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At the chalkface: Catastrophic notions of Cultural Capital

Little seems to have changed since the fifties – the 1850s. Matthew Arnold, patrician incarnate, still rules. His prescribed essential knowledge for paupers is Ofsted’s – “the best that has been thought and said”. By whom?


I’m gazing at University Challenge in lockdown solitude. I don’t know why. It makes me homicidal at the best of times. I feel compelled to yell “Caravaggio!” at any question. I’ve not been right yet.

It’s not funny, it’s not clever, but it might improve my fragile mental health.

Packman waves cards at white persons, often male, who have odd haircuts and perch like owls in clothes their mothers might have bought them at 14. They are replete with high culture, with the correct Cultural Capital. They own it. They are Balliol College Oxford, the intellectual cream of the nation.

Their fingers twitch on buzzers.

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