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Forty-three per cent of Britons class themselves as middle class compared with 30 per cent forty years ago. By 2020, the middle-classes must surely inherit the earth, or at least this 'green and pleasant land'?
Well it's not as easy as that now we are all middle-class, the term becomes meaningless. So enter classes within the middle class...
Which one are you?
Provincial, resentful class
You live in the town in which you grew up. You have a moderately successful professional career. People have told you that you ought to move to London, where the money is, but you are happy at home.
The kids are settled at a good, no-nonsense private school, with tasteful uniforms and sports days.
Every Sunday morning you go to church. C of E naturally. It is comforting that the hymns every week remain the same as when you were a child. The new vicar is OK but has some funny ideas; lots of guitars and clapping, and laminated bits of yellow card on the church hall noticeboard. Once he even asked you if you believed in God. You don’t come to church for that sort of thing.
Aspirationally posh class
In your own mind, you are a sort of junior aristocrat. You lack the money or, technically, the breeding, but you are damned if you are going to let that hold you back. That is why, subconsciously, you have based your look on newspaper pictures of the Prince of Wales and his friends from the early 1980s. It’s also why you made sure that both William (son) and Beatrice (daughter) went to St Andrews, and why you’ve told every one of your friends, at least 17 times, that the former once met Zara Phillips at a hunt ball.
You own a Barbour, a labrador and a 4x4. Once, when you and your slightly posher friend Giles inadvertently swapped Barbours after a family picnic, you found the scraps of a box of shotgun cartridges in his pocket. You kept them, and put them in your own. Now you are desperate for somebody to borrow it from you.
Bitter creative class
Your shabby look is regarded as artifice, but, although you’d never admit it, it’s all economy. Except for the waistcoats.
You never thought it would be this way, but you opted to do something “creative”. After only ten years as an academic, or a minor playwright, or a poet, or a freelance cartoonist, or a backroom milliner, you were already beginning to suspect you’d made a mistake.
The brave among you then switched to teaching.
Now you live in a small, scruffy home in an inner city, largely because you couldn’t bear to be too far away from all the theatres and museums that you haven’t been able to afford to visit since Persephone (your second child) was born. Her brother, Roman, is now almost 7 and, although you swore that you never would, you’re starting to think you ought to send him to private school.
You’ll probably have to cut back on red wine, rolling tobacco, or the joints you still smoke at weekends, when the pair of them have gone to bed.
In truth, you ought to cut back on the books, which rise in columns through your house like crystals on a salt plain.
Suburbanite paranoid class
You wonder if there are enough locks on your door; there are some pretty strange people out there.
Take the neighbours, for example. You don’t know them very well, even though you see them all the time, have the same people carrier, breed of dog, and the kids go to the same school, but still you barely say 'hello'. And anyway you wonder if their lads are on drugs?, and the dog has a strange glint in his eye
Groomed organic class
Although you work in some kind of highly respectable, well-paid and ruthlessly capitalist industry, you still consider yourself “alternative”. Most weekends, you will drive in your electric car to the local extortionate farmer’s market, where you will happily spend £6 on a dozen eggs because the chicken that laid them had a fancy name, and the shell surrounding them is blue.
You keep fit, certainly don’t look your age, and feel no shame about borrowing your elder children’s clothes. Your children hate this. They rarely borrow your clothes. Outside your suburb, people tend to regard your clothes as rather odd.
You have given up trying to make your parents understand what you do. In truth, you are not sure if you understand it yourself.
Another thing that your parents don’t understand is your hair. The asymmetrical fringe, and the way you’ve shaved off bits of it. Everybody you know has hair like this. If you didn’t you’d stand out, as somebody who wasn’t an individual.
Whatever you do, it certainly pays well. Well enough for you to have bought an overstyled loft or basement apartment in the same formerly deprived inner-city area as all the friends you met when you studied something that your parents didn’t understand at university. Actually, the money is starting to worry you a bit. You’re not at all sure what to do with it all. Your parents never had that much money.
You’ve got loads. Since you bought your flat, you tend to spend it all on gadgets, or one-off T-shirts, or polished retro modes of transport, such as scooters, or very small cars.
None of the above class
Pffff. Harsh as it might sound, when everybody in the country is middle-class, you will be the new working class. You’re the leftovers. All that makes you middle-class is your self- belief and your pay-packet. And the latter isn’t even all that important.
You won’t stay unclassified for long, you know. Marketing types will see to that. And then people will make jokes about you. Harry Enfield might even develop a character. There’s going to be a nickname. Maybe Prince William will go to a party dressed as one of you, in a decade or so, and it will make the front page of The Sun.
Look, get it together. You need to slot into place. At the very least, you need to be a combination. So what if we’re all middle-class now? Aspiration doesn’t end here.
- Adapted from the Times
5/9/2006 8:15 am
I dont think I fit into any of those slots..I just plain country folk who doesnt give a flying fuck about labels..|
5/10/2006 9:40 pm
I am in a class all of my own...I also fit into none of the above. |
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