I can’t remember when – probably getting on for thirty years ago now – it was some politician or other from one of the major parties who declared in a speech headlined in the national press that ‘we are all middle class now’. It may have been just the fantasy of a feature writer writing in the tabloids or it may have been a true representation of what this politician said. Given what we now know, who knows?
What does the statement even mean, what do you base the statement on? Is it, as they used to say, an Englishman (should that be Englishperson?) will ‘know’ instinctively when another speaks, to which class or station they belong? That would appear to be difficult these days. Since the Blair years of the glottal stop a good percentage of the population seems to have hailed from Essex. I’ve never really understood this, why not the accent from say Birmingham or Blackburn or Newcastle?
Why is accent important? Why for example do some people assume that a particular accent means that the person is well educated, when all it means is of course that they identify with a particular ‘circle’, professionally or socially. “Like recruiting like” for example, now there is a thought.
These barriers are there, like it or not, each group has them. The legal profession is brilliant in the way that they introduce half-forgotten or obsolete terms into their everyday conversation: ‘recuse’, anyone, or before that: ‘redacted’ – these are just two. Who has ever used either on a regular basis! Can it be – perish the thought – just to show that they are above everyone else in both education and standards? Just ask the Law Society how many of its members have been investigated for serious criminal matters over the last twenty years.
My particular professional circle stands a very close second though, with ‘paradigm shift’, ‘blue sky thinking,’ ‘deep water difference’, and all the rest. It’s only a ruse to show how professional and well educated the speaker is, and to put a bar between them and lesser mortals, that is those below in the pecking order or, if you like, lower class. You will recognize these by their less prestigious company cars in the car park rather than the full executive models that the really important people have, yes, even now.
How about dress codes? Well hardly, as the only difference that shows itself is the amount of wrinkles in clothing, holes and rips, and dirt on the trainers. The more affluent have better made and therefore more expensive labels on show. Why somebody would pay to walk around advertising somebody’s company is beyond me, but that’s class for you.
Well it’s behaviour and ‘values’ isn’t it – or is it? Anyone who has witnessed the behaviour of the self-regarding ‘middle classes’ at public events – hunt balls and racecourse meetings and other events, the theatre, restaurants and weddings and wedding receptions will soon put you right – unless of course you feel that boorish or drunken behaviour is an indication of class.
I suppose it is, if you feel that ill-fitting hired morning suits with top hats, sunglasses and gum chewing for men and revealing dresses with fascinators for women are de rigueur for the church service, along with the ability not to display any knowledge of the service, prayers, or hymns. (The choir is of course invisible to these people, but it’s amazing what you can see and hear from the stalls!)
So, I’m not sure particularly if this good mannered, well spoken, law abiding class with shared values of doing things right exists anywhere except in the blinkered world of the ‘county set’, the self-regarding residents of Conspicuous Consumption Avenue, or parts of the Southern counties and London.
I suppose ‘One Nation Tories’ also spring to mind, but with them it’s difficult to know which nation they are talking about, having, as they have, along with the Labour, done much to destroy whatever it was or wasn’t over the last forty years.
For many though John Majors‘ “a country at ease with itself”, of cricket matches, garden fetes, warm beer and midwives driving Morris Minors seems, to much of the population, as much of a fantasy as programmes on the Broadcast Media and Advertising are now.
But obviously not for all, such as the well-dressed man brandishing a fifty pound note at the lavatory attendant today because he didn’t quite see why he should pay twenty pence to use the facility, “don’t the council know that there are people short of money in this town!”, he shouted, nearly falling over a broken paving stone on the footpath as he flounced away. Something else the Council should know about, presumably.
Maybe that is the problem of the political and self-regarding well-off ‘elite’ – in many cases far removed by family connections, money, education, media jobs, something in finance, medicine or law – living as they did when children in the ‘better areas’, and they still do, due to Alicia’s parents’ money or help from mummy and daddy. They have no concept of life at all outside of their lovely comfort zone. Not that it stops them lecturing everyone else on how to live their lives and how we are all ‘in it together’ with our very real shared values.
I’ve no idea why people don’t rebel against this. I still see many many young people who don’t display any of the stereotypes that I see elsewhere, and there are many older couples who don’t either. Is this the silent majority? If they are, they need to forget the silence and wake up, it’s getting late because – have I got news for you! – we are not in it together and we don’t all have shared values, it’s a con, it’s a marketing concept, just as much as the multiculti postmodern, happy family is.
You can forget the happy communities living side by side, happily sharing and caring. It’s rubbish, dreamt up by marketing people of the political parties and their friends in the media to drive their agenda which is always something along the lines of: more for you and a better tomorrow (meaning them) as long as we keep up the payments.
Boris has seen some of this first-hand of late. His private life is in the news mainly because some sections of the politically active public like to live their lives through the lens of a reality TV show. It’s like the soaps and talk show TV all rolled into one, the sort of shows that some people want to watch so that their prejudices are re-inforced or, as life now seems to follow reality-show fiction, to get ideas.
(To be continued tomorrow)