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Ten Years After

December 22, 2015

“You had trouble at university, didn’t you?”. So said TSB Bank computer division departmental manager Brian Biscuit* when explaining why he refused a promised but delayed career progression.
This was in 1985. I left Hertford College Oxford in 1976.

Dr. Marmalade’s promise after my finals results was ironic. “In ten years time you’ll wonder what you were worried about”. How that was going to happen, he didn’t say.

I still wonder what he meant. “You’ll wonder” …

… Because those are proletarian grade “A”s and therefore worthless, you Northern working class fool …

… Because when you’re driving your bus on those Warrington housing estates, you’ll have entirely forgotten the opportunity we decent chaps from private schools offered you …

… Because proletarian types like you survive and persist  …

… Because it’s not as if you’re a professor’s son …

… Because I say this to ease my own feelings …

No TSB (“We like to say yes!”) manager or personnel officer said, “It’s a pity going to Oxford from a working class background didn’t work out for you, and your degree is unimpressive, but those are excellent A-levels in desirable subjects (grade “A”s in maths, physics, chemistry), and it’s in the company’s interest to encourage the development of your career”.

*Brian Biscuit is not his real name. TSB is the real company that promoted him into senior management. Mr Biscuit succeeded in persuading me that however well I performed, I wouldn’t be allowed a career at TSB. For as long as I was employed by TSB, that I had trouble at Oxford University a decade or more before would be an unchangeable fact.


Ten Years After, year zero. Sadly nothing to do with Hertford College or TSB.


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