My old school has just produced an old boy’s jacket and I’m tempted to purchase one, it comes in the form of a blazer which is red, white and blue stripped and has the school moto Serve and Obey on the breast pocket.
Anyone who knows me will know I’m quite partial to a blazer and have many, some of which are quite subtle and some like the Bentley Drivers Club which has red, silver and green stripes which must have been designed by someone who was completely colour blind, even I with my mild colour blindness find it jars on the eye.
I’m unsure whether the blazer produced for The Old Haberdashers Association is stylish or as with the Bentley blazer absolutely awful, it is as I said red, white and blue stripped which may be construed as extremely patriotic or rather chavish depending on how you look at these things, although having the Serve and Obey moto on the pocket brings it back from the brink, I hope.
Having looked at the school uniform of both Eton and Harrow while their everyday wear of morning suits and boaters and the like may seem a little over the top it is still in the best of taste, however the ordinary school blazers are quite subdued being dark and with braid round the edges except when it comes to their games blazers for cricket, soccer and rugby where they really let themselves go.
It seems then that to some extent the more upmarket the school, the more lairy the blazer especially where sports are concerned or in my case the old boy’s blazer.
The saving grace of my old boy’s blazer I feel is the moto which set me wondering what the moto’s of perhaps our two finest schools might be and through the wonder of the interweb I can quote directly from both schools websites.
Firstly Eton who’s motto is often thought to be Floreat Etona, which can be translated as ‘May Eton flourish’ or ‘Let Eton Flourish’; but Esto perpetua (‘May it last forever’) came into usage if anything a little earlier. In fact, neither phrase is officially a moto; they are unofficial creations that, over time, have stuck.
Now Harrow’s Stet fortuna domus means ‘May the fortune of the House stand’. Donorum dei dispensation fedelis means ‘the faithful stewardship of the gifts of God.
Both of these quotes seem to be concerned with perpetuating the establishment and why not?
However my old school while certainly not at the bottom of the pecking order must have had a different outlook on maintaining the establishment, it is some many years since I was at school and can therefore not remember whether we were taught the meaning of the moto or whether it had any special significance, which unless I’m reading wrongly is much more subservient.
Haberdashers’ Aske’s was founded in 1690 by a Royal Charter granted to the Worshipful Company of Haberdashers to establish a hospital for twenty boarders with £32,000 from the legacy of Robert Aske (£4,300,000 in today’s money)
One was encouraged to do your best, to do your duty and as with all schools when at the Armistice Day service the names of the fallen were read out one felt there would have been an expectation that should the occasion occur we would have all gone merrily to Serve and Obey.
Whilst both my father and grandfathers all fought in both the First and Second World War I was extremely lucky not to have been called as whilst I would have been the right age, this country was not involved in the Vietnam War which means I can maintain that I would have been happy to sacrifice myself for my country in some corner of a foreign field, whether this is true or not!
There are few things which are good about getting older, however passing an age where one might be called upon to take part in a futile war has got to be one of them and I am now at the age where I would be taking part in Dad’s Army rather than the real thing.
I tend to see myself as Sergeant Wilson although others may see me more as Corporal Jones, I would certainly be useless in a modern war where everything is done by computer, men would have to run for their lives if I were to be let loose with the controls of a drone.
To end, here is the most magnificent photograph which is entitled Toffs and Toughs which portrays a group of local boys looking on with curiosity and amusement at Harrow boys in their formal uniform at the Eton vs Harrow cricket match held at Lord’s cricket ground in London.