I had some post from my old school today. As usual, they wanted some money. I loathe my old school. I found aspects of it distasteful when I was there, but over the years I have come to despise pretty much everything that it stands for.... mostly because I believe that it is a vast waste of money and churns out a disproportionately high number of arseholes with an overly high regard for themselves*
One of the things that constantly amazes me is how much the people who attended this school have been utterly unable to move on with their lives and constantly hark back to their schooldays as the best days of their lives. Personally, I've not looked back since the day I left, but there are many people who can't face forwards: there are numerous old boy societies, there are special Lodges so you can be a freemason only with people who attended the school, there are reunions, old boy sports fixtures... and, of course, there are people who cannot think beyond sending their own children to the school in the way that their parents sent them, and their parents before them.
The school is becoming quite skilled at milking this, of course.
The post I received today was a newsletter for the charitable foundation that supports the school. It's a nice, glossy newspaper style affair and it's filled with inspirational stories of what the school has meant to various current pupils. They're looking for donations too, only not just any kind of donation. The first clue is on the enclosed form. You know how most forms like this have a number of boxes you can tick to indicate how much you want to give? £5, £10, £20, £50 or other. Well, here the boxes are £100, £250, £500, £1,000, £5,000, £10,000 and other.
Also included are helpful instructions about how you can donate land, buildings, shares or securities. There's a special team to help you to decide how to leave a legacy to the school in your will. You can plant a tree at the school: £1000 for a tree near the heart of the school, £500 for a spot a little further out. For a bargain £250 you can name a seat in the theatre. You can even donate by using everyclick.com, where every search sends money to the school.
To encourage you further to dust off your wallet, there are lists of people who have made donations (together with the years they attended the school and the house they were in). The "Shorto Society" is a list of people who have included the school in their wills; the "James Society" is for those who have donated more than £10,000; the "Percival Society" is for those people who have given more than £50,000.
They really want your money. It's not cheap to run an institution like this, you know.
Last time I checked, the fees for this school are £27, 500 for an academic year as a boarder.... which of course does not include any money that you will have to lay out of uniforms, books and stuff like that.
They own substantial amounts of property in central London.
They don't pay tax either: the School is a registered charity.
It's a joke.
They're not getting a fucking penny out of me. They've caused enough damage already. They've had their pound of flesh from my family and I reckon that they've got enough money.
* yes, this probably does include me. In the interests of balance, I should also add that almost all of my very best friends date from my school days. I like to think that they're not typical public schoolboys either. Like me, they might well have been emotionally scarred by the experience though.