A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that


Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Hooptedoodle #123 - The Stockdales


Though it sometimes still surprises me, my son attends a private school. Politically I am not awfully comfortable with private schools for a number of reasons, the most obvious being the cost and the fact that I’ve already paid enough taxes to provide a number of state educations. I am also aware that the Merchant schools in Edinburgh used to teach their children to believe that they were better than other kids because they could afford a private education, which I find pretty disgusting.

Whatever, given our rural location and the class sizes in the local schools, we opted to send Nick to a little private school in a neighbouring town, and we don’t really have many regrets – he has been happy and has done well. On the other hand, we have met some people there that normally we would have gone some distance to avoid.

In other circumstances, I would never have come across the Stockdales, for example. Mr Stockdale and his brother inherited a very successful business from their father, and – despite what you might think about the general state of the economy at present – they are rolling in money – can’t find enough ways to spend it.

Mrs S delivers her kids to school in her choice of some half-dozen or so SUVs they have – all Mercs and Lexuses and similar, with vanity plates – showing more jewellery than the average coronation. Mr S collects golf equipment and cars. Cars and more cars. He has (or had, I can’t keep track – in any case, keeping track might suggest that I am interested…) a Bentley and a couple of Ferraris, and he has recently purchased a Lamborghini (pictured), which retails in this part of the world at a cool £265,000. The reason I know about this is because young Stockdale has been bragging about it to his classmates. Young Stockdale brags about his parents’ wealth a great deal, apparently – this is uncomfortable. First of all, we have to handle the problem of explaining to our lad why we don’t have that kind of purchasing power. Then there is the matter of Young Stockdale himself – he spent the last couple of years telling his chums that they had better be careful with the school library books, since his dad had donated them. Now Young S is school captain, which – for a while – he interpreted as a licence to bully the rest of the kids and shout at them. That seems to have calmed down a bit now, so I guess that someone on the school staff managed to summon the tact to address the matter without compromising the donations.

We should all be grateful, I can see that. I also see that I have to be very careful that I do not appear envious, and – dammit – that I am sure in my heart that I am not actually envious. We have to take the opportunity to explain to Nick that, in a world where the economy is broken – largely as a result of greed – and where the price of a Lamborghini would feed a Sudanese village for years, it is maybe not such a glamorous thing to throw money around in this way. We laugh about the Stockdales’ latest exploits. Privately, I look forward to Young Stockdale moving on to secondary school after the summer, where he will become a rather smaller fish and will, with luck, get kicked into shape. After the summer I shall probably never hear about his family again – in an odd way, I shall miss them a little. Like a weekly cartoon strip.   

17 comments:

  1. Sounds like a charming fellow. He'll go far.

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  2. That made for a good read :-) It's sometimes difficult to explain to children that money is not everything, especially when it's being flaunted so obviously. I fall back on the old socio-historical perspective - "not so long ago your ancestors would have been living in cramped housing conditions, six to a room, barely enough food to eat" .... "you see how lucky you are", But it only takes a school friend with the latest i Phone to kick that one out of touch! (what is it with 12 year olds taking £400.00 phones to school for Gods sake?).

    But you paint an amusing picture of master Stockdale and his parents, don't you think those who flaunt wealth like that are often less than well rounded human beings? I think you said all the right things to young Nick.

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    1. Hi Lee - I believe that the son is just sadly disadvantaged by his circumstances! - Mr S is a magnificent example of how to splash money around while demonstrating to the world that he is, in fact, an arse.

      It is sad, but this flaunting of wealth seems to reach its peak when times are generally difficult - must be much more satisfying to be envied by even more people who are struggling. I am a big fan of technology, but I really believe that any kid who is daft enough - and allowed - to take an iPad or an expensive smart phone to school should be required to hand it in on arrival, and collect it when going home.

      But that's just me, of course...

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  3. Ah the Stockdales. I've come across a variety of Stockdales over the years from early days - Dad was a chauffeur: lots of interesting stories. I can safely say that we're free to feel envy (it isn't really a sin), disgust or even hatred because it won't matter a jot to them. As I grub around in the trough at the bottom of the ladder I take comfort in my anonymity because their gaze never falls on the likes of me. It's too firmly fixed on their peers and those on the next rung.

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    1. That's right - there is always anxiety - imagine if someone bought a Bugatti Veyron...

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    2. Or keyed the Lamborghini . . . .

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  4. Over the years, I've spoken to many people who send their kids to private schools or who are considering it, and the subtext of their reason in some cases (in amongst all the understandable concerns) is that they don't want their children mixing with certain sorts of people. Your story just shows that there are unpleasant people in all classes.

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    1. Indeed so - interesting that the word class always sneaks into this kind of discussion. In this particular context, the possession of money does not appear to correlate to any measure of social standing or importance in the community - some people are just yobs with more money than others. These problems at the school seem to have emerged in the last year or so - maybe hormonal developments at private schools involve comparisons to see who has the biggest wedge? I really wouldn't know - my experience is limited. In Liverpool, when I was a boy, private schools existed so that people who were rich enough could avoid the stigma attached to their children failing the old Eleven-Plus, and they were regarded as something of a joke (though they used to offer nice teas at the cricket matches).

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  5. Heh, where can you cut loose with a Lamborghini on the crowded roads of the UK, or anywhere for that matter ? Unless the car sees some track time, it's all about showing off, isn't it ? Anyway, the Stockdales made for an entertaining post.

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    1. Spot on - I understand that the Lambo has a top speed of 219mph, which is some 170mph faster than the safe limit on some of our quieter roads here. I do hope he doesn't damage the thing, or all our insurance premiums will be up next year.

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  6. Just don't look up 'Affluenza' and the Texan teen it is too depressing...

    Cheers,

    Pete.

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    1. I had a peek - story is at

      http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/06/texas-teenager-affluenza-escapes-jail-second-time

      Yes, it is depressing. Perhaps the most sinister aspect is that Affluenza is being promoted as a condition, which makes the guy into a sort of victim, with behaviour which is explained in terms of a situation beyond his control. The British press invented Road Rage some years ago as a fake condition which could be called upon t categorise subhuman behaviour on the roads.

      The recommended care centre isn't exactly cheap, is it? You don't suppose the odd lawyer is getting a backhander on this stuff?

      Beam me up, Scotty.

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    2. I would really worry when it gets entered into the next edition of the DSM. Given the state of the US state prison systems I bet Mummy and Daddy would pay any amount of money to keep him out of there.

      The whole thing stinks, it really does.

      Cheers,

      Pete.

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    3. There was a time when I wondered if I could take legal action against the Conservative UK government, on the grounds that Mrs Thatcher's voice on the radio made me clinically depressed, but I didn't think I'd get anywhere. Has anyone come up with a scheme for feeding US lawyers to the world's poor? The entire ambulance-chasing, grievance-evaluating, greed-generating, medical-cost-inflating pile of them must offer a useful source of alternative protein, you would think

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  7. I bet you can't fit many boxes of toys soldiers in a Lambo.

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    1. Absolutely correct - no use at all. Ironically, i believe that Mr S would consider toy soldiers to be childish. It takes all sorts, as I always say. [I do always say that - it takes all sorts - there, I've done it again]

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