Don’t judge me because I’m a HABS boy

Everyone does

The private school boy is susceptible for criticism for a number of reasons, and none more so than a habsboy. So try not to judge us too harshly.

In an evergreen corner of Hertfordshire, just outside North London, resides the ever serving, ever obeying seat, of one of England’s finest educational institutions. The Haberdashers Askes Boys school; never has such an undeservedly pretentious name been given to such an equally undeservedly pretentious school.

axes 2.0

The Battle Axes, a watering hole like no other, many a pint and rousing chorus of Jerusalem, sung among friends.

No we’re not Eton, but a small part of us wishes we were

Landed with the title of independent, all-boys, day school, carries with it a number of expectations. We all play rugby for example, we all speak like the Queen, and we all belong to school houses with silly names. Of these only one of them is unreservedly true (big up Joblings house) – the others are simply the aspirations of many a HABS headmaster.

The boys themselves, however, have simple tastes – Hollister, a hand-job behind the shooting range, the title of Jewish Mother of the Year, and above all else, the holy grail that is 10 A*s and an Oxbridge offer. However, for many these must remain a dream. We did not hail from country manors or own private jets, nor did we wear tops and tails for Sunday lunch with our “holier than thou” house masters.

We contented ourselves with hot chocolate before chapel, a chicken burger at break, and the inevitable flogging at the hands of our parents crushing expectations.

Rev Jesse

The self-proclaimed academic kings of North London… nonsense

That feeling when your school ranks in the top ten of most league tables, the look in your parent’s eyes when you’re tracking grades come back, and it reflects all the parental pride of a baby’s first steps. You want to do them proud, you want to make a difference, to stand out in the world. And how are you going to do that? Exactly the same way every other Habsboy does: work hard, get your grades, “nurture your excellence”, quote that “GAP YAAH” video to everyone who’s got too much time, go to university, submit to the stereotype of the upper middle class, probably get a job you hate, pretend it’s sick at dinner parties, have a mid-life crisis, get married and submit to the terminally uninteresting way your life has gone and then bitch infuriatingly about how much better life was at Habs. Karma at its finest, the only thing left to do about it was mull it over with a pint at the infamous Battle Axes.

I’m sorry but I just don’t want a pony

However, for every time someone else from another string of North London acronymically-obsessed schools (be it MT’s, NLCS, QE, or JFS) gives you a hard time, we could always pull out the class system’s “Get Out of Jail Free card”: “Could be worse…could be Harrow.” By refusing to be associated with the endless reams of England’s upper echelons and their offspring, Habsboys could even forget that they lived in a bubble, and had absolutely no idea what the real world was like, and that by Year 11, most still had never talked to a girl. But at least we didn’t want a pony, call our parents daddy, own a rose gold iPhone or could be accused of inbreeding. In reality, being called a posh twat, sort of appealed to the average Habsboy’s crushing insecurity about belonging and the school-impregnated God-complex.


The word ‘swag’, takes on whole new meaning for habsboys, the epitome being singing opera, on the forbidden quad, in black tie of course

‘I’d put a lit match-stick up my urethra to get with her’ – genuine quote

It appears that no amount of education, wine tasting classes or sleeping in bashers for CCF has made any habsboy successful enough with the opposite sex to qualify for any of the equally school-boyish and inherently repugnant titles of lady-killer womaniser, or lad. Apart from a few notable exceptions, one does wonder where the arrogance that is the sole defining feature (and downfall) of many a dasher, has come from. Normally the ability of a man to acquire “gash” or “clunge” or any other catchphrase stolen directly from the script of The Inbetweeners in Year 9.

Chess was not the Game of Kings at Habs, it was who could pull the most on that nights headcount. It was always seen as a miracle when someone had a stolen kiss, or ‘tongue sex’ at some Friday night house party. “what a lad”, they’d say, and the ever interchangeable “she must have chlamydia”. When finally the happy couple had separated themselves from depths into which they had plunged, the inevitable assessment of, “Did you go to second,”? “Did she send you nudes?”, or “Is her friend single?”

Then on the rare occasions that third or fourth were on the table, this conversation was ordained specifically to take it off again, through use of certain key phrases like, “I saw her at rugby dinner… watch it”, “I heard she has the school motto tattooed on her arse,” or a personal favourite, “didn’t x give her anal in a McDonald’s toilet”. The reason for this calculated personality assassination, being in part due to many a boy’s crippling susceptibility to jealousy: but mostly because they’d expended all avenues of conversation on the topic of “so what would you give her out of ten?”

too far

Arrogant is one word, so is egotistical, but we prefer overconfident

If you haven’t gathered yet, self-confidence comes by the bucket-load when you have such an inbuilt false sense of security. A security which the private school boy seems undeniably susceptible to. Whether it’s an unending belief that GCSE’s are granted through wishing really hard, or that the reason you’re good at tennis has nothing to do with your pushy parents. In reality it came down to the fact that no matter what your discipline, be it music, drama, CCF, A-Level’s… the reason you were good at it was entirely to do with the inspirational teaching, of many a Haberdashers school-master. And the fact that unless you got some mad UCAS points, you were on another DofE trip to Otterbourne on the Scottish border, only to be left urine drenched in the snow, until you worked out to evade the interminable title of “work in progress”.

But I don’t care because I loved it

Habs was a unique experience, not at home with the toffs of the other private schools, but like the unwanted offspring of any grammar school, it hangs in its own unique place in the middle of the British school system. Whether we were in the middle of class, in the Battle Axes after exams, singing Jerusalem in assembly or smoking in Aldenham Country Park, the Habsboys worked, played and bantered together, equally brilliant and equally badass.