ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE BOLTON NEWS, FRIDAY 7 OCTOBER 2011
I RECENTLY went to a wedding where, for the first time ever, I found myself in the “posh” half.
Now I come from Burnley originally, so you can imagine how that came as a bit of a shock to the system.
Earlier this week, when I was telling this to someone at work, they turned round and said: “But why were you surprised? You’re so middle class.”
Now that comment hurt.
You see, all my life I’ve seen “middle class” as something I wouldn’t want to be.
Strictly working class, me. A Burnley lad with working class parents, parents whose idea of a good time was going to the local socialist club to hear Tony Benn play a few Billy Bragg covers about the evils of Thatcherism on a type of guitar made by a women‘s co-operative in Venezuela.
It wasn’t just my family either – my friends were working class too. When we were younger, one of them started seeing a clever girl who became a student at Cambridge. It was never going to last.
Especially not after he went to visit her and declared, at a dinner party full of her new, posh, friends, how “my chips taste funny”. They were parsnips. Parsnips. Officially a middle class vegetable. Needless to say, they split up soon after.
Anyhow, even when I ended up at university with posh, middle class pals, I was still working class.
When I started working as a reporter, I was working class.
Even when my Dad’s heart broke, because I wasn’t making anything “useful” with calloused hands, I was still working class.
I remained steadfastly working class even when I went to see performance artist Marina Abramovich at Manchester International Festival. And enjoyed it.
I have also considered guacamole to taste better than mushy peas and have listed Chekhov as one of my favourite playwrights for a number of years.
Despite this, I was still working class right up until Tuesday – when I started to think about my lifestyle in the light of my colleague’s light-hearted jibe.
So I devised a test. 10 questions designed to prove to myself whether I was, in fact, middle class. I asked myself things such as ‘Do you listen to Radio 4?’, ‘Do chips count as one of your five a day?’ and ‘Isn’t George Michael’s recording output as a solo artist far superior to that of his Wham! Days?’
At the end of the quiz, I was badly shaken. According to my own research, I was firmly middle class after all.
I immediately put Adele on the iPod and made myself a green tea to collect myself. I was devastated.
I felt like Charlton Heston does right at the end of Planet of the Apes, except with more organic vegetables in my fridge.
I had to accept it: despite my upbringing, I had moved into the middle class, alongside David Cameron and 59.9 million other Brits.
- Anthropology and Middle Class Working Families: A Research Agenda (aaanet.org)
- A note on our embourgeoisement (cutandplante.wordpress.com)
- I was raised broke and I’m afraid of professionalism. (ask.metafilter.com)
- Are you middle class? (traditionalchristianity.wordpress.com)