Saturday, 6 October 2012

Fifty Shades of Middle Class

This morning's 'Times' has a feature in the 'Weekend' section entitled 'The new middle-class top 50: How many can you tick?'

Well the answer in my case was four- Jamie Oliver, Chorizo, Fish Fingers, and Dinner parties in the kitchen. On one occasion all four were involved thanks to the presence of small children.   Dinner parties have to be in the kitchen; that's where our dining table is.

This was however a very 'North London' list: anyone who was at the University of Warwick in the 1980s like me will know what I mean by that. This was where I first heard of Camden Market, clothes from charity shops and kumquat and aubergine risotto. As teachers we are in an archetypal middle class occupation, yet my wife and I both come from working class roots. What defines class? Profession, money, aspiration, expectation?

Of course lists like this are tongue-in-cheek and not meant to be followed or taken seriously. Or are they. There were no prawn sandwich munchers on the terraces in the 1980s, yet in the 90s people who never would have dreamt about setting foot in a football stadium did so in their droves, helping to change the face of a game once described as working class ballet.

Sorry to 'The Times' but your list is pretentious waffle. This is my own tongue-in-cheek 50  step guide to being middle-class, SE7 style!

1. Don't follow how to be middle-class guides in the papers! You don't need to be told what to do.
2. My eldest daughter, then aged 8, asking for balsamic vinegar on her chips.
3. My youngest daughter, then 5, knowing to dip bread into olive oil and vinegar on holiday in Spain.
4. Growing my own vegetables in the front garden.
5. Having a herb bed just for our guinea pigs.
6. Growing my own salad on the window ledge. 
7. Making my own chicken stock.
8. Making my own soup- no Covent Garden soups in this house.
9. Watching sub-titled films for genuine enjoyment.
10. Watching Nordic Noir TV not because it's trendy to do so, but because it's actually very good.

11. Not reading books because everyone else is: Fifty Shades? Oh please! 
12. Not reading the books that are seen to be trendy: I hated Life of Pi, Captain Corelli, Wolf Hall, and barely tolerated the Da Vinci Code. 
13. Reading what I genuinely enjoy, and not being told what to read. 
14. Making my own sushi.
15. Making my own tapas. 
16. Choosing not to watch the X-factor- not because it's ironic, but because it is just exploitative. And crap!
17. Having the neighbours round to watch Strictly Come Dancing. 
18. Being in awe of the dancers on SCD- and having two left feet!
19. Asking advice from the chef in restaurants. 
20. Listening to good wine advice in the off-license. 

21. Going on holiday to places we want to go, not because everyone else is. We do remote- Orkney, Donegal, Western Isles. 
22. Realising the Sky+ box is full of programmes from BBC4.
23. Other favourite channels: Sky Arts, Film 4.
24. Realising my wife has more male friends than female friends.
25. Realising I have more female friends than male friends.
26. Taking our children to our gay friends' civil partnership ceremony. Got up the noses of my 'Christian' colleagues.
27. Not blaming bad behaviour on ADHD. It's bad parenting or the children are little sods!
28. Supporting the local football club. Though a lifelong fan of 'The People's Club', thats's Everton for the uninitiated, Charlton Athletic are a superb community club and having seen them in the Championship and League One shows there is decent football outside the Premier League.
29. Growing my own cut flowers.
30. Tweeting Monty Don and showing off that my tomato crop was better than his this year. 

31. Growing my own Christmas Tree. Planted seeds when first married. Might be ready for our Golden Anniversary. Currently a foot tall!!
32. The dishwasher being blocked by an olive pip. Honest!
33. Unwittingly being the most ardent feminist at school.
34. Drinking real ales, not because it's trendy, but because they actually taste very good.
35. Looking at the meat percentage in sausages- the lowest I have found is 9%.
36. Coming up with increasingly more elaborate stories for the unsolicited phone calls 'He will be back later. Who am I? His wife's toyboy lover?' : 'You bastards! How insensitive can you be? You can't speak to my wife, she left me last week!'
37. Pissing off the Jehovah's Witnesses- wife at door, me from kitchen 'Darling! Can you come back here please; I need you to hold the goat still before I slaughter it and daub the children with its blood. 
38. Buying a two euro bottle of Chianti on holiday in Italy on the advice of the locals and finding it was far better than the £12 bottle from M&S we bought when we came back. 
39. Being proud of my Northern roots.
40. Being able to turn on Northern accent because being told off in a Northern accent is actually far more effective than a 'refined' one. Imagine 'bastard' with a flat /a/ rather than an /ar/ sound. 

41. Breeding own guinea pigs! Accidentally! Started with two, ended with 14! Daphne now Dizzee! 
42. Not being one of those people whose voice and opinion you just have to hear wherever you are; and whose voice grates; as if they have been the only person in the world to have had a baby, lost a job, been lied about, been lied to, been let down, been shopping, been on holiday. Bloody shut up! Sorry ranting!!!
43. Being a loyal husband and having a loyal and loving wife. 
44. Being a loyal friend.
45. Being a trusted colleague.
46. Being a good parent. 
47. Not putting up with anyone else's ego or bullshit. 
48. Being me! And not what anyone else wants me to be! 
49. Spending too much time on Twitter!
50. Blogging!

Hooray!! 50/50! I win! Actually I don't! Class doesn't mean social standing, whether you can do wonderful things with courgettes or taramasalata, or how popular you are with friends. It means decency, loyalty, honesty, friendship, not putting yourself before others, having a sense of humour, seeing the best in life and in every opportunity that comes your way. 


No comments:

Post a Comment