Mr Z was floating a theory yesterday about public schools and public service. Sure, he said, the whole edifice is rotten, a class of people selected by birth for the nation’s highest offices, yada yada. But to get into the weeds of it, at least in the olden days they were bred to be tough. The experience of being at a public boarding school was to be always cold and always hungry; even if this brutalised your character, at least you ended up with a bit of backbone. It was understood that, quite aside from the offices of state, they were first and foremost being educated to fight in wars, which are notoriously uncomfortable.
Contrast this with the current generation of those born to rule, who went to school in the 70s and 80s with central heating and food. Boris Johnson, David Cameron et al have all the noxious entitlement, but none of the self-abnegation. That’s why their judgment is so poor and their empathy so limited. People who have always been warm enough have never had to consider the consequences of hardship or, indeed, anything. This is how great dynasties have fallen throughout history: at the start, the overlords are hard as nails; it is when they become pampered that their privilege turns to fecklessness.
About two-thirds of the way through this hypothesis, I realised what was going on: my spouse was making an ideological case against central heating, because ours isn’t working. We had already cycled through how nice it was to wear a jumper indoors, because it keeps you in touch with the seasons, and how ending each day with a belly button full of wool – which is still there the next morning because our hot water isn’t working, either – was a charming side-effect.
This is a classic gender divide and a clash of generations. Children like a house so warm that you can wander around in your pants and select the rest of your clothes for decoration. Men like to be slightly too cold – and for everyone else to be slightly too cold. The rest of us are normal.