prep school so god damned special? Founded in 1440, with 1,300 pupils and fees of $50,000 a year, no other school in England has a greater sense of its own identity, its own privilege. 19 British Prime Ministers have attended Eton, among them William Gladstone, AJ Balfour, Anthony Eden, Harold Macmillan, Sir Alec Douglas-Home and David Cameron.
Etonians themselves are strange, eccentric creatures. Cyril Connolly, an Old Etonian (OE) himself, once identified the characteristics of an ex-pupil. Adolescent (the risk-taking antics of Bear Grylls); school minded (MI6 spy Guy Burgess always wore his old school tie in Moscow exile); self-conscious (David Cameron didn't like to be seen in the Royal Box at Wimbledon); cowardly (bully boy Boris Johnson knocking down kids on the rugby pitch); sentimental (the novels of Anthony Powell, Evelyn Waugh, Ian Fleming wallow in the past); and homosexual (Boris Johnson and David Cameron once got into a homoerotic wrestling match after a policy meeting).
I'd go much further. Aryan, arrogant, bullying beyond belief, there is something repulsive in Old Etonians in a way that no other vastly over privileged school inspires. They live in a bubble of wall games and wanking. They don't know ordinary people, nor less understand them, which is why they are not fit to be leaders. Nevertheless, throughout political history, we English have always been suckers for their black-and-turquoise old school ties. Here are a few reasons why you shouldn't trust an Old Etonian.
Never put an Old Etonian in charge. They will muck things up and run off. Case in point, outgoing British Prime Minister David Cameron. Rather than negotiate a phased exit from the EU until a successor is appointed, he says "Brexit? Not my problem," and jumps ship. Ditto Boris Johnson. He sparks the biggest constitutional crisis in British political memory, and sheepishly bogs off. No moral fiber, no bloody good, typical Old Etonian behavior.
Never take an Old Etonian at his word. They can be Teflon coated fibbers. Take Boris Johnson, perhaps the best all-round example of a latter-day OE. Fired from the Times of London for fabricating quotes in 1988, it didn't stop Johnson from getting a gig at the Daily Telegraph in 1989 (a well known rack of OE ties) and writing mendacious poppycock about the European Parliament. He also lied about an extramarital affair in 2004 and got fired from the Conservative Party as arts spokesman because of it. But he's not the only one. Remember Jonathan Aitken? He's the former Conservative MP and ex-Cabinet minister who went to prison for perjury and perverting the course of justice in 1999.
Old Etonians are a social liability with a tendency to be politically incorrect. David Cameron and Zak Goldsmith were roundly condemned as "essentially racist" for suggesting that London Mayor Sadiq Khan was a friend of Muslim extremists. Boris Johnson once wrote about "piccaninnies" with "watermelon smiles" in his weekly column for the Daily Telegraph in 2002. And, when editor of the Spectator, Johnson published an article that claimed black people have a lower IQ. Then he was elected Mayor of London, one of the most cosmopolitan and racially diverse cities in the world, in 2008. Go figure.
Never ask an Old Etonian for a job. They only give those silly little things to themselves. Michael Gove once attacked the "preposterous" and " ridiculous" number of OE school ties in David Cameron's inner cabinet (Oliver Letwin, minister for government policy; Jo Johnson, head of his policy unit; Ed Llewellyn, chief of staff; and Rupert Harrison, George Osborne's chief economic adviser). And when BoJo quit as Mayor of London, fellow Old Etonian Zak Goldsmith stepped in from the wings. What was shocking was that no one made a fuss about one OE taking over from another. Fortunately, Goldsmith lost to Sadiq Khan.
"We trust an Old Etonian in this country," said the English TV presenter Dermot O'Leary. "We just do -- even if we don't know we're doing it. It's bred into us that they can run the country." The poor deluded fool. Never trust a hippy. Never trust a punk. And never trust an Old Etonian. They fuck you up, your Old Etonians. They may not mean to, but they do.