My son, your son

The scene is the waiting room of Ridley Prep, the junior section of Ridley College, a highly regarded independent boys' day school in, let us say, Wimbledon. Mr and Mrs Upper are waiting with their son, James, who, although only ten, is in elaborate school uniform. Mr and Mrs Middle sit next to them with their son, Ben. Ben is the same age but wears trainers, tracksuit bottoms and an Oasis T-shirt

Mrs Upper James is at Chipmunks!

Mrs Middle Is that a school? Or a zoo?

(Mrs Upper laughs lightly)

Mrs Upper Chipmunks sends 50 per cent of its top stream to Ridley! James has been doing French and Latin haven't you James?

James Oui je have!

Mr Middle Ben is at the state primary. He's been doing Sexism and Wildlife. But he is close friends with a bus conductor's son!

Mrs Middle It is important for them not to be in a middle-class ghetto we feel. The state primary does produce a more rounded child we feel.

(All look at Ben who is picking his nose)

Mrs Upper Is that why you're sending him to a public (acidly) school?

Mr Middle Not really. We believe in the comprehensive system. But we didn't really like the look of our local comp. Ben plays the violin. And you can't play it there apparently.

Mrs Upper Do they have a prejudice against stringed instruments?

Mr Upper I know what you mean. The one near us is jam packed with black...er... (he manages to stop himself in time) ...railings. And there's an awful lot of bullying.

(He rounds on James)

Mr Upper Stop looking gormless. The headmaster doesn't want to see some moron walk in there...

(Mrs Middle, soothed by Mr Upper's total lack of political correctness smiles, with menacing sweetness at Mrs Upper, whose son is wiping his snot on his shirt)

Mrs Middle We feel that to start a child off in the independent sector can be too restricting. I mean I am sure Chipmunks isn't like that but some of them are just fancy dame schools with ridiculous yellow braid on the blazers for which you pay nine hundred a term.

(All look at James who is wearing a blazer with gold braid on it. He picks his nose and flicks it at Ben)

Mr Upper Well I suppose at least a primary is cheaper

Mr Middle Too right squire!

Mrs Upper Has your husband been made redundant or something?

Mrs Middle Gavin teaches Mediterranean Studies at the University of Reigate.

Mrs Upper What's that? Telling people how to shout at members of your immediate family?

(Mrs Middle is now practically squaring up to the other mother. Both men are looking at the floor)

Mrs Middle We just hate this idea that education is simply a matter of money. We only buy our children's education because Mrs Thatcher destroyed the inner London comprehensives.

Mrs Upper And the idiot Labour Government destroyed the grammar schools.

Mrs Middle And we regret that little Ben who's just been growing naturally is now going to have to be force fed with a lot of stockbrokers' sons who think culture is something that helps you survive at parties!

(Mercifully the door opens and the headmaster emerges with the Akhbar Family)

Headmaster Wonderful to meet you young Muhammed! I don't think I have ever heard a clearer explanation of the particle theory of light! Mr and Mrs Upper would you like to bring young James in!

Mr Upper Wonderful to see you again Headmaster! We met at the Chipmunks' Bring and Buy did we not?

(She turns with a triumphant grin to Mrs Middle)

Mrs Upper Best of luck to young Sid! Did you know there's a Latin component to the Ridley Exam?

Ben What's Latin?

Ben cont Only joking.

Mr Akhbar Very nice to meet you all!

(Ben gets up. The Akhbars depart, with great dignity and style, for their waiting Rolls Royce)

Ben That James looked a real tosser. Now - can we go over this again? I am not to mention the Maths tuition the Latin tuition the Greek tuition or that Dad has been tying me to the bed every night to make me finish Catcher in the Rye by well-known American author JD Salimber.

Mr Middle Salinger, you berk. And try not to use the word "tosser".

Ben I thought it was your favourite word!

Mrs Middle I didn't like the look of the Akhbars. I mean it's wonderful that Ben will be mixing with Asian boys. But they are so competitive!

(She crawls towards the headmaster's door and glues her ear to the keyhole. Ben and his father both look at the floor)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Finance & Administrative Executive

    £19000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Finance & Administrative Exec...

    Recruitment Genius: Receptionist / Administrator

    £10000 - £13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

    Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Developer

    £15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital agency is looking ...

    Guru Careers: Financial Director / FD / Senior Finance Manager

    Up to 70k DOE: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Financial Director ...

    Day In a Page

    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
    The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

    The haunting of Shirley Jackson

    Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
    Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

    Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

    These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
    Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

    Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
    HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
    Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

    'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

    Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
    Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

    The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

    Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen