I am wondering what "the better versions of the sort of school we both went to" means in the following sentences:

‘Well,’ I say. ‘Funny you should say that, but I did actually do a try-out for the show.’

‘You did?’ Hannah asks. ‘For Survive the Night?’

‘Yeah.’ Ah, Christ. Why did I say anything? Stupid Johnno, always shooting my mouth off. Jesus, it’s humiliating.

‘Yeah, well, they did a screen test, with the two of us, and—’

‘And Johnno decided he wasn’t up for any of that crap, didn’t you?’ Will says. It’s good of him to try to save my blushes. But there’s no point in lying now, I might as well say it. ‘He’s being a good mate,’ I say. ‘Truth is I was shit at it. They basically told me I didn’t work on screen. Not like our boy here—’ I lean over and muss up Will’s hair, and he ducks away, laughing. ‘I mean, he’s right. It wasn’t for me anyway. Couldn’t stand any of that make-up they slap on you, the clothes they make you wear. Not that that’s any shade on what you do, mate.’

‘No offence taken,’ Will says, putting up his hands. He’s a natural on screen. He has this ability to be whoever people want him to be. When he’s on the programme I notice he drops his ‘h’s’, sounds a bit more like ‘one of the people’. But when he’s with posh, public school-educated blokes, blokes who came from the better versions of the sort of school we both went to, he’s one of them – 100 per cent.

  • Lucy Foley, The Guest List, Chapter 15

The speakers are at the rehearsal dinner the day before the wedding between Jules and Will who is the celebrity appearing in a TV show program called Survive the Night. Johnno is the best man and high school friends with Will. They both went to a prestigious public school (in British English) named Trevellyan. (The narrator here is Johnno.)

In this part, I wonder whether it would be right to understand that "better versions" means "public schools of a higher level" and that "the sort of school" means "public schools."

Or, is Johnno perhaps saying that the school that he and Will both went to was not that very good, and meaning just "better schools in general" by "better versions"...?

1 Answer 1


In Britain, 'public schools' (prestigious private schools) can be of various levels of prestige; a person who went to a 'minor public school' might feel envious of someone who went to a 'major' one. Only the 'Great Nine' public schools of England - Eton, Winchester, Charterhouse, Merchant Taylors, Harrow, Westminster, Shrewsbury, Rugby and St Pauls are considered 'major'.

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    I, who went to Alleyn's, get looked down on by people who went to the nearby Dulwich College, despite both being decidedly minor. Lest anyone is in any doubt, I strenuously avoid the company of ex-public school pupils. Apr 19, 2021 at 10:23
  • Dear Michael Harvey, thank you very much for the explanation. I didn't know that there existed various levels of prestige among public schools! I learned a new thing thanks to you. Then, may I take the boldfaced part to mean that those people graduated public schools of a higher rank/level than the public school that Johnno and Will went to...? Apr 20, 2021 at 13:24
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    @PastaAddict - yes, you have understood correctly. Apr 20, 2021 at 13:26

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