Not so long ago I took part in a public debate on selective education where I argued that the lower orders were not worth educating because they were innately and irrevocably stupid. Immediately an angry and bitter ‘well spoken’ leftist jumped up and shouted at me: ‘How dare you! You went to privileged schools from the start.’ I replied that I did not even need to provide the category of my first school, merely its name. It was called Terrace Road School, a name straight out of The Beano. The building lay as a tall lump, an old Board School towering over a great mass of featureless terraced roads built long before. Nothing wrong with that.
Until I was five I had lived within a loving family, surrounded by a network of kindly lower middle class and respectable working class grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins of various distances and those adults awarded the honorary title of uncle and aunt. They were honest, decent bright folk who treated me with affection. Now at five the laws of the state had dumped me down on my own among a new and threatening mass of stupid and aggressive lower class five-year-olds.
My introduction to the school was made worse by the teacher in charge who a little later gave out our first book, a string of simple ill-assorted letters with bright pictures. A minute later I had come to the end of this item and told the teacher I had finished it. I had. I had begun to read at the age of three and by five I was fluent. My father would sit me on his lap and read me stories from a book. ‘What’s that word?’ I would ask, and he would tell me. Soon I could do it myself. Today such teaching is called ‘look and say’ but it was I who chose to look and to store in my mind an ever-increasing vocabulary and an insight into how English grammar works.
But then the voice of education authority in the form of a sad, drab elementary school teacher denied that I could possibly do something that came so very easily and expertly to me. I was denounced in front of the class. ‘No child of five can read,’ she proclaimed. ‘But I can,’ I said. ‘Oh no you can’t.’ I had been accused of making a false claim. I had been called a liar. Empirical reality did not come into it. I was not asked to try the book again to prove my point. The lower class derelicts all smirked. I had been brought down to their state of dire illiteracy, the one in which they would remain for the rest of their lives. Why? Because they were innately stupid. They were not in any sense handicapped. The motors of their minds were not in any way broken, but their motors were designed to be weak and slow.
The next day I set off to walk to school, a safe and easy walk of a few streets in those days when petrol was rationed and child molesters cautious. I never got there. I couldn’t face going back to that awful school. I was going to stay out a suitable length of time and wait until the school emptied and I could go home quietly just as if I had really been there. However, some busybody saw me looking harmlessly into the window of a little shop and called the police. I was told to get into a police car by a friendly policewoman who told the driver to take us all to my home. I was vague about where I lived and implied that I did not know the way. We had a pleasant little jaunt, the policewoman being solicitous and the male driver much amused. A bright five-year-old is less trouble and more fun than your average lower class adolescent hoodlum. When we got back home, my aunt, a sensible woman, thanked the police who left without fuss. I told her about the book. She knew I could read because she had seen me do so regularly. The next morning I was taken back to the school who had no idea what to do with this ugly intelligent duckling. I was now plonked down among seven-year-old girls who tried to mother me. None of them could read as well as I did. I was stuck with a reading age of ten and the social skills of a five-year-old. Imagine that, you sneering pompous equality-mongers who called my childhood privileged. I was rescued from my school and the lower orders by illness, first by bad asthma and then a serious kidney disorder. I could no longer run. This at least permitted me to stay at home far from the silly sports and intermittent threats of violent bullying that pervade any lower class area. I was left to my books.
In my last days at the school before I went to hospital the morlocks used to sit on the floor of the hall and chant their ‘tables’ which in those days went up to 144 because there were 12 pence to the pound. I pretended to join in. I never ever bothered to learn my tables. Early on I had noticed that you could get away with doing them only up as far as 5 and remembering that all the other numbers are 10 minus one of the smaller numbers. What is 8? 8 is 10 minus 2. Meanwhile back in the classroom the Neanderthals were learning to read through a method called phonics – phoney-ics. C-A-T they chanted, meaning a feline. I knew that these sounds made up CARTER. I have no objection whatsoever to people being taught in this way. Dim people are unable to think, but they often have a very good capacity for learning by rote. Let them learn whichever way is best for them, but please give freedom to the bright five-year-olds who can think. Equality is theft and this is just as true of our minds as of our possessions. We must resist the equality-mongers of the tainted left before they steal the minds of the next generation and hand them over to people who will never be able to use them.
The only useful skill I acquired from those vicious lower class morons with whom I was incarcerated was to be able to throw stones, to throw them hard and accurately. I was aided by my early intuitive notions of how to throw in two different parabolas. I have rarely used these skills in later life, except on one occasion when I had to repel an attack by savage baboons lurking in the trees in Uganda. One day I will tell you how to do it.
I am quite happy to recognise that the school experiences of my sneering prep-school reared left wing critics were much, much worse than mine. During the whole of my young life I had a room and bed in my own home. Until I went youth hostelling as a teenager I never had to freeze or sweat in an ill-designed dormitory. In all my days I have never experienced the fear of being forcibly buggered at night by a dormitory monitor. There was very little corporal punishment in any of my schools. There were no cold, wet cross-country runs with my being shouted at by some sadistic pervert when a little asthmatic boy couldn’t keep up. I can easily see why such a far nastier childhood than mine would have driven those who suffered from it into the paths of radicalism and rejection of their own people. As a follower of Vilfredo Pareto I can see why in consequence they would idealise the plebs and the proles whom they could see as their fellow sufferers, though it has to be said that radicals of this kind nowadays tend to prefer lower class black drug-dealers. But why is the bitterness of these traitors to their class more valid than the bitterness that shapes my hatred of equality?
I knew the workers better. They were my father’s father, a respected Welsh-speaking coal miner active in local affairs but often unemployed, and my mother’s father, who operated the time clock in a local tin-plate factory and was a Nonconformist deacon. These decent working men were a class apart from the lower class scum with whom I was forced to go to school.
Later by chance I came to lecture about social stratification in a university department of sociology in the North of England known for its stress on the mendacious leftist analysis of society within the Marxist tradition, in which the working class is a single unitary unit. I told my students that there were key divisions between the skilled workers, the reliable and respectable workers and those known by the technical sociological term, Scum. The students were delighted. They knew from their own experience that I was telling it like it was.
This article appears in the current edition of the Salisbury Review.[pullquote]
The late Christie Davies held a doctorate in Social and Political Sciences from the University of Cambridge. He travelled extensively in the Arab world and gave presentations at Israeli universities
A few days before his death Christie asked us to publish ‘My First Day at School’ and although dying from cancer asked the nurses to stop his morphine so he could edit it. It is an attack on the title of those who rule our education system. What right, he asks, have these bully boys and time servers to steal a child’s genius so they may continue to govern? Christie was right when he declared ‘Equality is theft’.
Had he published this in his lifetime he would have been ruined. But he is now; polymath, humorist and exceptional scholar, beyond their reach. A loss to independent scholarship, a good friend to the Salisbury Review and an outstanding contributor; who will be greatly missed.