Hot House

Not exactly untriggered

Claudia Savage-Gore on the dinner party minefield of Everyone’s Invited

This article is taken from the May 2021 issue of The Critic. To get the full magazine why not subscribe? Right now we’re offering five issue for just £10.

So if there were any proper dinner parties happening, I guarantee the chat would still be dominated by Everyone’s Invited. You can’t even refer to private education at the moment without some man in his forties semi-boasting that his alma mater has recently been called out as “a hotbed of sexual violence”.

Will’s terrible friend Crispin seemed to see it as badge of honour that his school (Kings, Wimbledon fyi) had an open letter written tosaaaa the headmaster about the grossness of the boys. He was massively disappointed when I told him Dulwich had had the same.

My psychologist friend Tamara is adamant that the worst environment of all is “mixed schools that were once boys schools”

I was mostly surprised St Paul’s Boys’ (my personal trigger point) didn’t get a letter, but maybe all of us at St Paul’s Girls’ were too unhinged or hungry to fully register the awfulness of SPB at the time. Can I say unhinged? Probably not.

But seriously, I’ve got to say, it hasn’t been un-triggering. Anyone who grew up in 90s London will remember the horror of Westminster’s Yard (if you know, you know). Also, why has nobody has staged a Me Too movement over those Justin Etzin Capital VIP balls?

Anyway, at first, when it was just the London day schools getting shamed Will started on his usual spiel about boarding schools building character — not sure if he meant that male boarders are less toxic than day boys, or female boarders less whingey than day girls — but then Marlborough and all the other mixed public schools started appearing, and he had to shut up.

Ironically, before all this I’d actually been having major second thoughts about St Paul’s Girls’ for Lyra (because eating disorders) and was thinking that maybe co-ed was in fact the way to go. And I’d come up with this whole progressive plan for Lyra and Hector to both go to Highgate, and learn not to objectify the opposite sex by actually being around them.

Which now, clearly, seems insanely naïve. So, yeah, it’s been a curveball. I can’t even bear to think of Minnie at her Bedales Lite mixed boarding school, though my psychologist friend Tamara is adamant that the worst environment of all is “mixed schools that were once boys schools”. RIP the Highgate plan. And it
would have been such a convenient school run from SJW.

Going back to the dinner party chat, the next thing everyone inevitably turns to is the how we are going to “raise a different generation of sons”. At this point someone will talk about the importance of “actually allowing boys to experience and own their emotions”. Especially the negative ones, apparently. Cue guilt and panic at all the times I’ve told Hector to cheer up, shut up, man up etc.

Cue guilt and panic at all the times I’ve told Hector to cheer up, shut up, man up etc

But come on! Kids emotions are so incredibly oppressive. And to be fair I tell the girls to shut up all the time too. Reminds me of my Austrian ex Vincent whose grandmother recorded him having a tantrum to demonstrate to him — afterwards — how “un-salon-freundlich” it was.

Not surprisingly he had massive issues, and although I acted shocked and appalled by Oma, I’m secretly afraid I’m much more like her than all the loving and emotionally engaged American mothers at Hector’s school. So I’ve been prefacing everything with: “Hecky, I know you’re feeling really FRUSTRATED right now”, without really having anything more to offer beyond this observation.

Frankly I have no idea why this should stop him ranking girls or watching creepy porn once he hits puberty, either. Something I can finally delegate to Will though, at least.

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