The Eton Boating Song is not simply, or even primarily, the song of the school's rowers. It is, for the mass of Etonians and Old Etonians, the unofficial school song (Carmen Etonensis being the official one).

In my last year at Eton I and three others were invited to dine with a group the existence of which is unknown to all but the four chosen each year. This organisation has no name, because it is not spoken of. The place of meeting is in a rather out of the way part of the grounds; I had certainly never seen the building. That night were sung special verses of the Boating Song, quite unknown to me, or to the world. I did not, of course, record them. Borges would say that somehow their very existence corrupts reality itself.

The most important purpose of the Boating Song is to allow one to hum the tune, while punting, when Keble men come past in their unsteady way. This is crass, obnoxious and so on, but, when done with true self-knowledge, great fun.