Uppingham, Oakham, Oundel, Wellington, Radley…. the list goes on. Coming from northwest London, never did I realise that there were so many boarding schools out there! Entering the hallowed grounds of Pollock halls, I had no clue what I was getting myself into.
“I only enjoy getting drunk off prosecco.”
“I think somebody stole my signet ring.”
“Where’s the nearest Waitrose; can we uber from here?”
You only need to visit @overheardatpollockhalls to see how much worse it gets…
It felt like living on a safari park; observing cliques of Eton and Harrow boys prowling through the grounds, with their perfectly groomed mullets. Stalking St Pauls girls, uniformly dressed in their loose chinos, unfitted shirts and signet rings.
Or I’d find myself walking past groups of Cheltenham and St Mary’s Girls with their dyed blond hair, flared jeans, smoking on the benches in Chancellors Court.
These groups soon became part of the daily scenery that was Pollock Halls. And when they fled to their Air BnBs, because the horror of isolating inside Pollock halls during the height of Covid and having to socialise within their households became way too much for them, it did seem rather empty and soulless. I actually came to miss the “rah, where’s my baccy” and the “it’s not loubouton, its Louboutin”.
But you really can’t go to Pollock Halls and expect to avoid boarding schools. So, my best advice would be; if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
Absolutely DO NOT start trying to copy their styles and adopt their mannerisms to fit in, but INSTEAD, drop the negative preconceptions and give them a chance. You don’t know everybody’s stories, and their schools don’t necessarily dictate who they are as people. I guess this advice could be rich coming from someone who is now living with people who did go to boarding school, but that also only goes to show that they don’t always fit the stereotype, and don’t necessarily stick to their cliques.
Instead of worrying about what other Pollockians are like, concern yourself with avoiding becoming a sheep and following that well-known, classic pollock style, which is extensively mocked by all other students outside of Pollock. Yes, the pretentious boarding school type is a massive issue, but Pollock itself has its own (contentiously worse) trope of privately educated, posh and snobbish; you really don’t have to go to a boarding school to be associated with that. Instead of assimilation, STAND OUT. Avoid the north face puffer jacket, leave at home your loafers or tailored clothing and hide the TAG Heuer watches and Cartier jewellery in your rooms. Most importantly, don’t think yourself better than anyone else, whether that be because you didn’t go to boarding school or because you live in Pollock.
So, with all this in mind, I wish you good luck for surviving at Pollock Halls. I’m hoping it is a very different year for you, with exam seating at the dining room banished, the common rooms unlocked and security removed from house doors (yes, actual security, as if you were trying to get into a club). My main advice would be to give everyone a chance, although avoid those that refuse to leave their cliques, and try to stand out from the overall Pollock stereotype, whilst staying humble about where you come from.
Image: Pollock, halls of residence via Wikimedia Commons