Outside, Looking In?

(c) English Pen

Jeremy Paxman, the sometime scourge of feeble-minded politicians, host of University Challenge and pillar of the British media establishment, states in an interview published today that “I’ve always felt myself to be an outsider”.

Really? Jeremy Paxman, ex-student of Malvern/Cambridge? One of the most recognisable faces/voices in Britain? A man with powerful connections and influence on British politics? If he feels like an outsider, what hope have the rest of us got? He clarifies:

“I’ve always felt awkward … Nowadays of course I know loads of people. If you’re around long enough, you meet loads and loads of people, and if I go into a room now I can cope. But my abiding memory as a young person is feeling that one did not belong in any organisation, and that’s not a comfortable place to be”.   

Fair enough, but outsider? He might have experienced common social anxiety and mild shyness when he didn’t know anyone at a party (who doesn’t), and might have suffered from compulsory adolescent alienation, but to confuse this with being an outsider is pushing it, frankly. To play the outsider card while being as smug as he is (it’s difficult to deny) is a classic case of having your cake and eating it. Come now Jeremy, you should know better than that.

By Mark Murphy

Mark Murphy is a Reader in Education and Public Policy at the University of Glasgow. He previously worked as an academic at King’s College, London, University of Chester, University of Stirling, National University of Ireland, Maynooth, University College Dublin and Northern Illinois University. Mark is an active researcher in the fields of education and public policy. His research interests include educational sociology, critical theory, accountability in higher education, and public sector reform.