Extract from Chapter 3
A person of bourgeois origin goes through life with some expectation of getting what he wants, within reasonable limits. Hence the fact that in times of stress ‘educated’ people tend to come to the front; they are no more gifted than the others and their ‘education’ is generally quite useless in itself, but they are accustomed to a certain amount of deference and consequently have the cheek necessary to a commander.
For people like me, the ambitious middle class, the examination-passers, only a bleak, laborious kind of success was possible. You clambered upwards on a ladder of scholarships into the Civil Service or the Indian Civil Service, or possibly you became a barrister. And if at any point you ‘slacked’ or ‘went off’ and missed one of the rungs in the ladder, you became ‘a little office boy at forty pounds a year’. But even if you climbed to the highest niche that was open to you, you could still only be an underling, a hanger-on of the people who really counted.