Lots of people in Hornswood send their kids to private schools. I’m not saying it’s good or bad, it’s just the way it is. Lots go to “elite” (not my term, but I assume meaning expensive and hard to get in to), private schools.

Being a bit… rough around the edges, it often surprises people to discover that I went to one. As does my son. But things have changed. Big time. The halcyon days of the 80s are gone. The school is not what it used to be and neither are the boys. They are now soft. SOFT DAMMIT!


In the halcyon days of the 1980s – like many private schools, if you stepped out of line you were flogged like a rum-guzzling convict.

In the unbelievably soft modern-day – there’s no caning! What the?? How the hell do you learn to be terrified of your teachers? Now they even have FEMALE teachers, which make terror nearly impossible.


80s – we had to wear full-length grey trousers, buttoned-up coat, tie and boater, every day while we carried our seemingly lead-filled plastic suitcase. It didn’t matter if it was hot enough to make the tracks at Hornswood station bend.

Modern-day – they have a SUMMER UNIFORM, get to wear SHORTS, no coat and wear a cushy, padded backpack. How on earth do they learn to suffer?


1980s – you pushed, shoved and fought your way to the front of the tuck-shop line. If you made it, you ate. If you didn’t, you went hungry. Older and bigger kids pushed in, then those kids gave “front urges” or “back urges”. It was hell, until we became the top dogs and then we did the pushing.

Modern day – THEY QUEUE! IN AN ORDERLY FASHION! How the heck are they going to learn that the world is unfair and that being bigger and stronger is everything.


1980s – bigger, older and tougher kids, used to bully, bash, rumble, harass, steal lunches, brow-beat, mock and generally make life hell for, most students.

Modern-day – bullying is “bad”, is “not allowed” and they have to “respect” each other. How is this ultra-soft generation going to learn that you cannot go through life being small, weak, or different? Who teaches them that it’s obviously a sign of being “gay” if you – were in air cadets, did debating, played tennis, cared, went in the library, participated in any form of acting, cried from the cane, did art, were nice to others, dared to show any interest in the choir, volunteered for anything or just listened in class?? How do they learn the concept of ganging up?


1980s – the good old days of compulsory rugby. Boots were over-the-ankle, black, BOOTS. Jerseys – long-sleeved, heavy and cotton. When they got wet they were freezing, constricting and as heavy as a rained-on dooner. The balls when they got wet, doubled in weight and were as slippery as a greased hog.

If you lay on the bottom of a maul you were rucked out of the way by big lads with rough metal studs. At half-time, we had two pieces of orange. If you came up against a bigger, stronger pack you got pushed backwards in a scrum until they won it, or you collapsed under their weight. Showers were ice-sludge-in-an-esky cold.

Modern-day – rugby is “optional” and the SHOES are light with moulded studs. Jerseys are synthetic, short-sleeved, don’t hold moisture and the wearer doesn’t even get cold. Balls do not suck in water and are nicely dimpled for grip. You cannot ruck anymore, it’s now called “stomping”. THEY DRINK WATER. If a scrum becomes too one-sided so it is obviously dangerous, they go to “non-contested”. They have hot showers after practise. Hot!

Also, in the soft modern-day – trains (and classrooms for that matter) are AIR CONDITIONED and the doors actually close, making it impossible to lean out and try to touch the train passing in the other direction. Not all teachers are old enough to be your grandfather and have been through WWII, and they even know your FIRST name. At cadets they learn survival skills. We marched around the oval. Just marched.

I worry for the modern generation of private school kids.

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