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There is all the usual para-phernalia — lock-up, roll-call, house matches, fagging, prefects, cosy teas round the study fire, etc. — and constant reference to the ‘old school’, the ‘old grey stones’ (both schools were founded in the early sixteenth century), the ‘team spirit’ of the ‘Greyfriars men’.
The movies are probably a very unsafe guide to popular taste, because the film industry is virtually a monopoly, which means that it is not obliged to study its public at all closely. ’, always given a line to itself, so that sometimes a quarter of a column or there-abouts consists of ‘Ha! The result has been to make Greyfriars and St Jim's into an extraordinary little world of their own, a world which cannot be taken seriously by anyone over fifteen, but which at any rate is not easily forgotten.
The same applies to some extent to the daily papers, and most of all to the radio. Both of these extracts are entirely typical: you would find something like them in almost every chapter of every number, to-day or twenty-five years ago. ’ (stylized cries of pain) recur constantly, and so does ‘Ha! By a debasement of the Dickens technique a series of stereotyped ‘characters’ has been built up, in several cases very successfully.
But it does not apply to the weekly paper with a smallish circulation and specialized subject-matter. The first thing that anyone would notice is the extraordinary amount of tautology (the first of these two passages contains a hundred and twenty-five words and could be compressed into about thirty), seemingly designed to spin out the story, but actually playing its part in creating the atmosphere. Billy Bunter, for instance, must be one of the best-known figures in English fiction; for the mere number of people who know him he ranks with Sexton Blake, Tarzan, Sherlock Holmes and a handful of characters in Dickens.
Papers like the Exchange and Mart, for instance, or Cage-birds, or the Oracle, or the Prediction, or the Matrimonial Times, only exist because there is a definite demand for them, and they reflect the minds of their readers as a great national daily with a circulation of millions cannot possibly do. For the same reason various facetious expressions are repeated over and over again; ‘wrathy’, for instance, is a great favourite, and so is ‘diddled, dished and done’. Needless to say, these stories are fantastically unlike life at a real public school.
Every hobby and pastime — cage-birds, fretwork, carpentering, bees, carrier-pigeons, home conjuring, philately, chess — has at least one paper devoted to it, and generally several.
Gardening and livestock-keeping must have at least a score between them.
But there is no question that the combined public of the ten papers is a very large one. The ‘good’ boys are ‘good’ in the clean-living Englishman tradition — they keep in hard training, wash behind their ears, never hit below the belt etc., etc., — and by way of contrast there is a series of ‘bad’ boys, Racke, Crooke, Loder and others, whose badness consists in betting, smoking cigarettes and frequenting public-houses.
They are on sale in every town in England, and nearly every boy who reads at all goes through a phase of reading one or more of them. All these boys are constantly on the verge of expulsion, but as it would mean a change of personnel if any boy were actually expelled, no one is ever caught out in any really serious offence. Sex is completely taboo, especially in the form in which it actually arises at public schools.
Then there are the sporting papers, the radio papers, the children's comics, the various snippet papers such as Tit-bits, the large range of papers devoted to the movies and all more or less exploiting women's legs, the various trade papers, the women's story-papers (the Oracle, Secrets, Peg's Paper, etc.Tags: Adult Dating, affair dating, sex dating