Wednesday, 18 May 2011

What, me? Middle class?

We Brits are famous for our obsession with class. In fact it's true in most countries (put an American socialite in the wrong part of America if you doubt this), but we have always been open about it. However, it is getting more and more difficult to distinguish between working class and middle class. I am not talking about sheer ignorance. At some point leading up to the recent royal wedding I heard some chinless wonder comment with great condescension that Kate Middleton had done so well for a working class person. (After all, she only attended Marlborough, my dear.) I mean that there's real confusion for many people.

Of course there are still obvious stereotypes. No one sane would describe Nick Clegg or David Cameron as working class, for example. But many, many people occupy what is, after all, a very broad borderline. Some would really like to be working class because it feels more authentic. Others enjoy the comfort of middle class values. Whatever our hopes and desires, it is useful to get a clear picture of our own class status. So here is the beginnings of a questionnaire designed to help place yourself. It's not a test. Simply for self identification. But I need more questions. All suggestions welcome.

1. You encounter a small bowl of green goo. Do you assume it is:
A) Guacamole
B) Mushy peas

2. You taste the green goo and it turns out to be guacamole. Are you:
A) Disappointed
B) Delighted

3. You are watching TV and a visitor calls round. Do you:
A) Switch the TV off
B) Turn the sound down a bit

4. Thinking of the main living room of the house are you more likely to call it:
A) Living room or lounge
B) Sitting room

5. And do you sit on a:
A) Couch
B) Sofa

6. When talking about TV at work do you discuss:
A) Soap operas and programmes about people from Essex
B) Documentaries and serious drama (even though you watched soap operas and programmes about people from Essex)

7. Do you think that opera is:
A) High art and worth supporting
B) A waste of public funds and boring

8. Do you think the Sun is a newspaper?
A) Yes
B) No

Score 1 point for each of the following and 0 points for the rest: 1 A), 2 B), 3 A), 4 B), 5 B), 6 B), 7 A), 8 B) - the higher your score, the more middle class you are.

7 comments:

  1. My feeling is that class is all about money - not that working-class people have less than middle-class people, because that's often not the case. More that working-class people tend to spend their money immediately, whereas middle-class people tend to save it for a rainy day. What with the difficulties of saving money nowadays, the poor returns on investments, and general insecurities, I suspect that class distinctions are blurring.

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  2. Living room/lounge versus Sitting room? - No thanks, I go for Drawing room.

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  3. Do you use the

    a) Toilet

    b) Loo/Lavatory

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  4. John - add Drawing room to Sitting room

    Dave - that's an interesting one. I'm not sure it works as a diagnostic as many middle class people now use 'toilet' to avoid the twee euphemism. This applies to other similar ones too, though I think serviette/napkin still has some mileage.

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  5. In the words of Monty Python ... I know my place!

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  6. I can't help thinking that some of this is North v South; I used to have dinner when we lived in Manchester, now I have lunch and then we had tea when I now have dinner. Supper was an unknown meal for us although if we recognised anything is was that we ate tea late!

    And I'm definitely middle class - at least I'm taller than Corbett and shorter than Cleese - if that helps.

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  7. SETTEE not sofa!

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