School’s in

It works quite well for us in Cambridge that I can go for a run while the kids ride their bikes. I get some exercise and they get to win. On Sunday I went with the eldest on a circuit through town, where we agreed to poke around a college. We picked Trinity Hall, which is small, rich and riparian.

Upon entering, it was clear that undergraduates were arriving. At the Porter’s lodge a group of keen helpers in pink T-shirts was ready to nab a newby.

Further on through a couple of courtyards, parents were being allowed to drive in to the college to deposit their children. The cars weren’t flash. There was one Mercedes, but otherwise these were the vehicles of people who had spent a jolly lot of money educating their kids.

Confident young people ignored signs instructing them not to walk on the grass. It was, I suddenly saw, a perfect replica of an English public school at the beginning of term.

We went and sat on the wall down by the river and watched the punts. Next to us, three girls with squeaky boarding school accents chatted. Someone had hung a pirate flag from the window of their room. One of the girls, noticing this, observed in deadpan tones: ‘They should take that down. I think it cheapens the place.’

For some reason, the scene made me think of the signs in Italian courtrooms that say ‘Everyone is equal before the law’.

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