As The Cigar waded through the stream of anguish, the unfolding tragedy at Kew TGS – Trinity Grammar School’s “Haircutgate” – the hilarity of it all grew unendurable.
In this leafy walled garden of Melburnian affluence, a trite school drama delivered real passion, hurt, and anger upon participants, victims, and bystanders with the apparent intensity of a US school shooting.
A conflagration of protests, sackings, resignations, mass meetings, mini royal commissions – even a Getup campaign – arose when a student was cruelly cut down before his incredulous school chums… by the vindictive scissors of a “beloved” deputy principal.
His hair was too long for the school photograph.
Before taking too great an offence at Cigar’s imputation (to use an au courant word) this is not the sniping of some sniggering public school ingrate.
The Cigar is a proud graduate of one of Australia’s elite secondary schools – one founded for free public attendance several decades before those craven hives of nouveau riche offspring, established by pious aristocrats to spite the fledgling commonwealth’s égalité. Cigar’s devoted partner and lifelong BFF was a private school teacher who dealt with many an entitled little Toff.
When 30-year TGS veteran deputy head Rohan Brown chose, as he occasionally had, to trim a young scruffy’s moptop for class photo-op, his consequent sacking unleashed a tempest of pent-up indignation of such fervour it must have been unhealthily dammed within alumni proud chests during the entirety of the school’s wabbit subsistence by an implanted staidness of Grammarian holistic tutelage.
It was as though the nearby pending Batman federal by-election – giving all those yuppies and commoners a free public brawl – triggered the ex-students beyond their collective last straw.
The parents complained. Brown was sacked, students rebelled, public meetings held, lawyers engaged. School Council members resigned, the headmaster besieged. The press reported.
Old Trinity Grammarians Association donned button-bursting gold and green school blazers in a show of support while students swapped blazers for civvies or wore brown armbands. A rumour said that some students had no casual clothing, only pyjamas, believing being out of uniform, ever, showed anti-establishment tendencies. Maybe that was made up.
Most unfair of all, the student, whose hair Brown cut, reportedly took schoolyard censure for getting him sacked. Not cool, lads.
The Cigar pondered the amusing spectacle of these upstanding folk, salt of the upper crust, and their defiant offspring, behaving as they always wanted to.
Just like public school bogans.
Former Grammarians had been grumbling for years that TGS was taking a nasty veer towards being, well, an elite private school, with distasteful proneness to “focus on things like buildings, fundraising, marketing, ATAR excellence, Cambridge schooling program, etc.”
They also declared that the school – which charges over $30,000 fees – should not be run like a business and should continue "the holistic development of each student – spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, physically, socially, and morally".
Alumni of this mindset shows only one thing: TGS failed to prepare those guileless former students for the real world.