Notebook

Etonians, it is alleged, have problems with such banal conventions as the traffic code. In the old days they disregarded licensing laws. Among Etonians (the accusation has been levelled at myself) the existence of a servant class is taken for granted.  I have an Etonian friend whose routine, even when young, was invariably, on arriving in any bar or hotel, to ask for something not available. “God,” he would moan, as the hapless waiter went in search of it, as if to say that nothing could be relied on. If the commodity or service was produced, he felt satisfied at having insisted on maintaining standards; if it wasn’t, he experienced a mild sense of thwarted superiority. Perhaps so much savoir faire does imply ownership of a kind.

“Etonians are good to be around,” the psychologist Oliver James (also an Etonian) says. “They have a fundamentally optimistic view of life. Temperamentally, they’re Bertie Woosters. If the sun shines on you for so much of your early life, you tend to think it has been put there for that express purpose.”

Nick Fraser, “The Importance of Being Eton”.

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