Danny Finkelstein has outed me as a member of a secret society of resentful losers:
Members of the ChipOx club are everywhere. Who are they? Chippy people who went to Oxford, had an argument with a drunk aristocrat in the Balliol bar and supported the wrong candidate for Chief Breadstick in Michaelmas term. Years later, they are still struggling to get over the humiliation.
Quite a way off the mark, really, although I suppose I could invent a scene or two for my memoirs one day. I'm not chippy about Oxford. I do admit to finding the gilded Oxford media set boring and self-absorbed and rather glib, but that's another matter. (The notion that there just might be another world beyond NW1 really is hard for them to absorb.) And I do think there's an interesting conversation to be had about how Oxbridge networks proliferate in the press and elsewhere. But as I've said a few times before, it's just about impossible to do that without sounding chippy. As for David Cameron, I think it's definitely of interest that he's the product of a particularly exclusive set of institutions. Seems to me he may possibly have outgrown them, but I can't say for certain. He's an ex-PR man, after all.
Incidentally, Times commenter Peter Nolan has picked up a point in Cristina Odone's hostile column about the Bullingdon Club: "...No grammar school or state school boys, no Jews were allowed (though a rather dashing Iranian did squeak through the election process in my time)."
Meanwhile, James Delingpole, a one-time Buller wannabe, says that spending all that dosh on luxury dining togs was really all about attracting GURLS. [You have to be a Spectator subscriber to read his full confession.]
What you have to remember is that back in the late Eighties class at Oxford counted for so much more than it does nowadays... It was wholly natural in such a climate that the Buller should be the apogee of one’s social aspirations. Not only was it more famously decadent than any other society (apart from the Piers Gaveston, but that seemed to involve too much buggery), but it also had by far the most splendid uniform.
You could wear this at the Buller’s secret, ritualised dining, drinking and puking sessions but also more publicly at the Bullingdon point-to-point and at any ball where the dress code was White Tie. Possibly girls are no longer stupid enough to sleep with a man on the basis of whether or not his tailcoat is blue, buff and cream as opposed to plain black. But in those days, some of them were. A Bullingdon tailcoat might cost a grand to have made, but it was worth it because it got you laid.
Last word goes to Rowan Pelling, a chapette who never quite got the joke:
As someone who's been castigated for having a posh voice, I'm the first to agree that inverted snobbery is as insidious and hurtful as the straightforward snooty kind. Until you look at that Bullingdon photo. There's a difference between discriminating against someone because of their accent and origins and being prejudiced because a person chooses of his own free volition to don "royal blue tailcoats with ivory lapels" and behave like a congenital moron...
Arrested development is a pitifully inadequate term to cover the antics of the Bullingdon boys. And I suspect any ire roused in female breasts by the photo stem from a fairly widespread experience ofencountering this brand of emotionally stunted ex-public-schoolboy. Chaps whose interest in womankind was largely confined to whether you were called Topaz and had been to Benenden. The worst offenders were often Old Etonians. This sounds chippy, but you'd be chippy if you walked past some OE fogey in an Oxford college's grounds of a February night and heard him mutter: "Horrible women, they are melting the snow." If you were told that current Etonian slang for ugly girls was: "She mings for Greater Manchester".
Careful, Rowan, you're in danger of becoming the honorary president of ChipOx. Perhaps we should all get together and smash up a restaurant.
UPDATE: I'm glad to find that Chris Dillow agrees with me. But then he's an oik, of course.