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Rajpal's Column

14th March 1999

The art of being obnoxiously elitist

By Rajpal Abeynayake

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Though branded naturally as one of the most elitist events of the calendar year, the annual cricket encounter between the Royalists and the Thomians has to be taken into account as one event that is by default at least a major social event. The event is intrinsically elitist; there can be no pretensions that it is an event that is tailored for puritan tastes.

Also , at the conclusion of a Royal- Thomian cricket encounter, one cannot help but harbour mixed feelings. For one , the match ossifies elitism; its a match, generally, for the slightly privileged. But, for another, the encounter is an event that defies definition,. It exists; it cannot be wished away, even by the most cynical of us. So all that hyperbole aside, the Royal- Thomian cricket match is an event that creates a few ripples in the social calendar. It is a reflection of the system, however decrepit and weakened the "system'' may be. Therefore, at least those who have the interest of the sub cultures of the "system'' at heart, need to take the Royal- Thomian cricket encounter as something that matters in their scheme of things

So once that apology is done with, it is worthwhile considering how the Royal- Thomian cricket encounter was conducted this time around. This is entirely my verdict. The match wasn't good for other elitists or rebels. For one, the militarists who had been propositioned to conduct the security at the Royal Thomian cricket match ( the military police and the Air force ) were misfits. The bottom line, is that the Royal-Thomian cricket match has been robbed of its benign charm. This has been entirely due to the strictures that have been imposed by an organising committee. Its a fashion that match organising committees are now comprised of ( mostly) under achievers who were distinguished by the fact that they did nothing in school.

These under achievers, who take over Old Boy's Associations and organising committees of old schools, generally tend to exceed their brief because they suffer from a mentality of wanting to belatedly prove themselves. This is very true of Old Boy's Associations, for instance of both colleges, but particularly of the school by the sea which boasts of bluer and more consummate traditions. It is not per se important as a civic fact but for those who are interested in the activities of both schools for some reason it appears to be a fact that the Old Boys Association and the Parent Teacher Associations of St. Thomas' College Mt Lavinia had latterly been suffering from the effects of its own extreme excess. Now, there is a case in court to determine who should be the next Warden of the school.

Also, there were other events such as an ignominious campaign, some time back , to decide the composition of the Old Boy's Association. My own suspicion in all of this is that under achievers have gravitated into positions of importance in the Old Boy's Association so that they can, at least in the aftermath of their school careers at lest marginally acquit themselves.

They have created so much dissension among the association that the spectacle has been generally gross. There is a court case to decide who the next Warden of the college is going to be; something that is repugnant to the tradition of school which , maybe even mistakenly, still prides itself as being elitist and being above the common fray. Now, that is one aspect of it. But the annual cricket encounter between Royal and St Thomas' is to a great extent one that belongs to the large mass. Tradition, 120 years of it, dictates that the match is deeply imbued in the practices of the past. But, look at what happens. The match has at its helm an organising committee that is comprised of the same under achievers that generally comprise Old Boy's Associations of the two schools. (Barring maybe some, of course.) And what do they do? They impose certain strictures on the match that by any standards would be unbecoming of an event that has a 100 year plus tradition.

For instance, this time around , the organisers had banned bands in the main pavilion; had banned effectively any kind of camaraderie in the tents; they had also effectively parcelled the control of the of cricket match to the Air Force and the Military Police and the forces, so that effectively the control of the Royal- Thomian cricket match, exaggeration aside had been militarised. Now,, only the de- militarisation of the Royal-Thomian cricket encounter would save what is left of it. Without the bands that keep the match alive , the match is moribund, devoid of spirit. It's for most intents and purposes dead. It needs a bunch of morons to kill off a hundred and twenty year old tradition. But effectively, the trend will continue onto next year as well unless something imaginative takes place.

It's almost palpable, the streak of arrogance that is manifest in the match organisers and others who hobnob with the Bishop and the Minister of Industries at the main pavilion. To me it appears as if these under achievers have picked he match to inflate their ego's and to appear important whereas they would be normally ignored in most other locations.

So, they have chosen to do the unthinkable. They have made the Royal Thomian an event that is structured, formalised, and regulated. No bands, no camaraderie; all in the name of "misbehaviour.'' If Royalists and Thomians cannot check stray cases of misbehaviour, they are not worth their salt.

Tailpiece: The death penalty is to be introduced. No this is not for a moment to suggest that the death penalty be imposed on the organisers of the 'Royal Thomian cricket match for their killjoy proclivities. But, the President of this country, who has absolute prerogative over imposing the death penalty, came out with the idea that the penalty be re-im-posed after the murder of Nalanda Ellawala.

After that, the cry for a death penalty became muted. Why the death penalty cannot be re- imposed in toto is puzzling. The prevalent crime wave warrants it; but the two faced liberalism of this government has meant that it has got its own knickers in a twist about the whole issue because the government doesn't know whose rights are more important : the perpetrators' or the victims.


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