peteg's blog

Peter Cameron: Finishing School for Blokes.

/noise/books | Link

The recent media racket over the boys of St Paul's reminded me that I meant to read Peter Cameron's tale of debauchery and intrigue at St Andrew's in the 1990s. It turns out that he left at the end of 1995, coincident with the arrival of my mates from our country boarding school.

The book is probably most interesting when it is salacious, though there are a lot more details about the drinking than the shagging. I'd totally forgotten about the phantom arsehole, a symbol that was once ubiquitous around Sydney Uni. The politics between the Principal and the Council is tedious beyond belief, and the text slides into self-justification and repetition, and becomes occasionally unsound: Cameron makes it clear that he kept the students at arm's length as much as possible, but also claims that he knew them well enough to capture their essences in a few brief unflattering stereotypes, and that there was a lot of mutual respect floating about.

Overall it is as well-written as one would expect from a heretical lawyer-minister. Cameron himself comes across as initially clueless about Australia, almost inexcusably so after all of Donald Horne's fine work. I wonder if they ever did get another Principal of any calibre.

Funnily enough the wheels fell off the 'drews Rawson Cup monopoly circa 1998, well before the women totally routed the traditionalists in 2002. mrak tells me that was the death knell of the Andrewsmen.