Sarah Lyall on British Boarding Schools

Lyall: Well, in the old days, it that really was true. They all used to beat each other senseless and, you know, have sex with each other ‘cause there are no girls around. I mean, they lived in these completely women-free environments from the time they were 9 to the time they got out of college. And they’d get out of college and it would just be these strange creatures, women. They couldn’t deal with it. And their country was really run by men, ‘cause they were all [doing it with] each other, yet there was a real homophobic streak in the society, so they had to do it and pretend they weren’t doing it. And the beating, you know, really went on until the end of the ‘90s. It was then finally made illegal. But men, you know, these men were all on this weird situation where they, it was a kind of sexual thrill, I think. And that’s why they all loved Margaret Thatcher, ‘cause she was this kind of, you know, figure of authority and maybe a figure of pain, a little bit. And I, you know, the writer Christopher Hitchens told me this hilarious story about how he, years and years ago, when she was not Prime Minister but was the Head of the Conservative Party, he wrote a piece where he said he sort of fancied her, you know. She was kind of sexy, he thought. And he met her once, and he sort of, he said, I felt maybe there’s this little frisson going on, and we just started talking about foreign policy, and it was kind of sexy, and they disagreed about something. And she said, “No you’re wrong.” And he said, ”No I’m right.” And she said, “No you’re wrong,” [and that] little thing, and then he said “Bend over.” And she hit him on his butt with her papers from the Parliament, you know, like her little things, the order of the day papers. And then she did that and she said, “Naughty boy. Don’t do that again.” And, you know, that’s the kind of thing they all… they have this, like, little, titillating naughty boy thing about themselves. And, you know, there was that guy recently, he was head of Formula One Racing who got caught going to prostitutes and apparently wanting to them to dress up like naughty camp operators and then also inmates in a concentration camp. And there’s a lot of kind of weird spanking and speaking in German and ordering each other around. And his defense, he sued for invasion of privacy, and he actually won. But his defense was, “Look, okay. I did it. So what?” you know, “This is what people do if I want to get my kicks,” you know, “spanking people dressed in German,” you know, “costume. Good for me.” And actually he won his case, which was really interesting. And he didn’t… The thing is, he didn’t go to, like, sexual rehab clinic or, say, you know, “God, I have a real problem. I’m going to stop doing this.” He said “This is what I like to do, you know? Sue me.”

Sarah Lyall says things used to get randy at the boarding schools and it all comes from a "naughty boy" sensibility.

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