Romance writer Chloe Thurlow

Literary romance

Eton Wall Game, Brexit and Confusion by Design

The Eton Wall Game is only played at Eton, the poshest school in the world. It has rules only Etonians can follow and is laced with words like ‘bully’, ‘furk’ and ‘calx’, which only Etonians understand.

The purported purpose of the Eton Wall Game is to score a ‘shy’ by running a ball up a curved brick wall built in 1717. Once a ‘shy’ has been achieved, players can attempt to convert the ‘shy’ into a goal. The field has two ‘goals’, one an old garden door, the other a tree.

The last goal scored in the Eton Wall Game was on St Andrew’s Day in 1909, an occasion still spoken of with nostalgia as is, for example, England’s surprise victory over the French at Agincourt on 25 October 1415, St Crispin’s Day – and a sign, surely, that God, as the English believe, is an Englishman.

‘The Eton Wall Game is exceptionally exhausting and is far more skilful than might appear to the uninitiated,’ it clarifies at ‘The skill consists in the remorseless application of pressure and leverage as one advances inch by painful inch through a seemingly impenetrable mass of opponents. Few sports,’ it adds, ‘offer less to the spectator.’

The rules of the Eton Wall Game change depending on where the players are positioned on the field, sometimes they can touch the ball with their hands, sometimes not.

To an outsider, the game appears to be just a lot of posh boys barging each other and rolling about in the mud as they move the ball without touching it with their hands or feet. When someone picks up the ball and kicks it, no one knows why except boys who went to Eton. That’s really the point. The Eton Wall Game is designed to confuse, unsettle and demoralize, make the uninitiated seem ill-informed, unattractive, badly-dressed with the wrong shoes, déclassé, oiks and outsiders.

The Prime Minister, David Cameron went to Eton at the same time as his boyhood rival, Boris Johnson. Cameron wasn’t the captain of his team in the Eton Wall Game. Johnson was, a wily, skilful, tough, unscrupulous, ball-hugging opportunist greatly admired by his peers. And no doubt the Old Etonian Peers lining the red benches in the House of Lords.

Cameron and Johnson both had their hearts set on being Prime Minister. Cameron got there first. Will Johnson follow one day? It is not unusual if you attend Eton. Three old Etonians in 10 years from 1955 to 1964 took the top job: Anthony Eden, Harold Macmillan and Earl Alex Douglas-Home (pronounced Hume, for the ill-informed and uninitiated). 

To the Etonian list of PMs we can add Robert Walpole (1721–1742); John Stuart (the Earl of Bute); George Grenville; William Pitt the Elder (Marques of Rockingham); Frederick North; William Grenville (Lord Grenville); George Canning; Arthur Wellesley (Duke of Wellington); Charles Grey (Earl Grey); William Lamb (Viscount Melbourne); John Russell (Earl Russell); Edward Smith-Stanley (Earl of Derby); William Ewart Gladstone; Robert Gascoyne-Cecil (Marquess of Salisbury); Archibald Primrose (Earl of Rosebery); Arthur Balfour.

There are in England major public schools, like Eton, and minor public schools, which are not worth mentioning. Aside from Prime Ministers schooled at Eton, the majority of British Prime Ministers in the last 300 years attended the other major public schools such as Harrow (Winston Churchill and the present chancellor George Osborne), Winchester, Charterhouse, Rugby and Westminster.

One should add at this point that public school in England means private school – as the Ministry of Defence deals with war and the Ministry of Health looks after the sick. At least, that was its purpose when launched by a Labour Government in 1947, although many observers have noted that since Jeremy Hunt (Charterhouse) took on the ministerial portfolio it appears the current political resolve is to dismantle the beloved NHS into bite size pieces easy to swallow by circling hedge funds.    

While 7% of children in the UK attend private schools, those at major public schools number less than 1%. These schools, including Eton, having charitable status, a form of subsidy granted to the richest people in the land.

Eton Wall Game RULES

Britain is ‘deeply elitist’ according to a report by the government’s Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission. People educated at public school and Oxbridge create a ‘closed shop at the top’ and elitism ‘is so embedded in Britain that it could be called social engineering.’

Of course Old Etonians and Harovians don’t just become Prime Ministers – they sit around the Cabinet table at 10 Downing Street (‘…a preposterous number in the present Cabinet,’ according to Michael Gove); some 70% of top judges went to the best schools; they rule unelected from the House of Lords; top civil servants, army officers, leading businessmen, diplomats, spies, university chancellors, even cricket and rugby captains – though not football, a game for plebs.

With sporadic, usually short periods of power by Liberal and Labour Governments in the last century, for most of the last 300 years, the same class of men who, apart from holding most of the top jobs, own the land and country estates – places like Downton Abbey. They are the ‘in’ group, the chosen, the inheritors of wealth and titles who habitually know each other’s families (“If we don’t know them they can’t be worth knowing!”). They wear the esoteric ties and know the secret rules to such distractions as the Eton Wall Game and have ruled the British 93-99% for so long it seems the people are unable to take charge of their own destiny.

They voted Brexit without fully understanding that ‘brexit’ is just another word in the lexicon of the Eton Wall Game played out between Cameron and Johnson who, through ‘the remorseless application of pressure and leverage’ advanced ‘inch by painful inch through a seemingly impenetrable mass’ to score a ‘shy’ although, not quite the goal Boris had anticipated when he betrayed his old school chum to enter the the Brexit camp which he never truly believed in.

Brexit for 93% of Brits isn’t a ‘shy’. It is an own goal in their own incomprehensible wall game where the rules require players to bash their own heads against a wall until their brains turn to mush and their sole guide to the future is the faces of the Conservative Party contenders for the PM’s job beaming out from The Daily Mail and Rupert Murdoch’s Sun and The Times. There will be an election in September for a new Prime Minister. Mr Murdoch knows who will win. He will decide.

The job of the government is twofold: it must assist and encourage business to create jobs that provide working people with a means to make a living. And, secondly, it must then protect the working people from unscrupulous or prejudicial activity by business to the detriment of their workers – zero hour contracts without holidays or health care, raiding pension funds, unfair dismissal, banning trade unions.

Since the 2008 financial crisis, the government in the UK, and much of the world, has forgotten the second part of their twofold role. They have provided business with greater freedom to create unbalanced contracts and deprived working people of the right to earn a leaving. Through austerity measures to assist the banks, 20% of the population of the UK (formerly the 5th richest country in the world) now live on or below the poverty line, while one million people – the majority working families, the families the Conservative Party promised to protect, and who voted for Brexit, now use food banks.

The Eton Wall Game is a metaphor. For Etonians, life is a game played behind a curved wall with rules they don’t have to follow. Boris may not be the new Prime Minister in 2016, but the unwritten rules of the game state that he probably will be at some time in the future. I mean, he did go to Eton.

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4 Discussions on
“Eton Wall Game, Brexit and Confusion by Design”
  • Interesting article, as always, Chloe. Have to wonder how many of those ‘happy chappies’ who ran the country experienced the shock of a cane across the buttocks at Eton and Harrow.
    I have to disagree about your analysis of Brexit, sounds like it comes from one of the disadvantaged, as many undoubtedly are. As an expat Brit though, now a loyal Aussie, my sympathies were with the Brexiteers, especially after reading of the acute misery in the north of England which ‘Europeanisation’ has brought to the denizens.
    But let’s not allow politics to ruin a nice relationship. Just keep writing such entertaining musings and I’ll keep reading :-)

    • I think they banned caning at public schools, which is probably the root of the problem. Sadly, as a result off Brexit, the country is divided & confused. With Scotland seeking independence and Ireland unification, what will be left is not Great Britain but Little England.

  • If enough people had your fine perception then we wouldn’t be in the mess we are now in.

    Sadly, though, not quite enough people intuitively understand the driving forces behind British politics that you have so finely described, and so our country has been ravaged by unnecessary privatisations, unnecessary wars, an almost total loss of necessary council housing, the iniquity of zero hours contracts, the avaricious attacks on our National Health System, the greed of deregulation with the ensuing financial crash of 2008, and now the loss of membership of the European Union and possibly the loss of Scotland.

    The solution has always been in the hands of the electorate but many willingly aquiesce in this folly through a lack of perception, and with prejudice, bigotry, and a lack of compassion fill the vacuum.

    All I desire is fairness, health, education, and prosperity, for all of our population.

    I have voted at every General Election in the last 42 years, and only once has the party I voted for succeeded to Government.

  • Thanks to tabloid headlines claiming the ‘experts’ couldn’t be trusted the whole country swallowed lie upon lie and I think a lot of people are now regretting putting the X in the wrong box. Spain stopped being a world power when it lost its last two colonies – Cuba and the Philippines – in 1898. They still have not recovered.

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