A little light Eskimo baiting did us nothing but good


Related Topics
Methinks she doth protest too much! My somewhat catty colleague, Miss (Mssss!) Ann Wilson penned a characteristically contrary column in these pages last week in which she suggested that the traditional English public school was in some ways "racist" (dread accusation!).

"Pull the other one, Ann!" I wanted to scream, "It has the proverbial bells on!" Ann's experience at Rugby in the Sixties was greatly at odds with my own experience at Rugby in the Forties. As my Who's Who entry makes quite clear, I spent most of my school days at Basters Academy for Young Gentlemen, and I continue to rejoice in my position as an Old Basterd. But English and languages were thought of as sissy at Basters, which specialised in the more manly pursuits of mathematics and blood sports, so my parents (woolly liberals, alas) had me sent on day release to Rugby, where one or two of the more effeminate schoolmasters were believed to have a smattering of Shakespeare up their sleeves.

Ah, memories, memories! I look back on the time I spent at Rugby as one of innocent joy. Every morning, I would knock on the door of the Headmaster's office. After a couple of minutes in which I would listen to keys being turned and doors unbolted, I would be met by the Head Matron, a retired Sergeant-Major who had been forced to change sex after being dealt a particularly rotten hand in a game of forfeits at some point in the mid-1930s. The Head Matron would then strip-search me, forcing my buttocks apart with a pair of household pliers on the off-chance of discovering a spanner, a jemmy, a packet of Capstan or a half-bottle of Teacher's. If none were found, she would bid me forward with a gentle pat of her fully-licensed cattle prod.

Oh, balmy days of innocence and hope! I would then make my way to the Junior Gymnasium, where a small selection of Eskimos would be chained to the climbing bars. Lesser public schools dealt in the bullying of Jews, Blacks, Indians and what-have-you, but at Rugby this outdated practice was always considered wishy-washy and absurdly generalised. For this reason, a dozen Eskimos would be hired each year for the young gentlemen of the school to taunt and poke at our own discretion.

"Esky! Esky! Get back to your igloo, Esky!" we would chant while the poor Eskimos writhed and squirmed. Every now and then, one of us would have a word with the Headmaster about borrowing the school Polar Bear costume, and, fully dressed up, we would then enter the gym making Polar Bear noises - only to frighten the young Eskys out of their proverbial wits! No doubt the "caring" professions (!!!!) would now accuse us of "racism" or even "bullying". What nonsense! To my certain knowledge, not a single Eskimo ever complained (although they were gagged during daylight hours, one of them could easily have lifted an unchained toe in protest) and in many ways they enjoyed the full run of the school, save in those areas - chapel, dormitories, open spaces, classrooms, dining- halls - covered by the very neat and straightforward "Noli Esquimare" notices.

Card-carrying left-wingers such as Ann Wilson love nothing more than to wring their hands over modish worries such as "racism", "sexual abuse" and "bullying in the classroom". But I have practised each and every one of them and I can honestly say they never did me any harm. No doubt Ann also sees fit to fuss her silly little head over the so-called barbarities of the fagging system. Yet I spent three years as a fag at Basters Academy ("Come on, the Basters! Baste up, baste up, and baste the ball!"), working for a succession of fagmasters (Dr Brian Mawhinney, Michael Winner, Derry Irvine) who were to gain great distinction in later life, and I found it immensely character-forming.

Winner, for instance, would often produce a sawn-off shotgun to back up his demands for a slice of lightly buttered toast with a smattering of Gentleman's Relish. And as the years have gone by, I have come to realise that, contrary to all the received liberal "wisdom"(!), armed force can be an effective and appropriate accompaniment to any halfway- reasonable demand on our time.

So put that in your pipe and smoke it, Ann! And let me add this. By betraying the public school spirit in your column, you have revealed yourself as nothing more than a worthless little squit. You're a worthless little squit, Ann! What are you Ann? Yes - a worthless little squit! Go on, say it, Ann - SAY IT!

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
An Italian policeman stands guard as migrants eat while waiting at the port of Lampedusa to board a ferry bound for Porto Empedocle in Sicily. Authorities on the Italian island of Lampedusa struggled to cope with a huge influx of newly-arrived migrants as aid organisations warned the Libya crisis means thousands more could be on their way  

Migrant boat disaster: EU must commit funds to stop many more dying

Alistair Dawber
Illegal African migrants arrive at the port in the Tunisian town of Zarzis, some 50 kilometres west of the Libyan border after Tunisian fishermen rescued 82 African migrants off the coast of the town aboard a makeshift boat bound for the Italian island of Lampedusa  

Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

Andrew Grice
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own