(Photo by H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Getty Images)

Valuable life lessons

How to upset a “socialist” friend

Hot House Magazine

This article is taken from the December/January 2023 issue of The Critic. To get the full magazine why not subscribe? Right now we’re offering five issues for just £10.

So I had dinner with friend Jazzy — the one who performatively sends her kids to a state primary — and she was up in arms about the bloody school. AGAIN. Fuelling my theory that her whole decision to swerve the London prep nightmare has actually made her about 83 per cent more stressed and self-righteous. As opposed to richer, more relaxed and smug about her socialist credentials — which was the object of the exercise.

Meanwhile she always gives me some passive aggressive crap about her children not “growing up in a bubble”. Which is debatable, considering the school they go to is in Kensal Rise and the parents are all Soho House members and/or Booker prize listees.

This was read as a covert way of accusing Jazzy of being an avaricious bitch

I mean, Tatler put it in its token “best state school” slot in the schools guide FFS. Presumably because some broke trustafarian had no choice but to send her kids there. Rather disproving Jazzy’s intention that her kids should “learn to speak to anyone”.

Anyway, back to Jazzy’s current beef with the school. Basically loads of the big independent London secondaries have asked the headmistress to put forward the school’s most gifted children for intensive bursary grooming. And Jazzy’s son Wes wasn’t picked. For any of the schools.

Cue meltdown from Jazzy, followed by major row with her husband Roscoe, since the party line is that their kids are going to a comprehensive anyway. When they’re clearly going to cave and send him off to Highgate, bursary or not.

I then put my foot in it, by pointing out that maybe the head thought Jazzy and Roscoe wouldn’t require help with future school fees, and so decided to put forward a needy Booker-parent’s child instead? This was read as a covert way of accusing Jazzy of being an avaricious bitch

Christmas is always a grim feeding frenzy of Amazon Prime purchases and not a photogenic and charming Liberty window display

If they genuinely are sending Wes and his sister Portia off to Grange Hill, I don’t really get why it matters. Made this point to Will, who reminded me I cried for weeks when Hector didn’t get into Westminster Under School. Speaking of competitive parents, my friends with kids approaching A-levels (how can I be this old? HOW?) are all obsessively booking their kids into Oxbridge “summer camps”. These are an actual thing, where teenagers go and have the “Oxford/Cambridge experience” before applying.

No chance of our oldest Minnie going to either, so we’ll be spared the seismic buzzkill of paying for our child to spend a week punting and pretending to consider colleges, only for them not to get an actual offer the following year.

On the subject of buzzkills, I’ve massively depressed myself by looking at too much tablescaping on Instagram and am now in a gloom-hole about the way Christmas is always a grim feeding frenzy of Amazon Prime purchases and not a photogenic and charming Liberty window display. Which brings me to my other annual aesthetic misery, Hector’s school’s insistence on a sodding “Living Advent Calendar”.

The deal is that each household gets a different date in December and has to decorate a prominent window in their house in due festive style. Which would be fine (if extremely inconvenient) if only we didn’t literally live on the same street as a famous architect — whose son is also in Hector’s class. GAH.

I will never forget the shame of unveiling our sad pile of red and green baubles and stars Blu Tacked to the shutters last year, when said family’s bay window was ablaze with Brutalist interpretations of Advent. Merry fucking Xmas.

Enjoying The Critic online? It's even better in print

Try five issues of Britain’s newest magazine for £10

Critic magazine cover