What's the whip mean by 'serving the nation'?
January 23, 2013 9:06 PM   Subscribe

English boys' school filter: about an hour into Lindsay Anderson's if..., what's going on in this scene?

What does the embroidery on Denson's blazer signify? By the reactions, Travis' contempt for it seems treasonous, but why?
posted by Rash to Society & Culture (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: It's the school crest, presumably with the motto 'I serve the nation'.
posted by pompomtom at 9:52 PM on January 23, 2013

Response by poster: Ah, it seemed to me, throughout the movie, it's only he who wears this crest. But I think you're right. Thanks!
posted by Rash at 10:22 PM on January 23, 2013

It may be that wearing the crest is a privilege. In some schools, pupils are 'awarded colours', which entitles them to a different blazer pocket (I had full colours for debating, for example).

Is this bloke head prefect or something?
posted by pompomtom at 10:48 PM on January 23, 2013

Best answer: It's an allusion to the Eton Society, colloquially known as 'Pop', a self-selected elite of senior boys at Eton College who had the power to administer corporal punishment:

Less common but more severe were the canings administered by Pop in the form of a "Pop-Tanning", in which a large number of hard strokes were inflicted by the President of Pop in the presence of all Pop members. The culprit was summoned to appear in a pair of old trousers, as the caning would cut the cloth to shreds and leave the boy's buttocks bleeding. This was the most severe form of physical punishment at Eton.

Members of Pop wear a special uniform, with fancy waistcoats, and the crest on Denson's blazer is presumably a reference to this.

Membership of Pop was, and is, a highly coveted privilege. Cyril Connolly, describing Eton in the 1920s, refers to Pop as 'the rulers of Eton', far more powerful than the masters. So by sneering at Denson's blazer, Travis isn't just expressing contempt for the school, he's doing something far more dangerous -- he's threatening the whole system of class privilege that the boys have created for themselves.
posted by verstegan at 1:45 AM on January 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: >Is this bloke head prefect or something?

Denson seem to be the #2. Rowntree, who you see first in the clip, is #1, but Denson seems to have some 'heritage' privilege as the alumnus General Denson shows up at the end, and though not overtly specified as related, young Denson appears briefly with the officer.
posted by Rash at 8:25 AM on January 24, 2013

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