One sentence, and I was momentarily speechless. "This is [Me-as-bloke], he went to [The school I attended over twenty years ago]". Not defining me by my achievements or my relevance to the subject in hand, but by where I went to school. To be fair I think the speaker might have been using it in the context of illustrating my academic background as much as my social standing, but even then it speaks volumes that he chose to mention my schooling as opposed to my university education or nearly twenty years in industry.
Of course, it wasn't where I went to school that was of interest. What was being said was something more fundamental about how the speaker viewed me, he was saying to the other party present was simple: "This person is one of us". "Us" being public-school-educated and therefore some kind of sound chap. If only he knew, eh!
It's a sad fact that as a species we are obsessed with status. Why should it matter to someone where I went to school? And would his interest in me have waned had he known that his assumptions about me based on where I went to school are largely wrong? I doubt he knew I went to school on one of Margaret Thatcher's Assisted Places so I suspect if he had I might have been introduced in different terms. He probably wouldn't have said "Scholarship boy" in the same tone as someone like him might once have said "Fag", but suddenly where I was educated might have been less emphasised. If it had been my choice I wouldn't have told him about it because it isn't important, but sadly he's someone who knows through other means.
I find it annoying that there is such an assumption of privilege that goes with an expensive education. Both from within the "club" as with the speaker above, and from outside it. I am seeing a lot of discussion on this topic at the moment in light of the composition of our present Government, and I think that such commentary gets the relationship wrong.
Privilege does not automatically follow private education, it is private education that usually follows privilege.
My education came my way as part of a *(Delete whichever following sentence fragment your politics deem appropriate) bold experiment in social mobility/huge diversion of taxpayer's money by a Conservative government but while I wouldn't deny it has given me opportunities that I would probably never have seen had I attended my local Comprehensive, it hasn't led me to riches. Instead I had an isolated and difficult teenage period followed by a fractured career through different parts of the wilder areas of the media industry, all of which has led me to a small rental flat rather than a palatial mansion. David Cameron, Boris Johnson and their cronies are where they are not because of the school they attended but because they are dyed-in-the-wool toffs, I wish everyone would stop lumping people like me in with them by extension.