Once upon a time, posh people owned their shit. By that, I mean they took great pride in owning 80 percent of Scotland, dressing exclusively in Harris Tweed and talking like they had a mouth full of swan. But those, my friends, are over. As per a news story that will surprise absolutely no one, the former headmaster of Eton-rival Harrow said this weekend that public schoolboys are speaking in "mockney" accents, in an effort to fit in when they go on to further education or are spat out into the real world where they have to socialise with people who don't have nannies.
This is, of course, nothing new: posh people have been at it for years, embarrassed by their privilege and wealth – but obviously not quite enough to actually share any of it. Below are some tales of some poor rich kids just trying to fit in. It’'s hard out here when daddy owns a yacht, OK?
1. I went to Oxford, where there was – and maybe still is? – a very well-attended club night called "Grime and Punishment", where extremely rich people dress up in Ellesse, do fake cockney accents and listen to "urban" music.
2. I'm from Northern Ireland, so I didn't really know anything about London until I moved here after graduating from university in Manchester. Loads of my friends at uni were from London, and I just took all their poverty stories at face value. My favourite is this girl who went to Lady Eleanor Holles School [fees: £6,732 per term], had her parents basically set her up with a job at Goldman Sachs through their friends, and was bought a house in Clapham after graduating, who constantly referred to herself as "having had to hustle". She weirdly also refers to herself as a "first gen immigrant", even though her parents were born in the UK and went to good London unis. She also constantly complains about the house they bought her, because she doesn't want to live in Clapham anymore.
3. I know two girls who both identify as working class who are currently having a huge row because one's dad is giving her a deposit for a flat and the other isn't. The one who isn’t getting the deposit has no uni debt because her parents paid her fees and a living allowance. They also paid for her to do a masters at LSE, and she always tells people how her aunt didn't even know it was a real university and still thinks it's a polytechnic. One of their friends self-defines as working class because her aunt didn't go to university.
4. I study music at Oxford and heard someone refer to the London Oratory as an "inner-city comprehensive". It's technically a state school, but is also one of the most established schools in the country, to the point that they have reunions at Oxford and Cambridge.
5. One of my friends went to Highgate School for Boys, and someone did a talk in assembly about someone that had been killed "on his estate", but it was actually the Holly Lodge Estate in Highgate, which is like a massive series of private roads.
6. I met this guy at uni who had gone to Eton but described himself as not being like the stereotype and more of an "Eton rude-boy". Fuck knows what that is, but he had an ear piercing and was really into rap music and drugs, in the "these things are my personality" kind of way. He was born in east London, so identified Hackney as home, even though he actually grew up in like Muswell Hill. He became a dealer in my second year and is now apparently working on a film about life in a south London estate.
7. I went to a very middle-class comp in the north of England – over 60 percent of my year had at least one parent with a university degree – and a girl from my school completely rebranded at university to impress her new privately-educated friends about her incredible ability to succeed, despite all of her "adversity". There were kids who genuinely did struggle there, but she was neither one of them nor particularly sympathetic to them. Rumour has it she wants to continue that thread in hopes of political success in the near future.
8. I had the misfortune of sharing halls with a group of boys from Harrow, Eton, Winchester, etc at an upper Russell Group university. Without exception, they all wore trackies off Depop, smoked weed at all hours, listened to grime on full blast and called each other "g" or "bruv". The police were called to our halls on a number of occasions, but the poshest guys always made sure that no one smoked in their rooms so they wouldn't get caught. Their poor friend – who'd only gone to a grammar school – ended up with a police caution. One of them kept a really low profile in the start, claiming to be from Acton. I later found out he meant Chiswick.
9. I went to college with a girl who'd gone to a private high school who constantly bragged about massive spending splurges on Gucci or going on holiday loads, but the second anyone said anything about ourselves being skint she'd talk about how she was skint too, and would always go on about her "ends" being dodgy – e.g. people running about with knives, drug dealers, etc. I later found out she lived in the part of Manchester where all the footballers live.
10. I know a girl who was privately educated all her life and is now capitalising off working class culture in the music industry. She uses London slang so people fall for it, when in reality she has a grand piano in her house and is from Kensington. She started listening to drill and grime by force to up her brand of being a working-class Londoner – she even memorised underground drill lyrics just to make sure her brand is strong.
11. Had a very posh mate who left Glasgow to go to a mad boarding school down south. After £30k fees a year she didn't get into Durham, and instead went to a uni in the north of England where she now dresses "urban" and fakes a working-class Glaswegian accent she never had.
12. I met a girl at university who was next level. I'm talking PROPER horse girl: personalised riding gear, from Surrey, lived on her parent's credit card at uni and bought every Kylie Lip Kit despite not even knowing how to blend her foundation. She started uni as a Rich Bitch, but once she realised most people were from slightly poorer backgrounds she changed. She arrived at uni never wanting people to smoke around her, but next thing I knew she was teaching herself to roll joints and having sex with her dealer for pills. She also started saying "rah" and doing gun fingers in pictures. One time she got high and listened to Big Sean "I Don't Fuck with You" at least 30 times in a row. I honestly think it might have been closer to 50 – it was awful. I've never seen a transformation quite like it.
13. I went to Westminster School, and boys used to rap battle each other all the time and speak in accents pretending to be from ends. They had grime and hip-hop themed parties that were very clearly excuses to appropriate – some people would show up in dreads, and once a boy came in blackface. Now, some of these same people run club nights in Oxford doing the exact same thing.
14. There's a girl who lives in my village who walks around in Nike tracksuits and Air Max, and speaks like she's road and spends her time in squats and free parties, but her family are literally billionaires and she's been privately educated her whole life and lives in a fuck-off mansion.
15. A guy from my very small and posh private school joined the boxing society when he started at Edinburgh University, and now he wears a lot of Lonsdale and pretends to be super hard.
16. A kid I knew when I was in college decided he was gonna try to become a rapper. He started to post videos of him spitting bars in front of his webcam on Facebook, saying things like, "Gotta make it in rap to move mumzy out the hood." You could see the grand piano and antiques on the mantelpiece in the background.
17. I know this girl who lives in a beautiful house in some private residence in Vauxhall overlooking the river, but spends her time chilling in the stinkiest blocks in Shepherd's Bush and lays hers edges. She's Russian.
18. There was a small Greek yute at uni who used to rock Akademiks, was constantly higher than heaven and claimed that the Bloods and Crips are an active underground group in London. He was a "blood" and used to go H.A.M when The Game's "One Blood" dropped, fully waving his trusty red bandana in solidarity. He also claimed to be from Kingsland Road and that he was once chased by mandem, so jammed in the Turkish off-license for cover. Turns out he was from East Sheen and went to private school.
19. This proper prissy princess type of girl – tweed jackets, ballet flats, the whole nine yards – I met at Cambridge did a full 180 rebrand after graduating and is now some kind of grime and UK rap baddie.
20. In my final year of uni I lived with a girl who constantly described herself as "poor" – in the three years we'd been friends she said her family was poor, like, all the time, and would talk about her former school like it was a failing comp. We moved in together after graduating, which is when I found out her dad was a senior partner at a corporate law firm – he paid her rent directly into my bank account – and that she'd gone to Cheltenham Ladies.
21. One of my mates once pretended to a bird that his dad was a dustbin man to sound "more common". He has not one, but two, Aga cookers.