I don’t know much about Oliver Curtis, except what has been in the newspapers.
One thing I do know about him, however, is the school he went to.
I know this because those same newspapers seem to feel there is something noteworthy about the fact that this alleged insider trader is a St Ignatius Riverview ‘old boy’, as was his partner in (alleged) crime. They met on its exclusive (yet paradoxically tax payer-subsidised) playing fields.
I have noticed this frequently when the graduates of supposedly prestigious schools get themselves publicly shamed on the pages of the newspapers. Journalists feel compelled to note their glittering alumnus. I doubt that if I was to get myself into some kind of trouble (heaven forfend) those same journos would bother to describe me as ‘Forest High old girl Jane Caro’.
Why is this? Is it schadenfreude? Or surprise? Or a bit of both?
It is hard to escape the thought that many of us remain astonished when those who were exposed to the (ahem) superior ‘values’ of expensive private schools fall by the wayside. The attitude seems to be ‘how can this be, when they went to such a good school?’
On the latest episode of Mamamia OutLoud, we discuss all things Oliver and Roxy
This shock appears immovable, despite the fact it is not uncommon for alumni of such salubrious schools to have their day of ignominy on the front pages of our less salubrious newspapers.
Indeed, I remember the same incomprehension when I gently suggested to a friend about to hock herself to the eyeballs to pay for what she called ‘better peers’ that I doubted the triad or organised crime bosses sent their kids to the local public school.
L-R: Oliver Curtis pictured in a Riverview yearbook photo; author Jane Caro.
Indeed, I remember chuckling (schadenfreude — guilty, Your Honour) quietly to myself when an episode of Underbelly, Channel Nine's series about Australia's criminal underworld, made this abundantly clear.
Egalitarian (hah!) Australia appears to have swallowed whole the idea that privilege equals virtue and lack-thereof equals vice. If a kid from Bog Standard High comes a public cropper, it is no more than we expected all along.
I have long (though fruitlessly) argued that sending your kids to a public school is a win/win for parents, while going private is a lose/lose.
Let me explain; if you send your kids to a public school and they do badly (exams, behaviour, front-page-of-newspaper) the world thinks 'oh well, what can you expect? It's such a crap school'. If they do well in any way at all, the world thinks 'wow, you must be great parents because it's such a crap school.'